Rebecca Winter has been making waves in the Afro-fusion genre since 2015, earning rave reviews and support from the scene. This has led to her supporting big names like Davido and Tiwa Savage, allowing her to take her music to bigger venues.
After a fairly quiet 2022, Rebecca Winter is back with ‘Me First,’ her first original material since 2021, which takes things in a more personal direction. We chatted over Zoom on a Monday evening as she finished moisturising her face. Here we discussed the more personal nature of her new music, her musical journey, and of course her love of Beyoncé. 2023 is set to be a big year for Rebecca Winter, so let’s delve into the interview…
‘Me First‘ is your first release in a while. What differences can fans expect from this track and further new releases?
I would say a little bit more of a personal touch. Growing up, I have always decided to emulate my role models such as Beyoncé and Michael Jackson, and wrote music based on how they made me feel, which is a bit weird. But, as my inspirations, I took a lot from them. Now, I have just decided to make it myself. I am the type of person who is very vulnerable with my music, but I don’t put out the vulnerable music. I always kept it to the side.
But this year is all about showing me in all dimensions. Even if I am going through heartbreak, I’m still a bad b***h, even if I am asking a guy to date me, I am still a bad b***h. I’m showing myself in all elements, but still being me. Definitely just more of a personal touch; people are going to feel the emotions in my music this year.
What has made you decide to open up and release that side of your music? Has something happened to make you feel like that or is it just a natural progression of things?
To be honest, I always make this type of music, but I never put it out. After recording this one (Me First), I decided to show it to Ola, who is my manager and also my sister. I was like what do you think of this song? She was like ‘this is a banger’ and I was like really? I was like I have so many songs like this and she was like ‘no, this song needs to be your next release.’ And I was like uh? I was so confused because I wrote the song in 20 minutes and I tend to throw songs like that to the side, and she was like ‘no it needs to come out.’
Then I played it to a few other people and they were like ‘this song is crazy.’ When I recorded it, the producer was like ‘this song is mad.’ I was like damn, maybe I don’t need to do too much. Then it just made me not overthink my journey too much and go back to the songs that I felt more and put that as part of my rollout plan.
That’s good that you are making music that you feel is more you. Sometimes you need someone in your life to give you that little extra push to put stuff out there when you don’t feel like doing it yourself. I’m sure people will notice that it’s more personal and gravitate more toward it.
Yeah definitely. I am excited for that actually.
You spoke about your idols in music. What would you say are the main influences for your musical direction in your career?
Number 1 would be Beyoncé. I think that’s for everybody. She literally is one of the reasons I make music. Her music made me want to put on my mum’s heels and dance in front of the mirror. So, in terms of (the) feel-good aspect, Beyoncé is one. In terms of the Afro aspect, it’s a mix between Burna Boy and Tiwa Savage; both of whom I have gone on tour with. With Burna Boy I love his musicality, he’s not trying to be anybody else but himself. I love the expression through his music. He’s a g, but he can be talking about love and you’ll be like ‘yeah you know what, put your lighters in the air type s**t.’ I like the fact that he has remained the same, but never lost his roots.
As far as Tiwa, Tiwa is an all-around bad b***h, let us not lie. She is number 1, one of one. I recently opened for her at her London show and I was just able to connect with her as a person. One of the things she said to me was ‘we just got to keep going, we can’t stop.’ And I was looking at her like you can’t stop, what do you mean? How are we going to catch up? I can definitely relate to Tiwa. Being in a male-dominated industry, especially the Afro industry, it’s tough. But, her drive, her passion, her fierceness, and her zeal (are) what I emulate. Those three for sure, are a bit of me.
That’s fair. I talk to a lot of people and a lot of them say Beyoncé, so I understand that. With the other two as well, I can see what you’re saying. I imagine it was a big thing to support them and get to speak to them.
As you said, when you are in a male-dominated industry, you need other women to show A-you can do it, and B-to talk to, to chat to about things with.
