MP! Exclusive: Musical Bethan shares her thoughts about fans invading Zoella and Alfie’s privacy

You’ll fall even harder in love with Musical Bethan after reading this…

Some people need no introduction. After all, we expect you’re already following one of our absolute fave YouTubers, Bethan Leadley. She’s an absolute star and constantly wows us with her insane covers of Shawn Mendes, Miley Cyrus, Lorde and loads more. We’re also pretty big mahooosive fans of her original tracks.

‘Fall For You’ is such a belter, you’ll often catch us singing it to our friends, family and errr… the next door neighbour’s dog – anyone that will listen to us really.

Bethan’s currently working with the stationery brand BIC® to encourage up-and-coming singer-songwriters to enter the amazing ‘Write and Shine’ competition. It’s the ideal comp to enter if you’re always jotting down lyrics in a notebook and the prize is so good we sorta wanna keep it all to ourselves.

We here at Maximum Pop! are also working with BIC to help spread the word, which is why we thought it was about time we sat down with Bethan and had a natter about all things music and YouTube.

As well as sharing some tips and advice for young songwriters, Bethan also delved into the ins-and-outs of the online community. She told us how she thinks the platform benefits young people. She also revealed her thoughts on fans leaking Alfie and Zoella’s new address online.

Hi Bethan! So what were some of your earliest memories of music?

I always loved singing. My parents bought me this plastic microphone when I was young, it was multicoloured and it was my favourite thing in the world – you wouldn’t see me without it. I would run around the house with it and put on performances. I would always be in the school choir and do the school concerts. I then started writing songs, I picked up a guitar around age 13/14 and that was when I started to post videos on YouTube.

Do you remember what the first song you wrote was about?

I’m pretty sure I was writing lyrics from a stupidly young age. But the first full song I actually wrote was a song called ‘Then I Go.’ The song itself is actually kind of depressing; I wrote it shortly after my parents divorced. It was about travelling on the train and going to my mum’s house. Time there would always go quickly. It’s actually kind of a sad song and quite deep for a 13/14-year-old. Then again I was very emo at that age so it doesn’t really surprise me (laughs).

What’s the process you go through to write a song?

It happens in different ways every time. Most commonly, I just play around with some chords and eventually I come across something I like. I can’t really explain it but melodies just kind of come to me. Sometimes when I find a melody, certain words just fit into them really well. Then I’ll either use my own personal experiences to draft a song or I’ll make up a story or use an experience my friends have been through. Eventually I will have a general basis of the song and then I’ll go back over time and change words and lyrics to make them flow better.

What tips would you give to young songwriters who are thinking about entering the BIC® ‘Write and Shine’ competition? 

Write from the heart, be creative and try to step outside of the box. Be as honest as you can with your lyrics. At the end of the day, the reason why people connect with songs is because they can relate to them. We’re not all that different, you know, a lot of us go through the same things and even though you may feel like an experience is very, very specific, it won’t feel as specific as you think it will. A lot of songwriting I feel is about letting go. If you go in there and think ‘Okay I’m going to write a great song!’ you will immediately put too much pressure on yourself and that will get in the way. If you just sit down and do it for fun and write from the heart, it comes a lot more naturally. Great songs always come when you least expect it.

Sounds great. You mentioned in a recent YouTube video that you had an EP nearly finished but scrapped it. What’s the story behind that?

Well, the genre of music I listen to changed. I decided that I’m not really into playing pop punk music anymore – that was teenage me. I feel like I’ve grown up a lot. I wrote these songs and there was so much emotion in there, but they weren’t really the best songs I could create. Eventually I sat down towards the end of making the EP and decided to write in a different way and a different genre. I ended up writing the best songs I’ve ever written, but it also sounds nothing like the rest of the EP. I believe in consistency and think it’s important – especially in the early stages of your career.

Was it a hard decision to make?

To scrap an entire EP? No, it wasn’t that hard. Obviously I spent a lot of money on it, but I knew that the newer stuff I was creating was really good. That new single will hopefully be released in the summer with a bunch more new music as well. I’m currently in the studio recording things and I’m just excited to release new stuff!

Speaking of the studio, if you could collaborate with any artist who would it be?

I’m a huge, huge fan of Melanie Martinez and Halsey – they’re probably some of my strongest inspirations because they’re not afraid to create a different sound. They’re always thinking outside of the box and you can tell they’re two amazing, intelligent and cool creative women who are doing their own thing. They’re not trying to copy what’s out there and I have huge amounts of respect for that. They’re proper artists and that’s only what I can hope to do with my music in the future. I could name like a million more, but those two are the first ones that stick out to me.

Definitely. Their music is really unique. You never know what genre to place them in…

I know. They’re like pop but they’re not – they’re like alternative pop. That’s kind of what I’m doing, you could say the new music is alternative pop.

Is there a specific song that made you want to be a musician?

