“We call it bitch pop,” says UK-based BETSIE GØLD. As an independent artist with a small but punchy catalogue of singles, the singer-songwriter revels in creating heavy pop music with an unapologetic attitude. “I didn’t want any rules of what each song had to sound like.”
GØLD is a self-confessed DIY artist – on the scene under a year; currently unsigned to a label; working primarily with friend, co-writer and producer Kaity Rae – and says it’s empowering to have control over her lyrical direction and sound. She’s been inspired by lyrical greats: Bon Jovi, for example, who she opened for a few years back – a career highlight. Opting for a similar approach that prioritises autonomy and lyricism, GØLD opposes music industry misogyny and resists mainstream trends, she says, lacing her radio-friendly earworms with lines on empowerment, self-awareness and confidence; each new track seems to embrace this further than the last.
“There’s so many songs where people talk about bitches. I was like, I’m singing what I want to sing, it will sound how I want it to sound, and I’m calling it bitch pop.
“No matter what the [track] is about, whether it’s about me or a friend, we will always come out on top in the song. I’m never going to be begging for someone to take me back or asking what I did wrong.”
It’s mid-May when we talk; the sun is shining, yet GØLD has been writing, somewhat inspired. BETSIE – real name Beth – says her song-writing always comes from experience, and she weaves these stories throughout her catalogue.
This comes through in the video for “Ur the Party” (2020), where GØLD hits back at arrogant men, who she says have constantly second guessed her decisions; in “Only One” (2019), where she sings “You made your bed/So go and f**king lie in it,” dismissing an unfaithful partner through a powerful, heavy production; and in latest single “Friday the 13th” (2020), where GØLD embraces her brand of bitch pop even further.
The track includes a boatload of traditional Western omens (cracks in the mirror, knocking on wood, stepping over cracks) and occult references (“I’m pushing decline on your calls like your number is 666”) under a foot-tapping, bubbly production to show complete, happy, radical self-acceptance: it’s an ode to my optimistic pessimism, GØLD says.
“I’m always waiting for that thing. Things can be amazing in a relationship – friendships or romantic stuff – and then I’m like, well, something’s gonna (sic) go wrong. I don’t know why I’m like it; it’s really annoying, but it’s just the way I am.”
But this might be exactly what people are looking for under quarantine, we muse. BETSIE GØLD’s infectious pop buzzes, and now quarantined in a village in the East Midlands, she’s working on keeping this summery, upbeat vibe going. As we talk quarantine, GØLD shares plans to release more singles for both herself and her listeners throughout 2020 – a dose of sonic serotonin under isolating times.
So, how have you been doing lately?
Yeah, not too bad! There’s nothing really going on. My weekend was chilled because there’s no other way it could be.
Are you alone?
I live with my guitarist. I would not have been getting on well on my own. I’m quite a sociable person. I’ve got my two dogs with me as well, so that helps, because taking them on long walks is helping with mental health and stuff.
Is that how you’ve been keeping busy?
Yeah. I live in a village [in Northamptonshire]. It’s kind of chilled where I am; I’m just taking them on long walks in fields and avoiding people. It’s weird because I have friends that live in London and obviously it’s so busy in the open spaces there, but where I am it’s just so quiet. It’s kind of eerie. [But] I’m like a proper little country bumpkin, so I’m doing much better in my village than I would be if I was in London.
A lot of people are in the same boat at the minute – battling with their mental health and pressure to be productive – how have you dealt with these feelings?
One thing that I’ve been [trying] is if I don’t want to do something for that day, to not beat myself up about it. I find that really hard anyway. Before all this was going on, if I didn’t do something that wasn’t related to my music I would kind of feel guilty about it and [quarantine] has heightened that. But I need to remind myself there’s nothing normal about what’s going on.
With creative people, [we] need to go out and see things and be around people to have creative thoughts, so it’s been difficult. Every day is kind of the same, so I’m taking the dogs out and I’m doing food and I’m finding new recipes and stuff, which is cool, but it’s not what I’m used to doing, so it’s kind of changed my flow.
Have you been listening to a lot of music since lockdown began?
I’ve been listening to so much more. That’s one of the positive things: [it has] given me loads of time to listen to artists that I used to listen to and then slipped out of. I’ve spent loads of time on YouTube, watching gig performances. I haven’t done that in ages. I was watching loads of Nina Nesbitt stuff the other day. I probably wouldn’t be doing [this] if this wasn’t going on – I’m just rediscovering stuff like that.
You have a diverse taste in music – from Bon Jovi, to Nina Nesbitt, to Billie Eilish – how would you summarise this?
It’s all lyric based, what I listen to. If I connect with what someone’s saying, that’s all that matters to me. That’s why I work really hard on my lyrics – I want people to feel the same way. The other day I did a cover of Goo Goo Dolls because I love their lyrics. I listen to loads of 80s stuff; I love Blondie. [My taste in music] doesn’t really add up, but it’s because, lyrically, if I connect to it, that’s amazing.
Have you been able to find any inspiration at home?
When lockdown was announced, I had a full-on meltdown, rang my mum crying, and was like ‘I don’t know when I’m going to see you again’ and I was feeling so down. I thought, ‘oh my god, this is it, no one is going to hear my music again’, and then two days later, I wrote a song which is gonna (sic) be my next single.
I’ve had writing sessions over Zoom, which is really weird because writing sessions are usually so fun and interactive and on Zoom there’s a delay with stuff, which is really irritating, but I mean, we’re working with what we can.
Do you feel an added pressure as an independent artist in the contemporary music industry?
It’s unusual. I know loads of people that would love to be signed to major labels. I find it a scary thought in a way, because right now I’m in control of my music. Who knows, it could be life changing, you know?
With pop, it’s the norm to go for major label roots, but I think the DIY thing, especially with lockdown, is
really empowering: to be in control of what you’re doing and when you want to release and how you want stuff to go. I’m just enjoying the independence of it, I suppose.
Your headline show at O2 Academy2 in London has been postponed from June to 12 November 2020 due to the pandemic. How excited are you to get back on the stage?
I’m probably going to cry. I can’t wait for the scared feeling I get before I go on stage, where I’m terrified and wondering if I actually want to do it or not. I want that feeling again so bad. It’s going to be amazing.
What does the rest of the year look like for you?
I’m releasing more singles than I was planning on doing this year. To take the positives from [this situation], there’s going to be more music because I’m inside, not able to see people and I want them to hear what I’m creating instead of just waiting until next year.
BETSIE GØLD’s latest single, “Friday the 13th”, is available to stream now.