Get to Know Blü Eyes: The Unapologetically Real Pop Singer-Songwriter
Katie Stump, also known as rising pop singer-songwriter Blü Eyes, released new single 'Somebody' on March 10.
Since amassing a large following on social media platform TikTok last year, Stump has released a number of authentic and emotive singles.
'Somebody,' is a gracefully vulnerable song about the anxiety of reaching one's late-twenties. With completely honest lyrics and stunning vocal tone, Stump perfectly captures the unspoken uncertainty of post-graduate life.
Get to know Blü Eyes through the interview below and listen to 'Somebody.'
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Orange County, which is outside of Los Angeles a little ways. Fullerton, California, to be specific.
Talk about your early musical influences.
I grew up in a pretty musical family, so at Christmastime my family would get together and everyone would sing Christmas carols. Whenever we’d get together, not around Christmastime, we’d sing Beatles songs, so I definitely would not be doing music without that influence.
At what age did you start making music?
I grew up in a musical family, so it was around me for a long time-- It’s hard for me to distinguish when I actually started. I was singing and writing silly songs when as a kid, but I think I really started to hone my craft when I was in high school. I started playing the guitar when I was twelve, so just before high school. Once I got into high school I started having things to write about: heartbreak, friendships, drama. That’s when I really started to get into the craft of making music.
Who were your early inspirations?
Taylor Swift has been my poster child inspiration from day one. Just seeing her force of creativity has always inspired me. When I was just starting to write songs, ‘Fearless’ came out, and she was just so expressive and such an amazing storyteller. All her music videos were so inspiring to me, I just gobbled up everything she put out and internalized it very deeply. I love John Mayer; I learned a lot of guitar stuff from learning his songs. Jack Johnson was also a really big inspiration for me-- his whole songwriting style is so chill.
What inspired your stage name, Blü Eyes?
I wanted to have a pseudonym because there’s something about not putting my birth name on something that allowed me to be more real. It made me so much less self-conscious to be able to put this other name on my music and feel that level of separation, even if everyone knows it’s me. I was driving one day, and the sun got in my eyes. I’d heard that blue and green eyes are more sensitive to light than brown eyes because they’re a lighter pigment, so they let more light in. My eyes are sensitive because they’re blue, and I thought that Blu Eyes was a kind of cool metaphor for the atmosphere I want to create with my songs. These really raw and real emotions that are very precarious and sensitive, and fragile. Blue is just such a moody color, too-- it’s always been my favorite color.
"I wanted to have a pseudonym because there’s something about not putting my birth name on something that allowed me to be more real."
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe my sound as unapologetically real pop singer/songwriter type of stuff. It’s all about the lyrics and the emotion behind the song. I try not to let anything get in the way of that. I try to keep all my songs as minimal as possible in production to let the song speak for itself and let that story be told. Sometimes that story is told through the vibe of the production, too. It’s really sad-girl pop singer-songwriter.
Who are your current musical influences?
I still love all my early influences, but lately I’ve been getting a new wave of inspiration from Maggie Rogers, Bon Iver, Phoebe Bridgers, the 1975, and Holly Humberstone. I love Sasha Sloan; her lyrics are so honest to the point where some of them are kind of uncomfortable, but you almost want to chuckle at how uncomfortable they make you. I love that self-aware style of writing and noticing your own feelings and documenting them.
If you could collaborate with any other musician, who would it be?
Probably Taylor Swift or Bon Iver. It would be so crazy to even be in the same room with Justin Vernon while he’s creating. There are so many people I would love to collab with, but those two are at the top of the bucket list.
Talk about your experience as a woman in the music industry.
So far, I haven’t had any profoundly negative experiences, however, that’s kind of because I’m producing all of my own material, so I don’t have to answer to anybody right now. I’m very much a people pleaser, I want everyone to be happy, so there were a lot of times in a writers' room when I would feel really strongly about something, but a man would feel stronger, and he would usually express himself better. There were several experiences that I had like that, that I thought were just my personality, but I think a lot of girls will put down their own ideas before they even express them. The industry has come a long way, and we still have a long way to go, but I think it’s looking up. There have been a couple times when I’ve felt, as a producer, like “oh, you’re really good for a girl.” That’s fine, but I try to surround myself only with people who see me as a dope producer. Not a female producer, because who cares. Why do we have to put ‘female’ in front of it as a qualifier? It’s important for women to help lift each other up; we’re good at what we do.
"I try to surround myself only with people who see me as a dope producer. Not a female producer, because who cares. Why do we have to put ‘female’ in front of it as a qualifier?"
How has social media, TikTok in particular impacted your career?
I hopped on TikTok a few months ago, and before then, I despised social media. I thought it was this horrible necessary evil that coupled the music industry and promoting yourself, which I’m horrible at. TikTok has brought my music into the hands of so many people that need it, and it’s brought me so much joy to see all these people who are finding a way to heal through my songs. It’s just been incredible-- I’ve been developing a community on TikTok, and I go live all the time and we all just hang out. The last couple months have been incredible, and I’m hoping to continue to nourish that.
What is your favorite thing to do besides playing music?
I love playing with my dog. She’s so cute; she’s a little pitbull mix, and she is just the sweetest creature on planet earth. I also like to go on hikes; my boyfriend and I have taken her (my dog) to Griffith or gone to the mountains and explored.
What was the inspiration behind your latest release 'Somebody'?
It’s all 100% factual. There is no fluff in there-- I wrote it two days before my birthday; I was bumming hard. Having a full year go by in a pandemic and feeling really lost and just thinking “what am I doing?” I turned 27, so I’m now in my mid-late twenties, which is a scary time. One of the lyrics of the song is “I just want to be somebody that can make my parents proud.” My parents have been proud of me since I played one chord on the guitar. They have been endlessly supportive; they sent me to music school and they’ve been at every single show. ‘Somebody’ is about trying to really make something of myself, and feeling like I wasn’t even close. I’ve honestly been feeling that a little bit every year after college, getting more and more intense every year, but with this year and the pandemic and not being able to really celebrate outside of dinner with my parents and my boyfriend, it was just sort of a bummer. It’s just so crazy because writing about that and posting it on TikTok was my first taste of what social media can do. I had literally ten followers on TikTok and then that video got like 50,000 views, which was a lot for me back then. So many people were commenting that their birthday was coming up, too, and this is exactly what they needed to hear, that they didn’t think anyone else felt this way.
"So many people were commenting that their birthday was coming up, too, and this is exactly what they needed to hear, that they didn’t think anyone else felt this way."
When can we expect new music?
I’m actually putting out another song next week. I posted this idea of a song I had started writing on TikTok a few weeks ago and it got a couple hundred thousand views. Diplo and a couple other people I admire commented on it. That’s coming out next week; it’s called ‘Supposed To’ and it’s exciting. I’m going to try to put out a song every month for the rest of the year-- I have so much music, and I finally have people who are dying to listen to it.