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Queens native and singer-songwriter Biet is that enviable girl who’s got it all— the depth of a spiritual warrior and the air of a cosmopolitan woman with a Balenciaga bag slung over her shoulder. She uses music as a vehicle for her soul to communicate to the world and is inspired by magic and fairy tales. Now composing under the name Biet & Black with producer Jacob Plasse, Biet has preserved the heartbreak beat that captivated many ears when she sang for Noodle and World War. Her voice is vulnerable in a way that both soothes and moves the listener, creating an intimacy with its raw and unrestricted sound. Her vocals are accompanied by guitar-fused synthetic beats that quicken and slow along with the mood of the song. A true romantic, her lyrics have a serious approach to love that, like she describes herself, is strangely calm and most definitely worth a listen. We got a chance to pick her brain about love, the addictive craziness of New York and her obsession all things beautiful. — Maria Eilersen

SHK: TELL US ABOUT YOUR OBSESSION WITH BEAUTY AND ALL THINGS PRETTY.

BIET: Well I am very vain… I have always cared way too deeply about beauty. I love gold and diamonds and fine linens. My father used to say my biggest tragedy in life was that I was going to have to fit this cosmopolitan woman and this spiritual warrior all into one little body. He said I would have to make them balance. I guess that’s what I do today, matching my Nars lipstick color to my cardigan one minute and guiding big groups through a meditation the next. I was always that girl sitting in the corner of the party at 4 a.m. talking about God and the meaning of life — but, ya know, I was wearing APC and carrying a Balenciaga bag. You know that girl, well that was me. I know this interview isn’t about my spiritual life, but I would say that meditation plays a huge role in how I make music now, and also how I perceive beauty. The prettiest thing I have ever seen isn’t even visible; it’s the feeling I get in my heart when I look into the eyes of someone I love, or that same feeling when I am singing a song. 

YOUR NAME IS VERY UNIQUE. WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND IT?

Biet is a rare Russian name. Its full version is Bieta or Bierta. My parents named me Biet because it was my great grandmother’s name on both my moms and dads side of the family. I used to call myself Betty in school because I wanted to fit in and be more Wonderbread, but when I turned 18 I returned to the truth. I figured I was too much of an outsider to pull off Betty anyhow, but now, when people from my past call me Betty I actually find it quite endearing.

IN AN INTERVIEW FOR POLKADOT, YOU EXPRESSED A NEED TO HIDE BEHIND A BAND NAME.

I really like to think that my music is romantic and simple, but has heartbreak beats. I like to make music that someone can run to at the end of a film to find the girl they love in the rain. I feel like that passionate moment deserves a soundtrack. I believe I write that soundtrack with my songs. The truth is romantic nights in the city and falling in love can be done on many levels. I feel like I spent many years painting and polishing my Mask. I thought if I could just get it ugly enough, or beautiful enough, then I could use it to hide behind. My idea was that I could use it to spread some message of art or love or sadness or something, but later I realized that no amount of mask polishing was going to do it.

WHAT MADE YOU RETURN TO BIET?

I saw that the only way to connect with people was to be the imperfect shell that carries the perfect pearl around. I am broken and flawed and dirty and make all kinds of mistakes. Biet is anyhow. And I think the more honest I am about who Biet is the better chance I have at making music that’s untouched by all that is false. My Music may be a pearl, but I no longer pretend to be. So in the long of it, that’s why I came back to Biet, I didn’t need anything strong to hide behind anymore because my weakness is my strength now… If that makes sense? In the end, I guess it’s more Betty and Biet, I tend to ride around in different forms, neither is better or worse. But I like to think it’s getting rawer or more honest.

HOW DOES BIET & BLACK COMPARE TO THE SOUND OF WORLD WAR? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC?

Biet and Black is a collaboration between myself and the awesome and fresh producer Jacob Plasse, so in that it’s very different. Jacob cares about raw sounding guitars and analogue, everything. This record is very different from my previous World War songs, which I think were more influenced by ’80s synths. The serious love song aspect is still the same though and I think there is a similarity to all music I make. But Jacob is a genius and I love working with him.

WHAT ROLE DOES MUSIC PLAY IN YOUR LIFE?

Magic, fairy tales, mysticism, laughter, those are some inspirations… Music is one way that my soul likes to communicate to the world. It’s similar to making love or swimming or sunbathing, in that it’s essential to my life.

PEOPLE CALL YOU A ROMANTIC. HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF?

Ha, I guess I am romantic. I guess I see myself more and more as I move forward so many parts of me are beautiful and clever, slow and dreamy, while other parts are harsh, angry and afraid. I guess I would say I see myself as someone who is willing to admit defeat. I see myself as someone who is strangely calm. I see myself as someone who loves my friends, laughter, candlelight. Gosh I guess I am just romantic [laughs].

DESCRIBE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH NEW YORK CITY.

Well it has changed over the years. There was a time when all I ever saw of New York was the night, the lights and the action. I wouldn’t trade New York nights for anything, at least not trade in my years I spent digging around in them, aching and looking for the secret to the “Underground,” as Jonas Mekas calls it. My life now though is so different. I wake up at 7 a.m. and get out into the crazy New York streets. I think New York is crazy. I love it’s heartbeat though, if I make music, see friends, stop to breath and meditate, and have flowers on my kitchen table, then this city’s speed doesn’t kill me. I can see why people get overwhelmed here, but as long as you leave to the ocean during the summer, I think it’s ok. New York is my home, so I am sort of blind to its insanity. I’m actually a weirdo anywhere else I ever go, cause this is really all I know.

Download the album : bietandblack.bandcamp.com and make sure to go to SHK TV and watch the exclusive performance the band did for SHK.

beit and black from SHK on Vimeo.

 

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