Interview: Ber Talks Life, Love, & Creation Leading Up to Sophomore EP ‘Halfway’

Ber © Lauren Kim
Ber © Lauren Kim
Ber fills the gaps between heartbreak and recovery in her latest EP ‘Halfway’, bridging the notions of healing while giving us our next essential breakup medicine.
Stream: ‘Halfway’ – Ber

Heartbreak is a universal experience.

Getting through a breakup spirals on the polarities of ‘I love you’ and ‘I hate you’. But what about the in-between? Ber fills that gap with her latest EP, Halfway (out now via AWAL). In the spaces between heartbreak and breakup, the six-track project speaks to being ready to get over someone – but not being quite there yet.

Halfway - Ber
Halfway – Ber

Disarmingly honest and playfully vulnerable, Halfway tells us that it’s okay if we’re not healing as quickly as we hoped. Released on February 17th, the project comes second in line of the artist’s work. In Halfway, Ber validates a very specific set of emotions with lyrics equally satisfying as they are relatable. With a sonic shift representing experimental production and intentional creativity – the singer-songwriter meets alt-pop project are six songs Ber wrote to get over, now gifting us with the songs we need to get through.

No stranger to the music scene, Ber has already garnered support from the likes of Zane Lowe and Travis Mills, receiving support from BBC Radio 1 and Triple A Radio. With significant support slots already under her belt, Ber also announces the Halfway Across America tour this Spring. Ahead of its release, Ber sat down with Atwood Magazine to chat about life leading up to the creation of Halfway, musicianship, and not taking yourself too seriously – after all, most of us are halfway somewhere too.

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:: stream/purchase Halfway EP here ::
Stream: “Slutphase” – Ber


Halfway - Ber

Atwood Magazine: Congratulations on Halfway! It’s such a great project. I know that release time can be very symbolic for artists - how do you feel with Halfway about to come out?

Ber: Thank you! I’m really glad you like it, I’m so excited. Yeah, it is a little different. I think because it’s not my first shot at it this time. We kind of just rolled out the last EP, but there were just moments in there where I had no idea what I was doing. I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I wrapped the writing of the EP in the summer, so it’s been on my brain and in my ears. I’ve had demo-itis with it for a really long time, and I feel like everyone’s heard the songs, even though they haven’t. I played quite a few of these newer songs on my most recent North American tour too, so it was fun to get people’s reactions. That’s an experience I didn’t have with the last EP.

Is there a song that particularly resonated with your live audience?

Ber: “Your Internet Sucks.”

I love that song! It’s everything.

Ber: I’ve been blown away by the reaction to that! This was a lesson for me, but I threw that song away in my brain. I loved it because it was so fun, but it was such a personal kind of dig at something. And I don’t like doing that, I don’t like digging. It was also just so cheeky, I was just like, “Oh well, this was fun for me to write, I really needed to get that off my chest, but I’m sure no one will ever hear it.” But on tour, I would tell the story behind the song and all of a sudden I’d have an army of 1500 people chanting with me, “I hope your internet sucks.” That was just such a funny, really weird, unifying thing for people to collectively hate on – which is horrible! Not what I’m trying to promote but, haha!

Sometimes you have to indulge in that little bit of pettiness.

Ber: I feel like everyone needs that second of petty, and that song is my second of petty. And then it stays there. What happens in the song stays in the song.

Ber © Lauren Kim
Ber © Lauren Kim

There’s a lot of emotions in this EP that I hid from in the first, every song tackles a different aspect of that void that I really wanted to explain to myself. That halfway where you’re ready to move on, but your heart’s not.

As I was listening to these songs, I just found myself going, “I know this boy!” at every single track! The lyrics are just so universal and really relatable. Can you tell us more about the creative process of making the EP and the stories behind them?

Ber: Yeah! Well… you know the boy, haha! I think the cool thing is that it was a very intentional EP, which I never expected. It was just really fun to make. I went through this crazy heartbreak moment in 2021, and it’s honestly something that still lives inside, and I’m just trying to figure out. This feels like an extension of my whole first EP. Those were songs I wrote and put out “on accident” about it, and these songs I’m putting out intentionally. When I wrote the title track “Halfway,” I immediately was like, oh, I could write an album of this. So it’s really centered around that. This is a whole concept that I’ve never dived into that I, personally, really needed to explore for therapy’s sake. It was really important for me to write these songs and take the piss out of myself and explore that.

