Becky Hill is no longer ‘scared of sex’ since coming out: ‘My relationship with myself has changed’
British dance royalty Becky Hill has spent the past few months thrilling crowds at festivals and shows worldwide. Just recently, she’s been to Norway and Sweden, followed by Glasgow, Ibiza and a brief trip to the US.
It’s fitting, then, that the evening we meet, the “Remember” hit-maker is absolutely knackered and thoroughly jet-lagged.
We’re chatting in her hotel room at the Canopy by Hilton London City hotel and her two-year-old dog, Pig, is darting across the floor with a squeaky toy chicken in his mouth.
Hill is here for an hour-long set as part of Hilton’s Secret Socials gig series, which allows Hilton members who’ve acquired points through the Hilton Honors platform to see a music superstar perform in an intimate setting. Their identity is hidden from the audience until they walk out on stage, and the singer is nervous at the prospect.
“I always get the feeling that I’m going to come out and nobody knows me and they’re gonna be like, ‘Who the f**k is she?'”
It’s unlikely, considering that Hill’s voice has become one of the most ubiquitous in the British music industry over the past decade. After reaching the semi-finals of BBC’s The Voice in 2012, aged just 17, she scored a top 10 single with the Wilkinson collaboration, “Afterglow”.
Since then, she’s bagged a UK Number One and 18 top 40 hits. Her current single, “Disconnect”, with Chase & Status, has just spent its third week in the UK top 10.
She’s permeated Britain’s clubs, and, despite her ingratiating attempts at modesty, she knows it. “There are definitely places [where] I can get away from my own voice,” she declares. “You’ve just got to just find the more underground raves.”
For the best part of her career, Hill was known primarily for collaborations with an impressive roster of modern dance behemoths. In addition to Chase & Status, she’s worked with David Guetta, Tiësto and Sigala. It’s only really in the past two years, and after 11 “very long, hard years of work,” that Becky Hill has become an artist in her own right.
Also in 2022, she won her first BRIT Award, in the newly revived Best British Dance Act category. Then, earlier this year, she did it again (“So f**king cool,” she utters, still in disbelief six months on).
Amid her overwhelmed thank-yous, Hill took a moment in her speech to shout out to LGBTQ+ people for their role in forming dance music. “We all have the queer community to thank for the best genre on Earth,” she said, to cheers from the audience.
“I learned that people were burning disco records in baseball stadiums in Detroit and Chicago,” she says of the Disco Demolition Night in 1979, where primarily white rock fans destroyed albums because of fears that the genre – which the media had underlined was rooted in Black, queer culture – was taking over.
“It was because of the sub-culture of Black queer people that disco was what it was,” Hill says, crediting the likes of Frankie Knuckles, Jamie Principle and Candi Staton. “Essentially, disco led all the way to the electronic music we hear today.”
Hill has a solid reason to care about queer people getting the respect they deserve in the music industry. In 2021, via social media, she revealed she felt “uncomfortable” referring to herself as straight, and that “queer” felt like the most fitting identity for her. Since then, she’s begun using she/they pronouns.
It’s a topic she’s been open about in the two years since, talking about her experience of going to an all-girls sex party to explore her sexuality and saying she felt like an imposter in the community because she’s engaged to long-term boyfriend Charlie Gardner.
Today though, she speaks with the confidence of someone who has spent time interrogating her relationship to queerness, and who now understands why she felt the need to come out.
“There are a lot of women out there who would have sex with other women and would talk about it openly to a man, and with the idea that it’s being over-sexualised, but wouldn’t identify as queer because that’s a little bit too far for them,” she says.
“For me, it was really important that I identified as queer and it wasn’t just for the male gaze, it was for my own self-worth.”
Queerness, she rightly says, “can look like a lot of different things to a lot of different people”. The fact that she’s been with a man for the past seven years wasn’t a “heterosexual decision”, it just happened, and it doesn’t detract from her sexuality.
“I found it quite refreshing to feel I could be in a heterosexual relationship, and still prove to men that I’m not just trying to f**k girls because it’s cool to certain men,” she goes on.
Gardner has been supportive of her, and “encouraged” her to live her “most authentic” life. But, despite speaking about her identity with conviction, she’s quick to assert that she’ll “probably be unsure” about where she sits within queerness for the rest of her life.
“I don’t think I’ll ever find out, because I’m getting married to my partner and [we] have an incredibly happy life and relationship,” she says.
Queerness, she’s found, is as much about her relationship with herself and her community as it is about physical intimacy.
During live performances, she’s found herself becoming more “flamboyant and daring sexually”, while she’s often joined on stage by an entourage of drag kings and queens. During her Secret Socials gig, drag stars Rileasa Slaves and Jodie Harsh were on the DJ decks.
“I definitely feel like my relationship with myself has changed,” says Hill. “Historically, I’ve always been incredibly scared of sex, whether that be with a man or a woman or anything in between. Sex has been incredibly frightening for me. So, now it is very empowering to feel sexy and have prowess, without being fearful of it.”
Pride festivals have also become a home for Hill. She’s performed at some of the biggest ones in the UK: London, Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham. “The gays love a strong woman, and the gays love to party,” she smiles, but Hill is more invested in the political side of Pride.
“It feels like you’re being a part of the protest… being able to provide some entertainment for people who have spent all day walking streets and demanding trans and gay rights.”
She sounds incredulous when she mentions a recent assault outside the Two Brewers queer bar in Clapham, South London, in which two gay men were stabbed. “A lot of people out there think it’s all OK, and it really isn’t.”
With festival season coming to a close, Hill is looking ahead to new music. Her second album is due out next year, and she’s planning on doubling down on her dance roots, making the “deeper, progressive stuff” that she listened to as a child – through the door while her brother played it in his bedroom.
“I kind of figured out that I was a little bit too candyfloss pop music,” she says. She’s keen to get back in with the “weirdest people” who were making dance tracks when she was growing up.
“Somewhere along the way, that drum and bass got far too hetty. House music was all about doing silly little dances on TikTok,” she says.
“It’s really nice to start seeing the queers taking over again.”
Becky Hill performed at the exclusive Hilton Secret Socials event, which offers money-can’t-buy experiences for Hilton Honors members here.
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