Rebecca Black Is Ready To Make Australia Gay Again
Rebecca Black is a pop star who refuses to play by anyone else’s rules. Not anymore, at least.
Reintroducing yourself to the world is no easy feat. In 2021 Rebecca Black released her EP Rebecca Black Was Here, which many say was the renaissance of her career. She then released her debut album Let Her Burn earlier this year further cementing herself as a “budding pop distributor”. The album was yet another innovative foray into music from someone who has already been in the business for 12 years at the age of 25. From both releases, Rebecca has proven that pop music runs in her veins. That’s probably because she’s grown up in the industry. Studying her peers, those she’s looked up to — like Lana Del Rey, Charli XCX, and SOPHIE — and being a consumer of pop music allowed Rebecca to step back into music the way she wanted.
When she first got her start at 13 years old, many people sidelined Rebecca as an internet meme. Now, she’s a mainstay amongst the pop girlies. When people think of Rebecca Black, that one viral song no longer defines her. Instead, it’s the queer joy she brings to pop, her incredible visuals like latex outfits and rhinestoned chainsaws, and of course the music.
Before her performances in Sydney and Melbourne for the iconically queer Summer Camp festival, Junkee caught up with Rebecca Black to chat about all things music, theatre kids, and Troye Sivan.
Ky Stewart: Given that you’re about to perform for Summer Camp, what’s the campest thing you’ve done?
Rebecca Black: I mean, my show. 100 percent. It encapsulates everything I would hope that people would expect and also not expect coming to see my show. I’m very well aware of the fact that anytime I walk on stage the audience is a mix, especially at a festival, of people who are up to date and who aren’t. I want to feed every soul. There’s tits, there’s nipples, there’s chainsaws covered in rhinestones, there’s nudity. It’s what it needs to be.
— Junkee | Culture, Music & Social Justice (@junkee) November 29, 2023
Every time I get to find out the line-up and who else is doing it I’m so excited. This year has been the first year that I’ve really been able to see myself on line-ups with people that I adore and listen to, with people who have made albums that have changed my perspective on music. The Jessie Ware album in 2020 [What’s Your Pleasure?] got me through [Covid].
Trixie is actually someone [I] met like six years ago at DragCon at one of my first performances. God I hope no one ever finds that. But she was just one of the first people who was so kind and so nice. So it’s very cool to be able to share a line-up, especially internationally. It always feels heavier in a really positive way. So I’m excited.
Okay so fun question: If you had to lip sync for your life against Trixie Mattel, what song would you choose? If memory serves correctly, Trixie Mattel is not known as a lip sync assassin so you’d have a good chance.
That’s facts. Okay I would choose ‘Friday’ because I do think I can eat that song.
Well, naturally. But Trixie could pull out a stunt and it could be awkward for you.
She would do something crazy so I’d have to do something really glam because I feel like she can out-funny me. I feel like I could serve it down to like, I have nothing. Like a Whitney moment.
Yeah, I think it would be glamorous, but I think you would do a raw, emotional, stripped down portrayal.
I could pull a tear, exactly.
But on the flip side, if you were doing karaoke with Jessie Ware, what song would you do with her?
Oh my god. This is the important stuff. I feel like in her vein, I would love to do a ‘Dancing Queen’ moment from ABBA or maybe a Donna Summer disco moment like Chaka Khan. That would be iconic.
I do want to say that Let Her Burn is such an incredible album. What inspired it and Project Rebecca Black as a whole?
My guiding lights have changed a lot throughout the course of my life. Especially as this album came 12 years after I technically got my start. I’ve talked a lot about certain women who have inspired me and certain artists who I’ve loved throughout the years, but I made this project called Rebecca Black Was Here in 2021. That was the first standpoint of the direction that I wanted to go in, and it’s from my mind to yours, without any other influence of what other people thought I should do or anything like that.
That was really from my little brain child that loves SOPHIE and listened to Charli [XCX] growing up, listened to Lana [Del Rey] and listened to people who I felt like had a point and a voice and just stayed in their lane, whatever that was. That was what really jumpstarted Let Her Burn because I basically never stopped writing when I wrote Rebecca Black Was Here and that became the album. It was leaning into the darker tones and leaning into metal influences and drum and bass influences that began to define the sound. But overall, the thing that I kept telling myself was, ‘just stay in your lane’.
