Ben Haenow Interview

Ben Haenow

Photo courtesy of Ben Haenow 

Ben Haenow is a singer-songwriter and the winner of the 11th series of the X Factor UK. He spoke with us about the joys and challenges of working closely with a sibling, perseverance, his plan for dealing with negativity online, and much more.

Think Before You Type: 
What is your favorite part about having a career in music?

Ben Haenow: It’s an honour to get to do something I love for a living. I’ve always loved writing and singing songs, and so having that as a job is the best thing ever. Getting to travel a lot and see different places while I do it is great.

TBYT: How would you describe your sound?

Ben: My inspirations come from all over, but  I’m a big fan of blues music and rock and roll. So I’d say probably a mix of those styles.

TBYT: We’re sisters who work together, so we know how fun (and challenging at times) it can be to work with a sibling. What is it like to work so closely with your brother? What have you learned from the experience?

Ben: Haha! Yeh even after over 30 years of knowing each other we still occasionally have our “Gallagher brothers” moments. But it’s great to have someone around who you trust implicitly. Someone who has your back and someone to help you out if/when things go wrong out on shows/tours and life in general. And someone who really knows me.
And also he’s great with songwriting, we wrote all the tracks on the new album together and as we have been writing together for years and working together we spend A LOT of time with each other… so  I guess I’ve learned that work well together… MOST of the time.

TBYT: If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

I’d tell myself, Don’t grow that stupid “goatee” beard thing in your teenage years lol! It was really not cool and actually a bit wonkyHindsight is a funny thing 

TBYT: How do you deal with negativity online? 

To be fair I’m lucky in that I don’t seem to see much of it… I guess I just ignore it If I do see anything, and I don’t take any of it to heart for sure. I mean I don’t expect everyone to like me, or my music, or what I had for dinner on Instagram and stuff as in real life your opinions and the things you like won’t always match with everyone else.
There are a lot of people, particularly online who find it easy to just say nasty stuff for fun, because they can hide behind a screen and not really take any responsibility or because of their own insecurities and jealousy.

TBYT: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since winning the X Factor in 2014? 

I’ve definitely learned to not give up and that persistence and hard work can pay off. The show really helped to give me back my confidence with singing and helped me achieve my dream. Over the years of playing pubs, clubs, and smaller local venues before the show, it was sometimes a struggle and you have to keep a bit of faith. It’s a tough industry to work in and nothing is certain but if you want something enough.. cheesy as it sounds.. go get it and don’t give up.

TBYT: You post a lot of fun covers online. How do you choose which songs you cover? 

Generally I just pick songs I like. Sometimes people suggest stuff online if there’s something they’d like to hear but other than that it’s quite random really.

TBYT: If you had the chance to speak to someone who has been cyberbullied, what would you say to encourage them?

It’s a tough one. There is obviously a huge pressure and want to be on social media nowadays particularly for the younger generation. And to have everything you do, eat, watch or think online for everyone to see. Unfortunately, if you put things up online, it’s easy for anyone to voice an opinion on good or bad. As easy as it is for someone to Like something it’s just as quick to show dislike. I’d say to remember who your REAL friends are, people who actually KNOW YOU and speak to them. Remember that someone who follows a social media account is not always a “friend” and may just be there to troll or say nasty stuff. There are a lot of people out there who bully, it is usually jealousy or boredom, but these people who don’t actually know you or anything about you just choose to post rude or nasty things online. Speak to someone if it is affecting you.

TBYT: What is your favorite part about touring?

I love the whole thing. Going to places you’ve never been, getting out and meeting people, playing to people, getting to see the reactions to the new material or at the shows singing the words back at us on stage. The traveling is all pretty full on and can be knackering but it’s all good fun!

TBYT: Do you have anything exciting coming up in 2018? 

More shows and more new music! I got to collab on a song I wrote with a South African artist recently released through SONY which has done great so I hope to be heading out there at some point this year for some shows. My new single “Falling Down” is available April 2nd and my second album “ALIVE” is coming in March so I’m excited for what’s to come in 2018.

Bil Musa Interview

bil-musa-by-aimanness (10).jpg

Photo Credit: Aimanness

We recently spoke with Malaysian singer-songwriter Bil Musa about how her music has impacted people, advice she has for people being cyberbullied, and her goals for 2018.

Think Before You Type: How would you describe your music style?

Bil Musa: It’s very chill. The melodies are very simple but behind it’s easy listening façade, the songs are quite deep because I usually only write when I’m emotional.

TBYT: Who are your musical influences?

