Kirrilee Berger, Fourth of July, single, song, music, interview

Artist Interview: “Fourth of July” by Kirrilee Berger

Q: You know how actors and actresses are supposed to demonstrate certain emotions with their faces and voice? I’m sure you do. But I was surprised at how you did just that in “Fourth of July,” I was mesmerized by how transformative and powerful it was. You hear the sadness and rage in your voice, especially toward the end. You hear the betrayal. I not only want to know the process of producing this record but also whether or not you had to pull from personal experiences to reach these emotions.

KIRRILEE BERGER: Thank you so much for your kind words! Im so glad this all landed with you. This song was
the biggest challenge on the album. I re-wrote it probably 15 times with only the chorus staying
the same. I had such a clear emotional journey I wanted to take people on and it was really
challenging to find the right words and melody to convey it.

I wanted to scrap the whole song. This song exists as you know it and even ended up as a single solely thanks to the encouragement of my “brother”, producer and music partner, Paul Luke Bonenfant. I pulled really heavily from personal experience. It was hard and emotional. Paul Luke and I felt strongly, in order to connect with an audience, it all had to come from the realest, rawest, ugliest part of myself.

Paul Luke has truly become my family. I don’t know if I could’ve gone this deep emotionally without him there and reminding me it was safe to let myself feel my full range of anger, hurt, betrayal and rage. It was incredibly cathartic.

Q: How does the song title, “Fourth of July,” correspond with the song’s lyrics?

KB: This song is about a “situationship” I was in long ago. Within the timeline of our relationship, this person completely humiliated me on the Fourth of July. I will never forget driving my car, looking up at the fireworks and thinking- I am never letting anyone do this to me again. And thus, the song was born!


Q: What was the difficult part about working on the song for you and actor and musician Paul Luke Bonenfant?

KB: I think I touched on this a bit previously, but finding the right verse and bridge was SO difficult. I can be incredibly literal in my lyricism, and it just was not working. What I’d written originally was so specific that it wasn’t relatable! I wanted to scrap the whole song. Once we decided to look at the song from the perspective of writing the emotional journey and less so the literal one, it all fell into place.

PAUL LUKE BONENFANT: For me, the most difficult part of producing and composing Fourth of July was creating a soundscape that evolved with the powerful top line without drawing focus from it. Even though it sounds relatively simple, there are over 50 individual instrument layers of synths, guitar, and bass that contribute to the fullness of the mix before the bridge.


Q: What did you both enjoy while working on it?

KB: I don’t know that I ever really allowed myself to get angry about this person, and it was so cathartic to let out my rage and be left with something so powerful that I got to build with my “brother.” It ends up overwriting the bad memories I hold and replaces them with art and connection. That’s hugely special.

PLB: As Kirrilee mentioned, we were at one point going to scrap this song, but once we had the new version of the instrumental working, I became super stubborn about not giving up on it. It was incredibly frustrating for Kirrilee as I pushed her to rewrite and rewrite the verses over and over, but it was more satisfying for me to watch the song take shape.


Q: As mentioned before, you worked on the song with Bonenfant and eight-time Grammy-winner Michael H. Brauer. What was that like?

KB: Paul Luke pushes me to be a better and better songwriter. He pushes me to be a better and better vocalist. I had so many moments of frustration making this song, and I am so thrilled by the level of trust Paul Luke and I built that I was able to put my frustrations aside, trust his feeling that this song was worth doing major surgery on and end up with a single! Paul Luke and I had been HUGE fans of Michael H Brauer. I mean, who isn’t?

Even if you don’t realize you’re a fan! If you love music, You probably love the tunes he’s had his hand in. It was our dream to have him mix this song, but truth be told, we thought we would never hear back from him. When we not only got a response from him but heard that he was EXCITED about our music? What can I say? A dream come true and hugely affirming to both of us that we MIGHT be doing something right with this whole music thing. (with a heck of a lot to learn ahead!)


Q: You also starred in Lionsgate’s amazing film, “Unsung Hero,” which I LOVED! It made me shed a few tears; it was lovely! A great family film! But you worked alongside Joel Smallbone of for King and Country, Rebecca St. James, Candace Cameron from “Full House,” Jonathan Jackson from “Nashville,” Lucas Black from the “Fast & Furious” series and “NCIS: New Orleans,” and more. What was that like?

KB: Thank you so much for supporting the film and for your kind words! I must sound like a broken record, as I’ve said in so many interviews, but This was the project that made a million dreams come true. My very first day working on the film was in the recording studio being produced by multi-Grammy winner Luke Smallbone of For King and Country, getting the stamp of approval from Rebecca St. James herself, making Candace Cameron Burre cry, connecting with Paul Luke and gaining a brother and a whole entire album?

I could go on and on. There was one moment when I was driving from set back to my hotel, listening to the demos Paul Luke and I had made as the soundtrack to my drive and thinking wow. This is what I’ve wanted my whole life. This is what I want to do forever. Make movies and make records.


Q: What was it like starring in the movie and millions of people hearing your talent?

KB: It’s a number of eyes so big I can’t grasp it. I can’t comprehend just how many people it really is. I try to imagine it, but it’s so big I can’t wrap my head around it! I am so thrilled for the Smallbone family that their story has reached so many hearts and homes. They truly deserve it. What has impacted me the most are the people who have reached out to me to share what this film meant to them and what Rebecca means to them. To be a part of touching their hearts means the world to me.


Q: You have an album coming out soon. Congrats on that! What’s the whole concept around the album?

KB: Oh, thank you! The album is called “Stories, Lies, Allegories and Fables”. It’s an anthemic, genre-bending rock album that takes you on a journey of love, loss, addiction, abuse, redemption, feminine rage, power, release and forgiveness. It’s the embodiment of, to me, what happens when you take your pain and alchemize it into your power. Turn poison into medicine.


Q: One line that stuck out to me in “Fourth of July” is, “So I’m alone ’cause I don’t want to be in that place again.” What do you have to say to those who are currently in a place where they’re still entertaining or hanging around someone or people who constantly make them feel pain or hurt?

KB: I think it can be so easy on the outside to look at someone and say, “JUST LEAVE!” Leaving is one of the hardest things you can do. Give yourself love. Give yourself patience. Give yourself time. Give yourself grace. Remember that you, as you are, are deserving of unconditional, kind love. If it takes you three times to leave, that’s okay.

Know that you are enough. Know what you deserve. Learn from each mistake and misstep. Build up your armor of strength. Lean on your support systems, and when you’re ready…. Leave. And as best you can, don’t look back, my darling. You deserve so much more. I am still alone. Because I don’t want to be in that place again. I have always regretted staying. But, While excruciating, I’ve never regretted leaving.

Interviewed by Taylor Berry





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