Bibi Bourelly’s path to Def Jam — an American record label — began in Berlin, where she was born into an artistic family. Her father is the prolific jazz and Black Rock Coalition guitarist of Haitian and American descent, Jean-Paul Bourelly. Her mother, of Moroccan descent, was the head of the Art Department at Berlin’s House of World Culture. Bourelly’s decision to immigrate to the U.S. in high school eventually brought her to Los Angeles, where her music career took off. She has now written songs for the likes of Rihanna (four tracks including “Bitch Better Have My Money,” “Higher,” “Pose” and “Yeah, I Said It”); Selena Gomez (“Camouflage”) as well as Usher and Nas (“Chains”). “Sally,” her newest track, premiered Feb. 19 alongside an interactive music video collaboration with LA-based tech wiz Master of Shapes.
The Triangle: First off, I want to congratulate you on the release of your new single “Sally.” Can you talk about how that song came about and why you chose it as your first release of 2016?
Bibi Bourelly: Whenever I write music, it’s a reflection of my thoughts. I wrote “Sally” at the beginning of my career, when I was 19 years old. I was mad that no one knew who I was and I wrote it about just being myself and not being conformed to things. “Sally” is just what I wanted to hear.
TT: So the music video released for “Sally” pulls SoundCloud audio and allows users to load any tumblr site and have videos or images react in real time to the song, essentially creating a music video instantly from their favorite internet memes. Whose idea was this and can you talk about the importance of social media and interaction in today’s music?
BB: I’m surrounded by really cool people on my team who put me on to this whole GIF idea and I loved it as soon as I heard it. I went on Tumblr and found a bunch of gifs that inspired me and looked cool. Think about how cool that is! It’s epic. And as far as social media goes, it’s crucial. I get to talk directly to my supporters and I get to tell society and the world exactly how I feel.
TT: Moving forward, (or backwards) you’re from Berlin, Germany. When and why did you make the move to America?
BB: I left Germany in tenth grade because I didn’t have the grades to continue with school out there. I moved to the DMV area with my aunt and uncle. It was really different and I didn’t do well in school there either. It wasn’t the right environment for me and I realized it never would be so I packed my stuff at 19 and moved to Los Angeles.
TT: You’ve written songs for Rihanna and Selena Gomez, among many others, can you discuss the differences between these two pop stars in and out of the studio?
BB: I actually don’t write music with anyone else. I only write about my own experiences and from my own emotions. They’re both really chill though. I wasn’t in the studio with Selena Gomez but she heard “Camouflage” and asked for it. It was hard for me to give it to her at first because it’s a really personal song but I think she did the song justice and I saw her at the Grammys last week and she was really nice about it. As for Rihanna, I mean it’s Rihanna! She changed my life.
TT: Of the four songs that you’ve written for Rihanna, which is your favorite or most meaningful to you and why?
BB: Definitely “Higher.” I have “Higher” tattooed on me. It was definitely the most difficult song for me to give up but she did a great job with it.
TT: Continuing on the topic of writing songs for other artists, I’m from Philly so I have to ask what your thoughts are on the Drake vs. Meek situation from over the summer?
BB: Let me think about this question for a minute. I want to make sure what I say is rational…writing for me comes very naturally. I write songs very quickly and thousands of them at a time so I put a lot of value in the actual process of writing songs. But I think Drake has done so many phenomenal things for music and moved music forward in so many different ways that it makes this situation tricky. I try to understand it but to me, writing is important
TT: Lastly, I saw on Instagram you’ve been in working with and attending the Grammys with Skrillex. What can fans expect from this collaboration as well as music from your solo career in the near future?
BB: I’m working on my album right now. Skrillex and I are super close. Of course there’s going to be collaborations with him, he’s one of my closest friends. He’s one of the only people I can create with that’s organic and makes us feel like we’re 16 years old making music in our basements again. And I’m working on the album, I don’t know, just figuring my life out.
You can check out more from Bibi Bourelly on her website http://www.bibisociety.com and on Twitter (@BibiBourelly_).