Our Exclusive Chat With Be The Bear
Be The The Bear is the nom de plume of Swedish artist and producer Christina Wehage. She’s a one-woman music machine who fuses a bubbly yet clever pop sensibility with an avant-garde persona reminiscent of fellow Scandinavian pop mavens Bjork and AURORA.
How did you come about the name Be The Bear?
I used to have these awful nightmares about a bear trying to get into my house. It would break through the walls, growing bigger as I ran from it, whilst the house fell apart around me. It dawned on me that it was symbolic, that I was trapping myself with my fears. Face your fears, I thought, and the idea of becoming an artist, and completely dedicating myself to that life, recording, writing and producing, truly terrified me – still does. “Be The Bear” started as a mantra, written on my bedroom door, and once I started working on my first demos and the nightmares stopped, it seemed the natural choice for my artist name.
What is the story behind your latest single, “Mermaid”?
“Mermaid” is a love song to a close friend of mine who was in a psychiatric hospital at the time. I felt this overwhelming sense of helplessness when someone I love was going through a terrifying experience. I couldn’t sleep from worrying. In the end, I had to get up – picked up my guitar, and ended up writing “Mermaid”. It was my way of saying you’re not alone and being there for them.
When did you realize music was your calling?
It’s always been a really intimate part of my life. I’ve had melody disease for as long as I can remember, constantly singing, harmonizing on top of other songs, writing down words or phrases that meant something, collecting secret little messages. I grew up on the coast of Sweden, surrounded by nature. I would do a lot of wandering around at night, crawling out of my bedroom window in my pajamas, go down to the beach or through the woods, just constantly improvising vocally. It’s always been my way of dealing with things.
How would you best describe your sound?
It changes all the time, more than normal in this business I think. I know people I have worked with have been concerned about it, that I don’t package myself as one thing. But I hope people can still hear that it’s me, and that they’re my songs, even if my voice or the genre changes from song to song. I try to always be brutally honest with myself when I’m writing, if it’s a dance track, like “Ruler”, or an emotional journey like “Erupt”, I can’t help myself but let the song be what it wants to be. I love all kinds of genres and can appreciate an empowering pop song as much as I love a classical piece.
What do you hope listeners take away from your music?
I think the beauty of it is finding out! For every song, seeing how people react, reading all the beautiful comments on Youtube, or getting emails from around the world about how they heard my song on TV and it made them want to google for hours to find it, those are literally the best moments! I guess I just hope people feel that I’m being genuine and as honest as can be with myself and everyone else when I write.
Who are your dream collaborators?
Oh God, there are so many. I’d love to work with Kishi Bashi or write a duet with Tom Odell. At the moment I’m working with some amazing musicians and producers, building up the live setup for going on tour. They are my dream collaborators.
Is there a possibility to perform your new music live?
Sure! I’m dying to start playing more live, and we’ll be doing live sessions and videos soon too.
What are some albums that really shaped you as an artist?
I’ve always been really into the British music scene, I listened to everything from Radiohead, Tori Amos, Kate Bush to The Beatles. My friend gave me “Debut” by Björk when I was 14 and said she thought I would love it because it was too weird for her. I did. Some great friends of mine in Glasgow had their own club and would introduce me to all kinds of amazing new bands. Because of them I kind of went into collecting hidden gems, making my own playlists. I still do, I have a huge Master playlist on Spotify that I keep adding to. It’s full of treasures.