Betta Lemme, the diversive, creative, and resonating musician whose songs blend facets of a movie scene, featuring romance and drama, with a little loss and sadness to give it a fair balance. Lemme hails from Montreal, and makes her home in NYC, where she moved not knowing a single soul. Her first three-song EP, Bambola, released in late 2017, featured the title track receiving more than 50 million YouTube views, with Lemme delivering the lyrics in Italian, French and English. Her influences consist of orchestral pop from the ‘60s, dance music from the ‘90s, David Bowie, Missy Elliott, and Burt Bacharach, to name but a few.
Lemme recently signed a record deal with Ultra Music, and is working steadily on her full-length album debut, where each song as mentioned in her press bio, states that these “forthcoming songs are sprung from an elaborate dreamworld where her icons are her closest companions, all designated an essential role…”
We had a lively chat with Lemme about her styles of music, her vivid and visionary mind, her new signing with Ultra Music, and much more.
You blend a variety of styles with your music…which style do you feel you are most influenced by?
Betta Lemme: I’m most influenced by late 90’s/00’s dance pop mixed with classic pop from the 60’s-90’s… literally Burt Bacharach to the Spice Girls.
What are your earliest memories of being drawn to music?
Betta: I remember being drawn to music at 2 years old when I tried to learn the Addams Family song on the piano.
Piano is a great love for you…what drew you to that instrument specifically? Are there any other instruments you’d love to play?
Betta: I love the piano because every single note is just laying there, right in front of you, and the possibilities are endless. Sitting at the piano feels like everything makes sense and it’s comforting. I play a couple of other instruments, but there are more I’d love to learn how to play like the cello, the saxophone or even the harp. I wish I played the guitar better and in my dreams I like to shred together with Brian May and Nancy Wilson.
I love that you picked up your life and moved to a city where you knew no one and pursued your love of music. Do you remember what that felt like, and if you had to, would you do it all over again?
Betta: Oh my goodness… I was the most alone when I left Montreal for New York City! The loneliness was really amplified in a city where there is so much hustle and bustle and everybody’s pretending to be busy. I would do it over and over again because I met and made a family who literally did the same thing I did (leaving home for the unknown) and it takes a certain amount of heart and courage to push through. I admire that in them. Together, we made ourselves stronger.
I love your vivid imagination and visionary…can you share with us your writing and recording process?
Betta: Thank you. When writing a song, if I can’t visualize a movie or a scene, I scrap it. I usually picture and write little movies in my head to a song as we go along and they end up being the music videos in some capacity.
I also am intrigued that “each of your forthcoming songs are sprung from an elaborate dream world where your icons are your closest companions, all designated an essential role – Freddie Mercury is your father, Gaga’s your older sister, Liberace’s your decorator, etc.” What inspired this process?
Betta: I think my process was inspired by just taking a step back from myself and coming to the realization that it’s okay to be multi-faceted and not just one style. I love glamorous pop icons and am obsessed with classical melodies at the piano that aren’t as common nowadays, but I like to apply them to music that makes me dance extra hard. It can be easy to have an identity crisis, but not if you own the styles that set your soul on fire. In the next songs, Missy Elliott was my godmother, Dalida was my grandmother and the boys in Muse were my uncles. Wild.
With your recent signing to Ultra Music and working on your full-length debut, what has your recent success taught you?
Betta: My recent success has taught me that having a team at a label that listens to the artist is the most important thing in creating and having freedom. Success behind our first singles has taught me to only keep working harder and that maybe I should continue on this road even if it scares me.
Who was your first concert? Do you have an overall favorite?
Betta: Omg. Yes. Cher was my first concert as a child and needless to say, the inspiration was pink and glittery. Possibilities seemed infinite during that show and she was an absolute goddess who owned herself and the world she built around her. It was a wonderful memory.
What was your first album on cassette, CD and/or vinyl?
Betta: My first albums were Aquarium by AQUA, Under Construction by Missy Elliott and lastly, A Night at the Opera by QUEEN. The QUEEN album really made me feel nauseous. It was the first time music made me stop and listen to all the intricate classical layers and it made me feel super-human.
Which five albums and/or artists would you not want to live without?
Betta: ABBA, Aqua, Michael Jackson, Kylie Minogue, Bowie and MINA.
Which female musicians and/or artists would you love to share the stage with and/or collaborate in some way?
Betta: Just thinking of this list makes me want to write a novel. I’d love to share the stage with Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Sophie, LP, Celine Dion, Charli XCX, Mylene Farmer and MINA… mostly strong women with a voice that could tear the sky apart.
Do you have a guilty music or entertainment pleasure?
Betta: EURO DANCE FOREVER. Vengaboys. I will listen to the most fast paced music and dance to Dance Dance Revolution (an old arcade dancing game) tracks by myself with no shame. No guilt. Actually zero guilt and think everyone should start dancing to DDR. That is my pleasure.
Photo courtesy of Bekka Gunther