Bil: In terms of lyrics, I like straightforward, story-telling type songs and relatable
songs. So people like Sam Smith and Adele would be my influences for that. In
terms of song style, I like chill but meaningful types of songs, so I always look to
people like Lana Del Rey and Jhene Aiko. There are, however, times that I try to
be more abstract with my lyrics, and for this I look to people like Hozier or

TBYT: If you had the chance to speak to someone who has been cyberbullied, what
would you say to encourage them?

Bil: I would say the same thing that I would say to someone who is bullied physically
– that the people who bully you have got some deep-rooted problems they can’t
deal with so they take it out on you. You should never take what they say
seriously and what they say to or about you, doesn’t define you.. it just reflects on
their character. Also, REPORT AND BLOCK are words to live by.

TBYT: How has your time in the music industry been for you? Has anything surprised you?

Bil: It’s been a rollercoaster ride but really, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
and I’ve learned so much and met so many interesting people. I think the only
thing that really surprised me is how a lot of things are manufactured and
planted. I knew these things happened but I guess I just didn’t know the extent of

TBYT: You recently released your album “Young Adults”. What has the response been like so far?

Bil: The response has been great so far. Like really, really great. For me, what’s
important is how the individuals listening to it feel about the songs and how they
affect them. I would love for my songs to be played more on radio or get more
media coverage but only because for me, personally, when I listen to a song and I
can really vibe to it, I don’t think, “Oh, I found this song”. Instead, I think to
myself, “this song found me”. Radio and media coverage are just catalysts for
these songs to find their ‘owners’ but even without much of that, so many people
have given me such touching feedback – some practically essays, reviewing the album. I get essays almost every day. It’s really nice that people take the time to
write them. I really appreciate it.

TBYT: As someone who started their career young, what would you say to other young people who want to get out there and leave their mark on the world?

Bil: I want to say don’t listen to what other people say and don’t let people tell you
what to do but sometimes, you should, if they have experience – that’s something
valuable that young people don’t have much of. That being said, you’re young and
you have your own destiny to fulfill. People will tell you different things and give
you differing opinions but don’t get confused. You take certain actions and make
decisions based on a goal YOU want to reach. No one else will understand that
goal but YOU. So, just stand your ground, have a little faith, be honest and work
hard. Also, have REALLY thick skin – but that’s something you’ll develop in time.

TBYT: We’re really passionate about encouraging other young people to use the internet for good. What’s one positive way that you would like to see the internet change?

Bil: I think one of the really big misconceptions that arose from the existence of the
internet and social media is that everyone else’s business is yours OR maybe
people always thought that and the internet and social media justified that
thought. I’d like to stop seeing hate on the internet. There’s a very simple solution
to not liking what you see or hear on the internet, switch it off, unfollow, block,
report. Nobody forced you to watch it. In your own free will, you saw it. In your
own free will, you can turn it off. I’d also like to see people stop spreading useless
videos or videos that violate human rights. I just don’t see the point of spreading
those types of videos unless you have a solution to stop whatever is going on in
the video.

TBYT: People often forget it, but a little bit of kindness can go a long way. When was the last time that a stranger made you smile?

Bil: Like I said, every day, a complete stranger messages me about my songs. Nothing
about my appearance or anything. Just purely about how my song made them
feel. I just got a message, in fact, on my Instagram about how this person didn’t
know who I was but they were so lucky to have found my songs. It’s very

TBYT: What song have you written that you are the proudest of?

Bil: At this point, I think “4AM”. It’s the only song I wrote through a totally different
process. First of all, it’s the first song that I wrote lyrics first and then I visualized
everything from how it would sound, to the harmonies. It’s also one of the only
songs that has a different structure from most of my other songs and the lyrics
are not so straightforward. I also know when a song is going to be great, haha, because in the middle of writing, every two seconds it’s hard for me to go on
because it’s so good it hurts and I know it’s going to be a good song and I just
have to bang the keys or throw my guitar (on the bed) and pace the floor saying
“omg” a billion times and then calm myself down and try to continue writing. I
did that with this song. It’s an incredible feeling when it comes.

TBYT: What do you think 2018 has in store for you?

Bil: At this point, I don’t have expectations anymore. I learned that it’s important to
have a defined set of goals so you can figure out what you need to do to reach
them, that’s the hard part. My biggest goal right now is to cross borders with my
music. It’s not easy but I think this is the year I’m going to do it.

Violetta Zironi Interview


Photo Credit: Puria Safray

We recently caught up with Italian singer-songwriter Violetta Zironi to talk about her music and songwriting, as well as the internet and discovering yourself. We hope you enjoy reading about Violetta’s art and how she focuses on enjoying the simple things in the world around her!

