Don’t be fooled by her age: 19-year-old Madison Beer is a force to be reckoned with and an old soul. Consider that her signature pop style is influenced by the likes of Etta James — whose 1960 signature song “At Last” was covered by Beer back in 2012, leading to her discovery by Justin Bieber and manager Scooter Braun — and Lesley Gore, who sang the boundary-pushing 1963 hit “You Don’t Own Me,” one of Beer’s favorite songs.
Beer transposes the “You Don’t Own Me” mantra with the song “Home With You” (from her As She Pleases EP) and its music video, which came out Thursday (June 14; watch below). The video features a boxer, skaters, bikers and dancers practicing what they “wan-wanna do.” It’s not the typical video you might expect for a song delving into a woman standing up for herself and not caving to someone else’s sexual desires; it’s a mini-feature entirely executed by the “Home With You” singer. The three-minute video shows people from all walks of life doing daring things — like doing doughnuts in a car in the middle of the night — and it takes the same amount of bravery to stand your ground when arguing with a boyfriend.
Below, Beer caught up with Billboard to talk about why doing what she pleases goes along with the history of women being badasses (queue: James and Gore). And speaking of badass: “Home With You” jumped 37-35 on this week’s Billboard‘s Pop Songs chart, dated June 16.
How did you visualize “Home With You” for the music video and how involved were you with the video production process?
With everything I do, I’m 100 percent involved. I don’t really let anyone just take over and hear what’s going to go on. I like to have full creative control pretty much and really be involved with everything. So 100 percent of it was me and I came up with the idea, because I really wanted it to be sort of like a documentary-esque video. And what I mean by that is just following certain people’s lives, and it’s just a video about different walks of life and how every girl is a badass and every girl should have some sense of confidence, and that’s what I hope everyone gets when they watch the video. There’s a part where this girl’s dancing, and there’s a part with a girl boxing, and a girl with her boyfriend or whoever it might be arguing, and she’s kind of just like, “I’m over this” and walks away. And I just want people to take from the video that you could be confident and you can say no and you can be a badass.
What does the song mean to you, aside from the video itself?
The song is so powerful. It’s obviously just a cool record, but the messaging behind it really speaks to me because I live in LA, I go out a lot, I see so much shit that I’m just like, “I wish that this song existed sooner and I wish the song could have came on and I could have sang this to a million people that I wanted to.” I just feel like it’s so powerful. It just really makes me feel like I can say no to whoever I want and that I can stand up for myself, and I think that’s important. And I don’t feel like enough women feel that way, and I hope that this empowers them in that sense.
How was the As She Pleases Tour?
Oh, it was insane. It was literally the best time ever. It was my first tour I’ve ever done, so it was definitely a very new experience for me, but at the same time was so sick.
Did it have that same pop kick of “I don’t need you to tell me what to do,” like “I am who I am” throughout the music and the overall live experience itself? Some of the lyrics from your As She Pleases EP is very reminiscent of the song “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore.
I love that song. “You Don’t Own Me” is such a sick song, and when Lesley Gore made that song, it wasn’t normal or OK to even say that stuff back then. So she was really pushing boundaries when she wrote that, and I think that’s such a dope example of how throughout history, women have always been badass. With my whole EP, I’m glad you picked up on that, because that’s what I wanted: every song to have that sort of tone to it. I’m really glad that it’s noticeable.
How do you balance being an influencer and an artist at the same time?
I feel like the word “influencer” is something that I’ve — I don’t want to say struggled with, but I’ve kind of like expanded on that because I started as a musician. And my following came because of that, so it’s always been like musician first and I guess social-media influencer second. But what picks my brain a little bit is that I don’t really use my social media to promote certain things, like to do certain influencer-esque things as you would say. I feel like I’m a singer and that’s what I do, so I’m definitely glad that I’m finally really getting the recognition for that because just because I have followers, it doesn’t mean that I’m just an influencer. It’s hard, because it discredits you a lot. It’s actually sometimes a disadvantage, because people go into things assuming certain things about you or assuming things about your music. And I want my music to drive everything and have that be the thing, that grabber of attention.
