Biig Piig is On Her Way To Elemental Nights: Interview

Biig Piig is Jessica Smyth. Born in Ireland, based in London and raised speaking Spanish, she’s got a lot to say. And a lot of that can be heard in her music. Here she is to explain.

The 13th Floor’s Marty Duda spoke to Biig Piig about songwriting, performing and thinking in Spanish. Plus there’s a new song called Fun, just released! Listen to the conversation here:

Or, read a transcription of the interview here:

MD: Hi, greetings. Yes, I woke up this morning and I found an email with your new song, Fun, on it. So maybe you can start out by telling me all about that. Thank you.

BP: Yeah, of course. So  Fun, it was super fun to make. It was cheated with a producer that worked with for a long time collaborate. I love working with Zack Nahome.  I think he’s someone as well, whenever we’re in the same space, we’re kind of the same brain where it’s like, ‘let’s just go mental’, and then work out whether or not we’ve like made something great. Or we’ve made something that’s ridiculous.

MD: Right, right, right,

BP: So we kind of we started off the song, as it was like a more of a ballad, actually, we made like a ballad track. And then we were like, ‘yeah, it had bits in it that were cool’, but I was like, actually, let’s see it in a different space. He was like, laughs Oh, yeah. So he brought it,  he sampled it and  we started working out these drums, and it was like, the energy of it started to come together. And I was like, oh, you know what, actually, this track wants to be something completely different. And so that’s when he went mental on the production, I started writing lyrics that was like, very, almost the opposite of what I started writing, which was just more direct and less, kind of…it was just, it was a lot more kind of like, towards what I was actually feeling rather than what I wanted someone to think I was feeling, you know? S

Biig PiigSo I think, we kind of brought each other into the space and then made this track. And it was like, oh, you know, when you just kind of…yeah, I don’t even know how to describe it. Well, when we get into that space, it’s insane and we come out the other end, and we’re like, ‘oh, okay, yeah, this feels good. And this is what we wanted to get to this whole time’.

So it felt really, really good to make. It’s a track about kind of how, when you’re, when you’re in love, or when you’ve got someone that’s really close to you, sometimes that’s where the cracks in yourself show and the cracks and the other person show and sometimes it’s like, the most beautiful thing in the world. But you have to be completely honest, and completely open and completely vulnerable. And sometimes, there are parts of yourself, and maybe you don’t love… and parts of them that maybe they don’t love…and you kind of have to face that. So it became, I guess it was kind of depicting a bit of an argument between, yeah (giggles), between myself and someone else. And I think it kind of Yeah, it was just basically the kind of cycle of it where you’re like, ‘I love you so much. I don’t want to let go of you and keep, we keep finding ourselves in this cycle of, of clashing, and bringing out those bits of ourselves that we don’t like’. And it’s I don’t know, I think it was a whole a whole process as a thing. And a video I feel like is kind of tied into to that we’ve made for it so…

MD: Oh, good. I haven’t seen the video. What’s it going to be like?

BG: Um, but no, the video is nuts. I made it with a guy who’s a director called Milo Blake. He’s incredible. I’ve been wanting to work with him for ages. He worked with my friends. And yeah, he’s brilliant. And so I really wanted to go intense with the video. I wanted to go like, into the whole idea of like, sucking the life out of each other, but also being the thing that keeps each other alive kind of a thing. So… (laughs)

MD: That sounds like fun!

BG: (more laughing) Oh, my God. Yeah. And so it really takes you on a journey. I’m excited for people to be able to see it. I don’t want to give too much away about it. Okay, like it’s gonna be Yeah, it’ll be cool.

MD: You and Zack worked together previously. I think you did Switch with him, right?

BP:  Yep. So yeah, we’ve done Switch. We’ve done Feel’s Right, we’ve done Liar. He’s been my guy, man. I love him so much. So yeah, he’s Yeah, he’s my favorite.

MD: Cool. So you’re coming here in July. You toured a lot last year, not much this year yet. I think you have a festival date coming up in a few days. So has your live presentation changed from what you were doing last year to this year?

