Meet Bianca "BeMyFiasco" Rodriguez — the vocals behind jazz pianist Robert Glasper and Phonte's "Violets"
April 17, 2016 at 2:00 am
I’ve always been a pretty punctual person, but great music is something I will always and forever be bright and early for. In falling down my usual SoundCloud rabbit hole, I stumbled upon an EP titled Layers. The simple, yet meaningful cover drew me in (I’m a sucker for packaging) but the melodious piano intro, reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer,’ leading into crisp yet velvety, soulful vocals kept me. I learned that 25-year-old singer, songwriter and Dallas, Texas-native, Bianca “BeMyFiasco” Rodriguez was the voice coming through my speakers. Follow our conversation, as you learn that she and her art in no way disappoint the musical predecessors of her home state.
Blavity: So, let’s start with your stage name. Do you mind sharing the story behind that?
Bianca “BeMyFiasco” Rodriguez: The name actually comes from my love of Lupe Fiasco. Lupe was my formal introduction to backpack rap. And he, like ‘Ye, was one of the first rappers I felt like I could relate to.
B: For those who haven’t had the pleasure of hearing your music yet, what’s your ‘elevator pitch,’ so to speak?
BMF: The only thing I ask people is if I can borrow 13 minutes of their time. (That sounds like a lot.) I can woo you in 3 minutes, but to get the full effect your ears need to experience it from top to bottom. You may like it, you may love it, you may hate it..but I challenge you not to feel the words. I’m honestly offering a piece of myself to you. It’s warm. It’s southern. It’s like cornbread fresh out of the oven. It’s comfort food. It’s made with love. And who doesn’t love cornbread? (This is where I pretend to lick my fingers and they laugh because I’m so damn country.) But really, I just ask for an honest listen. I give the listener a chance to make their own decision. If you like me, you’ll like my music. And even if you don’t, there’s still a chance your friend might, so don’t block their blessing and pass my card over. Haha.
B: What inspired you to become the singer and songwriter that you already are and aspire to be?
BMF: I actually started because of Aaliyah’s passing. I still have the newspaper clipping. I cut it out and taped it on my wall. I was really devastated. I used to have a tape recorder and just sung out all my emotions. My mom being the person she is, found it and showed all of my aunts. My cousin Ray played several instruments and just learned to make beats. So we crafted this Aaliyah tribute song. The first song I ever recorded professionally (so to speak). I was 9, but I had a firm grasp of harmonies and background vocals. He really helped mold my sound and find my voice. He challenged my writing. He would come up with these outlandish concepts. I remember him re-arranging John Legend’s “Ordinary People” into a song about his love for Cinnamon Toast Crunch. He loved to push the limits. That made me want to be better. We sound so similar at times. I owe him a limb or two by now.
B: Musically, who would you say is your biggest influence?
BMF: Well, my biggest musical influences are Minnie Riperton, Chaka Khan, Anita Baker, D’Angelo, and SWV. I take pieces from all of them. I admire Beyoncé for her longevity and ability to really take control of her career. She is everything. I love Erykah Badu’s flexibility and freedom. Especially since she’s in the city, I’m able to watch her maneuver. She does her own thing. Does shows when she wants. Tackles the projects she wants, and at least from the outside looking in seems genuinely happy. Not to mention she’s not afraid to take musical risks.
B: So, on your latest EP, Layers, I know we touched on this a couple weeks back, but I was taken aback and thoroughly delighted to hear you crooning to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” on “Work on You,” which is my favorite track by the way. Is there a story behind this?
BMF: Man! You are literally the only one that caught that cadence. I love to throw those little nuances in my music. It makes it fun. I just wanted to really embody the essence of work and incorporate it in a sensual way. That might have to be a thing I start in all of my songs. You’re stirring up the pot!
B: What’s your favorite song from Layers and what do you love most about it?
BMF: It varies day to day. But I’m torn between “Devil’s Advocate” and “Lovers Gold.” “Devil’s Advocate” is just this internal battle of right and wrong. Good and evil. I was having a hard time making a decision between what I wanted and what I needed. My head and my heart are always at war. “Lovers Gold” is the purest song of the project. I free-sung the first half and wrote the second. I just spilled out my heart. It’s the longing for someone you can’t have. Whether that’s because of timing or whatever, it still hurts. I found in making this tape that feelings are fleeting. One minute you can have this burning desire that slowly eats away at you for someone, and the next feel completely numb and cold toward them. Love is funny like that. But I’ll always appreciate those moments. This tape helped me understand what love is and what it isn’t.
B: Who and what do you write and perform your music for? What drives you to create?
BMF: It started out like most..as an outlet. Everyone needs a healthy form of release. Mine just happened to be writing and performing. There’s this freeing feeling on stage. There’s this pull of power and vulnerability as an artist. I make music for the love of it, and for my sanity. Sometimes you can’t convey your emotions in a way that can be understood, and music provides that medium. I make music for those who never thought it was possible. Someone who has the ability to feel so strongly, but just can’t get it out. So I sing about love and loss. It’s a recurring theme. It’s an insane feeling knowing your music touched someone or helped them through a situation. It makes it all worth it.
