Breakthrough artist BEKA lays down all the deets on her life as she prepares for a strong end to the year.
Following the years we tend to not speak about, London-based singer-songwriter BEKA has taken them in her stride as she goes from strength to strength. With the release of her debut EP, I’ll Be There, back in 2021, to now celebrating the achievements she has already made, BEKA’s wholesome down to earth personality shouldn’t be taken lightly with the work she releases – evident in her upcoming project.
Already teased with the hit single ‘Tears’ and now baring all emotions with ‘Vulnerable’, BEKA’s work is a rare find. Tending to the raw emotions of her personal life, the artist enlightens us “Music is about that connection with people, but also us being together knowing that these common things that make us human are complicated and complex, but that we’re not alone in them.”
Continuing to delve deeper into her inner thoughts, we speak further into her rise, inspirations, going on tour, and secrets to her next project.
Hey hey! With the release of “Vulnerable,” how excited are you for people to hear and continue to tease new music?
It feels incredibly exciting to have more songs coming out, as you spend so much time writing this music as a body of work that sometimes you can forget the essence and the beauty of the song itself. This song ironically feels quite vulnerable to be releasing because it’s about love and my actual relationships, so it’s a bit scary but exciting too.
Breaking onto the music scene back in 2020 with your debut single “I’ll Be There,” how would you describe your rise and journey these past few years?
It always feels like a surprise that people want to listen, to be honest. I think I’m always going to be humbled about that, that there are people out there who connect with my music. But that was always the whole point for me, to make art that was about the real things that were going on in my life so we could have a conversation about it. It’s definitely felt like a humbling experience this past few years, I feel very lucky.
Speaking of your rise and talking about some of your fond memories, what fully inspired you to become an artist?
It was after I had quite a provocative conversation with some friends that I allowed myself to finally admit that this was something I wanted to do. What I love about the medium of music is how it affects culture and how it can facilitate us having difficult conversations with people we never thought we would. You could be going about your day, and suddenly you’re incredibly moved by something you hear, and that helps unlock something in you. I think music’s one of the most powerful tools we have, and equally, I love how it sits alongside the other art forms that I love the most, like film and TV. When you see yourself represented in a certain way through film and TV, there’s nothing quite like it to unlock your mind, and what comes alongside that so impactfully is music. So just getting to engage with these favorite art forms has always felt quite important to me, and I’m excited to develop that side more.
Following the success of “Tears” and now “Vulnerable,” what do you want to tell your listeners the most from your music?
That they are not alone, and I know that may feel like a cheesy thing to say, but when you hear someone articulate something that you felt strange for feeling, or you didn’t know was normal, it’s SO relieving. Whether that’s grief, loneliness, a lack of confidence, or even euphoria, that connection is the bit that I feel really inspired by. So for me, music is about that connection with people, but also us being together knowing that these common things that make us human are complicated and complex, but that we’re not alone in them.
Talking of new music, we hear on the grapevine that you’ve got a new EP on the way. Could you tell us a bit more about the project and its themes you endure?
The grapevine speaks the truth! So my debut EP was about those around me and the things that we were all going through, then my second EP was about my identity, my heritage, and what makes me, me. This next EP feels much more like it’s about my personal discovery. When I was writing it, this wasn’t done on purpose, but it almost ended up being about the four pillars of what it is to be a person: heart, soul, mind, and body. It kicked off with the mind on ‘Tears’ after I found out I have ADHD, and I’ve been able to unlock a lot of that self-loathing and unkindness towards myself, and I think that facilitated a lot more honesty around the other areas of my life. Over the years, we’ve lost people in my family, and I feel like my feelings have been more heightened, so this project definitely feels like an exploration of self with those four pillars. When I ended up realizing that concept, it felt like a nice coincidence.
What is your favorite track and why?
Oo, it’s probably the title track of the E, which hasn’t been announced yet!
