Entertainment Entertainment Music

Q&A: Betty Who

When Spencer Stout uploaded his marriage proposal to his boyfriend Dustin Reeser in September 2013, no one expected the video to go viral — least of all singer/songwriter Betty Who, whose single “Somebody Loves You” served as the soundtrack to the musical engagement.
 
“I saw it on a Thursday when it had maybe 300 [to] 400 views,” said Who, born Jessica Newham 22 years ago. “And then I saw it again Friday morning and it had a million views.”
 
The fast-rising Australian singer self-released her debut EP “The Movement” last April and expects her full-length out on RCA by the end of 2014. In a late December phone interview, she opened up about viral video fame, her skills as a dancer and feeling personal connections to other artists’ songs.
 
What was your reaction to seeing the viral video featuring “Somebody Loves You” for the first time?
 
It’s a crazy thing. I cried [the first time I saw it] because I was so overwhelmed. It builds up so steadily throughout the song. You know it’s going to be a marriage proposal, but you don’t know how heartfelt and amazing it’s going to be until Spencer walks out and then it’s like, “Oh my god…”
 
Do you think Spencer and Dustin are going to ask you to officiate their wedding ceremony?
 
I actually just got my invitation to the wedding. I’m dying to [attend], so I’m going to try and make it work. I’m on tour, but I think I’m going to try and make a stop in Salt Lake City to go to their wedding.
 
Do you have a favorite viral video other than the one your song was featured in?
 
I think Jimmy Kimmel is a genius, and when he did that twerking video where the girl catches on fire I was dying. Before anybody knew Jimmy Kimmel was behind the video and completely won the Internet I remember watching it and thinking, “God, people are soooo stupid.”
 
Considering the EP is titled “The Movement,” I wanted you to rate your skills as a dancer.
 
Oh, great question. I think it depends who you ask. If you ask me I’d be like, “Oh my gosh, I’m a gazelle.” If you ask my roommate she’d say, “She’s the worst.” I just like to move and I’m super excitable onstage, so my band and I tend to jump around a lot. I just dance however it feels right and hope everyone isn’t low-key making fun of me.
 
Even though your music is upbeat, the songs can be fairly personal at times. Are you someone who grew up keeping a diary?
 
I don’t think I kept a diary, but I should have. The problem I always had is when you write something down and then go back a month later and read what you wrote don’t you always feel like your problems were so insignificant and then get upset you spent so much time wallowing in them? You’re so honest because it’s like, “No one else is going to read this.” But then even you don’t want to read it.
 
Do you ever have the same issue with your songs?
 
When I’m writing songs I’ll have that little moment where it’s like, “Jesus, that’s really personal,” but then you spend so much time with it and it means something different to every person who hears it. I’m so affected by what other people feel while they’re listening to the songs that it starts to become my story as opposed to what I wrote it about in that moment.
 
It’s great when someone can take ownership of something that comes from such a personal place. Is there a song you’ve have that kind of relationship with?
 
Oh sure. There’s this Missy Higgins song called “They Weren’t There,” and also “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles and “One and Only” by Adele. They're these songs where these women are pouring their hearts out, and because it’s so honest you feel so connected with it. That’s what I strive for in my music.
 
Is Paul Hogan as big a deal in Australia as I hope he is?
 
You know, to be perfectly honest, not particularly [laughs]. There was a lot of [“Crocodile Hunter”] Steve Irwin stuff though. I remember the day Steve Irwin died and it was devastating. There was an announcement at my school. It was pretty intense.
 
Betty Who, 9 p.m. Jan. 16 at Schubas. $15.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    The three clichés that color every good rock star story is “sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll." For the Grateful Dead, the trailblazing rock band known for its improvisational style, revelatory live shows and dedicated fanbase, there was that and so much more.

  • Joggers use paddle board to rescue man in the lake

    Joggers use paddle board to rescue man in the lake

    Joggers are credited with saving a man struggling in the water off North Avenue Tuesday morning by grabbing a paddle board and paddling it out to him, according to officials and those involved.

  • 10 best movies of 2015 so far

    10 best movies of 2015 so far

    The year’s half-over! How did that happen? No idea. With six months of a good year of movies in the books, let’s see how the Top 10 list is looking, with a quote from each respective review. Note: There are a few I’ve seen that I really like that haven’t yet opened in Chicago, and those aren’t...

  • If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    Nearly 5 million more Americans would qualify for overtime pay under new rules proposed Tuesday by the Obama administration, a long-anticipated move expected to affect a broad swath of salaried employees from store managers to social workers to insurance sales agents.

  • Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Unlike previous summers, UniStaff is experiencing a spike in job applicants at its Little Village location, a trend the branch manager says is tied to the city's minimum wage increase to $10 per hour beginning Wednesday.

  • 'The Bachelorette' episode 7 recap: How many meltdowns can Shawn have in one week?

    'The Bachelorette' episode 7 recap: How many meltdowns can Shawn have in one week?

    Welcome to RedEye’s coverage of “The Bachelorette,” arguably the most misogynistic show on television! The format is pretty simple: Five women of RedEye each drafted five of the 25 competing men. Everyone gets one point for every man who gets through each week. If you ever want your daughter to...

Comments
Loading