Becky Hill @ Academy 2
Tuesday 9th October at 7.30pm
Since she was a child, Becky’s innate talent for music has gotten her noticed – from wowing the judges at a youth club talent show when she was 11, to singing to punters at the end of pub shifts (“I was a shit barmaid, but my boss used to get me to sing,”). It wasn’t until she was 18, though, that she was noticed outside of her small Worcestershire town of Bewdley – when she took part in BBC talent show The Voice.
Now, she feels like a completely different person to the teenager who won over Jessie J – and the nation – in 2012. “I treated The Voice like six months of university,” she says. The show, which saw her sing in front of millions of people each week, was a crash course in performing, confirming that music was her future – but Becky knew the real work would come when she left the show.
As soon as that happened, she gathered up the contacts she’d made and set about organising meetings, travelling between Bewdley and London (a sign of the dogged determination she still has to this day) to secure a manager. “We worked for about two years on my sound,” she says. “He let me have artistic vision with it. At the beginning, I didn’t know what I wanted to be.”
The drum and bass and dance music collaborations helped her with that, allowing her to hone her songwriting skills (she co-wrote every song she featured on) while she figured out the kind of solo artist she wanted to become. One of those songs, her Oliver Heldens collaboration Gecko (Overdrive), reached No.1 in the UK.
Another, Wilkinson’s Afterglow was a top 10 hit as well as topping the UK dance chart and attaining Gold certification. “I wanted to make a classic drum and bass record that would still be played years after it came out, and I feel like with Afterglow, I achieved that,” she says. “I’ve been at raves when it’s been played, and I go mental. I usually run up to the DJ booth a little worse for wear and ask if I can sing it.”
But Becky always knew “there was a ceiling writing top lines and dance music. Plus, I’ve really always written music for me instead of other people.” Now, at 24, with a new record deal and a debut solo album on the horizon, that’s exactly what she’s doing. “It’s taken about six years,” she says, “but I’m ready as an artist now and want to get my experiences out there.”
Manchester Academy, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PR
0161 232 1639