In spite of her widely spreading success including being named the New York City artist of the month by DELI Magazine, independent singer and songwriter Becca “beccs” Gastfriend has something in common with 30 million people in the United States according the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, as a teenager, the Newtown, Massachusetts native was diagnosed with an eating disorder.
After conquering a nearly ten year eating battle followed by having her story featured in the National Eating Disorder Association’s blog, the New York University graduate is a living testament of how the power of self-love and self-acceptance can change the track of your life’s destiny. I had the opportunity to chat with beccs about her musical upbringing, EP Unfound Beauty, her battle with an eating disorder and more. Check out the full interview below!
Growing up many children fantasize about their future career. Was music your dream? How prevalent was music in your childhood? What genres are you inspired by? You’ve ventured in haunted pop, soul, and latin ballad.
“My family is very musical: my brothers and I all started on instruments at age four. I—on the cello. But I was always singing. Constantly. In jazz bands, a cappella groups, musicals, at the piano. I’m also Jewish and grew up in a very culturally Jewish home and community, so song and prayer were very present. I remember singing in front of our TV to a Britney Spears music video on MTV when I was five, shaking my butt and lip-synching. Euphoric. I knew from a young age I was meant to be a performer and singer.
I’m inspired by a lot. Everything from The Beatles to Nina Simone, Yes, Tori Amos, Supertramp, Rhye, Aimee Mann, Beyonce, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sondheim, to the soundtrack of A Single Man.”
Your latest EP, Unfound Beauty was written from the first person point of view, documenting your road to recovery following your battle with an eating disorder. In sharing such an intimate and vulnerable part of your life with the world, did you know the project’s honesty would get such a warm reception? I imagine it was difficult to relive that dark time, how were you able to transfer that energy into song?
“These songs were written during that dark time. They were what got me through it. I wrote Therapy in a hospital during residential treatment when I was 16, so several years passed before releasing it. But recording and releasing this record felt like a big landmark in my recovery. Like a goodbye to my disorder, to my girlhood. I was touched by the reception. People came to me and wrote me in confidence about their struggle, some of whom had never told their family members or friends. I think sharing begets sharing, and I was honored that my openness helped others stretch open their wounds a little more.”
The official visual for single, “Therapy” directed by Julia Barrett-Mitchell and produced by Sophia Harvey was soulfully haunting, to say the least. What was your vision going in to? How did the creative collaboration with Julia and Sophia come together?
“The concept for the video took on many different iterations. I came to Director Julia Barrett-Mitchell with it all and she performed like a brilliant surgeon, taking out the parts that didn’t work and connecting the parts that did. Sophia Harvey, my dear friend, agreed to produce and I did backflips. She saw this project through from its very conception and believed in me when I couldn’t.
I wanted to have dancers (Ashley Robichaux and Holly Sass) to embody my healer self and my destructive self, and the vision around the ink come from a free-write I did. I was tempted by old, destructive habits, thinking I needed to be sick and relive it again in order to make this video. I sketched a brain with ink flooding in from the bottom.The ink, to put it simply, were my pervasive dark thoughts. But ink is also a tool for expressing and creating. Julia Barrett-Mitchell connected the dots: I was going to purge this ink. As someone who struggled with bulimia but also used songwriting as her therapy, purging that ink was very symbolic and layered for me. It illuminated that if I am the source of my self-destruction, I too am the source of my healing.
In a violent yet cathartic climax, something beautiful threatens the comfort of the viewer. After years of shame and hiding, the violence I felt towards myself as a woman can finally be a danger to the world.”
As an independent artist, you have secured quite a buzz while ranking in accolades including The Deli’s Artist of the Month amongst other recognitions. Are you open to signing with a major record label? Publishing? Distribution? Recording?
“I think there is so much work an independent artist can do in this DIY age before a record deal becomes the clear next step. Right now in my career, having artistic autonomy is important while I’m still developing my brand and identity. A publishing deal has a lot of appeal in terms of placements and co-writes. But the truth is, the music industry is still so male-dominated and as a young female artist I like to err on the side of caution with said deals.”
What can fans expect next from beccs? Tour? New visuals?
“I’m playing this Saturday at National Sawdust as part of The Revolution Series. I’ll be playing The Revolution VOL. 17 with stellar artists like Bridget Perez and Cross Culture.”
Header photo credit: Carey MaCarthur supplied by beccs
You won’t want to miss beccs performing live this Saturday, July 29th at National Sawdust as part of The Revolution Series alongside Bridget Perez and Cross Culture. To purchase your tickets and to learn more about the event click here. Be sure to expect in the words of beccs, “some disturbing and nourishing” content in the coming year.
Stay connected with beccs across all social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For a full list of beccs upcoming performances please visit her official website http://www.beccsmusic.com or click here to be redirected.