B: So, I listened to you vocally levitate on ‘Violets,’ appearing on Jazz pianist Robert Glasper’s tribute album to the late, great Miles Davis, with Phontigallo (Phonte) of Little Brother, and The Foreign Exchange. Not to mention production by the 9th Wonder. Congratulations on that by the way! How was that experience? And in light of accomplishments like that, what are you most proud of thus far in your career?
BMF: Thank you so much! That was nothing but God honestly. It all started with a tweet. I shot Phonte the link to my then single “Monday Morning Blues.” (It’s inspired by the Foreign Exchange) A couple weeks later, he graced me with the coveted “Fish Grease” mention, and it’s been all love ever since. He’s family. He just asked me to do this hook one day. He didn’t tell me what it was for until a few months later. I honestly still didn’t think we were gonna make the project until I saw the release. It’s still surreal.
As far as my accomplishments, I’m most proud of Layers. It’s my baby. It’s something that took years to craft. All the pieces had to fall in the right places. That tape is love on wax.
B: Regarding your craft, what do you care most about?
BMF: The quality. The lyrics. The feeling. I’m still growing and progressing, but so is my music. I’m learning to paint better pictures. Even my day-to-day diction is sprinkled with better words. But no matter what, you can’t fake the feeling. It’s the most integral piece of any song, to be honest. That’s why you can feel Adele’s “Hello” or Rihanna’s “Higher.” That passion. That edge is hard to fake and the fans know that.
B: Growing up, how were you encouraged and supported to do what you do now?
BMF: I was always told I could sing, but no one really encouraged me to make a career out of it until college. I was going through a tough breakup and my relief was my first EP, Solitude. I never intended for it be out, but my friends pressured me. So, I was almost forced into it. And after that, my family and friends were extremely supportive now that they saw I was serious.
B: If you had the opportunity to collaborate with any artist and/or producer, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
BMF: That’s tough. My go to’s will always be MJ, Stevie, The Gap Band, Brandy. Music was different then. You could feel everything, and instrumentation was important. But currently, I love James Fauntleroy. His pen game is unrivaled. He takes very simple things like love and weed and morphs these beautiful concepts. His mind, his writing, it’s just on another level.
B: I know as a creative, many of us have to apply some serious work-life balance. How do you manage?
BMF: Well I’m a first-grade teacher by day and artist/songwriter by night, so it can get very challenging. I’m still working on a healthy balance, but I write everything down since I’m aging rapidly. I unplug. I delegate. I read a lot of books, I run and I drink a lot of water. And when I’m really stressed out I’ll watch Law & Order SVU. It soothes me. That, and the cartoon, Arthur, don’t ask me why.
B: A little while back, your very talented producer, @sirtimsmusic, informed me that you have some visuals dropping for Layers pretty soon. Mind letting us in on any tidbits, or goals you can share that you have up for the rest of the year?
BMF: I’m working on a video for “Work on You,” in which I’m having to tap into my sexy, and that’s a whole new field for me. But I’m excited to see what happens, haha. I’m planning the album release party back in Dallas. I’m always writing and sending out songs. My goal is to really get this tape to as many places as possible. Get some placements. Work with some different brands locally and nationally. I have my hands in several different pots right now.
B: A lot of our readers and staff alike, such as myself, are up-and-comings. That being said, what advice do you have for us?
BMF: So many things. Fall in love with the process. Enjoy the growth. Have fun. Be in the moment. Everything doesn’t have to be documented. Also, to really understand the difference between interest and passion. Sometimes I look around and feel like nobody wants to be a fan anymore. Everybody wants that shine, and it over-saturates the market. Now I know art is subjective, but I also know my strengths and my weaknesses. Just learn what’s good for you. Be kind to yourself first. Always be willing to give a good hug, and ribs will never steer you wrong.
B: What motto do you live by? Song lyric even, if that’s more fitting.
BMF: I have two life mantras that have stuck with me through the years. The first is “The journey is the reward.” – Taoism. And the second is “Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet…” – Aristotle. I’m all about the process. I’ve learned to fall in love with it.
B: Is there anything I haven’t touched on that you’d like our readers to know?
BMF: I am a rib connoisseur. Ask anyone around me. I love them. Pork preferably, but I won’t turn down a beef rib. Sauce or no sauce. Eventually, I’ll probably scour the world for the best ribs on earth. Each city I hit, I always wanna know who has the best.
So, I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little bit about BeMyFiasco. I definitely did. Remember her words, “If you like me, you’ll like my music?” Trust me, she’s just as likable as her music. Follow her on Twitter at @BeMyFiasco and check her out at bemyfiasco.com. Now, what are you waiting for? Check out Layers below!