There’s a lot of emotions in this EP that I hid from in the first, every song tackles a different aspect of that void that I really wanted to explain to myself. That halfway where you’re ready to move on, but your heart’s not. And every other part of your body is super ready to move on, but there’s one piece of you that’s just like, oh, but that would hurt. There’s also a lot of easter eggs in the songs as well. For myself – I’m not trying to call people out. Like, it was just fun to write “Slutphase,” because I remember sitting there and being like, I can’t believe I’m actually writing these lyrics, this can’t be real. And just little details in “Over You” that felt really personal to me and the relationship I talked about. But it’s all just very much about overcoming the next step of heartbreak, which I like, because when I was really sad myself, there were a lot of songs about, fuck you, you broke my heart. And then there were songs about I love you so much. But, personally, my playlist didn’t have songs that explained where I was. So I just wrote them. I wrote six.

Yeah, I totally felt that when I was listening to the EP! It’s such an important project because it validates this situation we’ve all experienced before, but we don’t have the songs for.

Ber: Yeah it’s not special, it’s not unique. I know that, and so it’s really cool to share this with people.

It’s been fun to be loud for a second because, especially being a woman that posts songs about her boyfriends, that gets watered down so quickly.

How do you feel like this project has helped you to grow as an artist?

Ber: I think the songs pushed me out of my comfort zone quite a bit. Sonically, on a music level. My friend Brad [Hale], who produced a lot of it with me – we call them ‘boom boom songs’. There’s a lot of songs in it that just feel louder than anything I’ve done before. And I love that. It’s been fun to be loud for a second because, especially being a woman that posts songs about her boyfriends, that gets watered down so quickly. So it’s just been fun to take some of that power back, and be loud on the internet. When we wrote “Boys Who Kiss You In Their Car,” I was like, this is what I wanted to make for my entire life and I just haven’t known how to. I also learned to not take everything so seriously with my writing. It’s important to actually relax, and like, just write. So for me that’s been like a big learning curve. I feel like with the songs off the first EP I wasn’t writing for me as an artist. I was just writing them. But writing this project I actually was like, well what do I want to say?

Yeah, I totally hear that. With anything creative the best things always come the more you can let go. But that’s so much easier said than done.

Ber: It’s fun to listen back to songs you’ve written after you’ve grown as well, because artists are always releasing behind themselves. They’ll finish the project in July and it doesn’t come out till February or even way longer, you know. But it’s really fun for me to analyze it after the fact, look back on it, and feel really excited about how far I’ve come since then, how far I’ve slipped in between because of the way that I tackle writing. It’s like a diary entry for me, it’s very therapeutic, and they’re like little timestamps. Looking at this whole project is like a time capsule for the time I was really, really sad and very much hopelessly trying to not be. I think about my whole surroundings; I was living in my uncle’s basement while writing this whole EP, and I was at that really low point. So it’s cool to be on the other end of it, but still be able to resonate so deeply with the songs, because they’re such a part of me.

Ber © Sawyer Brice
Ber © Sawyer Brice

So I know that you’ve moved around a lot, which definitely influences a person. Do you feel like that has had an impact on your music? Or this EP particularly?

Ber: It by proxy has had a big influence on this EP, but more or less just me as a human. I’m the perspective, and everything about everything is always about perspective. Moving and exploring altered mine so drastically. I’m from the middle of nowhere in Minnesota. And I loved growing up there, I had a really supportive, very arts-heavy childhood, and it was great. But the second I turned 18 and could go somewhere, I was like, I have to get out. So I moved to Norway because of my Norwegian family, and I really wanted to experience that. I ended up auditioning for Leeds College of Music. I was planning on going back to the states and doing undergrad, maybe do musical theater, and like, English. And when I was basically not speaking English in Norway and writing songs with my friends, I was like, there has to be something I could do so that this is my life. So I sort of was like, yeah, fuck it, like, I’m going to try England. The first day I moved to England was the first time I ever stepped foot there.

