Interviews

Savnanna Betts // Exclusive interview with none other then Miss Savannah Betts.

Q1: If you had the opportunity to get an inspiring message across to a lot of people, what would your message be? 

A1: Failure is a good thing. I know people probably hear this a thousand times, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to embrace failure. It can be failing in an exam, failing to get that job interview, failing to finally beat a level on an Xbox game, failing to cook dinner or whatever. No matter what you personally feel you have failed in, it’s okay. If you succeeded in everything all the time you would either be the perfect human being or a robot, and your life would be dull. Without failure, we don’t learn and we don’t feel challenged. Without challenges, you wouldn’t develop a stronger mental attitude or understand what your capabilities as a person even are. This is something I have to sometimes make an effort to remind myself of because we put so much pressure on ourselves in this society to be the most perfect human being all the time and it’s just impossible. Failure is something that should be celebrated because it means you tried and sometimes trying a thing is so much more important than the success of it. It’s that whole cliche thing about the journey being more important than the destination, and despite it being so cheesy it’s so true. Lastly, you have to celebrate failing and trying something in the first place, because you should celebrate your confidence and determination to be successful in the first place. If you celebrate and nurture that confidence to continue to keep trying and failing no matter what then one day you will be successful in your entirely unique way because not everyone’s journey is the same. Always try.

Q2: How did you get started with your music? And if you weren’t an artist/musician what would you want to be doing?

A2: I’ve wanted to be a performer for as long as I can remember, although mostly as an actress at first. I tried learning the piano at age 7 because I was desperate to learn how to play Fuer Elise, but my attention soon wavered and it didn’t stick. When I was 9 years old I convinced my dad to start teaching me guitar and I’ve never put it down or stopped writing songs since. I had two guitar teachers for a few years, one of which was my best friend’s dad, but when they moved back to the UK everything I did was self-taught. When I was 15 my two friends and I tried to form a band and performed some covers in a school talent show.

People really enjoyed our performance, however, that was as far as our music together ever went. Doing that talent show eventually gave me the courage to perform my original solo material when I was 18. At the time I was really into country and folk music, but I didn’t feel that as someone living in HK I could get away with writing that kind of music. Initially, I just stuck to acoustic pop tunes.


In 2012 I released my self-produced EP  Lost At Sea before moving to the UK for university, and that is what kick-started everything for me more or less over here. I met some amazing folk musicians (Gilded Thieves)  at one of my first gigs in the UK, whom I’m still friends with today, and that’s what inspired me to write and release my second EP, Old Toy, in 2013. It wasn’t until two years ago that I really began to think about the nature of my music and what I really wanted the sound to develop into. With my love for Daughter and other bands my sister would describe as ‘incredibly depressing’, I realized that I was really drawn to a moodier sound.

I still have a huge love for folk music, and I definitely still try to use certain elements of that way of writing into my new music.

There was a moment in high school though, before going to University to study Performing Arts, where I thought ‘Maybe I should become an archeologist instead?’. I love ancient history and I exploring new places. Ironically, my mother thought this wasn’t a sustainable career and told me to stick to acting, which I did, and here I am.

Q3: What or who keeps you motivated and inspires you?

A3: I am proud to say that I have a lot of different ways to keep myself motivated. For one, my closest friends and family are such a driving force to my motivation. They pick me up when I’m on the brink of giving up, and always know what to say. My best friend and sister are particularly good at delivering a mixture of support and tough love, and I am so grateful for that. Then there’s all the musicians I surround myself with and the artists I listen to: Each one of them inspires me through their sheer determination and passion, their personal story, and talent. Surrounding myself with working musicians motivates me to want to work harder and better at what I’m doing because I find their drive infectious. But most of all it is my need for music that motivates me. Music is my medium for dealing with things and without it sometimes I’m a bit lost. Listening to or writing a song helps me figure out a lot about myself when I’m dealing with life, and most of the time the songs I write say more about how I feel than I even think I understand at the time.

Q4: What is the most memorable experience of your life/career so far? And what have you learned from it?

A4: It might sound weird but I would have to say right now. I’ve recently left a job to pursue music full time. I have one 0-hour contract in a theater that doesn’t make me lots of money, but apart from that I am relying on acoustic cover gigs to pay my bills, and it’s terrifying. Not having a stable income is incredibly scary. But there’s something about the necessity of waking up every morning and working my absolute hardest on music that is really exhilarating and exciting. I love being able to say to people ‘I’m a musician’, and even though I am pretty close to being broke this is the happiest I have been in a long time because every day I get to wake up and play, write or perform music. And that’s exactly what I want to be doing. So far it’s teaching me lots about letting go of worries, being proactive, financial budgeting, and also most importantly about what really makes me happy in life. I’m sure there are many more lessons to come along the way as well, but for now, it’s teaching me to tackle my fears head on and to step outside of my comfort zone to pursue my dreams. Everything feels like it’s setting me up for something really amazing ahead, and I am just so excited to be where I am right now and to see where I’ll end up.

