SARAH AVRIN // Publicist
SHANNON COSGROVE // Publicist
Chance has been good to Betsy Hershey, who performs her lush, abstracted pop under the name Bets. After all, it wasn’t the plan for the Los Angeles native, fresh out of music school, to play her first ever live shows at South by Southwest nor did she intend a personal project—last year’s lauded project violent femmes, a shoegaze-tinged cover album of the titular band’s 1983 debut—recorded on a whim to garner international attention. It’s just that when Bets puts her ethereal, exhilarating songs out into the world, people can’t seem to help responding.
And while a significant amount of thought and care has gone into her latest album, Future Color, out 10/26, anyone who’s previously fallen for her driving melodies and witty, catchy lyrics, will no doubt find something here to love. It’s a call to the creative side in everyone; the songs express themes of the uphill battle of isolation, frustration, and longing that can occur being an artist. These are not love songs but songs of longing, songs about need, and songs about trying to be something that's never fully attainable. And while some of the tracks have the emotional resonance of great love songs, Bets says it’s a different kind of emotion that was actually driving her songwriting.
“This is my first concept album: It’s about my relationship with being an artist, and the ups and downs that come along with that,” she says. “Some of the tracks sound like love songs, but they’re about longing, not love. This album is me working through this battle I’ve had with the idea of making music.”
It’s something that’s consumed the better part of her adult life. Bets recorded her first EP right after completing her studies in vocal performance and songwriting, and released a full-length—2016’s Days Hours Nights, which featured the buzzed-about songs “Jenny” and “Don’t Give a Fuck” and has been lauded for its “feathery lead vocals and hypnotizing electro ethereal tracks."—before relocating from L.A. to New York City to record Future Color. Along the way, she recorded her Violent Femmes covers as something of an experiment, and ended up releasing it in the time before Future Color was completed. The album, something of a love letter to the music her brothers introduced her to as a kid, earned impressive attention. “The album we’re listening to over and over right now is project violent femmes by Bets,” Nylon said. “This reimagining is dreamy and gorgeous.” BlackBook said the songs were “haunting but utterly absorbing,” and compared Bets to Hope Sandoval fronting the Jesus & Mary Chain.
But while comparisons are flattering, there’s no doubt that Bets is an artist entirely her own—take her nearly 2 million YouTube views as proof of that. And next, she’ll take her new work on the road, touring domestically and internationally in support of Future Color through 2018 and beyond. “I also wanted to make an album of songs that are fun for me to perform,” she says of bringing the new album on the road. “I recorded my first EP before I ever played a live show, but now that I know what’s fun to do on stage, that’s really important to me.