I don’t even do that stuff because I don’t want my followers to feel like, A) I’m using them for money because that’s not the case. I’m very thankful for every single one of my supporters. Anything that I ever promote or am like, “Hey!” — like, I have a clothing line with Miss Guided. I designed that 100 percent. Every single piece of that line, I had the stamp of approval on, so I would never promote something just for like a quick check. I would only do it if it’s something that I really believed in and it’s something that I really felt proud of and it was my stamp on it. I wouldn’t want to sell my fans if it didn’t feel like it was really coming from me. I did a Flat [Tummy] Tea, whatever that is, when I was 13, and even then it didn’t feel right. So I’ve just always kind of known that in my heart, and I’ve always wanted to be really authentic with everything I do.
How would you categorize the evolution of your own artistry?
I was 13 when I recorded “Melodies,” so for me, I’ve just grown as a person. Of course I’ve grown as an artist and I’ve evolved as a person and whatnot, but I’ve truly grown as a human being, and my taste has always been the same in music, and it’s just evolved over the years. And now that I’m older, I really feel like I can expand on that and drill into exactly what I want to do. And it works now because when I was 12, I couldn’t write about the stuff that I write about now because I just didn’t have the words, like I didn’t have the language to put how I was thinking or what I was into. So now that I’m older, it’s really cool that I can express myself how I’ve always wanted to. And every month, the new music that I want to make kind of changes and I find a new sound that I want to go after, so it’s just something that I’m constantly like evolving and I’m fine with that. I don’t think that that you have to stick to a sound for the rest of your life. Look at Ariana Grande. She was making, like, ’50s music four years ago, and now she’s making pop/R&B. Everyone goes somewhere, everyone evolves in their music career, and I think that I’m doing that too. It’s been really great finally being able to love my stuff.
Do you think you’re evolving out of pop and into a different genre like R&B or soul, or maybe a different subset of pop?
I would definitely say I’m predominantly a pop artist obviously, but my music is different. It’s not just top 40 radio-type music. That’s just one lane. I feel like the world that we live in now, you could really do whatever you want, and it’s really cool. I feel like I definitely would be pop/R&B, but maybe like not even electronic, but I definitely have a little bit of techno vibe on some of my songs too. I love all those sounds.
As someone who was discovered at 12, 13 years old, what are some of the perks and challenges of growing up in the music industry?
It was really hard at times, but it was also — I don’t want to say easy, but it was also fun. I got to grow up quicker, which some people would say is bad. But to me, I look at it as something that is an advantage and I really have been able to grow and learn really quickly. I feel like it’s good in a lot of ways, but people could say, “Oh, that’s so sad! She didn’t have a childhood.” But my childhood was just different, and I feel like there’s nothing wrong with that, and I’m really grateful for the amount that I’ve evolved. But I definitely say it’s a lot of challenges — like I never went to school really. I was home-schooled my whole life pretty much. I’ve dealt with a lot of bullying and I kind of didn’t have many friends to turn to because I did move to LA at 14. With having all my friends be from New York, I had to make all new friends. It was definitely hard for a few years, and I struggled a lot, but it was all worth it because following your dreams is, I think, the most important thing.
What can your fans expect from your newest songs and visuals in terms of where you’re going as an artist? What can people look forward to?
Just a lot more music and a lot more videos, just things that are always going to be me. There’s this ’50s-esque song on my EP called “Teenager in Love” that’s sort of reminiscent of that era. I have another song I’m working on that’s probably going to be on my album that has the same sort of vibe. And just visual-wise, I have so many ideas and my brain literally doesn’t stop. So everyone can just expect more cool music. Every song is so different! So it’s hard to say, “Expect this,” because it’s literally everything. Like my EP, every song sounds like a different genre, so I definitely think that everyone should just expect greatness. And I’m really working hard and it’s going to be a true expression of myself, and I hope that when people listen to it, they’ll get to know me.
Watch the “Home With You” video below: