Becky Hill has had a crazy two years. From appearing on The Voice to touring the world with Rudimental, the girl has been getting to grips with the music industry. Having been taken under the wing of producer extraordinaire MNEK, Becky is now ready to unleash her solo music to the world. With that in mind, we caught up with her to chat dodgems, karaoke and whether she really does fucking hate pop music…
Your new single ‘Losing’ is quite different from the material that you’ve put out. It is the most straight up commercial, radio friendly song. When you were choosing your first single were you conscious of picking something that would be like that, or was it just because it’s a good song?
“The second one, yeah. It was the first song that MNEK and I wrote together. I think that from the moment that we wrote it we were like, “This has to be the first single”. It was our first-born; I always joke with Uzo and say that he’s my musical baby-daddy. I had that in the can since I was 18 and I’m 20 now, so it’s been a long two years before we could get it out.”
In the video you go to the fun fair, but at the fair do you gravitate towards the dodgems or the big dipper?
“I’m a dodgems kind of girl. But I love the scary rides, although I had to take a lot of travel sickness tablets when filming because I was going to throw up. I love roller coasters, but my body doesn’t.”
You also go and do karaoke, too. Are you a karaoke queen?
“No. I’ll get up and do it. My karaoke song is ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ by Rainbow.”
You’ve obviously featured on tracks with Rudimental and Gecko. When launching your solo career, were you quite aware of creating an identity for yourself?
“Absolutely. I started making the music for my project before I did the features. Before Gecko was written, I had pretty much an album of songs written, but it’s just setting that up in the best possible way that means that I can be the artist I want to be. I mean, fair play to Ella Eyre and Jess Glyne who are now starting their own projects doing similar sounds to the those tracks that they featured on, but that was never really my thing. Drum & Bass has always been a love of mine, and so has house music – I really like my EDM – but I’ve always written pop music and I’ve always wanted there to be a left-field production teamed with that.”
Earlier this year you said that you “fucking hate pop music”. Is this true?
“Yes and no.”
What did you mean by it?
“I only like certain pop music and that’s pop music that’s been written from the heart, that is accessible but still something that you can put your own spin on so that you can make personal to you. The kind of pop music that I’ve been into is Maroon 5’s first album, Black Eyed Peas’ Elephunk, Robyn – I think she’s been sick. But I’ve always been a closet pop artist.”
But what is it about pop that you feel that you need to hide away from?
“That it’s very throwaway. I come from a very snobby musical background. I’ve been brought up as an underground girl and, for me and my friends at 15 and 16, when somebody became commercially successful the first thing we thought was that they’d sold out, or that’d turned shit because they’d gone commercial. But actually that’s not true at all. Doing ‘Afterglow’ with Wilkinson, who I had been a fan of since I was 15, was a good way for me to see a well-produced song being done by a very talented producer that was making it in the mainstream who could still do the underground stuff.”
You also said that you don’t want to be a popstar and that you want to be an artist. Do you think the two are mutually exclusive?
“I hope not. The word “popstar” for me has too many negative connotations and it demoralises people. I think it’s too associated with celebrity culture, and I don’t like that.”
“I think that people should see the music industry as just another job, because it is. It isn’t all glitz and glamour. Yes, it’s lucrative if you’re successful, but in terms of how much hard work it is – the stuff you have to do and the people you have to talk to – it’s a difficult job. You’re talking to strangers on a daily basis and if you’re not comfortable with that you’re fucked. You’re hardly getting any sleep and you’re travelling the country, and I love that because it’s nothing I’ve ever experienced before, but it’s been so difficult. People with normal jobs, like the bar jobs I had before all this crazy shit happened, have perfectly good jobs that they should be proud of having. That’s why I hate the word “popstar” and why I prefer artist.”
I suppose with reality TV talent contents, what you see is very little of what actually happens, and then the winners are thrust into the limelight. Whereas, despite being on The Voice, you’ve had two years of development to work out the kinks and make mistakes.
“I think talent shows make the industry a lot easier to tackle than it is. I think once people get into and realise how much hard work there is involved, and there are certain things you have to do and say, people back out. But it’s what happens. If it were just as simple as making the music that you want to make then we’d all be doing it.”
Do you get fed up with people asking you about The Voice?
“Yes and no. Man, you know what? It’s not that I get fed up, it’s that people ask about my ‘honest opinion’ every time and I always like to give it them. There are positive and negative things that are involved when you go on a talent show and I’m only ever honest about it. The reason I say yes and no is because it’s two-and-half years ago and I feel like I’ve achieved so much more in that time than I ever did in those six months on the show. Yes, I got to the semi-finals, but in the last year in six months I’ve written ‘Afterglow, written ‘Powerless’ and I’ve been on a world tour with Rudimental. That was in six months! So by all means ask me about it, but there’s so much more to talk about.”
Moving on then, is your album finished?
“In my mind it is, but we’re still wrapping up writing and getting it mastered and so on. There’s still a bit of time to go, but the songs are there.”
Do people approach you with tracks or do you always start from scratch?
“Yeah I’m much more of a creator. I have done that former, but I prefer creating something together from scratch, talking about the mood, what kind of song it is and the references. The song that I want to be my second single was produced and co-written by MNEK, and I’d told him what kind of song I wanted and he did the beat and went, “What do you feel like could be over this?” I just sang something and he said, “That’s sick,” and put it in. That’s how the song was created.”
That’s quite nice.
“At the moment there’s a group of up-and-coming artists that are writing their own music and writing it from the heart and I’m really glad that I’m one of them. It’s people like Ella Eyre, Jess Glyne, Kwabs, MNEK, Kate Stewart, Ryan Ashley, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran – all these people are writing from their own experiences. It makes everything a little more genuine.”
It seems that honesty is really important to you.
“I’ve been saying this a lot recently, but you know how Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj have their alter-egos when they’re on stage? I think now it’s coming round in fashion where the public wants someone who’s genuine on stage and in interviews, and whenever you see them you know that they mean that. That’s what I’m trying to bring; I want people, when they meet me, to take away that I’m honest and genuine.”
Words: Alim Kheraj.