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“All of I sudden, I was ‘The Songwriter’”
Songwriter’s Monthly - Feb. ’11, #133 http://www.scribd.com/SongwritersMonthly
BC Jean is a stunning and stylish young w o m a n w i t h b l o n d e h a i r, d a r k penetrating and perceptive eyes, and a charged smile that radiates her inner
“It’s me being honest and vulnerable in the studio.”
zeal like a powerful halogen flood light. If you do a search for her, it’s nearly impossible to find an image where she is not adorned in youthfully chic black clothing and sporting a softly glistening shade of pink lipstick. BC has an irrepressible passion for performing and a sharp instinct for writing. And she owes her success to . . . pizza?! Briefly, as the lore that has been passed along from article to article goes, BC was in a songwriting session with Toby Gad [Alicia Keys, Fergie, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, Colbie Caillat, etc.] and she was hungry, craving pizza. However, since she was a girl, she couldn’t justify sabotaging her diet for one measly, nagging craving. Ultimately, the stress Songwriter’s Monthly - Feb. ’11, #133
of to eat or not to eat made her crack and she expressed something along the lines of “I wish I were a boy!” [Meaning, if she were, she could just eat a slice of pizza without the agonizing pre-ingestion period of soulsearching followed up by the postdigestive remorse and guilt!] Toby recognized the power in those words and the duo began crafting a song. The result? The phenomenal hit for Beyoncé entitled, “If I Were A Boy.” After that track, BC received the credentials of “hit songwriter” and her career received a nitro-injected burst of neck-snapping speed. Currently, BC has
two singles out: Kimberly Caldwell’s “Desperate Girls and Stupid Guys” and her own, “Just A Guy.” BC was kind enough to call Songwriter’s Monthly to discuss her approach to songwriting, her love of performing and her in-depth knowledge of . . . guys! http://www.scribd.com/SongwritersMonthly
“Hi, this is BC,” the artist introduced. Despite the demanding schedule of traveling, performing and promoting her single, BC’s voice was vibrant, sweet and energetic.
hint of the trademark rasp found in her powerful vocals was starting to seep into her voice. “If it’s not a natural process, then it’s usually not for me.” “However, I do write in all sorts of different ways,” she continued. “I’m kind of a chameleon in the studio. I’ve written with so many different people that I think I’ve taught myself just to go with the flow. For instance, I could be with a guitar player and he is just strumming while I’m singing melodies over top or I could be with a track guy working on a more urban vibe.” One thing that does remain consistent in how BC works is to get the tape rolling right from the start to record everything . . . especially those initial ideas. “I need to record whatever happens on my first listen to a track because whatever my instinct is to do with it, that’s usually where the song should go. If I overthink a melody, it starts to become . . . not good.”
“If it’s not a natural process, then it’s usually not for me.”
Impressed by her exuberance, I wondered aloud, “Aren’t you tired, shouldn’t the road be wearing you out by now?” “No,” she exclaimed. “Now it’s even more fun. It’s good, really good!” I shouldn’t have been surprised by BC’s seemingly limitless energy because her bounce is clearly evident in not only the beats to her music, but in the rhythm and word choice of her lyrics, as well. BC has a dynamic writer’s voice that sparkles with an infectious vitality. “Thank you,” she acknowledged. “ T h e r e ’s n o t a p l a n b e h i n d m y songwriting, it’s not me trying to have a similarity in my songs. I guess it’s just coming out naturally . . . it’s me being honest and vulnerable in the studio.” There is a definite caught-in-themoment feel to BC’s lyrics, almost like she’s freestyle rapping, just spitting out the lyrics as natural as can be. “Yeah!” she agreed. “Sometimes when I overthink a song, I throw it away.” A Songwriter’s Monthly - Feb. ’11, #133
“ If I overthink a melody, it starts to become . . . not good.”
“So, you’re not a fan of rewrites?” I asked. “Rewrites could totally kill a song. Usually, first instincts are the right way for me to go,” she reaffirmed. http://www.scribd.com/SongwritersMonthly
Maintaining focus on co-writing, I asked how BC prepared before entering a session.
and real and relatable in the chorus, and then with the verses, you know, sometimes they’ll be a little bit more descriptive, detailed, or even metaphorical.” “Your song ‘Break Up Sex’ is almost two songs in one,” I noted. “The verses could be a ballad, but then you really kick it up and turn it into a fun, upbeat track at the chorus.”
“Every day is so different,” she informed. “I always have my notebooks with me, so I’ll have numerous song titles, concepts, ideas or just poetry on hand. If something doesn’t come naturally, if I don’t have anything that’s flowing through my brain at the session, then I will pull out a notebook and go to my resources. Usually, if I do go in with a concept or an idea, I’ll end up singing something completely different anyway,” she laughed. BC has a keen sense of knowing how to keep it simple while still writing with enough depth to tell a story that listeners can identify with. “You can’t get too complicated with the chorus of a song — you want it to be simple, not too much thinking and easy to remember. I try to keep it honest Songwriter’s Monthly - Feb. ’11, #133
“Right, right e x a c t l y ,” s h e
“I love that pivotal line, ‘Should we end this with what we do best?’ The whole mood of the song drastically changes at that point.”
“There’s always truth in my stories.”
