Stacy Barthe's 'BEcoming' Is A Story Of Near-Death And Rebirth At 25, Barthe was already writing songs for pop stars, but life outside the studio felt like a battlefield. She speaks with NPR's Arun Rath about the hard road to her full-length debut.
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Stacy Barthe's 'BEcoming' Is A Story Of Near-Death And Rebirth

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Stacy Barthe's 'BEcoming' Is A Story Of Near-Death And Rebirth

Stacy Barthe's 'BEcoming' Is A Story Of Near-Death And Rebirth

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

Sit back and drink this in.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN MY HEAD")

STACY BARTHE: (Singing) I'm just as scared of the world as an insect to a human being. I think everybody's out to get me.

RATH: That is Stacy Barthe. The world came close to never hearing her voice. For years, she stayed in the shadows as a songwriter for superstars like Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Rihanna. But now, she's bearing all in her debut album "BEcoming."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN MY HEAD")

BARTHE: (Singing) Reality's such a tragedy. Oh, maybe it's all in my head. It's all in my head.

RATH: In the past, Stacy Barthe didn't want the spotlight because she felt she didn't belong.

BARTHE: I personally never thought that anybody wanted to hear me sing in my shell. And I was, like, 380 pounds at the time. And I was just like, nobody - nobody wants to hear this. You know, I just never really believed that anybody wanted to hear me sing. So that's why it took all this time.

RATH: Well, when you're like sitting down and like working on a song though, say, like with Katy Perry or Miley Cyrus or whatever, aren't you singing? Like, weren't you doing that in the process?

BARTHE: I was, but I never - you know - with Miley, I have this song that was for my 30P - "P.S. I Love You" - and it was supposed to be the first song on my project. And she heard the song and she was like, I love this song. And Liam proposed to her to this song, so it was like really special to her at the time. And she fought for that song.

RATH: So she convinced you to let her have it?

BARTHE: No, she had it. I was like, here, have it. And she killed it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "P.S. I LOVE YOU")

MILEY CYRUS: (Singing) When you say you love me - no, I love you more. And when you say you need me - no, I need you more. Boy, I adore you.

BARTHE: It was more impactful that she sung it versus me, 'cause to me it was just a song, and for her it was, like, a moment.

RATH: So this album - your first full-length album - "BEcoming" - it's a deep, very personal album. It's almost like a - parts of it almost like a diary...

BARTHE: Yeah.

RATH: ...Of what I guess is the most intense part of your life from the sounds of it.

BARTHE: Yeah.

RATH: Let's start off with a track called "My Suicide Note."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY SUICIDE NOTE")

BARTHE: (Singing) I've been here a time or two before. And dear, I am talking myself off the ledge again. Is it really that bad? Yes, it's a pain I can't bear. What do you do?

RATH: You've talked about this openly. And you attempted suicide.

BARTHE: I was at a really hopeless place in my life at the time. I was 25 years old and I didn't find any real purpose in my life to keep living. So I took all these pills in my medicine cabinet and I was hoping to not wake up the next morning, and I did. I woke up the next morning, and was like, am I seriously still here?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY SUICIDE NOTE")

BARTHE: (Singing) It's cold out here. I'm going through it. Oh, man, I'm going through it. Oh, I'm going through it.

So that's the day I decided to make an attempt to try to lose weight.

RATH: We should tell people, I mean, you've lost around 200 pounds.

BARTHE: Yeah, like 180.

RATH: Yeah. And you work out like a fiend, right?

BARTHE: I do. I mean, I got down to my smallest from being 380 to like 195. I gained like 40 pounds since then, but whatever. That little boost of determination when I got to the 100s was not genuinely for me, because I was in a relationship at the time that I was basically trying to become for him.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ME VERSUS ME")

BARTHE: (Singing) Sat by my window watching all the other girls fall in love. But I'd never know what it felt to hear him say all the while.

I was working out twice a day and really unhealthy, like, taking all kinds of supplements and, you know, not eating and not really doing it for me. It was, you know, I was fighting for something that wasn't mine. But I do thank him for the motivation, because he basically rationed his affection and his love and to basically motivate me to lose weight. So now I'm in a place where I'm like, OK, I gained 40 pounds. I don't want to go back to where I was, but I'm happy with where I am. And I'm respecting the process.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ME VERSUS ME")

BARTHE: (Singing) It's still an uphill battle - battle - me versus me. Me versus me.

RATH: I'm speaking with Stacy Barthe about her debut album "BEcoming." I know the hopelessness of depression doesn't have a logic to it, but it's hard not to think of a 25-year-old that - you're writing songs for pop stars. You've accomplished way more than most 25-year-olds, and...

BARTHE: You know, I'm dealing with real-life outside of the studio. Like, the studio was an escape. It was like a cathartic experience to go and live the life I was living and then come in the studio and write about it. So it was like therapy for me. But what was actually going on in my life was the complete opposite.

Because, you know, you're talking with somebody that's been dealing self-esteem issues from birth. And I used to get teased miserably. I've never really felt like I was enough. And so I'm just now getting to a place where like, you know, you're not in school here anymore babe, you know what I mean?

Like get into you. You're (unintelligible). Stop. That's what I'm getting to now.

RATH: The process you document on this album - it's almost nothing less than a rebirth, 'cause from that really awful low moment, you remake yourself. And, well, I can't think of any better way to convey this than with one of the tracks on this album. Let's listen to the start of "Hey You There."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEY YOU THERE")

BARTHE: (Singing) When you get the courage to be honest with yourself, you could stop lying to everybody else. And don't you ever get tired of pretending - tired?

I think the common denominator between all human beings is the human condition. You know, there are so many layers to that. You have happy moments, but most of us go through life trying to figure it out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEY YOU THERE")

BARTHE: (Singing) Look yourself in the mirror and say hey, you there, is it me you're looking for? Say hey, you there, you there, you there, is it me you're looking for?

RATH: This album is called "BEcoming." What are you becoming?

BARTHE: I'm still trying to figure that out. I'm becoming - I would say to people I'm about to be 30 next month. But really I'm about three in fat years. And I say that because, you know, I literally feel like I'm three years old. I'm having so many first times in my new self. So "BEcoming" is whatever is next.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLAWED BEAUTIFUL CREATURES")

BARTHE: (Singing) Sometimes we're insecure. We're fragile sometimes. We laugh at each other to make ourselves feel better.

RATH: Well, I hope you keep this musical documentation process. It's nice being able to take the journey with you.

BARTHE: Yeah.

RATH: Stacy Barthe, thank you very much. It's been such a pleasure speaking with you.

BARTHE: Thank you. I appreciate you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLAWED BEAUTIFUL CREATURES")

BARTHE: (Singing) We're all flawed beautiful people.

RATH: Be sure to check NPR Music for an exclusive first listen with Stacy Barthe and stream every track from the new album for free.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLAWED BEAUTIFUL CREATURES")

BARTHE: (Singing) We're all flawed beautiful people. We're all flawed beautiful creatures.

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