“I’d describe my music as left-field, soulful, 90’s electro pop,” Becky Hill tells me during an exclusive post-show interview at the Leeds O2 Academy. “When I made this album,” she says, in reference to her brand new EP, “I went in with a lot of producers and I wanted to make a concoction of Ben Howard, Ellie Goulding, Bon Iver and Passion Pit”.
In 2012, Becky Hill featured on the first season of The Voice UK. Her powerful blind audition, a cover of John Legend’s ‘Ordinary People’, established her as a clear favourite on the show; two years and two hit singles later, she’s enthusiastically describing the musical styling of her album while touring the country with Katy B. Needless to say, 2013 was a good year for her. She managed to meet the garage star last year at Warwick University, where Becky was appearing in only her third live gig as a vocalist with Rudimental. After a second subsequent encounter, they began working together, and wrote a track for Becky’s upcoming full-length record in the process.
“It’s been amazing. It’s been like one big work experience for me…my time on The Voice made me more hungry for professional music. There was a point when Kate Read (fellow 2012 contestant) was knocked out of the competition, and she rang me once, and said, ‘Look Becky, get all the contacts you can in this industry, because once you’re off the show, they don’t help you. You go from being in front of 12 million people on television every Saturday night to going back to your day job. So if you’re not savvy with what you’ve got, you’re not going to go anywhere.’ I think that seriously woke me up, because I knew if really wanted this, then I’d have to work for it.”
It feels like a good time to be set free and become a solo artist.
Perhaps unsurprisingly then, she wouldn’t recommend The Voice experience, yet she recognises that it can definitely be a useful step into the industry. “It was particularly good for me as I was from a very small town in the middle of nowhere, where anything to do with singing or performing was frowned upon –it seemed a bit like ‘urgh, whatever!’ I think a lot of artists today can get plenty of exposure from platforms like SoundCloud and YouTube. I also think that gigging in your local area is not a way to get into the industry, but it’s definitely good for your work experience, which is what I did.”
When asked about advice for aspiring artists, Becky recommends the Academy of Contempory Music in Guildford, where she was heading before she went on The Voice. “I heard that they have regular label visits, where they audition people at ACL, so I think that’s a start.”
The lessons she learned from her time on The Voice have certainly set her in good stead. It was an unexpected yet welcome surprise for many when she rose to mainstream prominence in the company of some significant industry names last year. Her vocalist slot on Wilkinson’s ‘Afterglow’ saw the single storm to number one on the UK Dance Chart in late 2013, and her collaboration with Oliver Heldens on ‘Gecko’, which topped the UK Singles Chart this year, consolidated her position as one of the most sought after talents on the UK music scene today.
On 9 November, ‘Losing’ was released by Parlophone records as her second single. “It’s daunting to do well, as these singles are your musical children, and you want your children to do well at school… It feels like a good time to be set free and become a solo artist. It’s been a long time coming, [after] two and a half years working in the industry.” It becomes evident to me that Becky is a singer in it for the long run, driven by a genuine enthusiasm for music and artistry.
To date, Becky is the only contestant from The Voice to have scored a UK No 1. Is ‘Losing’ likely to be her next assault on the charts? “I never write music for radio, and I never write music for No 1 slots. I write music because I like writing music. Personally, I am in love with my songs that I’ve written so far, and whether everybody loves it, or nobody loves it, I’ve created an album that I’m really proud of.” Her most recent release reflects her journey to mainstream prominence and explains her transition into adulthood. “Whether I get to No 1 or not, I’m happy with the music I’m making.”
One thing is certain: Becky is happy with where she is, personally and musically. This means she can look to the future with confidence and contentment. The rest of this year is finishing off the tour, and working on promoting ‘Losing’. Next year holds another single, an album, and then festival season; it’s going to be a very busy year. 2014 has been about laying down the foundations of her career.
On a final note, I ask Becky what she is currently listening to. “Ben Howard’s new album, Banks’ new album, and also ‘Faded’ by ZHU – such a great track. Also Shannon Saunders, and a lot of Kate Stewart, Shift K3Y, MNEK and Sinead Harnett – she’s great! I listen to a lot of up and coming artists, being in that world.”