“Yeah, I love that song!” BC exclaimed. “That one started with a title. I was like, ‘We need to write about this break up sex thing that the kids are talking about these days.’” “But it sounds like there’s a bit of truth in the verses of this song,” I probed. http://www.scribd.com/SongwritersMonthly
“There’s always truth in my stories,” she revealed. “I didn’t necessarily go out and have break up sex with
“It’s my therapy, it helps me understand my feelings.”
everybody, you know . . . but the conversations come up. There is truth behind the concept.” “So you weren’t calling up guys saying, ‘Uhm, maybe we should break up today?’” “No, it’s not like that!” BC replied laughing hard. BC has also written and recorded a moving ballad entitled “Used.” The lyrics take a hard look at a relationship and offer some real insight into human behavior. There are so many incredible lines that it seemed this had to be a track she worked on for quite a bit, one she spent a little more time crafting than the others. “ N o t r e a l l y,” s h e responded, “That one was kind of quick. I was with Songwriter’s Monthly - Feb. ’11, #133
Richie Supa — an amazing writer who has written with Aerosmith — and some other writers . . . Jodi Marr [Orianthi, Mika, Ricky Martin, Jonas Brothers, Yellowcard, Steven Tyler, etc.] and we were all just kind of hanging out on our lunch break from writing. Someone was strumming the guitar and Richie started humming some Aerosmith type melody and I was like, ‘What is that?! Is that a song already?’ Richie was like, ‘I don’t know.’ And I was like, ‘Let’s go with
Meeno Peluce, Courtesy J Records.
that, right now!” We didn’t even eat, we went back in and wrote the song, it happened pretty quickly.”
you have a favorite part?” “Wow, I’ve never thought about this before, no one’s ever asked me that . . .” BC fell quiet for a minute. “Hmm . . . the whole process is awesome. After a session, it’s like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, but the best part for me is . . .” More silence. “I don’t know . . . everything!” As noted earlier, BC Jean has a spirited center-stage personality. She’s upbeat, outgoing and infectiously positive. Even though she initially received accolades for being a writer, with such a charged personality, was remaining behind the scenes ever really an option for her? “No,” she stated firmly, “I’ve always been the showgirl! I’ve always put on
“After a session, it’s like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.”
“Even with all those great lines in the lyrics, it just flowed?” “Yeah, it’s really cool when that stuff just comes out. It’s my therapy, it helps me understand my feelings.” “Is it hard to express your feelings when your in a group situation like that?” I wondered. “In the beginning of my career, going into a session, I’d have all these lyrics and all these ideas, but no one could read them! I was sooo protective and insecure and shy and would not throw any ideas out there. Now, it’s just like . . . I have no shame!” she replied laughing. “There are so many moments with a song,” I pointed out, “the rush of the initial inspiration, the heat of the writing, the high of knowing you’ve nailed it, the excitement of taking it into the studio, the thrill of performing it in front of an audience, etc., do Songwriter’s Monthly - Feb. ’11, #133
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little shows for my dolls and my family and made my friends be in girl groups with me — they were my background singers and dancers. The writing for other people thing just kind of landed in my lap starting with Beyoncé wanting to sing ‘If I Were A Boy.’ After that, being an artist was something I had to fight for! I had always been ‘The Artist,’ then all of a sudden, I was ‘The Songwriter,’ and it was kind of weird. But it helped create this buzz and credibility so that the next time I walked into the studio, people actually took me seriously. It was something I never would have imagined, but now I’m getting calls to write for so many amazing artists! I enjoy both parts very much.” “What was your initial reaction when you found out Beyoncé would be releasing your song?” I asked. “Wait, that’s my song!” she laughed. “The hit for Beyoncé was ‘If I Were A Boy’ and the first single for you is ‘Just A Guy,’ you seem to have a great deal of insight when it comes to guys.” “Apparently,” she admitted, then added, “Yet I’m single!” “In ‘Just A Guy’ there is a line that states, ‘For me to explain a girl would take a whole other song.’ Are you up to that challenge? Can you write a song that explains a girl?” “I don’t think I know what a girl is! I think we’re just crazy, that’s what I think. But you know what? You’ve just inspired me. Thank you. I’ll have to get Songwriter’s Monthly - Feb. ’11, #133
to work on that.” BC thought for a moment, then realized, “There wouldn’t be just one song, there would have to be a million! Girls are wired way too intense!” “You’re probably starting to get tired of talking about the ‘pizza’ story and ‘Just A Guy’ and all that, is there anything you haven’t had a chance to mention that you’d like to bring up?” “Well,” she began almost shyly, “It has nothing to do with my songwriting, but I am a judge on Alloy Entertainment’s TV show called TALENT [www.alloytv.com/thetalentshow]. And then I’ll be starring in a scripted series which will start filming at the end of the month.” “Very cool. Congratulations!” “Thank you.” As we concluded our conversation, BC expressed that she would love it if you f o l l o w e d h e r o n Tw i t t e r [ h t t p : / / twitter.com/BCJean], liked her on Fa c e b o o k [ w w w. f a c e b o o k . c o m / BCJeanMusic], or friended her on myspace [www.myspace.com/bcjean]. Besides acting, over the next few months, BC hopes to release another single. Later in the year, the plan is to hit you with a full album! Note: All three songs mentioned in this article [“Just A Guy,” Break Up Sex” and “Used”] can be heard at BC’s website: www.bcjean.com. If you still can’t get enough, click HERE for one extra special BC treat! http://www.scribd.com/SongwritersMonthly
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