Be Steadwell is a force to be reckoned with. With just a loop pedal and her voice, she builds songs out of nothing. I (and Mey Rude) been fangirling over her music since her early days on YouTube as Be Steady and I’m thrilled to see her artistic growth and all of the new music she’s put out. Her most recent project, Breakup Songs, just came out in April and is full of music that gets to the heart of what going through a breakup can feel like. It’s raw, emotional, and healing all at once. To go along with her newest album, she recently released a new video for her song, “sage (witch two).” The song is about needing to rid yourself of someone or something’s negative energy and is a reminder to be aware of who or what you share space with. It’s about cleansing yourself of the trauma of past lovers, self-doubt and any other forces that might hold us back.
I feel lucky enough to have seen a version of “sage” performed at A-Camp 8.0 where Be was accompanied by the A-Camp dance team. Obviously, she was met with thunderous applause, especially after reminding us all that, “I don’t need a girlfriend, I got myself a Magic Wand.” So, I was excited to sit down and watch the video, especially since I know Be has experience in creating really interesting queer films. The video is dark and mysterious; it’s filled with witchy queers casting spells and cleansing energy. There are babes of color wearing dark lipstick and exuding power while dancing around a candlelit room. It’s also super sexy! Be proves to us that breaking up doesn’t have to be sad, even if you really liked or loved the person, and especially if they weren’t good for you.
The song is only about three minutes, and as soon as I thought to myself, “I don’t want this song to be over yet,” something brand new happened. Immediately after the song ends, one by one witches and femmes tell us for who or what they’re lighting sage. Exes, white supremacy, inadequacy and abuse, and even the universe. It’s not just a great music video or song, it’s an important spiritual moment.
Be and I spoke over email about this newest video and the newest album as a whole:
Alaina: What is “sage” about? What inspired it?
Be: Sage is about 3am when the girl you are still in love with walks into your bedroom and you can feel all of the most shady, evil spirits walk in with her. My ex inspired the song. She came in with a pitifully guilty look on her face, I could barely hold her gaze. I didn’t know, but I knew. Our love was beautiful and powerful when we were together, but in that moment, I was terrified. All the magic and power that nurtured me before was now sucking the life from me. So I stood up, walked past her and lit a bundle of sage. It was the first moment in the breakup when I decided to protect myself.
A: Do you identify as a witch and/or is witchcraft a part of your spiritual practice?
B:Yes, I identify as a witch, though I use the term to refer to anyone who decides to recognize and utilize their magic. Magic could be queer sex, it could be a recipe, it could be art, love, faith. Magic is anything that allows you to transcend. Also, I feel like severe pain and oppression requires magic for survival. So as a Black queer woman, I know my ancestors and communities have been witchy forever. Black girl magic is ancient as fuck.
A: This is a song from your newest album called Breakup Songs. I get it. How has this album contributed to the breakup process for you?
B: The album is basically a journal. It gave me the space to be angry, petty, depressed, empowered, bitchy, silly. I needed that space and I needed all of those feelings to heal. Just writing it down was cathartic. Now that I’m performing the songs live, sharing the album and starting a dialogue with an audience-it’s grown into a giant group therapy session. I get to hear other folks’ breakup stories, we cry together and talk all kinds of shit about our exes.
A: Where can people see you perform your songs live in the future?
B: Generally everywhere. But in the near future, NOLA, DC, Brooklyn, Durham and more! My dates are listed on my website.
Watch her latest video now!
Be sure to check out and support Be, both online and in person!