Last month, as part of Radio 1’s Big Weekend virtual festival, Becky Hill installed a microphone in her room and broadcast a mix of impeccable club classics.
Among them were top of the list like Gecko (Overdrive), the summer anthem I Wish You Well, and the Lose Control, which sells platinum.
For many listeners, it was a light bulb moment as they discovered that Hill was the voice behind some of the biggest hits of the 2010s.
“I listened to all these songs many times, but never realized it,” wrote a typical user in a YouTube video about his performance. “Becky’s voice is absolutely brilliant.”
The 26-year-old is getting used to that reaction. On a tour with The Script earlier this year, he witnessed that the audience had the same epiphany every night.
“I would go up on stage and halfway through my set I would say, ‘How many of you didn’t know who I was by name?’ and I would see a wide variety of hands, “she says.
“Then I said, ‘How many of you knew me after listening to the music?’ And everyone would keep their hands up!
“It’s so nice to see them click, singing all the words and saying, ‘I didn’t know it was you!'”
Hill began his career in the first British series of The Voice in 2012, reaching the semifinal. But when the show proved futile in launching people’s careers, she became a songwriter for hire, writing and recording hits for producers like Oliver Heldens, Sigala and Jax Jones, all while holding a bar job in her hometown of Bewdley.
A record deal with Parlophone produced a couple of EPs and the single Losing criminally underrated, but it ultimately didn’t work.
Since 2017, he has signed with Polydor where, in addition to touring with Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics show, he recently got his first single under his own name, the challenging optimist Better Off Without You.
She is following that this week with a new single inspired by Heaven On My Mind, and the launch of her podcast “Art Of Rave”.
Hill sat down with the BBC to talk about those projects, his arms “incredibly strong” and why many artists fear to speak ill of Spotify.
Hello becky how are things
I’m fine thanks. I had my first personal training session this morning. I’m trying to get back in the bikini sun before it’s Christmas.
How did it go?
Not bad. We are trying to build my strength again. I think I am my trainer’s example student because he tells all his clients that I am really incredibly strong.
What makes you strangely strong?
Weight training and good genetic makeup! But I suffer from having a protruding belly if I don’t exercise, so we’ll go back to it after closing.
Were you, like everyone else, eating cookies all the time?
Yes, eat without stopping. I can’t cook either, so my boyfriend cooked for me every day. He was pounding salmon and roast turkeys … I think he was trying to get me to stay with him during the lockdown. And it worked.
You wrote two of your best songs, Better without you and I wish you the best about your ex, so is he someone new?
Not! We are back together and we have sorted things out.
In fact, I have written many songs about it. Sunrise In The East was about me and he stayed up all night talking; I Could Get Used To This was written just before our fourth date, and it was about getting into a new relationship; and then obviously I wish you the best and the best without you it happened when we had the breakup.
Not to pressure the situation, but if you did end up getting married, would you play I could get used to this at the wedding?
Hell no! Can you imagine dancing to the rhythm of your own wedding? I wish it was like that up the ass, but unfortunately I’m not.
Your new single Heaven On My Mind is a summer dance anthem in the country. Is it strange to release it in a year when all the festivals are canceled?
Yes, it is a very strange moment, but I hope that people will listen in their gardens and continue enjoying summer music.
What was the inspiration for this?
They actually sent it to me as a fully formed song [then] Me and my best friend MNEK rewrote the verses and added the crowd singing at the end.
What attracted you to the song?
Last year was a pretty dark year for me. My grandfather contracted liver cancer and died. My mother was breastfeeding and had stress alopecia. So my nanny, who has dementia, had a fall and my mother had to transfer her to a nursing home. On top of that, I moved house, had a relationship breakup, and my housemate and I fell out.
So Heaven On My Mind is a song I would never have thought to write. But I really loved the concept knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And I think it was a very strong message for me last year.
The song comes from the back of her first solo hit, and that flashy Radio 1 performance. It seems like this could be a turning point in your career. Are you ready to give up your anonymity?
Yes! I mean, every time I go back to Bewdley it’s like I’m the local celebrity and that’s very, very strange. But I hope, hopefully, for success and on a grand scale because I feel like I’ve been writing this album for my entire career and I want as many people as possible to listen to it.
Has the wait been frustrating?
Not really, actually. It’s been frustrating that people have only seen me as a “featured artist” for a while, but in terms of making an album, it’s been a pretty nice, pressure-free environment to write songs and pick the best ones.
How many songs do you think you have written in that time?
The last time my manager and I counted was in  and at that time it was around 600.
I Wish You Well has seven writers listed in the credits. What do you contribute in a situation like that?
My strength is in the melody and the lyrics. I had the phrase “I wish you the best” written on my phone because I really like having concepts and stories in the songs. And while I’m not particularly good with chorus tunes, I came up with the first half of that chorus.
How common is it to have that number of writers now?
It really is interesting, because if you are in a room with two other people and one of those people does not contribute anything, they still get a third [of the publishing royalties]Because if you’re in the room, then you changed the mood or the way things were written, even if you didn’t necessarily come up with lyrics or melodies.
How do you make a living when money is divided in seven ways?
I think it’s important to find out who all the writers were and make sure everyone gets a fair cut, but to be honest the music industry hasn’t really gotten paid by the people.
All record companies have a stake in Spotify, for example, but it’s hard to speak against it because if you downplay Spotify, you probably won’t get your next single on their New Music Friday playlist. There are many things that people feel they have to keep silent about. But I always try to make sure that everyone who works on a song gets paid.
That’s impressive, because I think a lot of people would be tempted to take the money.
I do not know. I think it is much fairer than that, especially among writers. We all tend to take better care of ourselves these days.
You are about to launch a podcast about rave culture. What caused that?
Basically, the podcast started because I was wondering if I was missing the golden days of delirium.
I started raving when I was completely legal (18 years old) and wanted to know if social media and phones had changed the experience. Like, I’ve always noticed that if I go to a house rave, people are dragging their feet, and their partner is recording them dragging their feet, then they upload it to their Instagram saying: “Look at me dragging my feet!” And I was wondering if that had damaged the essence of rave culture.
So I spoke to people like Roni Size and Pete Tong about how the landscape has changed, since they started DJing in the 80s until now, and did I miss an era that I wanted to be a part of? And I have some very varied answers.
If you could go back to a specific rave era, what 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 Ibiza days. It must have been the best time.
Becky Hill’s new single Heaven On My Mind is out now, and her podcast will be released next week.
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