It is hard to pin Becky Sikasa down to just one of her talents. The musician, singer, producer, instrumentalist and lyricist knows how to use them all. Somewhere between singer-songwriter and neo-soul, the multi-faceted artist has recently released her latest single Work of Love. What starts with a few distorted guitar chords slowly builds into a full band experience. Her truly soulful voice has the same soothing energy as a heavy summer rain. The song carries you with ease, yet touches on one of the most complex topics known to humankind: Love. We all know how intricate and weird love can be, yet it strikes me once again when someone is able to put something that feels so personal into such poignant words. 

“When I wrote that song, I had just come out of my first relationship and my heart was broken and shattered into 1000 pieces and it felt like I’d had this kind of naive belief in love. It was shaped by these ideas that I’d seen in movies and in TV shows, books and art in general and in music as well, where everything is about finding that person that you should be with, or that you want to be with. But they don’t show you the bit after where it gets hard and you have to actually work on love and like it’s complicated.”, she tells me in a recent Zoom call. 

The Art of Loving

Becky Sikasa clearly puts a lot of thought and effort into the narratives of her songs. Lyrics are the centrepiece that mark the start of her songwriting process and in case of Work of Love are paramount in the music video. In this song, she candidly expresses the aftermath of her first heartbreak and the disillusionment she felt after realising that love isn’t always happy ever after. While Becky approaches songwriting as a deeply personal and introspective process, she is now experimenting with incorporating philosophy, art, and other writers’ perspectives. For example, Work of Love was shaped by her reading of The Art of Loving by German philosopher Erich Fromm. 

But for Becky, the creative process certainly doesn’t stop there, as she is fully involved in the entire production process. Coming out of a project where her partner handled the production side of things, she began her solo project with the feeling that she wanted to be in charge from start to finish: “I thought, OK, I really need to figure out how to do this myself. From there, the first demos and things I created, I just did everything myself because it felt like I had to. It felt like it had to be part of the process, right? To kind of prove to myself that this stuff isn’t actually as hard as you make it out to be. You can do it.” Now she is working again with people she trusts and who share similar visions. But her understanding of the whole process can only be beneficial in communicating her ideas and shaping the outcome.

A Home Away from Home

Photo by Susan Mcfadzean

Music has always been an integral part of Becky’s life. Her mother playing the piano, making music with her siblings and “probably some terrible 90s music” are some of her earliest memories. Making music together was, and still is, a big part of her family’s bond. But growing up in Germany, particularly Bavaria, it felt inevitable to leave the country at some point. Fascinated by the UK music scene, Becky wanted to cross the pond. In the end, it was a rather practical reason that brought her to Edinburgh: free University.

“It was actually such a good decision, I just immediately felt at home there and the people are just special and welcoming. And the music industry is so interesting and so fun. It was so different from everything I’d known before when I was growing up. I grew up in Bavaria in a small town. There was not a lot going on musically. Then going to Edinburgh, it was like wherever I looked there was live music.”

With projects popping up in Germany, she now floats between Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cologne and London, taking full advantage of the scenes and connections in all these places. When asked about the differences between the music industries in the two countries, she found it hard to compare, but feels that it is easier to start out as a musician in the UK as there are more opportunities, especially grassroot venues. “In Germany it can seem harder to break into the industry, harder to get started. How do you even do that if you don’t know the right people? Whereas in the UK it sometimes feels a bit more like anyone can just try something and be a part of it”. 

Becky mentioned a project she started in her early days in Edinburgh, where she decided to play a different venue every night for a month, which not only shows her ambition and dedication, but also the sheer opportunity for live gigging that the city offers. For the then unknown artist, it certainly helped to connect with the local scene, gain performance experience and further her musical journey. A glance at her now busy schedule, playing renowned venues across the UK and beyond, proves that it has paid off.

Beyond the Surface

That doesn’t mean it has been all plain sailing. As a Woman of Colour, Becky has certainly experienced barriers along the way. “It felt like there was 0 representation. When I first started in the Scottish music industry, it was actually the same as the one that I saw growing up in Germany. It felt like everyone was a white man, and there was still a big focus on rock music only. People were actively telling me, I feel like with that souly type of music that you’re making, I think you should move to London, I think you’re not in the right place here.”  Looking back now, she is more aware than ever that she had to break through the structures of pal culture and make space for herself. And I have to admit, when I first heard Becky Sikasa‘s music, my immediate associations were Cleo Sol, Joy Crookes, Olivia Dean, London. But as with any artist, digging deeper into Becky’s work reveals the nuances that make her special and impossible to pigeonhole. 

“When I first started this project I was really scared to release something. I was afraid that the moment I release some music, people are gonna put me in a box, and then there’s no way out of there and you’re going to have to stick to that forever. Like you have to find your perfect sound before you even start releasing. And then I started releasing music and I realised no, that’s not at all the case. People don’t care!”

Thriving on Connection 

Becky reflects that, at the time, these barriers felt somewhat normal, but as her awareness grew, she recognised the systemic obstacles that existed. However, she also notes that positive changes are underway. She has been involved in programmes such as PRS Foundation’s POWER UP, a UK development initiative that supports Black creatives in the music industry and provides a platform for both artists and industry professionals. She also stresses the importance of networks such as musicNRWwomen* in Germany, which foster a sense of belonging and solidarity among women in the industry, helping to combat the isolation that can come from facing common challenges and barriers: “Things like that really help you feel more welcome in an industry that sometimes doesn’t look like you.”

Becky’s musical journey has been shaped by connections to these networks, her creative collaborators and last but not least her audience: “There’s never been a time where I did music where I didn’t also play music live except for maybe the pandemic. It’s always been such a big part of me and part of my process as well of understanding my writing and of growing my writing from there as well.“ And looking ahead, Becky’s plans are brimming with energy. She is gearing up for upcoming showcase festivals including the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg and Waves Vienna. Beyond festivals, she’s set to headline her own shows across the UK, with German dates soon to be announced. And topping it all off, she’s eagerly anticipating sharing her new music with the world.

Work of Love is out now. You can listen to it on Bandcamp and stay up to date with Becky Sikasa by following her on Instagram or signing up to her newsletter

Every few weeks, the NBHAP staff brings an exciting new artist to your attention alongside a 30-track-strong Introducing Playlist on Spotify. Feel invited to follow the playlist and give these talents a spin. Sign up for our Newsletter to receive monthly updates about new music.

This week, we curated the playlist featuring Becky Sikasa. Along with tracks from her new album, this week’s update includes Mulay, Grace Carter, Olivia Dean, and more. Tune in below.