The Nottingham-hailed singer talks her new soul-tinged tune and what’s next on the agenda.
Over the years, Nottingham has birthed the likes of Jake Bugg and London Grammar, leading them to take over the charts with their heartwarming and addictive sound. Now ready to join the likes of the famed artists, is rising singer-songwriter BEKA with her emotional debut single “I’ll Be There”. Taking us on halcyonic journey filled with atmospheric pop and stunning vocals, the singer wraps us in a blanket of uplifting melodies and poignant lyricism for a touching tune. Diving into a gospel-tinged sound, the singer delivers a comforting and reassuring tune dedicated to her husband during these challenging times.
Speaking on the release, the singer said, “’I’ll Be There’ was written for my husband following some tough seasons with depression and anxiety. It was a promise to say I see you…I see you during your highs…I see you during your lows…It’s about that human desire we all have for someone to show up for us when we need it most. Whether that person is someone we love, a stranger who gives us a knowing look or even just as a statement of self-care” – the song is a nod to the reality that part of being human is giving yourself permission to not have it all together. ‘I’ll Be There’ is the message you send to a friend when you don’t know what to say.”
Having gained over 800,000 monthly streams and growing, the singer and her stellar vocals have a huge future ahead of her, and we sat down and spoke with the artist talking new music, growing up in Nottingham and what’s next.
Check out the interview below…
Heya BEKA! How’s everything? How has lockdown been? Do you think it has affected your creativity?
Everything is pretty lovely at the moment. My lockdown has been wild, but also really beautiful in so many ways. I think after a couple of years of touring with HONNE and being away so often, it’s been really beautiful to have some little rhythms and time to hone in on the basic things of life that seem to be the sweetest. It’s been really freeing just to cook, read, go for walks – all the lockdown usuals. I think for me, lockdown from a creative point of view has been quite profound – I’ve found being in one place for enough time allowed me to propel some of the music I’d been doing over the past years, into action. I think there was something about the ease at which people could contact another without the pretence or crazy busy schedule, that meant that I was able to build momentum. Then creatively it was a time where I could really sit in decisions and allow them to come to the surface and creatively just feel free. I think maybe it’s also been about authenticity. Authentically working out what I want versus living amidst people and buzz and perhaps being more influenced by things outside of myself than first what comes to the heart.
You grew up in Nottingham which has seen major breakout artists over the years, how did growing up there impact your sound?
Nottingham is somewhere that has such a vibe. It’s a very multicultural place – my theory is that it’s the mixed-race capital of England, and so I think growing up around an eclectic mix of cultures and experiences formed a lot of the sound I now create. Both my parents are of Mixed Race heritage, my mum’s mum is from North Yorkshire England and her dad is from St Vincent & The Grenadines and then my dad’s mum is from England and his dad from Nigeria, but he was adopted into a White British Family and raised in North Yorkshire, so the experience and music in our home was a real vast mix. Music was in our home from the get-go, we had a lot of jazz played in the house, my parents raised us on Quincy Jones, The Sounds Of Blackness, Luther Vandross and I remember a lot of my love for music being formed through the gatherings my parents had at our house, where the ‘grown-ups’ would just dance and I remember finding it completely mesmerising.
Congratulations on your debut single! What was the creative process like?
Thank you so much! To be honest, the creative process was such a deep time for me. Going into the initial writing phase for the project, I’d had some time with my brother JJ, who’s a producer and we’d really worked on honing what my ears moved to naturally, then made a pallet of tracks that represented the sound. This then meant, ahead of my initial writing I was able to send that pallet out to the people I was working with. HONNE were the first people I wrote with for this project and after having toured with them for two years and spending a lot of that time living together on a tour bus, I think we just had a really beautiful comfortability together. I love lots of cups of tea, to be able to laugh and also be vulnerable when writing and I think just having the sound facilitated and in my ears and being with people who made me feel really safe, ended up facilitating what was then a very vulnerable first writing session with those guys. I guess then what I felt quite deep was what came from me bringing in the I’ll be there lyric idea, became the single that has now come out!
It was written for your husband after some tough seasons of depression and anxiety and it is incredibly raw, do you find it difficult to put your emotions into your music?
For me, music’s always been such an emotional thing – I am constantly crying when listening to my favourite music, and in my writing. It’s been about drawing on my own experiences and sparking conversation. There’s something about music that carries a magic. Where you can listen to a song and find it really healing or it can help you to work through something in an inarticulable way where you just submerge yourself in the music and it almost washes over you. I think because of that, for me, putting my emotions into music isn’t something I do purposefully, it feels more that it’s the only way I know how to write – directly from what I’m feeling. But then when collaborating, it always tends to feel incredibly vulnerable because what I’m writing tends to come from the inner parts of my life, but the payout is then that I’m much more emotionally attached and in tune with the songs and feel my whole self behind them. A bit intense, but that is how it is.
What made you want to enter the music scene? Who are your inspirations?
When I was a kid I loved to dance and really wanted to be a choreographer – this was 100% the bi-product of being raised on MJ’s Thriller album. Then as a teenager, I loved the arts and had someone who had been given some funding to work with young people, give me an opportunity to do a bit of singing and artist development, after seeing me sing around the church. Around that time I was super inspired by Corinne Bailey Bae –my all-time hero, and so really threw myself into the opportunity. Music was something I’d always loved and I found singing a very out of the body energising experience, and so that opportunity to write and learn was really exciting for me. I am hugely inspired by Stevie Wonder and the way that when he writes and can bring you back into the wonder of being a human being on a planet. I will never get over his line that he wrote ‘loves in need of love today! Massively inspired by Quincy Jones and just the breadth of different sounds in his music and how cinematic it is, and I am a huge HAIM fan girl. They cross boundaries and musically they give you that empowered free feeling where you feel like you’re in a film.
What do you want listeners to take away from your music?
A feeling of connection would be wonderful. I’d love people to feel ok about the things that are going on in them but also connected to others in it all.
Are you working on more music (EP/ Album) if so, what can we expect?
I’m constantly working on music and working with friends which is fun, I will hopefully have more music out before the end of the year and would love to have a little project for you all to hear in 2021.
Outside of music, what are you most excited for?
I feel excited for the post lockdown learning and how it’ll make life feel more connected, feeling more in tune with myself, what I want and having this winter a bit closer to people I love.