BP: Yeah, it has actually, it has a lot. I think to be honest, I came back into shows…because before I was in 2019, I mean ages ago, I was so shy on stage. Like you couldn’t imagine…I was literally the person that would like walk up and be like, ‘I’ll spill my heart into this crowd and I can’t do it’. (Laughs). I was so shook and then I feel like the amount of like…obviously we couldn’t play shows for literally years. And so came out of it just literally just bursting to be  onstage. I was like, ‘I don’t care who’s there, I want to just go and give the best show I like’.

And I think going back on the stage, and really understanding what the support tours I did last year, understanding what it meant to like, give your music that lease of life and that performance, where it’s like, you get on stage, you boss it, you feel a great time you connect with the audience, you’re not scared to do it. And I felt really at the end of last year, I was like, ‘I want to perform all the time’.

So I came up to this year, and we kind of changed the style a little bit with like, what musicians are on stage and like how much we’re bringing on tour and onto shows. And it feels like right now it’s in a really great place. Like the setlist feels great, the way that we’ve made a kind of more immersive feels great, like the whole setup for me is like when I get on stage, it’s like an hour the world stops. It’s like I’m on stage and I’m like, ‘I want to do that again for the rest of my life!’ (laughs) it feels good, but yeah.

MD: So what kind of band do you have traveling around with you?

BP:  So I’ve got my two boys. I’ve  got Tom on drums. He’s incredible, an incredible jazz drummer, actually, with his own project. But he, for my stuff, goes all the way between like electric pads and live drum kit. Especially with the faster songs, it just sounds insane.  And then, I’ve got Dan, who’s literally incredible. He’s got like, bass, guitar, sax and keys. And then myself on vocals, and yeah, so it’s, it’s all a bit mad. Yeah.

MD: You kind of touched on this, but how would you say your performance has changed over the years? You sound like you’ve evolved in the way that you approached your live show now is as to where you were maybe a year or two ago.

BP: Yeah, I think like it’s just been, it’s just so different now. I feel like more confident and maybe, you know, maybe it’s, I think, I just maybe me growing up a bit of myself as well, and actually, kind of taking moments to be like…instead of being very shy about my music, and very like, oh, like, I don’t know, I used to be so introverted with that kind of stuff. Whereas I think now I’m so excited and proud about it, you know, I mean? I’m like, I can’t believe that I get to do this. And so I’m like, if I, if I do, I’m gonna do with my full heart and my full energy and everything like and just, I don’t know, I just yeah, it has changed so much, so much.

MD: And what about your actual…

BP: And it will change again, as well.

Biig PiigMD: I’m sure it will. It sounds like it just hearing the song. Because the Fun vocal is very different than what’s on the previous EP The Sky Is Bleeding.

BP:  Yeah, it’s true.

MD: So do you think about that consciously, that I’m going to try this? I’m going to try that, or is it more of a natural progression?

BP: I mean, I think I always want to try something new.  I mean, I think with like, as in if you’re talking about making music, right?

MD: Yeah.

BP:  Yeah. So I think with like, making music in general, I’m just a very chaotic person, overall, I  think I can’t really settle on one thing. And I love that. I love seeing myself in different spaces. And I love exploring, and I love working out ways to make things where…I just I just, I don’t know. I feel like that’s the whole thing that that kind of makes me excited about music. And so I think with that, yeah, I don’t know where I’m gonna go next. But I think that’s the joy of it. It’s the thing of like, figuring it out as you go and finding your feet and working out like, there are no rules. Do you know what I mean? I think the one thing that I hate is when someone’s like,’Oh, there’s rules of like, how you introduce’, and it’s like, there isn’t though really, there’s not if you can do it in a way that’s not throw away or that’s like disrespectful to the music or just kind of just like a flash in the pan, if it’s like you can…I don’t know…I think you can do so much. And to tell yourself that you’ve got to stay in a box I think is a bit, for me anyways, for myself, feels restrictive and feels like you’re not giving the music the life that it should live. I don’t know. That’s just the way I see it.