100%. It makes it feel more attainable.
You’ve spoken there about a few of the acts you have supported. You have also supported Davido. How has supporting these well-known artists influenced the way you perform live?
So, I am a perfectionist first of all. Before I went on tour with Davido in 2018 or 2019, I worked my bum off. I was like ok, I need to run and sing for an hour, I need to do this and I need to do that. Beyoncé being the G.O.A.T for me, it’s made me feel like I have to be doing everything I can to make sure the performance is amazing.
I’ll say more than anything, performing live with these people and opening for them, made me feel like I deserve to be there. It was weird; I didn’t feel out of place. Watching them perform if anything, made me feel like I was on the right path. I’ve never felt like I have belonged so much. After performing with them, It solidified that I am on the right journey, I’m doing what I love, and I am doing what I am good at, as well.
The one thing that I did learn from them performing is to remember to have fun. I’m such a perfectionist that I’ll master every move and try to master every vocal and every turn. But, the fun aspect is priceless, so I need to ensure that I am enjoying the moment as well because it comes through. So that’s the main thing, making sure I have fun or that it looks like I am having fun because I am having fun. (laughs)
If you could back in time to one concert, who would you go to see and where?
That is tough. If it was one I had not attended, it would have to be Coachella – Beyoncé’s performance there. For me, that was ridiculous, she outdid herself. She does this every time anyway, but she really did outdo herself that time. The production, the dance, the sound, the live instruments, and the amount of people performing; it was a show of a lifetime. Although I have seen Beyoncé 6 or 7 times live, that performance was crazy not just because it looked amazing and sounded amazing but because (of) her journey to that point. She had only recently had a child before then, she did crazy diets before it, and she dropped so much weight for it. The amount of hard work she had to do was ridiculous. That I would have loved to witness. I think I would have been crying the whole time to be fair. (laughs)
I’ve not seen the performance, but I have listened to the live album for that (show). Even as someone who is not a huge Beyoncé fan can see why that was such a big performance and why so many people enjoyed it. I think you can see from the recent thing with Beyoncé tickets over here, that so many people want to see her and there is that demand there.
Exactly. Those fake Beyoncé supporters are coming strong, but it’s ok. We’re here, we are loyal; we got our tickets, it’s good.
What would you say is the moment in your career where you said to yourself ‘ok this music thing is going to work out for me?’
That’s a good question. I think it was after the Burna Boy tour in 2019. My head was spinning when I got the call to say I’m on the tour. I remember performing in Manchester and my outfit was kind of falling apart. I was holding the back of it as I was getting on stage and I was like I’m just going to dance through this, it’s fine, hopefully my t***y doesn’t fall out but if it do we move.
As soon as I got on stage the crowd was electric, the reception was mad and I was like ok, I haven’t even done anything yet, but let’s go. The energy that they gave me throughout that performance in every single minute, even when I stopped to catch my breath was crazy. And, I was like you know what, this feeling is unmatched. I couldn’t buy this feeling, this is an experience of a lifetime and I want to do this again and again. Performance is my favourite aspect of the whole musical process if I have to be honest. At that point, after getting lots of amazing feedback, I was like yeah this is it, this is what I’m going to do, no matter what happens I am going to see it through. At that point, I was like this is it, no turning back.
That sounds like a big moment. I imagine being in front of all those people and seeing people reacting to your music in a positive way, potentially singing along as well, you’re going to be like ‘ok, I am here now.’ And of course, I assume nothing went wrong that you thought was going to go wrong either, so that is good as well.
Luckily it held up, till I got off.
What would you say has changed about you as an artist the most since you started releasing music?
I would say my self-belief. I always believed in myself, but I started to doubt myself after a while, with regard to writing, musicality, and with regards to my vocals. But now, honestly, I believe I’m one of the greatest. That is not just because things have changed a lot. It’s because 1- I work on my craft a lot and 2- when you allow yourself to be comfortable in something, you get the best results. Now that I feel more confident in my art, I feel like I can play with it more.