Think Before You Type: How would you describe your sound?

Violetta Zironi: I would say it’s a mix between what I love and what I am. I am passionate about folk and Americana music, as well as country, blues and jazz, so my sound definitely has influences coming from those genres. But being Italian, I inevitably absorbed a lot from my homeland’s music. I am inspired by the Italian songwriters from the 1960’s, such as Luigi Tenco, Gino Paoli, Paolo Conte. Their romantic arrangements and honest lyrics are very inspirational for me.

TBYT: As someone who started their career young, what would you say to other young people who want to go out there and leave their mark on the world?

Violetta: I would tell them that what’s really important is making sure to never stop learning. Especially from people around us. It also helps us define who we are in the best way, which I think it’s the most important thing for an emerging artist: having a clear idea of who we are and the message we want to send to our listener. We don’t necessarily know in the early years, but learning about people will help us discover ourselves.

TBYT: How did you get into songwriting?

Violetta: I wrote my first song when I was 16. I was playing in a band with some schoolmates and in order to participate in a music contest we had to present an original song, so I just wrote one. And then I wrote more and more and more and started performing them live.

TBYT: You once opened for and performed with Ben E. King. That sounds like an amazing experience. What did you take away from the experience?

Violetta: It was incredible. I could not believe it when he invited me to perform Stand By Me with him. I felt so lucky, especially because he sadly passed away a few months later, and I realized that I had the chance to share the stage with one of the music legends. He could still sing fantastic, and the way he still enjoyed music like it was the first time was mind blowing.

TBYT: Do you have any dream collaborations?

Violetta: Well… my absolute dream would be Paul McCartney 😉 But apart from that, I really love George Ezra, his songs and his voice, and I’d love to sing a song with him.

TBYT: People often forget it, but a little bit of kindness can go a long way. When was the last time a stranger made you smile?

Violetta: I’ve noticed that a smile from a stranger happens very often here in Berlin. I wasn’t used to it. I am pleased to say that every time I get the subway I get a smile from a stranger. And when that happens it really lifts my day up 🙂

TBYT: Part of our work with Think Before You Type is encouraging young people to use the internet for good. How would you like to see the internet become a more positive place?

Violetta: You often hear of the Internet used for negative purpose… such as bullying or express the hate for someone. I have been a victim of haters on Facebook myself, and I have to say that sometimes I got really badly affected by it. It’s very easy to judge people by what they appear to be on the web, as everyone is extremely exposed… so not only should people be careful on how they expose themselves, but other people shouldn’t stop and be aggressive only to take out some hate.

TBYT: If you had the chance to speak to someone who has been cyberbullied, what would you say to encourage them?

Violetta: I think I would just tell them to be strong. Just tell them to think of all the positive aspects in life, that are NOT behind our laptop screen. Real things are outside, and they might be harder to discover but once you do, there is no comparison.

TBYT: Tell us about your new single, “Toast”. What has the response been like so far?

Violetta: I’m happy about how people received Toast. It is a morning song, talking about how much you don’t want to be alone and how such a simple thing like someone making you breakfast can just make you feel loved and give a highlight in a dark period of your life. People have been perceptive about this concept and have enjoyed the song for exactly what it wanted to be, a little cuddle over the cold winter.

TBYT: Do you have anything exciting coming up in 2018?

Violetta: Yes! I’m excited I’ll be performing at SXSW in Austin Texas in March. It’ll be my first ever show in America.  My EP is coming out in three weeks, and I’ve got a few more festivals coming up that I look forward to play[ing].

Whitney Woerz Interview

Whitney Woerz

We recently had the opportunity to chat with singer-songwriter Whitney Woerz about her anti-bullying efforts, mental health advocacy, and her music.

Think Before You Type: What inspired you to start singing?
Whitney Woerz: I’ve been singing since before I was talking, my mom likes to say. I grew up doing musical theater, and ever since a very young age, I knew music was what I wanted to do with my life.

TBYT: How did you get into songwriting, and what is your songwriting process?Whitney: I wrote my first song for a friend who I only knew over social media. She told me that she wanted to kill herself. I wanted to help her, but I couldn’t physically see her. So I sat down and wrote her a song called Ghost Story.

TBYT: Who are your musical influences?
Whitney: A big musical influence for my is Lorde. Her lyrics/music are so intricate and unique, and I just love her sound. Another artist I am inspired by (lyrically) is Twenty One Pilots. Their lyrics are so inspirational and hold a message about mental health which I love.