Already worked with a multitude of artists and producers; who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
Obviously, Stevie Wonder, who is the dream! But aside from him, someone like Loyle Carner, I’m fascinated by the things that he writes about. Also, the GOAT’s Coldplay, their music infused so much of my life, and it’s such an experiential sound world that I really resonate with. A queen like Maggie Rogers too, I love her, and I love what she’s about when it comes to the experience of music and the spirituality behind it, the connection side.
As you compete through the highs and lows of the music world, what has been your number one learning perspective of the music industry, and what is your number one advice?
My learning perspective would be needing to have a ‘why’. There’s that beautiful phrase that says, “Comparison is the thief of joy” and I have felt that so intensely, it’s just so true. For me, when I connect back to the fact that music for me is art, and art is something that we observe and enjoy – it’s a bit like adults play really, for example going to an exhibition is adult’s play – and that’s what I really want for my music. So it’s ok to remind yourself every day about needing a why, and that’s also my piece of advice.
What has been your biggest pinch-me moment so far?
Last year at my first-ever show in New Zealand, there was just this wall of sound of people singing my song, and I don’t think I will ever forget that. The same thing had happened in LA earlier in the year, where I’d had people in the crowd shouting ‘Go Queen!’ and really going for it, and it just blew my mind, and it’s always going to blow my mind. To see a fifty-something-year-old man in the crowd singing my song was just mind-blowing, and there are so many beautiful moments that on paper look amazing, and on the gram look amazing, but what actually moved me was probably being on the other side of the world and there being people who knew the words to my songs. From writing these little lyrics and not knowing if I’m any good, to having somebody sing them back to me is mad, it’s that connection that’s so important.
With multiple support slots and shows under your belt, you’re about to set out on a headline tour this September, what are you looking forward to most?
My shows feel like being back with family that you love. They’re like reuniting with these amazing cousins that you never get to see and then you all get back together, and you feel safe, feel known, and you can liberate yourself a bit. I go through a lot of personal liberation on my own tours because I want to be brave, I want to share, and I want to move and dance and let myself go. Not just perform, but to actually be in the songs. That’s what I also want for the people coming to feel, for that safety and liberation. So the feeling of connection and of family, of letting ourselves go, is what I’m looking forward to most.
Talking of shows, do you have trouble with performance anxiety, or are you very much on that stage? And do you have a backstage ritual?
I don’t tend to get performance anxiety, but I can be very hard on myself after a show, and think I was too in my head or worry that I didn’t feel liberated enough. But my pre-show ritual is a pre-set playlist which I love and always a hot water and lemon warm-up. With my band, we always come up with a word to summarise the show or an encouraging speech, so ‘Is today about fun or freedom’, for example. Sometimes we have a sentence like ‘It’s absolutely mental that we get to do this for a job so you have nothing to worry about’. I love those speeches because they’re mostly for my own heart, to feel like ‘we’re ok’.
And have you ever got in trouble doing live shows, and how?
I’ve actually never got in trouble which makes me feel like a loser, but I’ve definitely had outfit troubles! I had an outfit malfunction at a recent show in Davao in the Philippines, where I had this big bird-style dress on, and I was moving so much that the belt that my in-ears pack was on ended up moving up the dress. It had become super visible through the dress in this mental way. So I had to get off the stage and fix it, and my amazing musical director Daniel Newcombe stood there and started to play some Justin Timberlake and lots of other fun things to entertain the crowd and keep them hyped. It was so sweet. So yes, I’ve never done anything naughty, but I have done stupid stuff like wear ridiculous clothes!
Finally, continuing to cement yourself within the music scene and preparing for a busy summer, what shall fans expect next?
My artist project is coming, but something more long-form is the next mission for me. I want to have a long body of work that has visuals within it, and my dream would be to have a short film that has different episodes to go alongside the music. It’s definitely exciting to me to have long-form music where we can build a visual world around it too, where the other art forms I love can be incorporated.