With the last song, I did it in 20 minutes because I was in the zone. I will say I feel more at one with the art, rather than me versus the art if that makes sense. That’s what has changed and it is very telling, I feel people are believing my story more now.
Who is an artist you would like to collaborate with who would take your sound in a new direction?
This is random and I don’t know why but I love T-Pain. I’m obsessed with his hooks and his ability to make these melodies. I feel it would go really well with the Afro sound. It would have to be a very heavy, fast afrobeat but I feel if we had a nice, little summer vibe I think he could do a little thing on it. In terms of breaking a new sound, T-Pain is a random feature, but we could do something sick.
I feel like that could work. T-Pain has his own thing going on. You might have to vary the sound up a bit, but I think it could work. You could fit that vibe.
Just a more chilled vibe. Even ‘I’m Sprung‘ if you think about it with all his autotune, I could hear that with an Afro remix vibe. I see it.
Definitely and hey it may happen.
What are the artists in your rotation at the moment?
Coco Jones, love Coco Jones, (she is) an amazing R’n’B artist in America. She is doing this whole brand new vibe as well, but she is just so refreshing. I love her music, I love her sound and she is stunning. Burna Boy forever. I’m a Burna fan, love Burna Boy. Love Tiwa Savage, bad b***h, period. She is definitely in rotation for me. My good sis Oh So Cheryll is in rotation. I have got all her exclusive music, I am always playing it. Weirdly enough, Giggs. I am low-key a roadman. (laughs) Love a bit of Giggs. When I’m in my moods, I am here to listen to his whole album.
Good selection of artists there. All fit different types of moods.
I didn’t think I needed to say Beyoncé because I thought that was obvious.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming artists?
Number 1: believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody can. It’s very much a no industry, so expect a lot more no’s than yes’. And aim to change people’s minds. If you don’t feel like you are strong enough to change someone’s mind then it (your music) probably isn’t good enough. Also, consistency is key. It’s all good dropping one song, but if you don’t have a follow-up then (you’re) going to end up having gaps in your music, and on the come-up, you need to be consistent. Obviously, have good quality.
And your sound is your sound. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should sound like, that needs to be down to you. Allow people to support you and help you with like the technicalities of things. But in terms of your sound, explore who you are before you try to become someone else. Nobody can be you if you make it for being you, does that make sense? My last (piece of) advice would be, always have people who are going to keep you grounded. Have a close-knit of friends or someone you can talk to who you know has your back because this industry has a lot of people who don’t want well for you. Make sure you have people who genuinely want well for you with or without the fame and money. And they got to like your stuff, c’mon. (laughs)
What are your goals for the rest of the year?
Consistency and quality, that is my main goals. I definitely want to be (playing) a few big stages off my tick list. I want to establish more relationships in America, I love the U.S. In terms of Nigeria, I have a good relationship and it is time to expand. So, just expand my sound globally a bit more and tap into the areas that are messing with me. That’s really it.
I feel like being better than yesterday is my goal. I used to say yeah I want to do this and do that, but, honestly, with the music, everything can change in a day. As long as I am making progress, that door with the million grand is going to open. Until then, we might open a door that has 10p in it. You can tell I watch Deal or No Deal. (laughs) I just know everything I am doing is going to open the right door, as long as I keep making progress, that’s what I am on.
Even if it’s a little bit of progress, it’s a sign. It shows you are pushing yourself forward. Expanding your sound to other areas of the globe is always good. I’ve seen a lot of U.K. artists have talked about, for example, they sometimes get more love in America than they do over here. I don’t know if that’s been the case for you, but it is something I have seen.
It has. When I go to America to work, they are more receptive in terms of making music and getting to the next level. I don’t know if it’s the novelty of me not being from there, but they take their music more seriously than the U.K.