Betty Who Talks Pride, Mental Health And New Music: 'I Want Everyone To Be Themselves'
The Australian pop singer also talked about her longstanding partnership with lululemon.
Betty Who has been busy these last six months, and she’s really excited about it. Not only has she been on a wild tour in support of her latest album Betty, which dropped earlier this year, but she’s also been using her platform to make her mark in the LGBTQ+ community. Her ongoing partnership with athletic wear brand lululemon has also enabled her to get more involved through experiential events and spread more positive messages overall. “We visited Seattle, Chicago, New York, D.C., and Atlanta,” Who told Billboard of their "IRL community sweat events." “It really opened my eyes to how special community events are, and how awesome my fans are. I always walk away from each event thinking, ‘I liked every single person I met.’”
Probably the best part of chatting with the Australian pop singer was hearing her genuine excitement. It was obvious that, while Who has been working hard almost her entire life, she’s now feeling truly inspired and motivated by her own work, as well as the people she’s meeting. Her positive actions are infectious, and they’re not only helping Who -- they’re making everyone feel confident with themselves.
Who has always been an LGBTQ+ advocate, and just in time for the big Pride weekend, Billboard had the chance to sit down with her and talk all about it as well as mental health, body image and new music. “I want to encourage people to be themselves and remember how far we’ve come,” she said. Read the full interview below.
You’re doing a lot of stuff right now. You’re raising money for The Trevor Project and leading Soul Cycle classes all while celebrating Pride with a thousand different events.
Oh yeah, this year’s been pretty crazy. Especially earlier, we had our first show of the year at midnight on New Year’s Eve in Times Square, which is pretty cool because I’ve always wanted to watch the ball drop in New York. And then we went straight into the Panic! At The Disco tour for the first two months, and then my album came out, and then I went on tour! And now it’s July. [Laughs.] It’s been a pretty crazy six months. I’ve worked a lot in my life while not having fun, so it’s really nice to actually enjoy and reap the benefits a little bit. We’ve worked so hard and have come so far, it’s nice to really enjoy the ride.
It feels like these last few months especially have been a big moment for you.
Yeah, there have been a lot of things that I’m super psyched about. My whole adult life is basically just about making 10-year-old me psyched. 22-year-old me was like, “No I have plans, I’m gonna go get this.” Sometimes it’s hard when you’re on the ground hustling, trying to make your dream happen. It doesn’t look anything like you thought it was going to and you’re so tired and you’re like, “How am I supposed to enjoy this?” And then one day you wake up and all of a sudden you’re on stage and you’re like, “Oh my god I’m here, this is it. I’m living my dream.” It doesn’t look like what I thought it was going to and I still have so far to go, but I don’t wanna be the person who wakes up one day and realize my dream happened. I’m really trying to be present and excited about it and enjoy it while it lasts because it can all be over tomorrow. I really do know that.
I’m really proud of me and my whole team. I get to do cool stuff and celebrate World Pride and raise money for The Trevor Project. I’ve been dying to be in a position where anyone would let me help. I’ve always wanted to do stuff like this.
Can you talk more about your involvement with Pride?
Oh yeah. Every year is pride for me. I spend a good eight to nine months out of the year playing Pride festivals. This year, funnily enough, given that it’s World Pride, I’ve actually played less Pride than any other year, mostly because of scheduling. My tour was happening this summer and that’s prime time for Pride, but I’ve got some amazing ones coming up. I’ve played some great ones in New York so far. It’s honestly such a pleasure to be involved in. Pride season is my season to work in -- like, how lucky am I?
All of that celebrating and joy and fun and the fact that those are the things that are associated with my project -- I’m super grateful to be a part of it. I'm grateful to be able to celebrate Pride publicly with the people that I want to. I want to encourage people to be themselves and remember how far we’ve come.
Can you tell me a little bit about how your partnership with lululemon came about and what made you want to do it?
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with lululemon for a couple of years now. We’ve done a couple different projects and it’s been really exciting for me to be a part of a team that I really respect the values of. I really align with what they talk about -- it feels very connected to how I live my life anyway -- but to be honest with you, it’s the people. The people who work for lulu, the people in our community, who have been taking care of us. It’s the nicest thing about lulu.
We get to D.C. and had a crazy couple of shows and we’re doing an event with them and I’m heading in thinking, “Man, I’m pretty tired,” and then I get there and it’s all of the nicest people you could ever imagine. All of them. They made us gift baskets and they’re like, “Do you need coffee? We have shots of like, a cold remedy shot here for you if you want it!” They’re the best. I felt so taken care of. And I honestly felt really special. I was the first artist they’d ever done a partnership with for the Beats Per Moment tour a couple of years ago and I’m so glad they wanna continue with me.
