Bibi Bourelly on 'Free The Real', Politics, And Rihanna
If you don’t believe in some form of reincarnation, it’s hard to understand where people like Bibi Bourelly come from. With the voice, presence, talent, and self-assuredness that some people spend their whole life chasing, Bourelly embodies it all—and she’s only 22. As a songwriter, she’s brushed shoulders with the likes of Rihanna, Usher, and Selena Gomez. But as a solo artist? She’s riding the wave of her Free The Real EPs pt. I and II, while we wait for a highly-anticipated debut album to follow. Recently recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 Music honoree, it’s safe to say this artist is making moves, and it’s only the beginning.
Last fall’s Red Bull 30 Days in LA performance proved flawless, as well—not only was her voice powerful, but everything she sang about felt incredibly raw, real, and relatable. Uncensored and brutally honest, her intros to each song set the tone; before “Ballin’”, she asked the audience, “Can you relate to being broke?” (…yes) And to cap the night in a poignant moment, she let the audience know, “I wrote this next song solely to unify people,” before performing “Riot”.
We caught up with the artist before her show to talk politics, her mission, and current inspirations; peep the full interview below.
I think I read in another interview that you said that you would move if Trump got elected president. Now that the election is over, what are your thoughts?
I didn’t say I was going to move if he got elected, I just said, “fuck him.” And what are my thoughts right now? Still currently, “Fuck Him.”
You’ve penned some really amazing hits for some pretty huge artists, like “BBHMM” for Rihanna, “Hard II Love” for Usher, and “Camouflage” for Selena Gomez (amongst others). When you’re writing music, do you ever write with anyone in mind? Is it hard to decide what you will and won’t keep for yourself?
I really write songs for myself and other artists usually come to me and want them. I never really write for anyone else or with the intention of writing for someone else, I just write for myself and if need be or if it’s fit to give away to someone that I respect and I admire, I do—or if it makes sense for my career—but if not, I don’t.
You’ve talked a bit about what you think your purpose is in life—how would you define that and what are you doing to achieve it?
I think my purpose is to create music, make music, and unify people and connect to people through my music. And I think that I fulfill that purpose everyday and I’m happy with that. I just want to unify people and I want to make music pure again. I want to inspire people to be themselves, I don’t want to inspire people to be like me, I want to inspire people to be fucking happy about who they are and to speak up on what they think, and to express themselves and express their opinions and to start conversations and say “no” when need be, and to fight for the things that they believe in… that’s my purpose and that’s my job right now, at this point in time. I can’t tell you what my purpose will be a year from now or two years from now because it hasn’t come yet, but right now I know more than ever my purpose is to help unify people.
Your songs are all really empowering—what are some of the anthems you listen to for inspiration?
The thing that empowers me the most is just people. Seeing people do acts of kindness or seeing people come together; seeing people stand up for something or seeing someone create something in culture; those are the most inspiring things to me.
Who are you listening to right now?
Bon Iver, Frank Ocean, NoName, Little Simz.
What would be your ultimate cover song to record?
I just recorded my ultimate cover and it was “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley. It’s on Soundcloud. I actually did it with my dad, because my dad’s a guitar player. But I really want to also cover Daughter, maybe “Medicine.”
Who would be your dream collaborators, dead or alive?
Bon Iver, right now. Jimi Hendrix. Frank Ocean.
What’s been your most memorable show thus far?
On the Free The World Part 1 tour there was a crazy show in Portland actually. And it was CRAAAZZY; it was insane. It was packed, so many people were out there. Portland was probably one of my favorites. Oh, and I’m forgetting my show in DC on Sept 2nd at U Street Music Hall.
What are the best lyrics of all time?
The Roots, “In the Music”:
“It’s in the music, turn it up let it knock / Let’s bang on the block ‘till the neighbors call the cops / The cops gon’ come by they ain’t gon’ do shit / They don’t want no problems, what are y’all stupid / It’s all in the music.”
Also, in “Hallelujah”:
“Love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken, Hallelujah.”
Stay tuned to Milk for more artists-turned-activists we love.