TBYT: What was the inspiration for the video for Ghost Story? What was the process of making it like? What was it like to see the finished product?
Whitney: I worked with director Liz Garbus to put together a documentary/music video centering around six kids who are struggling with mental illness to share their story. The objective was to let people watching know that they aren’t alone in anything they are going through and to show that it’s ok to talk about these things. The process was really fun and inspiring. I am really close now with the people in it. Seeing the finished product for the first time made me cry. I was so so happy I would be able to share this message and so happy for the other kids that they would be able to help people 🙂

TBYT: Since releasing Ghost Story and coming out with a pro-mental health/anti-bullying message, what type of response have you seen?
Whitney: Some responses I get triggered by the music video are “this saved my life” or “this inspired me to keep going.” Comments like these make me want to continue doing what I do and keep making music to help people.

TBYT: How have you been able to use the internet in a positive way?
Whitney: I respond to almost 100% of comments on each of my social media platforms. By doing this, I form relationships with fans and can help them through anything they might be going through. I also always try to spread a positive message through anything I post.

TBYT: How do you deal with negativity online?
Whitney: I try to ignore hate comments. I tell myself they are jealous, and I focus on the positive.

TBYT: If you could speak to someone who is being cyberbullied, what would you say to encourage them?
Whitney: I always let them know that they aren’t alone. I also tell them (if it’s cyberbullying) that whoever is doing it is clearly not confident and would never say those things in person. The people who try to take others down over the internet are usually sad and have nothing better to do than to bully, which is uncool and shouldn’t be taken.

TBYT: Can you tell us about your work with Bring Change 2 Mind?
Whitney: I am a teen ambassador for Bring Change 2 mind, which is an organization run by Glenn Close to help end the stigma around mental illness. I got involved with them before I wrote Ghost Story, and they helped me through what to do with my friend who wanted to kill herself. They told me to call the suicide hotline for her, and after that, I wanted to be a part of their mission to save lives and end the stigma.

TBYT: Do you have anything exciting coming up in 2018?
Whitney: Yes! I am planning to release new music around February and also planning on touring over the summer.

Andrew Butcher Interview

Andrew Butcher

We caught up with Andrew Butcher, a former contestant on ABC’s Boy Band, to talk about music, cyberbullying, and what’s next for him.

Music means something different to everyone. What does it mean to you?

Music is my life. It’s a passion of mine that I’ve always had. It gives me hope for the future for myself.

How has your experience on Boy Band affected you as an artist?

I’ve learned new and amazing things that I would have never known if it weren’t for the boys, the producers, and Tim Davis (Boy Band vocal producer who also worked on 6 seasons of the hit series “Glee“).

People often forget it, but a little bit of kindness can go a long way. When was the last time that a stranger made you smile?

I would say the last time a stranger made me smile was last night. I was actually talking to one of my fans that I had never spoken with before, and hearing her story about how I helped her get through hard times brought a smile to my face.

When you’re down what song helps to pick up your mood?

When I’m down, I can always count on “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” by Shawn Mendes to make me smile. It brings back memories.

If you had the chance to speak to someone who has been cyberbullied, what would you say to encourage them?

I would tell them to keep their head up, and I would try in every way to bring a smile to their face.

We’re really passionate about encouraging other young people to use the internet for good. What’s one positive way that you would like to see the internet change?

A positive way I’d like to see the internet change would probably be, every time someone logs in a positive message will pop up and encourage them to go out and have fun!

Who is your role model?

Definitely my parents. They’ve taught me how to live my life to the fullest. If I had to have a musical influence or role model, I would probably say Justin Timberlake. He was once a small kid in my position. And now look at him!

What does the future hold for you as an artist? Do you have anything exciting coming up?

You can definitely look forward to some big things for me coming up! My Christmas song is out, my single just dropped with the music video, and my album will be releasing hopefully in February. You can always find updates on my social media and website.

Check out the music video for Andrew’s new single below!

Answers have been slightly modified to fit the interview format. 

Canyon City Interview


Lauren from TBYT hit the streets of New York to interview Paul from Canyon City ahead of his show at Rockwood Music Hall. Just in time for National Bullying Prevention Month, Paul touches on his experience with bullying and gives some advice for those who are currently being impacted by bullying and negativity. He also shares the story of how his new album, Constellation, came about and his plans for the upcoming months.

You can find out more about Canyon City Here:

Check out Canyon City’s new video for the song “Our Way”

Special thanks to Canyon City’s percussionist Vinay Shroff for his help with filming the interview.

Thanks for watching!