Bonnie McKee spent her formative years in California. Growing up in a musical family helped develop her love for the theater, and her move to Seattle found the artist singing in the world-class Seattle Girl's Choir. At the age of 12, the precocious tunesmith recorded a demo of popular covers. The responses were positive, but all involved agreed McKee would do better writing her own songs, and a new demo featuring original material was cut. After a period of social awkwardness and teenage rebellion that saw the singer kicked out of high school, her songs caught the ear of the Reprise label. Recording commenced and the single "Somebody" appeared on the soundtrack to the hit comedy Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. McKee also appeared on the television show American Dreams as a young Janis Joplin.
Rob Cavallo (Green Day) and Bob Power, her debut, Trouble, was released in 2004. Reception for the album was mixed and McKee transitioned to a role as songwriter for other artists. She spent the next several years acting, honing her studio chops, and collaborating on hits for the likes of Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Taio Cruz, Adam Lambert, and Rita Ora. Her work with Perry ("California Gurls," "Teenage Dream," "Last Friday Night [T.G.I.F.]," "Wide Awake") was her most notable, receiving a Grammy nomination for the song "Roar" in 2014. In 2015 she released her sophomore EP, Bombastic, which featured a sound that leaned closer to the polished, radio-friendly dance-pop jams she penned for other artists than the singer/songwriter anthems from her debut. The four-song set featured writing by Greg Kurstin, Charlie Puth, and John Newman and peaked in the Top 50 of the Billboard independent chart and at 13 on the Heatseekers chart. She followed with the singles "Stars in Your Heart" and "Thorns."