Birthh Gives Track-by-Track Breakdown of ‘WHOA’

Birthh, the performance moniker of 22-year-old Italian singer, songwriter, producer and daydreamer — Alice Bisi, is all about surprises. That combination of wonder and invention is what gets her up in the morning and it is beautifully blended into the music she makes. Birthh released her second album ‘WHOA’ today. It is full of unexpected key changes, shifting tempos and playful twists and turns.

Videos by American Songwriter

Instead of AmericanSongwriter taking the reigns on explaining the music, we turned to the writer herself for a track by track breakdown:

While deciding the tracklist of the album it was very clear to me that this journey should start with the line “people are just people, they don’t know what they’re after”. Understanding that whatever we say or do is just a projection of our own reality really helped me seeing things in life a lot more clearly. At the end of the day this album is just a collection of all the data I could find about human perception and Supermarkets is the introduction I needed for that.

Yello/Concrete is the tidiest way I could find to extract the images and thoughts I had in my head when I wrote it. I’m saying tidiest cause I often feel like my brain keeps working at the speed of light 24/7, and being able to rationalize all these concepts is a lot of work for me. The creation of Yello has a lot to do with the sensation of constantly feeling behind on everything and never thinking I’m doing enough. To me life feels a lot like running a marathon without really knowing what the finish line looks like, or if there even is one in the first place. I believe that every individual in this universe has their own time for growth and evolution, at the same time though, I find it hard to apply this to myself. I am well aware of how volatile our existence is and even if I’m slowly learning not to be anxious about the yellow traffic lights life puts in front of us, I also feel very responsible towards the opportunities and privileges I was given as someone who has a warm bed to sleep in and time to do the things that fill my heart with joy. This means that in a way I feel obligated to take risks, push myself and get out of my comfort zone, cause growing up and doing good things has never been a matter of comfort. For now all I can really do is stay grounded (quit doing handstands, always on my two feet), be present and do my best every day; us humans are so limited and imperfect (in the song I talk about trainers that are made of concrete) but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there’s so much good that we can do and I find this so beautiful.

The second verse in Draw kinda sums up the intention of the song to me, just like in Yello, there’s a recurring theme of generational anxiety that I truly needed to talk about.

Audio 1 was originally titled “unnecessary jazz progression, with style” and that’s all that needs to be said I think. I wanted to leave a little space for the listener to clean up their ears and breathe, it’s a lighter moment where I simply don’t take myself or my pen too seriously. 

Ultraviolet is my favourite track of the album. I’m sure you already know that bees can see colours we can’t see, ultraviolet is one of those colours. When I found that out, my whole perspective on what’s around us changed completely: our experience on earth is so limited to what our senses and our intellect can perceive that we can’t even think of the colour ultraviolet cause in our heads the colour spectrum is already “complete”, so whatever we think of is not going to be close to reality. I’m so fascinated by the notion that there are things we can’t even fathom, worlds and possibilities our imagination can’t even scratch the surface of. Sometimes I wish I could design sunglasses that could let me see the universe for what it is, without any human filters and contemplate all the beauty by looking at it in its purest form. 

audio 2 is an instrumental of one of my favourite moments in the album. It’s another breathing moment in the album, a glass of water before diving in again.

Growing up I used to spend a lot of time with my grandma, she was the silent type, definitely someone who showed her love through action, not as much through words. She had two parakeets, her eyes watered a little when the first one died, she loved nougat and I don’t remember her ever yelling at me – or at anybody else for that matter. Two years ago I was touring around Europe supporting Hein Cooper, my dad called me and said that nana just had a stroke, that she survived but wasn’t really the nonna Franca we were used to anymore. Before visiting her at the hospital I collected all the pictures and memories I had of my childhood with her, that’s how Parakeet was born. Every line is a memory, music is a time machine, I wrote this one for myself and myself only.

Human stuff was the hardest song to finish. I have so many different versions of it in my Logic folder. Even if I was stuck with it for so long, I really really felt the need to finish this one because there’s a lot in there that I hold really close to my heart. The whole song revolves around the concept of the way society tends to minimise the struggles that people with mental illnesses have to face in everyday life. Even things that are generally considered to be simple end up being super hard for someone who’s dealing with mental health issues. We need to stop saying things like: “Just do something! Just get out of bed! Just be happy!”. The way those phrases sound to me is similar to telling someone to tie their shoes if they don’t wanna stumble and then asking them to walk on water. There are things that are bigger than us and we need to accept it with compassion and love.

Adding a reprise was LB’s idea, I really like it when in an album there are little recurring musical themes, it just helps people immersing in that universe more deeply. 

Elephants Sing Backwards was written in 2012, I heard it years later totally by mistake and I still resonated with it a lot. I fixed some things lyrically and here we are. 

Space dog is about wanting to evade humanity more than it is about a dog in space honestly. 

I wanted the very last lines of the album to be ”21st century, oh what a time to be alive”. I think we can all agree that it’s a beautiful, scary, crazy time for humanity, and despite all the negative sides that these years might have, I’m so happy to be alive to experience all this.

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