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With an eye-catching signature blonde pixie cut, delightful nineties superstar fixation, and singing and songwriting prowess befitting of her stadium ambition, Betty Who commands the dance floor.
“I’ve spent the past two years on the road, and I walked away with this intense feeling of wanting to make dance music,” she exclaims. “All of that touring and living developed my sense of self. It’s a really fast learning curve out there. You have to learn how to get better immediately. Because of that, I’m in a place where I feel more aware of who I am and able to be vulnerable in a sincere and blunt way. My band and I have the best time ever. It’s about creating songs that feel huge in front of a crowd of 20 or 20,000. I know that I want to get people moving.”
That’s what the Australia-born and Los Angeles-based songstress has been doing since the release of her explosive 2013 independent EP, The Movement. Who’s 2014 full-length debut, Take Me When You Go [RCA Records], cemented her as a 21st century buzzworthy pop force “replete with skyscraper-size tunes that could rattle the screws in the nosebleeds”—as proclaimed by Vogue. While the lead single “Somebody Loves You” went on to amass over 26 million Spotify streams and counting, she earned glowing acclaim from Harpers Bazaar, Time, Glamour, Elle, New York Magazine, and Spin who dubbed Take Me When You Go the “Best Pop Album of 2014.”
Between high-profile tours with Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue and Kiesza, she performed on The View, The Today Show, and Late Night With Seth Meyers and guested on Troye Sivan’s RIAA gold-selling Blue Neighbourhood in 2015. Her 2016 cover of Donna Lewis’s 1996 smash “I Love You Always Forever” quickly racked up more than 11 million Spotify streams in a few months’ time, went platinum in Australia, and laid the foundation for what would become her sophomore offering.
“There are a bunch of different reasons I went in the direction I did,” she goes on. “I feel like I’ve grown up a lot along the way.”
Recording the bulk of the material in Los Angeles with a few sessions in New York, she quietly cultivated a style that’s equally smart, sexy, and spunky. The single “Human Touch” illuminates Who’s progression. Produced by and co-written with longtime collaborator Peter Thomas, the track begins with a hummable synth as finger-snaps propel the beat. Her inimitable voice takes the spotlight building from a breathy croon into a seductively connectable refrain, “Just need a human touch.”
“It was about this experience I had,” she admits. “When you’re in a relationship with somebody and that relationship ends, you’ll always live in this weird middle ground where you used to be the closest person in the world to this ex—but now you’re not anymore. It’s real to me, and I’m talking about when I got together with an ex-boyfriend for a week after everything between us had ended for a while. It felt universal enough for me to write about. ‘Human Touch’ is the introduction to that new version of myself I’ve found in the last couple of years.”
As a both writer and multi-instrumentalist, she continues to paint pictures with a hypnotic and heartfelt honesty. Drawing on everything from her childhood classical training at Michigan’s Interlochen Center of the Arts to a lifelong Joni Mitchell and Carole King obsession, Who brings a poignant and personal perspective to pop music.
“On this album, I implemented something of a rule,” she says. “All of the songs, except for maybe one or two, can be played at a piano or with a guitar. I can actually sing you the story of the song with everything stripped away. It was so important to me.”
Ultimately, Who is ready to make listeners move worldwide. “I love it when people tell me they’ve listened to my music on a shitty day, and it genuinely made them feel better,” she leaves off. “‘Human Touch’ makes you feel sexy and want to dance. No matter what it is, I want to be there for my fans and anybody who listens to what I’m doing. When a record moves somebody, that defines success for me.”