It’s been an amazing year for Scottish music, and none more so, than Becky Sikasa. We caught up with the BBC Introducing Rising Star to talk about finding rest, her influences, community and full hearts. With some beaut nominations under her belt already, and some awesome headline gigs underway, IYS had to find out what Becky has loved the most about 2023 and what is still to come for the singer-songwriter in the New Year.
Tell us about your 2023 experience and how do you feel about what you've achieved so far?
2023 started off a bit tricky as I was excited to start recording a bunch of songs but kept falling ill, losing my voice. I got so many wonderful opportunities, invited to play at all the major showcase festivals I could’ve dreamt of playing - got to play in Brighton, Hamburg, Vienna and loads more places. That however meant that I couldn’t quite rest the way I was supposed to in order to get properly well again. It all worked out eventually, and the releases I’ve had this year have been met with so much support and love and connection that my heart is full, and it was a hundred percent worth the struggle.
What first got you into music and who were your early musical inspirations; anyone you listened to while growing up or were there any artists throughout your life that you heard and felt, ‘I want to make music like them!’?
For sure! Definitely too many to list them all but big childhood heroes for me were Lauryn Hill, Regina Spektor, Mariah Carey, D’Angelo, Stacie Orrico, Corinne Bailey Rae, Feist but then also Lianne La Havas, Bon Iver, Hiatus Kaiyote, Solange, KT Tunstall, Justin Timberlake, Kimbra...ha-ha! The list goes on, but I’ll stop for now.
What has been the most amazing experience for you in music and what are you most looking forward to in 2024?
Think one of my favourite moments recently has been performing my song ‘Wait Up’ live for the first time with my band at our Edinburgh headline. That feeling of something you made up in your mind coming to life like that is just unreal.
What were the most challenging things you encountered at the beginning of your career and what would you count as the important breaks?
I think one of the most challenging things when you first start a project is trusting that your art is already enough even though no one’s heard it yet and it doesn’t yet have any outside stamps of approval that you may be looking for to sort of make it a ‘real thing’.
Can you describe how you compose your songs, and explain a bit about your process?
There isn’t really one way but usually the first bit, the first line, the first phrase, the first melody just sorta jumps out at me randomly. Might be in the middle of the night, actually quite frequently is in the middle of the night ha-ha! (my poor neighbours). I don’t usually have an idea to write about a topic and then go at it, it’s more of a fluid process, not that much planning or structure to it. Once the bones of the track are clear, I usually take it to David Scobie whose part of my band and has been a close creative partner for the longest time and we just experiment and have fun with production and arrangement until it feels right. Those long-term creative relationships are so important to me. That level of communication and understanding doesn’t just happen overnight.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I’ve actually already started working on some collabs with a couple of incredible artists! I feel like I can’t give it away just yet but am truly buzzing...keep your eyes peeled for that in 2024!
Who are your favourite Scottish bands or artists at the moment, and who should we be paying attention to?
There’s so much good music coming out of Scotland! Russel Stewart, Bemz, Cara Rose, Terra Kin, Vanives, Kitti, Grayling, Theo Bleak, Tamzene.. obviously also some that are pretty well known like Joesef, Young Fathers...again, too much to list all here!!
You’re playing First Footin’ on New Year’s Day in Edinburgh with other acts like Bemz and Grace &The Flat Boys, what’s your New Year resolutions or goals for 2024?
Ooh I never really do New Year’s resolutions but to be honest I’m super lucky to call my band and my visual and creative team my best pals and we’ve sort of just been having the best time working away together. So ,I kinda just hope we get to do even more of it next year?!
Buzzing to start the year off with a wee solo gig as part of this amazing line up! Hopefully get some people excited to come along to my Celtic Connections show which will be my biggest headline yet, at St Luke’s.
Your music speaks such truth and comes from a place that allows people to feel okay with vulnerability, tell us about your EP ‘Twelve Wooden Boxes’, and how your tour has been so far?
That EP is probably always going to hold a special place in my heart; not just because it’s my debut but also because of what it’s about. Twelve Wooden Boxes is the house I grew up in as a kid. One of my earliest and most vivid memories is picking dozens of flowers in in the big meadow behind the house, my mum tying them into cute arrangements, and me and my siblings sitting on these tiny plastic chairs, selling them to people passing by. We were so proud of our wee business! There was something magical about that home and it burnt down a few years later. Twelve Wooden Boxes is about feeling a bit lost in the world, searching for belonging and identity, the first earth shattering heart break, and ultimately, love.
Your big Glasgow show is taking place on the 28th of January at Saint Luke’s, how do Glasgow crowds compare to other audiences?
Glasgow’s live music scene is something else, people are so supportive and so up for a good time - cannot wait for that show! We are bringing lots of beautiful feature guests that are not going to be at any of the other shows of the tour! Plus, I’ve invited Vanives as support, who are not just one of my favourite Scottish bands, but also good friends of mine. We’re gonna have a good time!
What would you tell young people who are building towards songwriting, and what advice would you give to them on finding their identity as an artist?
Don’t feel disheartened too easily, keep at it.
Don’t be afraid to ask other artists you like for help, maybe co-write with friends.
And most importantly try not to take it and yourself too seriously and remember to enjoy yourself in the process.
Don’t miss the chance to see Becky Sikasa live at St Lukes on 28th of January as part of Celtic Connections – get your tickets here!
You can also catch Becky the other side of 2023 at First Footin’: Edinnburgh’s Hogmanay Events