It’s very clear listening to the album that you have created a piece of work that feels like it’s authentically you. It felt like a really big album of queer expression, joy and love. So I thank you for that. I do want to say, though, Slayyyter also released an iconic pop album this year and you already have a song together ‘Read My Mind’. Are you ready to come back and do a joint slay anytime soon?
I would love to! I was actually having a conversation with someone on my team the other day as we we’re in the process of working on something new. Let Her Burn had no collaborations [but] I love Slayyyter. She’s a legend. I just saw her headline while she was in LA and I love to see an artist that is willing to just one-up themselves and challenge themselves and she’s someone who really goes for that.
I have no idea what the fuck she’s going to do next but if it matched up I would love to something again.
Well I’m manifesting that purely for selfish reasons. Looking back at your earlier years, though, do you have kinder eyes? Do you feel like you’ve reclaimed your younger self?
I think I had to, in order to keep going, and a big part of that was when we did the remix of ‘Friday’ for the 10-year anniversary. I’ve talked about this before but hindsight only gets clearer as I get older but there was a period of my life where I did not ever want to talk about it. I never wanted to bring it up. I was so afraid of anyone bringing it up because I just felt like it was this sign on my back that people could use and abuse for their own gain. I felt like I had no control over it.
As I’ve gotten older, I have understood that younger part of myself and understood her and who she was at that time in her life. I was 13 when I got my start and it’s a huge reason why I’m here today and it’s like a big seed. I love doing what I do and that’s why I’m still here. A lot of people ask me how I’ve done it and there’s no other truth for me. I could have done a lot of other things, but I simply didn’t want to because it wouldn’t be who I was. So yeah, reclaiming is an eternal process.
When Project Rebecca Black was happening it was so iconic and seeing you step into this queer power, I think a lot of people hold that close to them. When fans now think of you, they see you now and not you when you were 13.
Yeah, thank you.
Okay so to finish, I have some rapid fire questions but they aren’t really because I never ask them rapidly and they never get answered rapidly… anyway, what was it like performing with BLACKPINK and Sabrina Carpenter?
It was fucked up. It was legendary. That was a call that we got so last-minute. I think everyone who was on that line-up was in a similar boat. I was like, ‘Get me on a plane. Let’s go, what do we need? What do they need?’ It was incredible. There’s nothing more inspiring to me than a live show. I grew up going to massive scale shows. Those are my favourite. So to get to see BLACKPINK and hear Sabrina Carpenter… to see the drive and the diligence that goes into these shows is so inspiring. It’s just so cool to know that the people that I’m a fan of, their fans are also my fans. It’s cool to live in the same universe because a lot of times it feels so isolating on the internet like you have no idea who is real and what really exists.
once a stan, always a stan https://t.co/lavHGDl3KC
— Rebecca Black (@MsRebeccaBlack) November 29, 2023
Speaking of, you and Troye Sivan are both legendary YouTube girlies and he’s currently living in Melbourne. What would a collab between the two of you look like?
I love Troye. I mean, gosh, that is someone who has been so inspiring to watch. We met years ago in the deep, deep YouTube teenager VidCon, Playlist Live, the things that are not to be spoken of, eras. It’s so inspiring to see somebody unabashedly go for it and see people be really receptive. I’ve loved everything he’s done from the beginning and I would love to do something.
Billboard said you were one of the ultimate cool girls. So what makes a cool girl?
I have no idea. Also what? Where is that from?
Billboard wrote it!
Thank you Billboard, thank you. I’m so glad that they think that because I’m constantly just in eternal questioning of my life and my choices, especially when it comes to anything that could be perceived as cool.
I think it’s so funny how things come back around in this cycle of things that people love or the cringe-to-cool cycle. I’m not even talking about my own story, but I was a theatre kid. I grew up in deep, deep productions and then there was this period of my life where I felt like I was around so many theatre kids and we all knew and we didn’t talk about it because it meant that immediately we were uncool. Now I feel like it’s such a celebrated camp, turned around part of life and I just love people who are unabashed about it. Artists who aren’t afraid to love what they love and act on it — I think that’s the coolest thing. I have so much to learn from people who can do that.
Not me deeming that theatre kids are cool again.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Rebecca Black is headlining Summer Camp Festival in Melbourne (presented by ALWAYS LIVE) on Saturday December 2 and Sydney December 3. Check out the full festival lineup here.
Image credit: Supplied