MD: Do you get inspiration, motivation, ideas from talking to fans, from reading press, from traveling around in general?

BP: I think I probably do from traveling around and we have like, in like experiences I guess and like people I meet and yeah, and I guess like, I don’t know.  I think I have definitely seen recently like playing shows grow up and like on stage, and I felt the tracks if you were really good live. And some of the tracks that I love so much that are very intimate. And I’m like, Okay, I want to find a balance between them where I can make the next… I just I’d love to kind of delve harder into that where I’m like, the live experience for me has become so important. Where it’s just like, that’s what we do this for,  is to just like to feel a room vibrate and being the same energy. So I think I’m very kind of pulled to that at the minute where I’m like, I want to make music that feels incredible live. So yeah, I think I probably had an influence recently, and then, or maybe not with the last album, but it will do the next stuff. But yeah, I think everything influences it slowly. But there’s nothing that I feel like I’m directly….I don’t know…

MD: I have another question for you might be a little off kilter. I know that you were raised speaking Spanish you speak English, obviously. But do you think in English or Spanish?

BP: To be honest, it depends. Because the thing is, I grew up in…my parents are Irish. I grew up in Spain when I was like, 4 til I was 12.

MD: That’s pretty formative.

BP: Yeah and it was like my first written language and all that. And so think they’re like moments where, like, overall, I mostly kind of think in Spanish, or sorry, in English. But then there are moments where Spanish will come in, and it’s usually more intimate. So like, when I write for example, sometimes the stuff that don’t feel I can say in English, let’s say in Spanish, or if I like, stub my toe, like Spanish will come out instead of English. It’s like ingrained in a way that’s like, it’s weird.  When I dream, sometimes Spanish should come in. But it’s something that yeah, it comes. I feel like it comes in when it leads to a lot of the time, like when there’s  things that I can’t explain. There’s like an inward child trying to talk to me. I think I’m like, okay, it comes out in Spanish.

MD: Does the Spanish thing influence your music? I mean, I’m not hearing any salsa or Latin, you know, any of that stuff.

BP: Yeah, I mean, I guess like, it just kind of comes when it comes. It’s one of those things. I’m like, I never want to force it out because it feels like I’m cheating, its the thing. I think it’s just like, it kind of just flows out when it flows out the same way as English same as like, when I write music. I mean, it’s like, when it kind of you’re in that state of just like…what’s that thing called when you just you’re not thinking about it, but you’re doing it? It’s a…

MD: Intuitive?

BP: Stream of consciousness. Yeah. Yeah, that’s it exactly. And so when I’m doing that, like, sometimes there are things that will come out in that language, because it needs to. I mean, I don’t know, like, I feel like it’s because it’s like, maybe a little bit more personal. I don’t know. Like, it just like feels very intimate. And it feels like something that’s almost…I don’t know about I started writing in Spanish, I remember the first time and I remember it coming out and being like, Okay, I was like writing it and it was just kind of coming and I was like, oh, okay, I haven’t like really delved into this for a while. And I was like, okay, and it was like it was I think it’s a conscious thing of like, if a person this song is about, hears the song, they won’t know how hurt I am. They won’tl understand like, what I’m talking about. (laughs) It’s a secret language. I didn’t speak Spanish until it was, yeah, it was kind of handy. And it felt natural. Yeah. If it was in English as well, it wouldn’t. It wouldn’t feel the same. So yeah, it comes and goes, but that’s…

MD: Now we got to wrap up, unfortunately, running out of time. So looking forward…you’ve never been down to this part of the world?

BP: I’ve never been, I’m so excited!

MD:  It’s gonna be exciting. They kind of speak English here in New Zealand. So you’ll understand most of what they say. Alrighty. Well, I’m looking forward to seeing you in July.

BP: Thanks Marty!

Biig Piig performs at Auckland Town Hall – Concert Chamber, for Elemental Nights, Monday, July 25th. Click here for tickets.