When people talk about the BRIT School they inevitably mention its illustrious alumni: Adele, Amy Winehouse, Imogen Heap and Ella Eyre all studied at the South London performing arts college. And one name that may soon be added to the list of graduates who made it big is Tilly Valentine.
Valentine is an electronic artist heavily influenced by jazz and R’n’B. After honing her sound at the BRIT School and the Academy of Contemporary Music, she’s ready to make her mark as an artist with a series of music releases this year.
First up is Coins, a poetic, tongue-in-cheek tune that’s won support from BBC Introducing and Radio 1 Extra.
Valentine wrote the song a few years back, after moving from an Oxfordshire village to London to study at the BRIT School. She was just 16 and living alone for the first time.
“It was a big move and it made me grow up fast,” she says. “Thankfully my parents were really supportive. I think I was more nervous than they were.”
Valentine loved every minute of her time at the school: “I was worried it might be competitive and intimidating but it wasn’t, everyone was really supportive.”
While studying there she forged a close working relationship with German producer Mattis. They worked together online for years before meeting face to face this year to mix Coins.
The track has a minimalist trip hop vibe, a far cry from Valentine’s early music. “I used to do a lot of acoustic singing, but I’ve moved away from that. It wasn’t quite me. You have to be willing to try different things and experiment and that’s what I’ve done over the past few years.
“Lyrically I’m inspired by Amy Winehouse and early Lily Allen, sonically by Tom Misch and Moonchild and vocally by Lianne La Havas.”
Even though Valentine doesn’t see herself as a jazz singer, she’s a member of National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) and recognises the huge influence of the genre on her music.
“I got into jazz when I was 16. At the start I taught myself, but I wanted to learn more as I thought it would help me with my own music. The NYJO academy has taught me so much. It’s good to push your knowledge and take what you’ve learnt from one genre and use it in another.”