Wow, that's brave! That's really brave.

Ber: It was kind of crazy. I luckily had a few friends that I was doing it with, so I wasn’t alone, but I was somewhere so new. And it freaked me out, honestly. But I fell in love with it. The thing I love about the fact I started making music in England is that I hear that influence. I hear my British peers, and my college experience, and my friends who I would play in bands with. I hear them every time I sit down and write. How could I not? I definitely hear those years in my everyday life when I think about it now, and my British friends are the first people I send my music to.

Absolutely! You said as well that you have a background in musical theater. How did you get from musical theater to your current genre?

Ber: I have no idea. I really do not, haha! I love that question. I wish I had an answer. I was so passionate about musical theater, and I think I still would be if I never found this and started this.

The heart just took you here!

Ber: I spent my whole upbringing doing musical theater and I would constantly be playing someone else. It was awesome, I needed to do that. It was so fun to put a wig on and go be someone different and just vibe. I had so much fun with it, and I had success there. I got into some really cool programmes, and someday I was gonna be on Broadway – it was my whole thing. When I started writing my own songs and telling my own stories, I remember feeling like, whoa, this is a whole other release. It was sort of what we were wrapped up in the times with too. I remember thinking, well, at least I’m writing songs, because at least then I had that outlet. I wouldn’t have had that if I’d chosen anything else. I think it would have driven me insane. Truly, it would not have been good. But who would expect to be here like two years later, putting out my second EP and going on a tour! That, I didn’t think was what was gonna happen.

Amazing! Speaking of tour, tell us about your experience with that!

Ber: I played a headline show in London, and that was so fun. Oh, British crowds are totally different and I love them! But that’s a whole different story. I’ve done two North American support slot tours and my first headline tour is coming up!

So exciting! Have you started preparing for all of that?

Ber: I’ve actually been making setlists today! I’m bringing a drummer, so we’ve expanded our set a little bit, and I have Max Leone joining me which is so fun, because he’s just also a really good friend. So we’ll have a really great time on the road. Yeah, it’s exciting!

So is it gonna be like a full band kind of vibe, or…?

Ber: I have a three piece which is nice. There’s gonna be merch and we’re doing the whole shebang!

That's gonna be so much fun!

Ber: I’m excited to meet people and see some old faces too. There’s a few people that have already messaged me to be like, “We can’t wait to come back and see you!” It’s just crazy to me.

Yeah, it’ll be so nice to hear your fans singing your lyrics back at you once they’ve spent some time with the music!

Ber: I’m so excited, this time it’s like… I’m getting to fill rooms for me. So that’s amazing that people actually really connected with the songs. And I’ll get to talk to them afterwards and things are gonna feel really real after that.

That's wonderful. You've also said that collaboration is a big part of making your music. How has collaboration impacted your approach to this EP or your songwriting in general?

Ber: I co-wrote every song on this album with someone else, and I’m so happy about it. It opens up so many more doors when you bring in another brain. And I get really stuck when I write by myself. So I don’t like to do that often, to be fully honest. That’s also why the songs start to feel so relatable to me. Because, in the process, I had to be able to relate with someone about the thing that I’m writing about. Like with Brad and Landon, who wrote “Your Internet Sucks” with me, we just laughed our way through that whole session. I told them this story, and they were like, “We need to write this song. Everyone’s felt this before.” And I was like, “What? Not everyone’s felt this before. No, they haven’t. Don’t tell me that.” And then I was like, Ber, you’re being stupid. Everyone had this before, just write the song. So every song on this record feels really real to me, because someone else has been there and been like, I get it. That’s the fun part of this type of songwriting for me. Because, you know, this avenue and space I’m trying to hold up in the world of music and genre, it’s very singer-songwriter meets alt songs. So I think it’s just cool to have them be made with other people. It’s really fun.

Did you have any influences while making the record?