I always wanted to get into musical theatre, then I had a huge love for a lot of pop-punk music growing up. When I was 13/14 and started writing songs I was listening to a lot of My Chemical Romance and Mayday Parade – so very, very emo stuff (laughs). A song that particularly resonated with me was ‘Miserable At Best’ by Mayday Parade just because it was so well written. If you ever see it at a show, there’s never a dry eye in the house, it’s so emotional. I just loved the idea that a song can make someone feel like that.

What about a song so good it makes you want to quit music?

I felt like that recently with ‘Green Light’ by Lorde. I was like ‘Oh my god, this song is so sick I might as well give up now.’ It’s just such a well-written song and I love the way it takes you on a journey.

Is there a song you love but everyone else hates?

It’s gotta be a Steps song or something, right? Like ‘5, 6, 7, 8’. People must listen to that and cringe but I’m like ‘dude this is my anthem.’

We have so much time for ‘90s dance tracks. So obviously, you’ve been on YouTube for what feels like donkey’s years…

Yeah, I made the YouTube channel back in 2007. I think I was 11 at the time. I only really made the account to watch people, at first. I think probably the first person I watched was Amazing Phil back when he was making videos on his webcam or something. That was even before Dan, which is a crazy thought.

Why did you decide to make videos?

I had a lot of creative energy and I wanted to express myself. To be honest, I love talking, and I’ve always loved talking – to the point where it probably annoys most of my friends. I had a lot of courage, too. I think me now would really struggle with creating a channel. When I was at school, I was bullied because people found my videos, but I just didn’t care. I loved expressing myself and I loved being part of the YouTube community back in the early days. Sometimes I wish it was still like the olden days before everything, like the money and things like that. It was just simpler times. But I’m so glad I did it when I did and I’m so glad I’ve stuck with it. I still have a lot of love for it even in my adult years, which is really cool. It’s weird to think that I’ve been on the website for 10 years.

How do you think YouTube benefits young people?

I feel that a lot of people who join YouTube want to have creative jobs, whether that be as a musician or a TV or radio show host. They have a lot of different dreams and I think that YouTube is such an amazing starting platform to make those come true.

It seems like there are so many opportunities on it…

Normal people have CVs and we have our YouTube videos. If it’s something you want to do for the rest of your life, YouTube is an amazing starting platform. Whether you go on and do YouTube forever or whether you go on and sing, I think it can really change your confidence and just give you a head start in what you wanna do. People are making so many different types of content on it and there’s nothing that you really can’t do – there’s something for everybody.

We actually wanted to ask you a little bit about some massive stories in the YouTube community…

Sure, sounds good!

Some Zoella and Alfie fans have been sharing their new home address online…

Oh my god, already?!

Yeah, it’s awful isn’t it! Do you think that YouTubers have the same right to privacy as anyone else, or is this just an unfortunate side effect of what is otherwise an amazing job?

Absolutely. I think people definitely have the right to privacy. I heard about this a lot when they lived in their old place in Brighton, which I think is one of the reasons why they decided to move. It would definitely be a reason I’d decide to move. The idea of living in your house and people ringing the doorbell all day… that’s not okay. At the end of the day, although both of them probably enjoy YouTube, it’s also a job and you should be able to leave your job and sit at home and be with yourself and have me time.

It horrible that people continue to ruin that…

It’s just so inconsiderate to do that to someone, regardless of whether you know where they live or not. Just wait until they’re out at events and go and meet them there. Ugh, it’s so annoying, I find it really upsetting. I’m amazed how well they’ve dealt with it.

Oh yeah, definitely. If it was anyone else I can imagine them flipping out!

I don’t know what more they could possibly do. Oh god if it was me, I wouldn’t be nice, let’s just say that! (laughs) Zoella’s been made out to be the bad guy and that’s not okay because everyone has the right to privacy in their own home.

What’s the craziest rumour you’ve ever heard about yourself or another YouTuber?

I can’t think of anything drastic, really. I mean you definitely hear about people putting evidence together on Tumblr and they’re literally clutching at straws. I’ve definitely had some situations in the past where I’ve been in relationships with YouTubers, like me and my ex boyfriend Dean [Dobbs]. We were together for three years and someone said ‘oh she’s just using him for his band.’ We were in a relationship for three years! I mean… that’s an extensive amount of time spent with someone for a band. I found that really funny.

When you see comments like that is it hard to stop yourself from commenting back?

I was a lot worse at it when I was younger. I don’t care as much now I’ve grown up, but I felt like I was a lot harsher back then. A lot of comments are better just ignored unless they’re continuing on and if they are you can just block them. I don’t know if that’s the amount of years I’ve spent on YouTube and social media or just growing up, but I find it a lot easier now to move on. People don’t know your life, they may think so because you post videos on YouTube but really it’s a window into someone’s life… not the whole picture.

And I think that’s the perfect way to end this interview. Thank you so much, Bethan.

Thank you. It was great to speak to you.

Want to find out more about the BIC® ‘Write and Shine’ competition? Information on how you can enter can be found by clicking here.

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Written by Emma Matthews

Emma is a freelance journalist at MP.

When she’s not writing articles for Maximum Pop!, you’ll find her attending gigs, geeking out over the latest beauty products and reading feminist literature. Hermione is her favourite Harry Potter character - obviously.

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