Interview: Tilly Valentine on musical growth, The BRIT School, and international fans
Tilly Valentine recently dropped her EP Nothing Left To Say, we caught up with her about the latest release and future projects...
Your newly released EP Nothing Left To Say is described as a collection of your experiences and the impact that they have had on your music, so how have these circumstances inspired your songwriting? Throughout writing the EP, I’ve definitely grown as a person and written more personal material. With that comes finding a confidence to release music that was originally written just for me, needing to express something in the only way I know how. I thought other people might connect with it and if it resonates with anyone then it makes it worth it. I’ve also had more time to consume music and become inspired by new artists. Working with new writers and producers over the last few years has naturally evolved my writing, and I can’t wait to show you what’s next…
The musical styles you emulate overlap with jazz, pop and soul, where have you drawn your influences from? Gotta thank HONNE, Amber Mark, Tom Misch, Olivia Dean and Lianne La Havas!
Having grown up in Oxfordshire but now living in London, how do the two music scenes compare and what do you enjoy about both? Well, Oxfordshire is a much smaller scene, with more of a local feel, but it’s still well connected and people really support it. I’ve played the O2 Academy in Oxford a few times and I love local support, it goes a long way. London is much more broad, so I love the idea of never knowing who’s gonna be at your show, or what new artists you’re going to discover. London is obviously a much bigger scene, so there’s more opportunity to play a variety of venues which all create different experiences.
You attended The BRIT School when moving to London, so what key learnings did you take away from there and how has it helped you to establish yourself as an artist? The most important thing I learnt there was to work hard. They really encouraged hard work and showed us how vital it is to maintain a career, which definitely shows in their students and alumni. They also taught the value of networking and staying in touch with the musicians around you. I remember when I was 16 and the teachers would say that “in 5 years time, these people in your class are who you’ll be reaching out to for work”. It was hard to imagine at the time, as we all seemed so young, but it became so true! I still keep in touch with BRIT and my old classmates now - it’s amazing seeing what everyone has achieved.
With existing support from the likes of Jamz Supernova on BBC Radio 1Xtra, Music Republic Magazine, Shaun Keaveny on BBC Radio 6 Music, and BBC Introducing - how does it feel to acquire coverage from such significant brands?
Pretty crazy! As an independent artist, I was excited when I got my first 1,000 streams, let alone if I knew I’d have my music played on national radio. Jamz Supernova gave me my first ever radio play on 1Xtra, which was so encouraging for my first single. The BBC Radio 1 play from Huw Stephens was a big one for me, that was a real bucket list moment and made me realise that an independent artist can still be recognised, despite being against the odds at times.
You’ve worked with artist edbl on tracks ‘Symmetry’ and ‘Table for Two’, so how was that experience for you and what are your thoughts generally on the collaborative process? Working with Ed has been great! We wrote ‘Table for Two’ together in his flat when his edbl project was brand new, so we had absolutely no expectations, which I think is the best mindset to have. I love the collaborative process; we both listen to similar music and we’ve really learnt how each other writes, which has made it so easy to work together. He released ‘Table for Two’ as his first single, and ‘Symmetry’ on this most recent mixtape, and the collaboration has now got over half a million streams. Off the back of that, I’ve even had people from Germany and Japan buy my merchandise which BLOWS MY MIND.
What projects and performances does the future have in store for you? Well… as far as live is concerned, I wish I knew! I’d love to perform as soon as it’s socially safe to do so, but I’ve used this time to do live streams from home for the first time, which was more fun than I’d expected! In terms of projects, I have a few things lined up which are my favourites to date. Let’s say, keep an eye out for something special in the New Year!
Finally, what does the word ‘groove’ mean to you? Groove to me is a feeling… head bobbing, foot tapping, pulling that weird face of approval without even realising. If I could sum it up in one of my experiences, it would be seeing Tom Misch live, front row at Printworks.