KICKING ASS FOR A CAUSE ---- We raised $10,000 for the @trevorproject yesterday!!! What an awesome way to celebrate #pride, share thoughts, continue to build this incredible community and, most importantly, give back to it when we can. Thank you to every single person who booked a bike (and of course to a few of you who opted out of the ride but donated anyway --)!!! The Trevor Project has been near and dear to my heart for quite some time so to be able to be a part of something like this was really special. So a special thanks to @amazon @soulcycle @lululemon & @delta for encouraging real human moments between people who can make a difference in this world. ------️--❤️---- -- @paosanchezmedia
lulu told us that their choice to partner with you was very intentional because they felt you represent #TheSweatLife and you’re a big supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.
I think lulu has a huge commitment to themselves -- and not in a selfish way. I mean in a “How do I make myself better? How do I stay self-aware? How do I make my community better?” way. So much of what they focus on when I’m in these conversations with them is about your purpose and what you can give back to your community. Those things are all very important to me and have really inspired me. #TheSweatLife isn’t just about “I workout so I can look hot.” It’s about how working out betters your mental health. Science tells us this. It’s such a huge part of my mental health and my process. It doesn’t feel like they’re my corporate sponsors who I have to make happy. It really is a partnership. I get to have conversations with them where I’m like, “This is what’s true for me. This is how this makes me feel. Or how do we make this the easiest for me because I’m on tour?” They’re not a part of the problem, they’re part of the solution. Every aspect of my life has been such a treat. I’m just totally spoiled.
That all radiates. When I look at your posts, I get that sense of joy. It does tie back to mental health. I look at some influencers who partner with athletic brands and it's like you're almost being shamed into achieving the perfect summer body.
Yeah, no, and I’m never going to sit here and sell Fit Tea to you. That’s not my vibe, because I don’t care what you look like or where you came from or what you do. Encouraging people through Lulu to come to yoga with me is just a great way to connect with my fans, but the number one thing I want to do is bring joy to people through my music and how I live my life and the messages I share. That doesn’t have to be what your life looks like. I want everyone to be themselves. That’s the most important thing to me.
I want people to feel safe enough to say “I don’t wanna go to yoga.” I’m like, “Great, sometimes I don’t either!” That’s okay. Being yourself and being happy and comfortable is way more important. I don’t want people to look at my Instagram or social media or even my show and feel lesser than. That’s literally couldn’t be less of how I want to make people feel. And I’ve been there -- playing the comparison game. My life is not that fancy; I try to show the good and the bad. I want you to be inspired and I want to make people laugh. The last thing I want to do is make people feel bad about themselves, and that’s another huge part of what lulu is really committed to as well. It’s not about how you look in your yoga pants -- it’s about the fact that you’re taking care of yourself. Plus, everyone looks good in yoga pants! That’s the best part.
What would your dream event be?
A California sunset. Like a Malibu moment with a couple of harder moments but a more low key yoga flow. Like a vinyasa yoga class. Followed by a few cocktails and a bunch of Beyonce playing at a dance party.
Your latest album, Betty, came out a few months ago. Now that it’s had some time to breathe, how have people been reacting to it?
I think they all like it! [Laughs.] You always hope people like it. My tour that I just did felt so special. So exciting. Listen, my body is tired -- after six weeks on the road and a bunch of crazy events and a mad schedule of a tour -- I’m ready to go home and sleep for a trillion years. But the second we finished our last show I was like, “No, I’m not ready. I don’t wanna stop.” It’s nice to be inspired and excited. You can’t force it. When it’s just there because it’s there -- that’s the best time.
I’m honestly just excited to get back in the studio. I want to make more music now. It’s really the first time in my career where I just want to keep going. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Can we expect another great pop album?
Oh, I f---ing hope so. At the end of the day, I want to make music I can dance to. I want to make music for my show more than anything. It’s the most important thing to me and I hope I continue to make the show better and better. Especially because with this tour, I feel like it’s the best show I’ve ever put on. I’m looking forward to making more music now that I know what I can do. I’m motivated to get better and grow. My options are endless.
And what’s coming up next for you, besides the new record?
Honestly, I could not tell you. My whole future’s kind of up in the air right now. You know, I released an independent album and now I’m like, “What do I do next?” That’s the question on everyone’s minds. I’m definitely getting in the studio, I’m hoping to play more shows in the fall, and just keep hustlin’. I feel ready. Put me in, coach!