Meet Beth Keeping, a singer/songwriter from Surrey, UK.
With a sound that be described as contemporary pop with all the storytelling goodness from country music, Beth Keeping’s take on things has always was been an honest expression of her feelings about real life situations.
The British singer’s love for song has taken her across oceans Singapore, Ireland, Estonia, Andalusia and America.
Following the release of her single ‘San Fransisco‘, we spoke to Beth about women in music and the inspiration behind her new song.
What do you love most about being a songwriter?
I love that I can write about stuff that we all go through but maybe can’t all express. I also love that it gives me the opportunity to work with so many different people – you can write with someone you’ve never met before and by the end it the session you feel like you know them so well!
To you, what 3 elements are required for a great song?
I think a great song is one that moves people, whether happy or sad. Also having a melody that is beautiful, catchy or unique, and lyrics that paint a picture or put a new spin on an old theme are always great.
As a songwriter who prides themselves on honesty, Where do you draw the line with creative/poetic embellishment?
It depends who I’m writing for, with my own artist songs I don’t have a line when it comes to keeping things personal or private, I made a decision a while back to be brutally honest and I’m trying to stick to that even when I’m worried what people might think. But I will change details to fit a song, for example some words will fit a rhyme scheme or flow better than others, or just sound better when painting an image.
Can you share a few lines from the first song you ever wrote?
Ooo risky question… I vaguely remember the first song I wrote on piano when I was about 13. I was being bullied at the time and it was really dark! I have it in an old notebook somewhere at my parents house, but the only bit I remember is:
“Secrets echo through the night to me
Reaching ghostly hands out
Telling me I’m not okay
[Some super emo line I can’t remember]
I cannot breathe and
Sunlight can’t get through to help us now
So we’re disappearing
Suddenly it’s oh so cold.”
What is the personal significance of ‘San Francisco’ ?
I wrote the song after a backpacking trip I did across South East Asia earlier this year. While I was in Vietnam I met someone from San Francisco and there was a moment when we said goodbye where I felt something could have happened, but neither of us acted on it. The song is looking back and accepting that the moment is in the past but also wondering what would happen if you had another opportunity. It’s not making any assumptions, just casually saying: “I’ll probably never see you again, but if I’m ever in San Francisco would you care?”
Does the person you’re writing about know the song is about them and how do you think they feel about it?
I’m pretty sure they haven’t heard it and I’d like to keep it that way…! I’m sure if they did they would understand it’s just the words of a moment and not necessarily how I feel now.
So the song was originally inspired by a series of events that happened while you were out in South East Asia. What prompted you to head out there in the first place?
A lot of my friends have recently celebrated big milestones like buying houses and getting engaged. I’m really happy for them and it’s been great to share that, but my own life looks completely different so I wanted to do something to celebrate where I’m at and take advantage of my lack of ties rather than see myself as lacking those things. So I bought a plane ticket and went off!
I know you’ve spent a lot of time travelling. If you had to pick one, where would be your favourite place to write and why?
I think I’d have to say Nashville because their culture of crafting lyrics and their work ethic. It’s also a super fun place to hang out and I have a lot of friends there. I’ve just been writing in LA though and I really enjoyed the weather…!
Delving into that can you tell us a bit more about the ‘Write Like A Girl’ programme?
Write Like a Girl is about championing female songwriters and celebrating the way that we write as women. When I first started out as a songwriter I would go to a lot of networking nights and sometimes I’d be one of only 3 women in the room. Today still only 17% of songwriters in the UK are women, so we’re trying to do our bit to change that by giving women a platform and having those conversations.
Why are programmes like this important?
There are a lot of great programmes out there to promote gender equality in the music industry. They’re important because music is so important to our lives – it helps us process emotions, it becomes the soundtrack to our journeys and brings people together, so we need to make sure that there is music out there that represents all voices, genders, races, sexualities etc. Every writer has something unique to say, and we need to be hearing from more women.
Finally, in your opinion, What are the biggest challenges that face women in the music industry?
I think we’re battling the same old problems of age and image. There is a constant pressure on women get signed and be successful before they reach a certain age, and to look attractive, which men don’t have in the same way.
There’s also the challenge of being taken seriously on the business side when pushing doors and making connections. Just recently I was discussing with other female artists how many of us receive criticism from male fans who try to mansplain how we should be tackling our careers better, as if we don’t understand the industry and how it works. It’s difficult to find that balance between being kind and grateful for their support for our music, and not putting up with sexist behaviour
Check out Beth’s latest video here and let us know what you think @industrymee
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