From street busker to JUNO Award winner
It’s a brand new life, it’s so beautiful
I’m too alive, I got some other guys
Back of my mind, get back of the line
-Excerpt from bülow’s single “Boys Will Be Boys” from bülow’s latest album
Originally from Germany, bülow (pronounced boo-low) is taking the music scene by storm from her base here in Toronto. Her latest collection, The Contender follows a stream of EP’s including “Damaged Vol. 1” which had earned her Apple New Artist of the Week in 2017. She just followed up with “Damaged Vol. 2”, when bülow was was a first time nominee at the Juno Awards in London Ontario (four nominations total) this past March. Since then she’s realized “Crystalline” and now “The Contender” which she has been promoting on her recently ended tour that started in Berlin, throughout the United States and ending in Canada.
While Toronto is now her home, she’s moved a lot over her life having stayed in Germany, England Texas and Holland. Often summers were spent at camp in Muskoka, Ontario which began her time in Canada and where bülow first met Avril Lavigne, whose work inspired her to write her first song at just eight years old.
“The Contender” features five tracks including the first single already released “Boys Will Be Boys” which was written and produced by the Juno Award winner Michael Wise (Ellie Goulding, James Blunt). While the song was written over two years ago, it was completed from the back of a friends burger shop, the perfect setting for teen love, heartbreak and revenge.
To get an idea of how quickly this young artist came to fame, with over 100,000 YouTube subscribers and 71,000 Instagram followers, bülow turns just twenty on December 25 but in no way does her age seem to be a hindrance because she’s gathered years of real-world experience busking on the streets of London. Afraid of telling her parents, bülow would sneak out to busk and she gleaned more than practical experience performing, she quickly learned to appreciate the polarity in reaction to her work which helped push the work itself, explains bülow “Not everybody’s going to be your fan. It may be more clear when busking because some people will straight up spit on you or scream at you if they don’t like what you’re doing. But I think you also do a lot of people-watching when you’re busking. I learned a lot about my music through that, what works, what doesn’t.”
bülow has also made her presence known on the international festival circuit, appearing at both the Electric Picnic and Reading Leeds festivals in Europe, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Osheaga, and SXSW in North America. She’s also joined forces with The Chainsmokers as a feature on “Do You Mean” with Ty Dolla $ign. And this is just the beginning for bülow, who despite a challenging industry has carved out a huge space for herself.
It’s arguable that the music scene has become more diverse but it’s still a largely male-dominated industry and bülow’s success speaks volumes because it’s a reminder that the talent it takes to make it is immense but the effort is usually more when you’re forced to play against the grain, “There’s a lot of aspects [of the music industry] that need improvement. I think the stigma around some of these male-dominated jobs in the business needs to change. Women are just as capable and talented, we just need more of them!” bülow also notes that it’s also her female perspective that “about relationships and topics that aren’t talked about a lot” that she uses to in her work to explore the extremes of emotions.” In a recent interview with bülow, we touched on her work as an artist and what she’s learnt from it.
Helkio: What do you know now that you wish someone had told you when you started out?
bülow: I would have told myself to probably stop auditioning for talent shows. I had a couple of auditions but never made it to any live rounds. But I had a vision that that would be my break.
You’ve spent considerable time on the streets busking, what has been your most important take-away from that experience?
Not everybody’s going to be your fan. It may be more clear when busking because some people will straight up spit on you or scream at you if they don’t like what you’re doing. But I think you also do a lot of people-watching when you’re busking. I learned a lot about my music through that, what works, what doesn’t.
Would you do it again?
Looking back, what would you say has been the most rewarding part of making music?
Once you actually let it go and release the music, it’s the best feeling in the world. At that point, you can’t change anything about it anymore and I have to make the “control freak” part of me shut up. I think as an artist you feel things can always be better or different, but knowing that that chapter is done and I can move onto the next is amazing.
The most challenging?
Translating the songs from the studio to live hasn’t always been easy. I love it once I do it, but the idea of being exposed and not having something to hide behind can be challenging.
If I could grant one wish for the future of your career, what might that be?
To keep growing with my fans and keep pushing each other. I hope I’ll have a long career ahead of me making music that people will care about years from now.
Any advice you’d give to a young person just starting out in the business?
Trust your gut always. There’s a reason you feel a type of way about something.
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Originally published in theBUZZ Magazine, January 2020