By: Shayla Lee
When it comes to creating incredible music with a message, NYC-based musician Birch has perfected the formula. Birch’s latest release ‘femme.two’ is the first single off of her upcoming album which is slated to be released next year and the track is any synth-lovers dream. Not only did the production of ‘femme.two’ have me hooked in 10 seconds flat, when I realized that the song was about prevalent issues the world is experiencing in our current political climate, I fell in love even more.
“Keep your eyes up and don’t look back” Birch echoes through interweaving synths and a production so stunning you will be hitting the replay button over and over again. Inspired by the Women’s March of 2017 and 2018, ‘femme.two’ celebrates how far we have come but also concentrates on how far left we have to still go. Tackling socio-political issues in any art form is a difficult task but Birch executes it with beauty and grace in ‘femme.two.’
I had the chance to chat with Birch about the inspiration behind ‘femme.two,’ challenges she has faced as a female musician, and what fans can expect from her upcoming album.
Femme Riot: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
Birch: I describe my music as synth-pop with a little folk and a feminist twist. For some reason I find it incredibly difficult to describe the sound of my music… why is that?
Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Do you have any musical influences?
Lyrically, I draw inspiration from the world around me and from my own internal life. I like to write pieces of music with a theme and a purpose, so this track and its upcoming album are all about the current state of feminism and my experience growing up female. Musically, I am influenced by a broad range of artists, from Joni Mitchell to Bon Iver to Grimes.
I’m obsessed with ‘femme.two’ not only because the name is so close to Femme Riot, but because I love the sound and the meaning behind it. The track was specifically inspired by the Women’s March of 2017 and 2018 and it concentrates on the progress we have made as well as how far we have left to go. Can you tell us more about this song and what motivated you to focus on this prevalent issue?
Thank you!! I’m so glad it resonated with you and I love Femme Riot. I wrote this song in January 2017. Trump was about to be inaugurated and I was feeling gutted, mostly because it was the first time in my life that I fully realized how little this country cares about women. The fact that we were able to elect a man with no political experience and a history of sexual assault over a woman with a lifetime of political experience…I think it was a moment of reckoning for all of us. So I wrote “femme.two” (it was originally called “Envision The Whole”) and began the process of writing an album about feminism and my relationship to it. My primary objective was to write a song about how it felt in that moment to be a woman; on one hand it was empowering to come together in protest, on the other hand the state of political affairs felt darker than ever. What you get is a song about marching forward, maintaining hope amongst the dark.
Your debut record is slated to come out next year. What can fans expect? What has the creation process for your album been like?
Yes! I really can’t wait to put it out. People can expect a new sound for Birch – more mature, grounded, honest. The songs on this album are the most personal I’ve ever gotten and the process was incredibly rewarding. I had to do a deep dive into my past and really look at my experiences as a woman to write this album, so the process had some painful moments, but the product is an honest, complicated piece of work. For the first time, I co-produced the album with Ariel Loh (who has produced both Birch EPs in the past). I’ve learned a ton about production over the past few years, so it was great to be able to take more ownership over the sound and really be part of the whole creation process.
Have you faced any challenges being a woman in the music industry? If so, how did you overcome the adversity and do you have any advice for other women facing similar challenges in their own lives?
One of the main challenges I’ve faced in the music industry is being treated as if I’m just a singer and don’t know anything about music (which is false: I produce, compose, write everything for Birch, and play synth and guitar). For example, in our live set I have a giant synth and computer set up in front of me and my bandmate Mat Towles has his bass. It’s clear that I’m the one running the electronics onstage, however most sound engineers will talk to Mat about sound instead of me, forcing Mat to point at me and tell them “she’s the one in charge.” It’s small, it’s petty, but it’s frustrating as hell when it happens over and over again.
My way of overcoming the adversity is by writing this album and making art that challenges the status quo. My advice to other women is to keep moving forward, keep proving them wrong, and keep talking about these challenges out loud. Finally we have reached a time in America where women are speaking up and talking about their experiences. It’s scary, but it’s safer now than it ever was before, so I would encourage all women to take advantage of that and add your story to the conversation. By speaking up about the challenges we face, we can make change.
What else can we expect from you this year?
I’ll be putting out a music video for “femme.two” in September that is all about challenging the status quo regarding womanhood and beauty! You can also expect another track from the album to drop later this fall.
What songs are you currently listening to?
Phoebe Bridgers and Mitski!
Anything we haven’t asked that you want to add?
Thank you for all that you do, Femme Riot! Keep raising the female voice!