Billie Marten started quietly recording songs on YouTube at the age of eight. With no intention to promote herself, she just wanted to make sure her Grandparents, based in France, could hear her voice once in a while. It's funny how these things work out.
At twelve, her cover of Lucy Rose's Middle of the Bed attracted thousands of views, catapulting her to the fame she never asked for. Now seventeen, she's released two acclaimed EPs, fronted the BBC Introducing stage at Reading, and been nominated for a prestigious BBC Sound of 2016 award.
Writing about how the little things can be big things, she pens lyrics about how quickly you can lose yourself in a crowd and the torture of getting badly sunburnt. When we meet, she's just finished her prime spot at Citadel's Communion Stage, where she celebrated the tenth anniversary of the label alongside Matt Corby and Lianne La Havas.
It's boiling, and she's giddy from potential heatstroke and the hugeness of it all. "It's new for me", she laughs, "this support from complete strangers. It's so wonderful, but also feels very silly. I can't quite believe it." With her gorgeous debut album Writing of Blues and Yellows hitting shelves on September 23rd, we suspect she'll need to get used to it.
How are you balancing world domination with your A-levels?
I'll let you know when I get my results in August! The school have been really great, and they've let me do three A-levels instead of four. I'll usually have Monday mornings off, which is ideal as I'm normally coming back from a gig or something. I guess you just have to sit down and do it. Everyone has things juggle in life.
Do you come from a musical family?
Music is probably the thing that binds us all together. My parents and older Brother play instruments, and my Uncle is in a band. We used to play together quite a lot, and from an early age I couldn't wait to join in.
Do you remember the first CD that you bought?
God, no. It was probably in a car boot or something.
Do you still get nervous on stage?
Yes. Have you seen my knees?
Do you have any rituals that help get you in the headspace to perform?
I like to read beforehand. It's important to do something normal amidst the chaos.
How about with writing? Have you always written your own material?
Since I was ten or eleven, yes. I love English Lit, so I used to write tiny poems and little stories and turn them into songs. Sorry, I'm going to have to grab one of those beers and put it on my face. I'm melting!
That looks so good.
Take one, seriously!
What time did you wake up this morning?
My alarm went off at 8.15.
What did you have for breakfast?
A bowl of crunchy nut, and a croissant.
Cats or dogs?
Town or country?
Country. I come from a tiny city (Rippon, in North Yorkshire), with only 10,000 people , so it's basically a town with a token cathedral. I was born in the countryside, though, and am very thankful to have moved back. It's so tranquil and beautiful. I love it.
Who inspires you?
Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush. And John Martyn, who is just the God of all things.
Where do you like to escape to, when things get loud?
Good question. Probably to the rapeseed fields outside my house, although it's the wrong time of year for that at the moment. Or to a little seaside town, because they're the absolute cutest. I've never been, but I'd love to go to Iceland. I want to end up there, hopefully. I'm going to try and befriend Sigur Ros after this. Maybe they can whisk me away.
All images: Lubna Anani
Pre-order Billie's beautiful album here.