Some words from singer/songwriter/producer Ariel Morer (ASHERAH) on her experience at the three-day BBG.camp in Boston this September
photo by Sasha Pedro
Last month, Beats by Girlz Boston offered the unique opportunity to attend a writing and
production camp for Grammy award winner Kimbra. Applicants were encouraged to apply with samples of their best work, and I was fortunate enough to be invited. Like many of the other attendees, music is my life’s purpose, and collaborating with women and gender diverse people was something I was actively seeking as a new resident of Boston.
Having just moved from Florida to begin the fall term at Berklee, I was excited when my
boyfriend’s friend (songwriter/producer Plunki) suggested that I apply to BBG.camp. Coming from a background as an electro pop singer/songwriter who uses Ableton, it seemed like a fitting way to integrate myself into this new scene. I released my first EP under my alias ASHERAH this year and many of my early influences include femme alt-pop musicians in the realm of Kimbra (FKA Twigs, Grimes, Bjork).
I went into the weekend with an open mind ready for whatever musical experiences awaited me. What I didn’t anticipate were the intense bonds and friendships that so readily formed. After hearing from the brilliant minds who put the weekend together and listening to Kimbra describe her artistic process and preferences, we were asked to collaborate with several writers and producers whom we hadn’t met before and pitch the end result to her. We had what totaled maybe six hours. No pressure.
My group was comprised of three Latinas, so we immediately had a cultural connection that felt very comfortable. We began our Saturday session laser-focused with a meditation and journaling and pretty quickly agreed on a direction to pursue. As the day progressed, we started to veer off into separate realms of thought but they ultimately converged and evolved into a really fun, gritty, danceable track. Flamenco, middle eastern music, SOPHIE, and Arca were some of the inspirations for our pitch.
One of the greatest challenges of this experience was learning to collaborate in real time with people whose musical backgrounds and tendencies don’t necessarily mirror your own. It was a welcome challenge though, and one that undeniably made me a better listener and communicator. It was incredibly rewarding to emerge with a piece to be proud of despite the small setbacks, and it was soul-enriching to hear each group’s unique talents shine. I felt renewed as an artist and privileged to share a creative space with the skilled attendees and a musician whom I grew up listening to.
Coming from a vocalist’s perspective, I’ve been inspired by Kimbra since I was a young teen. Her voice strikes imagery of a rainbow in the way she uses different tonal colors to highlight the hills and valleys in her melodies. I admire the way she has studied her craft and has a very intimate relationship with her own artistry, which I feel isn’t as common as one might assume. Her ability to illustrate exactly what makes a Kimbra song a “Kimbra song” was impressively detailed, and I have great respect for her production savviness and passion for involving women and gender diverse people in the technological side of music.
Photo by Sasha Pedro
In essence, this iteration of BBG.camp was educational, memorable, motivating, and rife with moments of joy. I think as artists, there is an enormous amount of pressure to make something that’s destined for virality, especially when creating something for another artist. Kimbra was so open to our ideas and welcomed the more experimental routes we explored. Having an outlet where this type of creative collaboration was celebrated is something I will actively seek in the future, and I’m deeply grateful to Beats by Girlz for providing this unforgettable opportunity.
-written by Ariel Morer, edited by Nan Macmillan