INTERVIEW: Becky Hill
Becky Hill is finally ready to step into her own spotlight. After a handful of hugely successful collaborations – with the likes of Wilkinson, Rudimental, Matoma and MK – she now finds herself a bona fide solo artist, front and centre of her own music. But it’s been a “long old slog” to get here.
Since she was a child, Becky’s innate talent for music has gotten her noticed – from wowing the judges at a youth club talent show when she was 11, to singing to punters at the end of pub shifts (“I was a shit barmaid, but my boss used to get me to sing”).
It wasn’t until she was 18, though, that she was noticed outside of her small Worcestershire town of Bewdley – when she took part in BBC talent show The Voice.
The show, which saw her sing in front of millions of people each week, was a crash course in performing, confirming that music was her future – but Becky knew the real work would come when she left the show. As soon as that happened, she gathered up the contacts she’d made, set about organising meetings and figured out the kind of solo artist she wanted to become.
Her Oliver Heldens collaboration Gecko (Overdrive), reached No.1 in the UK whilst her collaboration with Wilkinson’s Afterglow was a top 10 hit as well as topping the UK dance chart.
SIXTY9°’s Jonathan Fraser caught up with Becky ahead of her Midlands gigs this autumn and as she adds the final touches to her debut album.
So what are we interrupting you doing today?
Well I’ve just finished writing a top line for a new collaboration on working on and then I’m off to a meeting with my record label to discuss what’s happening over the next few months.
So will you be going through things like album launch dates?
I think we’ll get on to that – there’s lots to go over and get organised, it’s just a case of kind of like crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s. We’re gonna be looking at beginning of next year hopefully for release I think but I’ve always said that giving people dates on when stuff’s gonna happen never works- sometimes its earlier and sometimes its later, usually it’s later!
So at the minute I’m just working as hard as I can to get everything finished and then kind of take it from there really.
Are you in full on festival season at the moment? Are you out and about performing?
I’ve just done one this weekend just gone, and I’ve got one more this weekend to come. And then unfortunately, the season is over, which is really sad cause I love festival season, it’s my favourite time of the year.
Do you ever get the chance to see any other performers while your there or do you get whisked straight off and away?
This year’s been relatively calm so the one I’ve just been to, I bought all my family down and I bought my boyfriend’s family down and stayed for the entire weekend. So, we got to see all the performers -that’s usually how I spend my festivals now. My boyfriend also puts on festivals, he books talent for festivals, that’s actually where we met, so I can always stay at his festivals with him and follow him about so I think that’s why it’s my favourite time of year; it’s kind of like paid partying which is always fun!
You’ve got some live dates in the midlands this autumn, are you looking forward to playing to a home crowd?
Yes in October I’ve got Birmingham which I can’t wait to do. I did that last year- it’s always my favourite to play in, I don’t know if half the audience know I’m from the midlands but I always feel super supported by my area
which is really, really lovely. I always do a run through of local places, like who’s from where in the audience – you know who’s from Hagley? Who’s from Stourbridge etc. I really want to call the album DY12, it’s my home postcode and kind of represents where I’m from and to show people from my town, I haven’t just moved to London and become a Londoner.
Did you start your musical career in the midlands?
I wouldn’t call it a career. I started my career on The Voice, that’s when I started getting paid! But I started writing music when I was thirteen and then got in to a little band by accident really. I was going around and singing
with this weird looking band, all the guys were older than me, it was a very weird looking band with this sixteen-year old on guitar and vocals but it was probably one of the most expressive, free times I’ve ever had.
Did that live band experience help you when you went on The Voice?
I think it was that I was more a fearless seventeen-year-old when I was on the show! I really wanted to do the best I could because I hated sixth form. I was quite miserable at the time, I didn’t really see any way out and into music so when I got accepted on to the show, I was like let’s just run with this as fast as I can. For me it was like six months of university, I’d never met singers before and there were all these singers and I’d never been to London before and suddenly I was in London with my own flat, you know getting paid and once a week to be on live TV and, you know all of a sudden its just started becoming this mad little adventure I was having. I was really inexperienced, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was completely blagging it and really, I still feel like I am now!
If you hear yourself on the radio or if you hear one of your songs in the club, do you still get really excited about it or do you just sort of cringe?
Oh my god I go mental! I don’t think you’ll ever get used to sitting in a cab on the way home and you’re just flicking through Facebook on your phone or something and then you’ve got the radio on in the background, and you hear your name being said or your song being played. I’ve always been super grateful for all the radio playing and I’m always super surprised that, you know, people still think about
my songs, that they still want to play them and it kind of spurs me on to want to keep making music, so having you know somebody say “Oh up next is Becky Hill” or “Next is a new one from Becky Hill” I think that’s why I wanna make more and release music.
Have you ever danced to your own music in a club?
Probably when I was really, really drunk! I’ve gone quite mad to Afterglow in a rave. I go raving, I don’t really go clubbing if that makes sense. So, a lot of the music I listen to is quite like left field. I listen to drum and bass and I’ve only ever done one drum and bass song but when I do hear it at a rave I’m a little bit worse for wear and I’ll run over to the DJ box and be like “You’re playing me, you’re playing me!” And then they’ll give me a microphone and I’ll sing terribly!
With songs like Afterglow, how involved have you been in the process?
Every single collaboration I’ve been involved in I’ve been involved in the writing which is usually being with another person. I don’t think a lot of people either know or necessarily really care about who’s writing them but I’ve been writing them since I was eighteen, I’ve written about five hundred songs. I see my own writing process as a way for me to remember me. I kind of feel like when I get older I can look back and remember what the song was about and then three years later it could relate to a completely different situation of my life. I try to write quite personally, and I try to write for myself. What I like about this album is that some songs are gonna be written from when I was eighteen, some are gonna be written from when I was twenty-two, some of them are gonna be written from this year. It’ll be like a story of me growing up and moving away from my family and moving away from everything, being in a big city, being lonely, falling in love and falling out of love and then back in again. I’m quite literal in the way I write anyway, so I’m really looking forward to people kind of getting to know me through the music.
Is there a song on the album that you’re really excited about people hearing?
There’s a song called I Could Get Used To This and I wrote it about my boyfriend after our fourth date. For the last two and a half years I’ve been with him, I’ve been terrified that we’re gonna break up before the song comes out!