Ber: A lot of the people that I wrote the songs with actually were big influences. This was the first time I’ve gotten to write with a lot of people that I’ve been looking up to. “Over you” I co-wrote with Rob Milton, who works a lot in the Holly Humberstone project, and I love Holly. She’s always been a reference. So it’s really cool to be sitting there with someone who makes the reference. So I feel like my friends, and the people that I co-wrote with, are very heavily involved in that. But I listened to a lot of Now, Now, who are my friends Brad and Cacie [Dalager] who wrote a lot of the EP with me. And Holly and Gracie Abrams. I remember when “Rockland” came out, I was like, “Superspreader” needs to feel like that.

Can’t lie I’m quite unimpressed by all the boys that I’ve met
And I’m avoiding all the reasons
Used to leaves staying on trees, used to you staying with me
But Minnesota has seasons
And I tried testing the waters, my intentions are pure
My friends call me superspreader
And like the sports bar I work at everybody’s been pretty
But the food could be better
And I tried being yours still
that didn’t work anymore

And what was it for?
You still ruin my life
even though we don’t talk anymore
And I know that sounds kinda harsh,
but not as harsh as the sound

Of your voicemail inbox
And now I’m in a new place
and I don’t know what I’d say

If you actually picked up

What are your favorite breakup songs?

Ber: Oh! Okay. “Not Your Friend” by Jeremy Zucker. So good. Oh… you’ve put me on the spot. There’s a bunch of stuff on the Role Model record, anything by Carol Ades. She has this song called “Crying During Sex” that’s about healing and I’m obsessed with it. Really just transcendent of what heartbreak feels like and how to heal from it, it’s so cool. But yeah wait, this Role Model song was my most listened to song of like 2020, it’s “that’s just how it goes.” It’s a great track.

Have to get the good old Taylor Swift in there too.

Ber: Oh, Midnights was so good! The writing on that is so sick.

Ber © Lauren Kim
Ber © Lauren Kim

Yes! Let’s talk your music videos. How do you come up with those concepts?

Ber: I have the best team of friends in Minneapolis and we just sit down, have coffee and say, “Well, what if we…?” and that’s the prompt. I’ll say, here, I have this idea. What if. Yes or no? Like that’s what it is. With “Boys Who Kiss You in their Car,” I was very adamant with Sawyer [Brice] who directed it, we have like a brother-sister vibe going on. He gives me so much shit. He’ll always just be like, that’s a bad idea, or, that’s genius. I played the song and I was like, hear me out. Word for word. Let’s just show the verse. And then eventually he was like, what if you did live action Tinder? Like, yeah! Slay. That sounds great. It’s just a big brainstorming collaborative effort. And then… Oh! There’s a video for “Slutphase” – can I tell you what the prompt is?

Tell me!

Ber: Baking. I just am baking the whole video.

Ooh! That is not where I thought you were gonna go with it.

Ber: I know! And that’s why it’s kind of fun.

Well, tell me more!

Ber: The song is so absurd that I knew it was either gonna have to be like, a spend-so-much-money and do this right? Or, you have to do something just completely balls to the wall is something else. So he just was like, what if you just baked 10 cakes? I think that’s the thing, it’s not ever that deep. And that’s a song that reminds you that it’s really not that deep. So making a fun video like that was really perfect for it. We had so much fun filming it. I smashed cakes and we made the biggest mess of the Airbnb that we’ve ever seen. Visuals are so important. I think they’re a really fun part of music that kind of goes over a lot of people’s heads. But I’m so lucky to have met the people that I work with. They’re really great, I feel like we’re making our own little cinematic universe.

Okay, so my last question is, what do you hope people will gain from listening to these songs?

Ber: I hope that people feel seen. I hope that there’s one lyric that captures someone and they’re like, yeah. That’s it. That’s all I want. I want someone to be randomly listening to the second verse of “Your Internet Sucks” that says, “There’s a girl in me that misses us but I hope she gets hit by a bus and wakes up with amnesia.” I want someone to be like, yeah! Slay! If that’s what I can do for someone, I’ll be happy.

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:: stream/purchase Halfway EP here ::
Watch: “Slutphase” – Ber

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Halfway - Ber

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