Betty Who pens track-by-track for her new album The Valley

Exclusive: Australian artist details the stories behind the songs

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Australian artist Betty Who has written us a track-by-track of her upcoming album The Valley, due out on 24 March. 

From her massive song 'I Love You Always Forever' to recently-released track 'Some Kinda Wonderful', she details the stories behind the songs and what they mean to her personally. 

Read her piece below:

The Valley [Album title]

Before I had decided on a name for the album, I wanted to sit down and write an intro then decide what to call the album after I wrote it, and this is what came of it. I spent an entire day locked in my home studio, just recording and rerecording ideas and harmonies until I wrote the second half of this.  

“Now there's fire burning in the valley” - It felt like both the perfect end to the process that was writing this album and a confident beginning to the next chapter in my life.

'Some Kinda Wonderful'

I had been in the studio for four days with Pop & Oak and we wrote this on the fourth day, after doing a bunch of other completely different, totally amazing songs. 

We sat on the third night after we had finished writing, talking for a few hours about what I really wanted for my career and who I wanted to be. When I came back in the next day this was the track they had made and I was literally ecstatic.

'You Can Cry Tomorrow'

This is one of the only songs I've ever written about a girlfriend of mine.  

I've got this friend who seems to always end up dating the “wrong guy” (I think we all have those friends) and it drives all of us so crazy because she's so beautiful and perfect and she keeps getting walked all over by these not very nice men.  

So this song was sort of my ode to her and everybody like her, honouring the goddess that she is and pledging my never ending love to her.

'Mama Say'

In case you didn't know already, this is totally my ode to Britney Spears.  If you listen to the lyrics, half of them are hinting at Britney songs I've always loved.

And then of course there's the bridge where I literally feel like I'm walking through the cascading rain of the 2001 Live In Las Vegas HBO special she did wearing a clear cowboy hat with a boa constrictor around my neck.

'Human Touch'

I'll be honest, I actually didn't like this song when we wrote it. Which is CRAZY now cause it's one of my favourite songs on the album, but initially I sort of backed away from it for a few months. It also took about 100 different versions of the song to land where it did in it's final product, so I think that definitely didn't help.  

Now performing it is the thing I look the most forward to during any show, so I guess that goes to show you I'm completely unpredictable.

'Free To Fly' 

This song is an ode to somebody who had their heart broken. I wanted to write an anthem for them, something that was only for them, that affirmed their inner dialogue. I think when we get broken up with, sometimes it's really hard to get back on the “I'm a strong independent lady and I don't need no man” train.

But this is about accepting that, knowing it's not going to be perfect tomorrow, and still feeling like a #brandnewqueen.  I don't know how often I've given this advice, but if somebody doesn't know how lucky they are to have you, then they don't deserve you at all.

'Wannabe'

Oh man, wannabe is one of the most personal songs on the record. I was in the studio with Ali Tamposi and Peter Thomas, sort of messing around on a bunch of different ideas and not really feeling anything we were doing.  I don't know who decided it was a good idea, but somebody finally said “okay we're not getting anywhere, let's just sit at the piano and see if we can get something down that way”.  

About an hour later, we had the entire song finished and Ali and I were already harmonising the last chorus like a couple of nerds.  I love this song not only because it's so real to me, but because I think it's a feeling almost every single person I've ever known has felt.  

'Pretend You're Missing Me'

This song was one of the last songs I wrote for the record.  I was feeling really tapped out emotionally and sort of “over it” in a very intense way (which, after over a year of writing, I think is an understandable place to be), but I had been dying to work with the Monsters so I put my big girl pants on and got to the session and realised it was going to be the easiest day of my life.

Those guys are the most chill and we had so much fun hanging out and making this song, and the emotion that this song embodies was so present in the room that day.  Nothing is worse than when you walk away from a relationship and realise that the person you love and still think about every single day doesn't even miss you anymore.  

'Blue Heaven Midnight Crush'

I held a little week-long writing camp in New York for this album with a few of my favourite people right around christmas time (WHICH IF YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ME MEANS YOU WILL KNOW THAT I FREAKING LOVE CHRISTMAS BECAUSE IT IS THE MOST MAGICAL TIME OF THE YEAR).  

When Jarrad and Fran and I had done a few songs, we were talking about the feeling - one that you couldn't put into words - of falling in love with your best friend.  Knowing it could ruin everything but also knowing nothing had ever felt so real.  How confusing it is, how hard it can be to navigate.  And this song was the product of that.  

'Make You Memories'

This was the first song I wrote with Justin Tranter for the album. We had an early-ish session, I think around 11am and I walked in completely matching with him head to toe. Same colour scheme, same shoe choice, almost identical leather jacket... Needless to say we've been soul mates ever since.

 Justin is such a gifted man, it took us what felt like ten seconds to bang this entire song out then we sat on the couch and drank wine for two hours.  (YES IT WAS ONLY 1PMBUT IT WAS A SATURDAY SO LEAVE ME ALONE).  

'Reunion'

I was in New York right before I moved officially to LA, working with Robopop and Peter. If I remember correctly, the day we wrote this song was actually the day that Robopop was sick as a dog and he was trying so hard to stick it out but he was like... sweaty and pale and looked like a victim of the bubonic plague in 1350.  

We felt so bad for him but we also all wanted to work together so badly that we were all like “okay we've got two hours then you're going home - let's see what we can do” and we wrote the first verse and chorus of Reunion.  

I walked away from the session thinking it was okay and I didn't know what would happen to the song... Then about a month later I listened back to what we had done and was really moved by it.  We got back in a few months later and finished it (Robopop was feeling much better 😎)  and now I think it's the most honest and real song on the album.  

It's actually a little too real for me, sometimes listening to it or singing it is actually really hard.  But I figured that's what made it important to share.

'Beautiful'

I wrote beautiful with Pretty Sister the day after the Pulse shooting in Orlando.  I woke up that morning so shaken and broken hearted.  I didn't really know where to place all that grief.  We got together and talked about wanting to write a song that took something so violent and senseless and turned it into something positive and empowering.  It took us hours to nail down the write words and feeling, I think it was almost nine hours in the session until we finally got the chorus right.  But when we got it right, we were both like... “oooooohhhhhhh THERE it is”.  

'I Love You Always Forever'

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I never intended to put this song on the album.  When Peter and I did the cover, it was supposed to be just that.  A cover.  A cute little moment, a song I could add to my live show, nothing too serious, no press or promotion around it.  But of course, as Amy Poehler taught me, if you treat your career like a bad boyfriend it will come crawling back to you on it's hands and knees offering you the world.  

So something about my lack of commitment to this song somehow led it to be one of the biggest songs I've ever put out.  Not to mention, now it's one of my favourite (if not my #1 favourite) songs to perform. There's something magical in what Peter did, probably because it was accidental. But I have loved this song since it came out when I was 5 years old, and still to this day love it with every part of me.

The Valley is out on 24 March via RCA Records - pre-order now. She plays a London show on 17 May for the EQ Music Live series.

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