Rising star Bea Miller has a lot of experience at a young age, but she is discovering new power, and new maturity, in her music. With a series of bold new songs being released in the coming months, and working alongside a group of challenging and stellar collaborators, the 20-year-old is truly coming into her own as a singer, songwriter, and performer.
She traces her recent, dramatic evolution to one specific day. In the summer of 2018, Miller was headed to the recording studio. It was late afternoon on a Sunday -- an odd time to start working -- and she thought about cancelling the session. But when she got there, and started writing with Justin Tranter and Mike Sabath, something magical happened.
“I felt so free, on fire, so new and fresh that I didn’t even know what was happening,” she says. “We were throwing things together that felt exciting, and it turned into maybe the best song I’ve ever written. I didn’t know I was capable of creating a song like that. It was almost like this project started itself and came into existence out of nowhere, and it inspired all the rest of what’s to come.”
The result of that session was “it’s not u it’s me,” the first in a string of songs that Miller will be releasing throughout 2019. The infectious, moody single, featuring 6lack, is indicative of a new direction, clarity, and boldness which Miller attributes to connecting with Tranter (Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Fall Out Boy) and Sabath (Liam Payne, J Balvin, French Montana).
“I’ve been writing music for a few years, but I’ve never felt so understood, so free to express myself,” she says. “Before, people were always so determined to get the best idea or the perfect melody that they weren’t open to whatever idea felt right at the moment. But I found two people who let me sing what I really feel -- no restrictions, no limits, nothing is too outlandish. Mike and Justin actually believed in me and in what I felt. They bring out the best in me and my abilities.”
Miller’s new music also sees her joining forces with a number of notable artists -- she’s featured on a recent remix of Jeremy Zucker’s single “comethru,” with more upcoming collaborations to be announced. “I love collaborating with other artists,” she says, “with someone who lives in the same space, but has a completely different perspective. It’s interesting to leave your own head and the walls you put around yourself and to express yourself in new way. And I’m a big fan of all these people I’ve been working with.”
Miller, who has previously toured with the likes of Fifth Harmony, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez, recently completed first headlining tour, with most dates selling out as soon as tickets were put on sale. “I was terrified, because I’ve never had people show up to a concert just for me,” she says. “I always knew I had fans in the crowd, but you can never tell how many came for you when you’re the opener.” She’s also confirmed to plays sets at major festivals including Firefly, Lollapalooza, Oshega, Outside Lands, Life is Beautiful and Austin City Limits with more to be announced.
“It’s always so much fun for me to perform,” she continues, “but it’s the crowd that makes it fun, and seeing your songs come to life. You don’t really know what anybody else thinks about a song until you see them reacting to it. Only then does it feel real -- until then, you can’t imagine the capacity that a song actually holds.”
Bea’s music has evolved and expanded, and audiences are responding -- her songs have been streamed over a billion times worldwide. Her best-selling debut, Not An Apology, was released in 2015, followed by three EPs and then 2018’s follow-up aurora. She was featured on NOTD’s dance hit “I Wanna Know, which amassed over 100 million global streams on Spotify and nearly 15 million video views, while her own hit “S.L.U.T.” illustrates her outspoken and ambitious approach as a spokesperson for young women everywhere.
“On aurora, I helped write almost every song on the album,” she says, “but I was really dipping my toe into the water and trying to figure out what I wanted to say. I was almost scared of being too truthful -- I wasn’t sure I was ready for my friends and family to know all my feelings and experiences. I’m still incredibly proud of that album -- I wrote a lot of it when I was 17 -- but my upcoming music is a step up from that. aurora was a stepping stone, it chopped a path for this music.”
Miller points to the new track “Feel Something” as a breakthrough in her willingness to open up in her songwriting. “I was going through a weird time in my own head,” she says. “I wanted love, but I knew myself well enough to know that I always want what I can’t have. Maybe I really don’t want anything at all. I get numb to emotions sometimes. I live too much inside of my own thoughts and feel disconnected -- and that’s what the song is about. It helped me accept and learn about myself and these problems.” Songs coming in the future range from the dreamy, head-over-heels “Feels Like Home” to the sparse tension of “You Can’t Save Me.”
From her candid lyrics to her involvement in anti-bullying organizations to her attendance at marches and rallies, Miller -- who was Included in both Paper Magazine’s “Predictions: 100 People Taking Over 2019” and “100 Women Revolutionizing Pop” lists -- represents a generation of artists who are increasingly engaged and active in social causes. “For a lot of us as younger people, it almost feels like the future is getting darker,” she says. “We’re trying to prevent that, to find the light and move forward. I think people are more focused on telling the truth because they know there are bigger problems. Listeners want to feel understood, so I’m trying to write my truth the best that I can and not hold back the raw emotions. It’s better to tell the truth than to mask what’s really going on.”
Raised by two mothers, along with a pair of adopted siblings, Miller’s family played a large part in shaping her perspective. “I was raised to be aware and to believe that knowledge is power,” she says. “My mom has always been fighting for gay rights and human rights and the environment. The biggest thing I can do is bring awareness to those subjects and express that we need to pay more attention and be there for each other. In some of my songs coming in the future, I talk about those subjects in detail, and I hope to inspire other artists and writers to realize that we can express anything we want to our listeners, so we should be talking about things that matter.”
Bea Miller’s fearless embrace of honesty and possibility has led not just to a creative breakthrough, but also to an attitude that is genuinely inspiring. “I used to worry about what other people would think of a song or if they would understand,” she says. “Now that I’ve let that go, I’m so much happier with the songs. I’m not necessarily imagining the outcome when I’m working on a song, I’m just focusing on being in that moment and telling whatever story is on my mind.
“I never thought I could write anything I could love so much,” she says. “And every time I write another song that surprises me, it inspires me to keep writing and creating and being as truthful as I can.”