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Busy Bee Finds Inspiration in Isolation

Earlier this month, Deb Gilmore AKA Busy Bee Project released a short album of folksy, mindful pop songs that she recorded from home during the quarantine. Outside of Busy Bee, the moniker for her creative endeavors that span the range of poetry to yoga, Deb plays bass in South Philly punk band Secret Nudist Friends. She is one of the most positive people in all of Philadelphia to have a chat with, and we were delighted to speak to her over the phone to discuss the new record, I Am You.

What are the advantages of having a solo project versus being in a band?

Being in a solo project has so many advantages--especially in this time of human existence. I’m only relying on my brain and my abilities to create. Collaboration [among band members] is such an amazing tool to broaden the scope of what you're capable of doing through the reflections of other people and their ideas and their lives. But there’s also something really beautiful about having this opportunity to fully express your sense of self in something [a solo project]. And I’m realizing there’s no one way that that looks. I'm a wildly dynamic person. I have my hopeful side, my contemplative side, my curious side, my sad side. It’s really amazing that all of the songs that I write are me. The style is me. It’s me, and I’m all of it. You don’t have to tie yourself to a genre when the consistency in your work is you.

Do you consider making music and being creative your purpose in life?

When you truly become your purpose, that’s what I consider ‘ultimate flow state.’ The reason why you exist. It’s not even so much that my purpose is to be a solo artist. What I see is this vision that I’m a creator and I create in all these different ways. I’m healing--we’re all healing--and creating with myself is one of the most powerful tools in my healing process. I also see myself as a person who’s meant to teach. So my divine purpose is being a creator to heal, and sharing that gift with others so maybe they can do the same.

Your music is very poetic and purpose-driven. What experiences inspired you to write the songs on I Am You?

There’s an overarching theme of peace. We are all each other, we’re all the same. There’s an opportunity, especially right now to really see each other [metaphorically], and to have universal compassion. This experience that we’re all having [quarantine] can bring us together. There are pieces of the record that are personal. Some of my writing relates to the challenges of tension in my body, and how to be ok with a body that ‘works against me.’ I’m really finding that the message of the album is inside the song ‘Pleasure and Pain.’ It’s inspired by a juicy conversation I had with a friend on the telephone while cooped up in my bedroom. We were talking about this idea that we are everything: we are pleasure, we are pain, we are everything, and we’re nothing. We’re ourselves and we’re community. What if you can just have all of it? What if you don’t limit yourself to a singular purpose?

When were these songs written?

This is a piece in a bottle. Every song on the album was written and recorded in the quarantine. It’s eight songs and a poem. And I actually already have six more songs that i'm working on. This has been how I've been processing it [being isolated], through writing. And I realized that, at one point, I'd written five songs, and I was playing them all the time because they were helping me. And I was living inside these five pieces and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I think I'm supposed to record these and share them.’ So then I wrote a few more, and recorded it all on my laptop speaker.

You're preparing to move to California--what does that mean for the future of Busy Bee Project?

Busy Bee is only just beginning. I've been working especially over the last year to rebuild this identity of Busy Bee Project into this multifaceted healing space. I write music and teach lessons and people commission songs and there's dance and yoga and meditation. All different tools for healing. I have no specific plan for this record except to share it, and I trust that whatever is supposed to happen with this record will happen. For all artists right now, we have to relinquish the idea of planning. Ultimately, there's something beautiful about returning to the idea that maybe we’re just creating art because we’re artists. This album is just, ‘I’m an artist, and I made some art.’

How can fans support you?

I feel really connected to commissioned work right now. I had the opportunity recently of people coming to me and wanting to work on some kind of songwriting experience. Someone approached me and had written lyrics, and asked me if I would write the song. Another person had an anniversary coming up with a partner and wanted a song written. Those opportunities and my Tiny Song series on instagram has deeply nourished my soul. I really want to be able to use my gift to create with others. To share this experience with others in some way.

You can listen to I Am You here!

By Paige Walter

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