Last month, as part of Radio 1’s Big Weekend virtual festival, Becky Hill installed a microphone in her bedroom and launched a mix of flawless club classics.
Among them were playing cards like Gecko (Overdrive), the summer anthem I Wish You Well and Lose Control, which sells platinum.
It was a light bulb moment for many listeners when they realized that Hill was the voice behind some of the biggest hits of the 201
“I’ve listened to all these songs so many times but I’ve never realized it,” wrote a typical user with a YouTube video of his performance. “Becky’s voice is absolutely brilliant.”
The 26 year old is getting used to that reaction. On tour with The Script earlier this year, he saw audiences having the same epiphany every evening.
“I come on stage and in the middle of my set I would go, ‘How many of you didn’t know who I was with my name?’ and I would see a series of hands, “he says.
“Then I would say: ‘How many of you have known me after listening to music?’ and they would all have raised their hands!
“It’s so nice to see them click, singing all the words and saying,” I didn’t know it was you! “
Hill started his career in the first British series of The Voice in 2012, reaching the semifinal. But when the show turned out to be hopeless in launching people’s careers, she became a rental songwriter, writing and recording hits for producers such as Oliver Heldens, Sigala and Jax Jones, all while doing bar work in her hometown by Bewdley.
A record deal with Parlophone produced a couple of EPs and the single Losing criminally underestimated, but ultimately failed to pan out.
Since 2017, it has been signed for Polydor where, in addition to being on tour with Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics show, she recently got her first hit single with her name, the provocative optimist Better Off Without You.
He is following him this week with a new single inspired by the house, Heaven On My Mind, and the launch of his podcast “Art Of Rave”.
Hill sat down with the BBC to talk about those projects, his “strangely strong” arms and why many artists are afraid to speak ill of Spotify.
Hi Becky, how are things going?
I am fine thanks. I had my first personal training session this morning. I’m trying to get back to the bikini sun before it’s Christmas.
How did it go?
Not bad. We are trying to strengthen my strength. I think I’m my coach’s example student because he tells all his clients that I’m really oddly strong.
What makes you strangely strong?
Weight training and good genetic makeup! But I suffer from having a protruding belly if I don’t train, so we’ll go back after the block.
Like everyone else, were you just having a snack with cookies?
Yes, eat non-stop. I can’t cook either, so my boyfriend cooked for me every single day. He was tearing salmon and roast turkey to pieces … I think he was trying to make me stay with him across the block. And it worked.
You wrote two of your biggest songs, Better without you is I wish you all the best of your ex, so this is a new person?
No! In a way, we got back together and we solved the problem.
I actually wrote many songs about him. Sunrise In The East spoke of me and he who stayed up all night talking; I could get used to it. This was written just before our fourth date, and it was about getting into a new relationship; and then of course Wish You Well and Better Off Without You happened when we broke up.
Don’t put pressure on the situation, but if you ended up getting married, you would play. Could I get used to this at the wedding?
Hell, no! Can you imagine dancing at your own pace at your wedding? I wish I was in the ass, but unfortunately I am not.
Your new single Heaven On My Mind is a true summer anthem dancing in a field. Is it strange to publish it in a year when all festivals are canceled?
Yes, it’s a very strange moment, but I hope people listen in their gardens and are still enjoying the summer musical vibes.
What was the inspiration for this?
It was actually sent to me as a fully formed song [then] my best friend MNEK and I rewrote the verses and added the crowd by singing at the end.
What attracted you to the song?
Last year was a rather dark year for me. My grandfather had liver cancer and died. My mom was breastfeeding him and he had alopecia due to stress. Then my dwarf, who has dementia, fell and my mom had to move her to a nursing home. Also, I moved house, had an interrupted relationship and my roommate and I fell.
So Heaven On My Mind is a song I never thought I’d write. But I loved the concept knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And I think it was a really strong message for me last year.
The song is coming to the back of your first solo hit and that catchy Radio 1 performance. It looks like this could be a turning point in your career. Are you ready to give up your anonymity?
Yup! I mean, every time I go back to Bewdley it’s like I’m the local celebrity and it’s very, very strange. But I can’t wait to be successful and on a large scale because I feel like I’m writing this album for my entire career and I want as many people as possible to listen to it.
Was the wait frustrating?
Not really, really. It was frustrating that people only saw me as a “featured artist” for a while, but in terms of making an album, it was a fairly pleasant and pressure-free environment to write songs and choose the best ones.
How many songs do you think you wrote at that moment?
The last time I counted, my manager was there  and at that point there were about 600.
I Wish You Well has seven writers listed in the closing credits. What do you contribute in such a situation?
My strength is in the melody and lyrics. I had the phrase “I wish you well” written on my phone because I really like having concepts and stories in songs. And although I’m not particularly good at the choir melodies, the first half of that choir came to mind.
How common is it to have that number of writers now?
It’s really interesting, because if you’re in a room with two other people and one of those people doesn’t contribute to anything, you still get a third [of the publishing royalties], because if you are in the room or have changed the atmosphere or the way things have been written, even if you have not necessarily come up with lyrics or melody.
How do you make a living when money is divided into seven ways?
I think it’s important to find out who all the writers were and make sure everyone gets a fair cut, but the music industry hasn’t really received people’s payment, to be honest.
All labels have a part in Spotify, for example, but it’s hard to talk about it because if you discard Spotify, you probably won’t get the next single on the New Music Friday playlist. There are many things people feel they need to keep quiet about. But I always try to make sure everyone who works on a song gets paid.
It’s impressive, because I think a lot of people would be tempted to just take the money.
I do not know. I think it’s a lot fairer than that, especially among writers. Nowadays we all tend to take better care of ourselves.
You are about to launch a podcast on rave culture. What pushed him?
Basically, the podcast started because I wondered if I missed the golden days of the rave.
I started raving when I was completely right – 18 years old – and wanted to know if social media and phones had changed the experience. For example, I’ve always noticed if I go to a house rave, people are mixing and their partner is recording them mixing, then they upload it on their Instagram saying “Watch me mixing!”. And I wondered if this had damaged the essence of rave culture.
So I talked to people like Roni Size and Pete Tong about how the landscape has changed since they started DJing in the 80s to today, and have I missed an era I wanted to be part of? And I have very mixed answers.
If you could go back to a specific rave era, which year would you choose?
I would go back to 1998 for a couple of days, before the drugs got worse and the music changed. I love all that euphoric trance of the days of Ibiza. It must have been the best time.
Becky Hill’s new single, Heaven On My Mind, is now available and her podcast will be launched next week.
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