An Interview with Becky CJ

Hot on the heels of her brand new single, ‘Love Hurts’, Re:Views Magazine had the chance for a chat with Becky CJ to talk about X Factor, her parents, and her future plans. The English YouTube-based songstress has racked up almost two million views with her soulful piano-led covers and originals, which span two previously-released EPs.

Re:Views: So our readers can get to know you: if you were a character from Friends, who would you be?

Becky CJ: Probably Joey. A bit of an idiot, chasing my dream.

Re:V: What’s your favourite album of all time?

BCJ: Hotter Than July by Stevie Wonder. It’s one of the only albums that I’ve been able to listen to forever. I still listen to every song.

Re:V: What’s your favourite album right now?

BCJ: Ten Love Songs, by Susanne Sundfør. I saw her at Latitude Festival, and I’m seeing her tonight at Koko in London. She’s just phenomenal. You should definitely give it a listen.

Re:V: Your mother is a professional singer, and your father runs a music publishing company. They help you out in your videos and even on stage. What influence have they made on your musicianship, and what does it mean to you?

BCJ: My parents are my main influences just because they’ve been there the whole time, and so supportive. If you’re a musician, and your parents are too, it’s hard for them to ignore what you’re doing, and obviously all of my musical interests stem from them, and they’ve had a huge influence on the path that I’ve taken. More recently though, I’ve tried to find my footing independently away from my parents, because I think sadly there’s an element of it holding you back; you’re not necessarily finding your own voice. So I moved out last year, and I’ve been taking baby steps, trying not to turn to them as soon as something scary happens, or I need help. Of course their facilities to help me record, their knowledge and their understanding of the industry will always be incredibly useful. It’s important that I keep them involved because I trust their judgement.

Re:V: The many televised talent shows have been known to take interest in those who use the internet as the main platform for their music, allowing them to skip the audition rounds if they wish to compete. Since this has happened to you, what’s your opinion on them, and what makes you resist that choice of path to take you where you’re aiming to go?

BCJ: Personally, I think it takes away the element of hard work and musicianship that should come with developing a career. It’s all very instantaneous and is often based on natural talent, which is amazing to have, and I don’t think you could say a person could be a musician without that natural talent. But what makes people like Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Susanne Sundfør, all these people, what makes them good musicians is their craft, how good they are and how hard-working they are . . . what amazing music they make primarily. It completely undermines those skills, this idea of going on a stage and being judged by four people who, in my opinion, don’t necessarily know anything about music. I think it’s completely ruining the music industry. Growing up, anyone whose family has no musical background will presume it’s the only way to have a career in music. They won’t practice for eight hours a day, become incredible musicians, moving to London, actually become very good at their craft, and without the hard work, it can become less about a passion for music, and more about a passion for celebrity.

Re:V: Your path seems to be working well: you just hit 24,000 subscribers on YouTube. A lot of that interest comes from the covers that you do, which of course have an install base of the people who already like those songs. So how do you pick the covers that you do?

BCJ: Generally, what I pick is songs that I want to cover. If I love a song, I will cover it. I think there’s a lot of pressure to cover songs that you know will give you views. If I was to cover something from the top 10 every week, I’d probably grow my fanbase a lot quicker, but it’s become more important to me that the people who listen to those covers will like what I write; I don’t cover something just because it could be a hit. It doesn’t feel right to me to cover endless hits just for views – I don’t care that much about the numbers. I genuinely love singing and music, and I want people who listen to my music to feel the same, not just love One Direction, and therefore think that I’m great because I’ve covered one of their songs. It’s about that slow graft, covering artists who you respect, therefore you bring in an audience who will respect you.

Re:V: We haven’t heard any new original songs since June, likely in preparation for your new single out now. Can you tell us more about it?

BCJ: I’ve gone for a new sound. I’ve been working with Andrew Simmons, a producer who is a good friend and who I really like. It’s very cinematic, influenced a lot by Scandinavian artists, who make a mix of electronic but also very melodic pop songs. My English accent is still there, but I’ve gone a bit more electro. It’s not something I can pigeonhole. I’m excited to put it out there!

Re:V: Is the single part of a bigger project, or is it testing the waters for the new sound you’ve got?

BCJ: That’s exactly what it is. I want to release it and see how people like it. The plan is to release an original song every month for the next few months, see the interest they gain, and then get them sent off to labels.

Re:V: Will you do more live shows to promote the single?

BCJ: I’m still gigging around the London scene. I think after two or three more singles, and then another headline show with a full band, bigger, and more professional than the first one I did, which was making sure I could arrange it all and pull it off.

 

Pick up Becky CJ’s new single ‘Love Hurts’ on iTunes now.

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