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

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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.

Royal Street Interview

Royal Street

We caught up with the members of Royal Street to discuss their newly released album “Flavors”, their love of music and touring, and their advice for people who are being cyberbullied.

How long have you been a band? What inspired you to become a group?

We have been a band for two years now. Alex and I (Viana) were in bands for a few years before, and Brian [Cauti] was always a friend of ours, our bands played together a lot in the Providence scene. One day we decided to reboot our music and start Royal Street, and we knew Cauti was the perfect man for the job.

Who are your musical influences?

We have all kinds of musical influences! They range from The 1975 and Prince to Paramore and Bad Suns.

You have a new album coming out. What was your favorite part of making the album?

Well, the whole process has been pretty fun and inspiring. The best part is definitely either writing the songs together or being in the studio and watching them come to life. Then the build up of waiting to show them to people is so exciting! That’s the stage we’re in now. It’s like waiting for Christmas morning.

What was your inspiration for the album?

Our inspiration comes from all around us. Things that happen to us, to friends, to the world. A lot of this album was inspired by our friends and also the experiences we’ve had together as a band!

You guys have played a lot of shows over the past couple of years. What’s your favorite part of touring? Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Oh man. Touring is such a hilarious experience. Living together like bums really makes you become a family.  Usually, before our show, we just love hanging out with anyone who came to see us, and the other bands. We usually eat something horrible, that while we’re eating it we say, “ Well, we probably shouldn’t have this before we jump around on stage… “ but it never stops us. Also, whiskey is usually involved.

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

Music means something different every day to me. But usually, it’s something comforting. Something there for whatever emotion I find myself feeling in that moment. That’s what I love about music, it’s versatile. There for you in whatever state you’re in!

At Think Before You Type, 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?

I would love to see less putting other people down on the Internet. If you don’t have something nice to say, then just don’t say it! I think people need to worry more about themselves and less about having an opinion on what everyone else is doing.

Who are you role models?

First off, our parents. We all come from strong support systems, and it’s an amazing thing. Musically, we look up to anyone out there doing the darn thing. We know what we do isn’t easy, and to see someone pursuing something they love is magical.

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

Man. I would tell them to keep their head up and remember that whoever is on the other end of that computer has their own issues that they’re too scared to deal with, so they push negativity towards others. Don’t be like them, rise above them. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and the important thing is to be the bigger person.

Some edits were made for content and clarity.

VISTA Interview

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Photo courtesy of Holly Turner Photography

TBYT recently caught up with Hope, Wolf, and Brian from the band VISTA. We discussed a variety of topics including their new EP, musical influences, and personal experiences with negativity online. 

Think Before You Type: VISTA is a recently formed band, can you tell us how you guys all met and what made you decide to start the band together?

VISTA: Hope had been a solo artist for about a decade, and Wolf was her touring drummer. Their musical brains just completely meshed right off the bat, and they made the decision to form a new band. Brian and Wolf had been in bands together previously, and they’ve been friends for years. Brian was actually supposed to be one of Hope’s new touring guitarists, so he came along on a weekend of shows to kind of get a feel for things and pick up on some of her songs. It was just a clear fit to ask Brian to be a part of VISTA!

TBYT: Sometimes the internet can be a really tough place. How do you deal with negative comments on social media?

Hope: The internet can be a really dangerous space. You can connect with people easily, which is super helpful as a musician, but I think it’s really important to remember that any negative comment you read is just a set of words on a screen. It’s digital, it’s not the real world. That’s always what I try to keep in mind. I know words on a social media site can be extremely, extremely hurtful. But lately I’ve been saying that I would much rather live my life off a screen than behind one, you know? Make sure to maintain good personal relationships.

TBYT: Who are your musical influences?

VISTA: All of our influences run on a pretty wide range. We’re all huge fans of bands like PVRIS and Set It Off. Brian loves Periphery, and he’s actually a big Bieber fan, too. Hope’s got three main musical sets of influences: pop punk and alt. rock, 90’s pop, and classic rock. Wolf’s got some pop punk vibes too, and he also loves the Biebs.

TBYT: What’s one thing that people tend to misjudge or underestimate about each of you?

Hope: In the past, some people have gotten super confused or surprised when they see how I dress compared to my personality. I wear black almost exclusively, you can never wear enough black! I’ve always gravitated more towards darker colors, with pretty much everything, but my personality is really bubble and upbeat…. which kind of contrasts the stigma behind wearing dark clothes. I guess it’s just an interesting contrast!

Brian: Probably that most of the time, people think I’m off doing dumb things but at heart I’m a very down to earth and real person.

Wolf: People tend to underestimate how hard I’ll work to get to where I want to be.

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

Hope: Any Backstreet Boys song!!!

Brian: For some reason I really enjoy metal when I’m down. So one of the songs I listen to is “The Bad Thing” by Periphery.

Hope: You have such a broad taste in music, I can dig it. I’ve never heard of Periphery, now I have something new to check out.

Wolf: Anything by Set It Off!

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?

VISTA: Twitter shouldn’t be as negative. It’s a cool idea, a cool space that should be used to connect with your favorite musicians, actors, athletes, your friends. That space seems to be pretty abused nowadays. The bullying online, tweet wars, and subtweeting is just ridiculous. It could be such an awesome place online, but we’d really like to see people use it the right way, the positive way.

TBYT: Who are your role models?

Hope: My dad was my top role model. But I think that right now, and especially most recently, my role model has been my brother. He’s 7 years younger than me, but that kid is one of the most kind-hearted, care-free, talented teenagers I know. The way he carries himself at just 16 is super inspiring to me and I’m always more than proud to be his sister.

Brian: My role model would probably be my mom. She taught me how to fight for the things I want and to never give up when things get hard.

Wolf: My boss at my job.

TBYT: What advice or encouragement do you guys have for young people who are being cyberbullied?

VISTA: Get off the computer or phone for a bit. Go outside, get some fresh air, real air. Live more of your life offscreen instead of behind one. It really does wonders. Words on a screen are just words.

TBYT: What do you guys have coming up in 2016?

VISTA: Our EP! We’re gonna try and push out as much content as possible besides just music. Videos, photos, just a bunch of different things. And we will definitely be on the road. It will happen!

TBYT: How do you define ‘beauty’?

Brian: Beauty is who you are on the inside. And who you are on the inside could change the world and make it a more beautiful place.

Hope: Brian honestly always has the most sentimental answers, it’s awesome.