BIIANCO Chooses Her Own Adventure: L.A.-based artist BIIANCO is a classically trained pianist, a guitarist, a producer, a singer – you name it. As far as she’s concerned, a career in music was her only option. It’s been, she says, the singular love of her life since childhood and her primary focus.
Things are going well. She’s described in her media kit as a “queer-femme producer, singer-songwriter, poet, director, and multi-instrumentalist,” which about covers it. She describes her sound as “music to dance and ugly-cry to,” a dichotomy highlighted by recent single “Teeth Bared” and new single “That’s What Friends are For.”
“I feel most comfortable in my skin when I’m writing from a deeply raw and emotional place,” she says. “I find that’s the voice that comes to me very naturally when I’m examining really intimate themes like that. It’s ultimately electronic music, but I went to school for film scoring. My influences are strings, really big drums, arranging for different things. So it’s highly emotional electronic music. That’s probably where I live.”
It’s an effective songwriting approach. Other artists might pull influences from a variety of different places, but BIIANCO writes about whatever she’s experiencing at that time. However, she can collaborate too.
“I write with a lot of artists too,” she says. “I have sessions a lot and produce a lot of other artists’ stuff. I sometimes pick up on their energy too, and we can write from their perspective. But ultimately, it’s always personal experiences. Like looking at my diary with a microscope.”
BIIANCO was born in Manhattan Hospital and grew up in the Yonkers, just outside of the city. In high school, she was in a bunch of bands that would perform in the city as she learned her craft.
“We lived right outside of the city,” she says. “I remember playing at Trash Bar, Sidewalk Cafe and Pianos. I had shows at the Bitter End. All different iterations of my musical identity. But those were my early stomping grounds. By the time I got to L.A., I was so used to being on stage at dive bars and stuff, it wasn’t like I was starting from scratch getting in front of an audience.”
BIIANCO attended UCLA and ended up staying in SoCal. She’s been in L.A. for a decade now and feels fully enveloped by the scene. There are, she says, big differences.
“It’s funny because I feel like there are way more dive bars in New York City, and it probably has to do with the size,” she says. “Either you’re gonna play a smaller dive bar or a really big venue. There’s not really a middle ground. But in NYC, there are a lot more options to play. In L.A., I feel like all the starter venues are still a little bit more elite. In New York, you can just fuck up on stage a lot more. There’s places to do it at. In L.A., your dive bar is like The Echo. That’s still a fucking great venue. Don’t fuck up on stage at The Echo.”
If New York acted as a giant music school, honing her skills for the discerning venues in Los Angeles, then the education has served her well. While there’s little in the way of “rock” in her pop-electronic sonics now, the DIY lifestyle intrinsic to punk is something that she has fully embraced. In lockdown, it allowed her to thrive. Rather than drown, she swam in creativity and came up with the idea of a Choose Your Own Adventure style video for the “That’s What Friends are For” single.
“I grew up with Goosebumps books, the Choose Your Own Adventure stories,” she says. “That was probably the number one influence for the game. Horror really influences a lot of the visuals for my brand and my creative expression. I’ve explored a lot of different horror film themes, and I’m going to continue to do that with a couple of videos I have coming out. But I was like, a zombie video would go perfectly with this song, and we did it as a Choose Your Own Adventure. That was how it was born, and then we spent a couple of months unpacking what that meant and how much harder it would be. At the end of the day, everyone was like ‘Fuck it, we’re doing it.’”
That final statement sums up BIIANCO’s energy during the difficulties we’ve all faced this past year. While it’s hard to hire people, she says that she feels blessed to be surrounded by talented actors and actresses, makeup artists, etc.
“I was able to mine my peers for help on that front,” she says. “There’s a lot of trust that went into a lot of these sets, everyone getting tested beforehand. Smaller productions, no one on set. You had to be really meticulous. But actually, it fostered a super intimate environment where we were really isolated and people were more focused. We shot all that stuff back in October, right as the industry was just starting to figure out shooting schedules again. It was a breath of relief to actually be on a set and not just super locked down.”
It’s impressive. Gone, she says, are the days when musicians can rely on others. They have to fend for themselves and figure it out. That, despite the fact that we’re all emotionally exhausted.
“We’re just so over gaslighting, so over toxic behavior, everybody is just calling shit out,” she says. “There’s no tolerance for bullshit. I probably would have lived in the horror genre anyway with my visuals, but it’s nice that it might be resonating more with people because the whole world felt like a horror movie for a minute.”
With an album on the way and the earliest signs of touring possibilities, 2021 should be another great year for BIIANCO. But there are things she learned during lockdown that she doesn’t want to let go of.
“I really love how quarantine and being isolated like this has forced me to connect with my fans digitally way more,” she says. “Whether it’s Twitch livestreams, DJ sets, more videos in the studio, things like that. No matter what, even when we start touring again, I’m going to always lean into that.”
BIIANCO Chooses Her Own Adventure: Her “That’s What Friends are For” single is out now.