Fusing the narrative power of country with the catchy melodies of pop, innovative singer Beth Keeping creates her own unique sound. Her music is informed by her international experiences – travels that served as an impromptu source of inspiration for her latest single. “San Francisco” ponders a missed connection, the “almost” moments of not-quite romance that leave us wondering: what would happen if we saw them again? “San Francisco“ daydreams about the possibility. Beth is also incredibly passionate about women’s equality in the industry, starting her organization Write Like A Girl to shine a spotlight on female songwriters and encourage more women to pursue that path. She hopes to extend Write Like A Girl events from their hub in London to throughout the UK!
Cliché: You’ve mentioned in the past that your music is a fusion of traditional country storytelling and modern pop music. At first glance, you might not expect that those two genres would go together. How would you say that combination influences your music?
Beth Keeping: I love it when lyrics tell a story and that’s what country music does so beautifully, and usually with incredibly clever lyrics that put a new spin on an old idea. I love pop music for the melodies and hooks, so I’m trying to bring the two together. If you look at pop today, there are some artists going down this road more, like Lauv, Ed Sheeran, the Chainsmokers song “Closer”, and of course the queen of pop-country fusion Taylor Swift.
You’ve written and recorded songs in several different regions, including the UK, Singapore, Ireland, Estonia, Andalusia, and America. In what ways has this international approach shaped your identity as an artist?
I’ve met so many people with different stories so I think it’s broadened my horizons in terms of themes in my writing, and it’s brought me a whole lot of adventures to write about! It’s also made me aware of how big the music world is – often we get so caught up in what’s “hot” in our own country in the charts and on the radio, but there are so many different audiences and genres out there, so having a more global outlook has helped me forge my own identity rather than trying to fit into a box to please one audience.
Talk about your new single, “San Francisco.”
I wrote “San Francisco” with my friend and producer Kaity Rae about an experience I had when I was backpacking in South East Asia. I was in Vietnam and I met someone from San Francisco – we were just friends but there was a moment when we said goodbye where I felt something could have happened, but neither of us acted on it. The song is about letting that “almost moment” go but wondering if it meant something to them and what would happen if I saw them again. It’s not making any assumptions, just casually saying: “We’ll probably never meet again, but if I’m ever in San Francisco would you care?”
“San Francisco” muses what might happen if you had the opportunity to see someone you’ll probably never see again – a missed connection. What was it about this particular moment or person that inspired this song?
I think it was the fact that it was a missed opportunity, a moment that almost happened and then was lost. There’s something about bittersweet emotions that’s very poetic and always inspires a song.
Why do you think it’s such a natural human impulse to wonder what might’ve been?
I think often we don’t like to let go of things or accept them as they are, so we keep reliving them in our heads or reconciling them to something better. We also do it because we regret something that we did or didn’t do, and that’s definitely part of the story with this song. Personally I’m a bit of a dreamer so I’m very prone to wondering what might happen if I saw certain people again…
Do you hope you’ll run into that person again one day?
I think it’s always nice to entertain the possibility but it’s not something I’m seeking out. Sometimes we want to go back to these moments but if we did it might actually shatter our illusions or leave us disappointed when it doesn’t go the way we imagined it would!
Tell us about your organization, Write Like A Girl. Why is it so crucial to highlight the work of female songwriters? What have you accomplished thus far and how are you going to continue to raise awareness?
Write Like A Girl is about championing female songwriters in the UK and providing them with a voice and a platform. We exist because only 17% of UK songwriters are women, so we want to show that we need female writers because they bring a unique voice to the table – and we’d love to inspire more to write. I think female singer-songwriters are sometimes stereotyped in ways that men aren’t – for example sometimes male artists can get away with singing a lyric when a woman singing the same words might be accused of being “too emotional”, desperate or self-pitying. It’s important to challenge those stereotypes and broaden people’s perceptions of women and creativity.
We started off last year with a tour, and now we’re running showcases in London which regularly sell out. We’re going on tour again in November, which features myself, Emily Faye and Vic Allen, and a different local guest each night. We’ve had interest from people in northern England and Scotland who want to run Write Like A Girl nights, so next year I’d love to expand our showcases to more regions and build a larger community of women who write.
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Beth Keeping Muses Over A Missed Connection in Dreamy New Single “San Francisco.” Photo Credit: Sophie Greenidge.