We speak with Becky Hill about her early years, the pandemic, and her hopes for the year ahead.
Last year, MVT partnered with the National Lottery to initiate the Revive Live Tour, which saw over 74,000 gig-goers come and support 138 grassroots venues across the UK that had all suffered greatly over the various lockdowns of the last two years. Last month the tour recommenced, with Bastille joining the likes of Kojey Radical and Becky Hill and an exciting list of burgeoning acts to help fill the small grassroots venues who need it.
Off the back of her Revive Live performance, and ahead of the BRIT Awards which saw her nominated for two awards, we sat down with Becky Hill to talk about her early years as a performer, how she coped through the years that shook the music industry, and her hopes for the months ahead.
Before we get into it, it’s obviously a very exciting year for many artists who can finally return to live performing but how have the last two years been for you?
I was just keeping myself afloat. Keep in mind, the other people in the music industry that I work with or I’m friends with, they’ve been trying to keep their mental health as strong as possible. It’s been hard, when you’re told to retrain and that your job isn’t essential there’s not a lot you can do other than try and keep yourself as happy and healthy as possible.
It was probably the worst time in my career…”
I think I was lucky because I still got to release music that I had in the bank. Not that that necessarily made things easier, it’s not the same as that visual representation of seeing people actually dancing along. There was a lot of worrying about how I could get my crew paid again and how we could keep the industry going. It was probably the worst time in my career and I know it was for a lot of other people also.
Do you think it changed your perspective on live performances at all? Did you learn to adapt and embrace the change?
I have mixed feelings about it because you haven’t been able to do your job, something you love, for two years but you always have to remember that half of the people that you work with haven’t been able to pay their rent or feed their children without having to look for another job.
You know, you must be really grateful to be performing again but it’s a little bit deeper than that. It’s people’e livelihoods that were destroyed and it’s been a really slow, hard build to get those back on their feet.
Let’s go back to your first gigs, I imagine the crew was a lot smaller. Can you remember much about it?
I was 16 and in a band so my bandmates dealt with sorting open mics. I remember we got this one lounge that we took really seriously because it was our first gig in the city. I remember it was also the first time I ever tried sushi so it was all a big deal! There were only like three people who saw us – one of those was working in the venue and the other two were in the band before us.
I always had a real joy and lust for performing anyway, whether it’s three people or 30,000. I’ve just always been so grateful to be on stage singing and getting to call it a job. There’s nothing I love more. I think I came off the stage that first night with quite a sore voice from going for it a bit too much.
It’s clear to see the value in these venues, the platform they give young artists. Did you appreciate that at the time or is it only in hindsight you fully recognise what you gained?
I had no idea at the time, I was 13 when I started writing music, 15 when I got into a band, and 17 when I went on The Voice so for me, I had no idea what venues were what and the significance of them.
Now more than ever, we see the value in live gigs and how essential these venues are for new artists. I truly believe that it’s so good for people’s mental health, to go out and experience live music and make memories. Everyone remembers their first live gig, that stuff stays with people for the rest of their lives. It’s crucial for musicians to have these spaces where they can perform, help people discover new music, and gain a fanbase.
That way of entering the music industry is kind of dying out and especially after Covid, people are getting found on YouTube or TikTok. But there is truly nothing that comes close to being in a room with somebody that is laying down their life in the form of music. I think that really is beautiful.
Looking ahead for 2022, it must be hugely exciting for you to get back out there. What’s this year got in store for you?
I’ve got the BRITs coming up and I’m nominated for two awards which is amazing. To win Best Dance Act would really mean the world because it would open up a whole different world for me. Winning a prestigious award like a BRIT, I’ve worked my whole career to get to that place. I’m starting to play international festivals which is so exciting but winning that category would help me become a prominent feature at the big dance festivals around the world.
With regards to touring, that’s still a little up in the air, there might be an acoustic tour but it’s all parts in motion at the minute. One day at a time for right now.
See Becky Hill as she returns to the stage this year. Dates and tickets can be found here.