Erin Doyle, otherwise known as viral sensation Venbee is an artist who was unavoidable last year. Gaining sudden success through no other than TikTok with her debut single ‘low down’, the Chatham native has been kicking ass since! Bucket hats, oversized tees, and tracksuits, catching up with Venbee was like catching up with someone down at the pub; far from prestige and keeping it 100. Although her life is going a million miles per hour, she’s the breath of fresh air we all needed. Besotted by music from a young age, it was inevitable that she would one day become an artist of her own. From watching her grandfather play piano, to writing poems and eventually hit singles, Venbee’s overnight success is what every up-and-coming artist would dream of.
Following on from her latest hit-smash ‘messy in heaven’ that’s not only gone certified Gold but peaked at number 3 in the chart multiple times as she heads into 2023 as an artist to watch. Clash got the chance to catch up with Venbee talking all things Justin Bieber, going viral, collaborating with ArrDee and more.
Tap in below to see what she had to say.
Take me back to the beginning, what was the young Venbee like growing up?
I was very aloof as a kid! I was very creative; my parents gave me a great childhood and music was the only thing I wanted to do. It was me getting into difficult normal life situations, coming home, and writing a song about it. That was pretty much my life (laughs) up until now and it’s the same to be fair!
I’ve read that you started playing both the piano and guitar after seeing your Grandad play; would you say he was an early influence musically?
Yes! He would play the piano and the guitar was my kinda thing. My aunty played the guitar, but I have never seen someone play the piano like I did my grandad. I grew up around music and definitely followed in his footsteps. He was the first ever influence musically without a doubt!
Fast forward, you’ve grown up a bit more and started discovering your own music. In terms of influence, who did you listen to?
Not going to lie, the first album I bought was Justin Bieber… –
We’ve all been there, I definitely had a poster of him on my wall when I was younger! (laughs)
Literally! ‘Baby’ was my jam! Just so I felt like I did him justice I wrote all the words down on paper, I couldn’t write properly at this point so there were no spaces in between each word and I misspelt everything. It was terrible! (laughs) But, Carole King, Stevie Nicks, The Carpenters, and a load of older stuff I grew up on. But I do remember growing up and listening to a lot of Rihanna and Adele, ‘Disturbia’ was a big one and Adele’s ‘19’ album. I listened to a lot of different genres!
Transitioning from playing those instruments into writing, at which point did you start putting pen to paper and writing your own material?
The writing came before the instruments. I started out with poems; it wasn’t necessarily songs. When I started to learn those instruments, the poems, and raps that I did slowly transitioned into singing. I was terrible at singing! It’s still not that great now, I ain’t no Whitney Houston! I do my best and it seems to work! (laughs)
So, you started releasing music last year and it’s done what any up-and-coming artist would dream of. In between you starting to play around with music in your early years up until now, what have you been doing?
My main goal was to actually become a songwriter, I didn’t have any expectations being an artist. I would just write songs in the hope that someone would want to take them but when I put ‘low down’ on TikTok it just skyrocketed from there. Two years prior to going viral, I was writing for other people and working three jobs at the same time to make it happen. I started to believe in it a little bit more in lockdown, before that I didn’t think it would happen.
What did your parents and family initially think when you told them that you really wanted to take your music career seriously? I know some parents especially can be hesitant because it’s not a very traditional job…
I think because I’ve always spoken about it since I was little, they have always been super supportive. They always say dream big but if it doesn’t work out, make sure you have another route to go down kinda thing. My Dad is so gassed right now! (laughs) I couldn’t ask for a better family or support network around me.
Your track ‘low down’ was the first track to blow – talk me through this track and it blowing up on TikTok. How did you deal with the demand for it?
I had written most of the first verse and chorus at 3am on my guitar in my bedroom. I had come across my old iPhone 4 and because I’m dyslexic I struggle to read and write. I would voice note how feel on a day-to-day basis. I was 16 and felt really low at the time, wrote the song and took it to Dan (Dan Fable) the next day and worked on the song together. I then took it to a producer and directed the way I wanted it to go because he’s from LA, so he doesn’t know too much DnB round there. Dan hadn’t recorded his verse; I hadn’t recorded my first verse. One day, I thought I’m going to tease the chorus on TikTok which was really silly because it went nuts and I had to finish the song very quickly. It was the most stressful week of my life; I was so overwhelmed by it all! (laughs) We put it out and people just took to it!
You’ve then gone on to release ‘messy in heaven’ which again has done insane numbers! Give me a bit of background on this track and where it came from?
The track was written by me and Dan. We had a session and the night before I had a dream that Jesus was down my high street looking to have a very stiff night out. I sat down and said this is going to sound really weird but hear me out. I explained the concept and they loved it. We wanted to make it a metaphor for even the best people can struggle at times. That was my intention, it had nothing to do with religion at all. I’ve seen people I know go down really tough routes with drug addiction and it’s not spoken about that much, so it was important for me to get it out.
ArrDee has jumped on the remix which is amazing! How did this collaboration come about? Did you get in the studio with him or was it all done virtually?
I didn’t know about it! I didn’t know he was going to jump on the song until he was in the studio recording it and my A&R sent me a text saying, “Didn’t want to tell you too soon” with a video of him and I lost it! He had been a fan of the song and wanted to do a verse. For me to have someone with that platform and notoriety to want to work with me is great. I’m still pinching myself about it! This is the thing about putting music out there, you have no idea who is listening to it. Some of my idols could have heard my song and I will never know!
Let’s talk about your brand new single ‘gutter’. Talk me through your approach with both the song and visuals…
I had written most of ‘gutter’ prior to heading into my studio session with WhyJay and Litek. It’s about situations that have happened throughout my life. The song’s a timeline of my trials and tribulations as a young adult and how I’ve overcome them. Because it’s such a personal song I wanted the visuals to feel close to home and be shown in a light-hearted way. The music video was filmed in my hometown, highlighting all that Medway has to offer. I hope my fans like it as much as I do!
All of this sudden success has of course come with a lot more studio sessions and attention from household names including the likes of Rudimental who I’m hearing you’ve been in the studio with. How has it been getting in the studio with people who are known on such a large scale? Have you been learning a lot from them?
Yes! I’ve been in the studio with them a few times. I have learnt not to fan girl! The biggest learning curve for me is realising that everyone in the public eye are just normal people. I get so nervous when I get booked for these sessions because everyone is so talented, and I always get imposter syndrome thinking “Why am I here?”. I always think I need to come with my A-game, sick ideas and I need to prove myself. But when you get there, everyone is calm and super chill. I’m sat thinking “Are you having a laugh? I’ve come with so many ideas here and panicking!” and you’re all so blasé (laughs)
Putting the music aside, what makes you happy? What do you like doing in your spare time?
Watching cartoons makes me happy! I like spending time with my dog and family, seeing my friends and going out. I also like to sleep – if I have a day off, I am not moving from my bed, and if I do it’s only to go for a wee…
What can we expect to see from you in 2023?
Live shows – I have a sold-out tour! Acting like I’m not shitting myself but I totally am. New music is coming, well hopefully anyway otherwise I am a two-hit wonder but that’s better than one I guess.
‘gutter’ will be released on March 17th.
Words: Elle Evans
Photography: Connie Swift
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