Q5: Would you go back and change anything in your journey so far? (If no, why)

A5: I think I’ve had lots of moments where I’ve wished I had done things differently or knew about opportunities and how to go after them in advance.However, at the same time, I wouldn’t change anything I have done because then it wouldn’t be my journey. The point of everything I’ve been through is to learn from my mistakes in my own way, and these failures and successes are what make me and my music who I am. I’ve had many brilliant people guiding me through the music world along the way and it’s been wonderful. If I wasn’t doing things the way I did them, I wouldn’t have met them.

Q6: In the next two years what do you ASPIRE to have done?

A6: In the next two years I basically aspire to have made it onto a BBC introducing show, traveled to Australia, played some fun festivals, find a manager, have released new music and collaborated with other artists. I think collaborating with other people is in the foreground because it’s what I enjoy the most about art overall. Being able to come together with like-minded, or sometimes not like-minded artists is thrilling. It’s something I feel pushes me to be a better artist, and the result of creating something with someone else is always amazing. However, most of all I just want to make sure that everything I do artistically and in life makes me happy. I’m not worried about how long it will take me to ‘get there’, as long as it’s fun. That’s the whole point of art, isn’t it?

Q7: How much of your life and background have influenced you to become a songwriter/musician?

A7: Everything and yet nothing at the same time. Knowing I wanted to be a performer from a very young age shaped me more than my life has shaped my dream, to be honest. It is what led me to take piano lessons, guitar lessons, dance lessons, acting classes, and then singing lessons. I started a band with some friends, performed, and then eventually performed solo. The whole YouTube era of emerging talents and people like Kate Nash, who were releasing home recordings, are what massively inspired me to release my own self-produced and written EP. Growing up in the age of the internet was definitely a massive advantage to my musical endeavors. It played a huge role for me being able to feel that I was able to actually release music to the world without being signed or too many complications. With the help from a friend of my father’s I was introduced to programmes like Cubase and spent two years just recording covers for YouTube videos. It wasn’t until 2012 when I produced my first EP, which in itself was a huge learning curve for me.


My family has always been supportive of my dreams and growing up there was constantly music playing in the house. They have repeatedly been very real with me about my career path and what it entails. When I was about 10 or so they sat me down to let me know that I probably wouldn’t make much money from what I wanted to do and that I really understood that. But that was okay with me because I just needed to do it.


My background of being a TCK (Third Culture Kid) and having traveled around the world all my life is also what influences my way of thinking and in turn my lyrics. I think I developed into a very deep thinker and as a result, a lot of my lyrics are quite melancholic, although not in a horrible kind of way.

Q8: What lyrics mean the most to you and why (ones you have written and or ones you didn’t write) 

A8: I find different meaning in the lyrics of songs every time I listen to it, depending on how I’m feeling that day so it’s hard to choose something from someone else.

Lyrics that I have written that mean the most to me, though, are from my song Help. This was a song I wrote about my personal experience with some of the worst depression I have experienced so far. The song was my way of manifesting the pain, but also trying to reach out to those who might be able to relate. For them to hopefully just know that someone else out there understands what it’s like. Asking for help isn’t always easy, especially when you feel like no one can or wants to, and the stigmas around mental health that exist make it even harder sometimes. Asking for help is not attention seeking, it’s an incredibly brave thing to do.


The song means a lot to me because I am proud of myself for being unapologetic about my pain, for being honest with myself and everyone around me when it all got too much, and also for having pulled through it. This song is a constant reminder of how much stronger I am today.


‘Somebody Help, please. Somebody hear me. Somebody help, somebody come, somebody pull me away from this gun. Somebody Help, please. Somebody help.’

Q9: If you could collaborate with anyone who would to it be and why?

A9: Daughter. I have been such a fan of her haunting and rhythmic tunes since I first discovered her online 6 years ago. Her songs are the perfect mixture of melancholy and melodic vulnerability that just transports me somewhere different every time. To be able to collaborate with her would be such a dream, as I take a lot of inspiration for my sound from her style.

Q10: What is the most inspiring message you have internalized in life so far?

A10: To be unapologetic for who you are and your self-worth, especially as a woman.


