With a bunch of singles that have collectively gained millions of Spotify streams, the latest slice of energetic pop from now Aussie-based Bexy Shingleton is ear catchingly-named Screaming In Your Driveway. Jasper West speaks to her about the genesis of the song, and a pretty special celebrity encounter. Made with support from NZ On Air Music.
Bexy Shingleton grew up in Aotearoa moving from town to town following her parents’ photography career and writing songs to herself in her bedroom. “I was so insecure, but I do remember the first song I wrote! I was really proud of it because Dad had taught me some guitar chords and so I still remember the song to this day,” she smiles.
In true bedroom artist style, Bexy was too shy to show them even to her parents. “I’d write a little song, tell Mum and Dad, and I’d make them turn off all the lights and kind of stand outside the door as I’d face it the right way.”
It required grit and determination to work on her songs despite this early performance anxiety. Cutting her teeth in the Dunedin music scene in girl band Lacuna she developed her sound, alongside her pre-show techniques. “I just had to give myself a little chat,” she shares in an encouraging adolescent voice. “It’s more like I’d remind myself that anybody who jumps on that stage is brave, and it’s not about being perfect. It’s about showing up and trying, which soothes the ego and just reminds you of the purity of what music is.”
Since those uni years in Otago Bexy has achieved lots of traction as a solo artist with her nostalgic pop sound and grungy influences. The latest of her singles, Screaming In Your Driveway, has a luscious ’80s, almost yacht rock sound, paired with an uplifting back beat on deep drums. With its clear narrative of fresh cut love and rebound resentment, the song sits perfectly in a cinematic coming-of-age lens.
“I want my music to be in movies because that’s more just how I visualise things when I’m writing a song,” she reveals with a slight tone of jest. “I love coming of age because there’s this rawness to the emotion where people are just so unfiltered. You’re kind of still learning how to manage your emotions, and you are very sensitive and love is very intense and messy. I think I always try to play on that because it’s just, yeah, human.”
Working with producer Ben Malone (Luca George, Rory Noble, Jupiter Project) at a writing camp, she pieced together the song with him, bouncing ideas off each other.
“Ben and I have a really weird musical connection where there’s not a lot of, ‘OK, this is how we want it to sound.’ It just happens really organically,” she exclaims with finger guns in the air. “We’re just like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s sick, that’s sick, that’s sick…’”
She describes it as a privilege to take the song before industry heavyweights Simon Gooding (Pink) and Randy Merrill (Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo) for mixing and mastering respectively, to create the huge ’80s sound of Screaming In Your Driveway. Though Bexy and Gooding had crossed paths many times before, this was her first chance to work with him solo in studio, which she swooped up with glee.
“He was one of the first producers that I reached out to actually,” Bexy warmly recounts. “He was really supportive. I worked with him on a song a couple of years ago, and I still love it. I’m obsessed with it.”
Saying that first and foremost she writes music for herself, she discloses that her songs could be seen as journals of feelings, thoughts, emotions, and attempts to figure it all out. It has taken courage for her to get up on stage and open this journal, but that is exactly what has gotten her this far. Bexy remembers the turning point in her life when she knew songwriting is what she needed to do. Working a bar in Perth after quitting her Dunedin band and uni, she broke down and confided in her mother that she didn’t know what she was doing. Her mum reminded her that she knew exactly what she wants to do.
“‘You want to be a musician, a songwriter, an artist. Just start telling people when they ask what you do. Just say you’re a songwriter,'” Bexy readily recalls the advice.
As fate would have it, only a couple of days later Canadian pop star Sean Mendez and Julia Micheals from the US came to the very bar she was working at, before a show in Perth.
“Julia was sitting at the bar and she ordered a drink but I didn’t know it was her at the time. She asked me, so what do you do? And I was like, ‘Well, I’m a songwriter,” she reminisces fondly, then jokes, “Yeah, this is the best songwriter in the whole f**king world – and I told her I was a songwriter!”
“Long story short, Sean and his team invited me to come to the show and watch him play. The next day when I realised I was watching (Julia) perform at this massive stadium after I had done all my research, and I was like, ‘I can’t believe I just said that to her.'”
Following the show Bexy the songwriter found herself hanging out with Sean Mendez himself. The little girl who made her parents hide behind the door frame to sing them a song chatting with a giant of the music business who was asking her to open that journal up.
“That’s literally when I decided to just go for it. I just talked to Sean on the balcony and he played my music and he was like, ‘I love your music.’ And I was like, ‘No, you don’t. Surely not?’ He was like, ‘You need to just go for it. You can achieve anything you set your mind to.” And I was like, ‘OK, alright, I will.’ This is fine. The universe totally made this happen. It felt incredibly divine, you know?”