The last few years have been a rollercoaster for me, and I’ve learned a lot about life, relationships, friendships, family, and being independent. Most of all I’ve discovered though how important it is, to be honest with yourself. This is your life. You have to decide who you want to be in it, and then go out there and do your thing without apologizing for it. Otherwise, you end up running around aimlessly catering to everyone else’s needs, but your own, and I think there’s a danger in that. If you negate your own feelings and desires then you’re inadvertently giving people around you permission to do the same. And people will take advantage of that. In a society where women are taught to be of less value of men, it is our responsibility to take ownership over our lives and to not tolerate any less than we deserve. It’s important to be able to say ‘I think you’re wrong, and what you’re saying is not okay’, because knowing what you want and how you want to do something isn’t a bad thing. It’s annoying because if you’re a woman who knows and says what she wants you’re labeled a ‘bitch’. The fact is, your views will clash with other people’s way of doing things and that sometimes is sad or frustrating, but if you don’t stand up for what you believe in no one will do it for you. I always support empathy, compassion and being kind to others, but you also have to be kind to yourself. If you have intrinsic values that make you who you are, don’t let anyone tell you differently, and don’t ever feel like you have to apologize for it. Because that’s life and this is your journey.

 

Q11: What is your motto in life/what do you live by?

A11: I don’t have a motto, perse, to be honest, and I’m not much a believer in fate or destiny. I do very firmly believe that the choices we make with situations that are given to us should, as much as possible, be a reflection of who we are and want to be as a person in life. While you might not always have control of your circumstances, you do have the choice on how to react to it and what to do next. I think a lot of people have more power than they realize or want to realize because acknowledging it means they have to take responsibility for their actions and themselves. That’s a really difficult thing to do sometimes, especially when you have a string of bad things pile on top of you. However, at the end of the day,, it’s you who has to get through it.


There’s a fantastic excerpt of a quote by Marianne Williamson:
‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.’


The rest of the quote fleshes out this statement and talks about how people are often the thing that stands in their own way of becoming what they want to. That’s sad sometimes, and not always that person’s fault because it’s a very difficult thing to realize and admit sometimes. But basically, I believe in people being true to themselves, being honest and kind, and taking responsibility for their own future.

Q12: What is currently on your playlist?

A12: At the moment I have a whole array of crazy and beautiful things on my playlist: Bon Iver’s new album has absolutely captivated and entranced me, as well as the Rationale, the Weekend, and James Vincent Mcmorrow. But I am also unapologetically in love with the Moana soundtrack because it is magical and makes me so happy.

Q13: If you could have a song to be the soundtrack to your life what would it be and why?

A13: This is such a difficult question, and I’m sure if you ask me this in a few months from now my answer will be different, but for now I would have to say ‘Into Yesterday’ by Sugar Ray.For one, it’s my absolute favorite feel good song, especially during the summer time. It just has so much energy and a great song to have playing when you’re driving around on sunny days. Secondly, because of the lyrics. I find them so care-free. To me, they talk about that moment when you overcome something really difficult and you come out on the other side to see that despite all the crazy stuff you went through you’re actually okay. Right now that is definitely something I can relate to and that makes me really happy.

Q14: What are your biggest dreams? and what are your biggest fears?

A14: My biggest dreams are to be successful in my music and acting, so that both of these careers allow me to travel the world (another one of my passions), and meet lots of new and amazing people. I want to be happy, and as long as I get to pursue my career with all my loved one by my side I will be content. I’m basically already half way there, which is such an amazing feeling, I just have lots more work to do.


My biggest fear is to live a life that’s untrue to who I am or doesn’t fulfill me. So, that would be forever being stuck in one place, never traveling or pursuing my dreams, and doing things that make me unhappy. I have this massive fear of getting stuck in a 9-5 office job and waking up when I’m 40 and thinking ‘Where has my life gone?’. That’s not to say that working 9-5 is a bad thing, I just know that for me it would mean the death of my happiness and mental wellbeing. I don’t do so well with monotonous repetition because it makes me feel stuck. As long as I’m doing what is important to me, whilst being surrounded by supportive friends and family, I could be as poor as a mouse and still be happy.

Q15: What is next for you/your plans for the next year?

A15: My plans for the next year is to have reached a comfortable point where playing music live pays my bills. Meanwhile, I will be releasing lots of new music I’ve been working on, and to further develop myself as an artist. I want to perform more nationally with my band, and hopefully, make it to some fun and exciting festivals in the coming year. I also want to travel more, and spend more time with friends and family.
I have some fun things lined for the rest of the year that I can’t officially announce yet, so you’ll have to keep your eyes and ears peeled for some fun announcements.

Q16: What would your advice to be to those out there who want to live out their dreams?

A16: Do it. If you have a dream that you want so desperately it hurts, then just do it. Just remember that it’s going to be a tough road. There will be times when you think you can’t do it, and you will doubt yourself immensely, but if you stick it out and have a great support network around you then it will be rewarding. If you’re willing to make some sacrifices and work hard, you will get there. Just keep on keeping on, and always believe in yourself.

Q17: Lastly, for those who don’t know where can people follow your career?

A17: I am beautifully spread across all social media so everyone can choose their favorite one:
Www.Facebook.com/SavannahNBetts
Www.Twitter.com/SavBetts
Www.Instagram.com/SavannahBetts
Www.Soundcloud.com/SavannahBetts

Www.SavannahBetts.co.uk

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