zero experience

zero experience

venbee describes her drum ’n’ bass-powered sound as “sad songs over dirty beats.” For the singer-songwriter born Erin Doyle, music is an outlet for her deepest and most destructive thoughts. “I really struggle with opening up and telling people what’s bothering me, which can be low-key detrimental to myself,” she tells Apple Music. “But when I write a song, that’s where I let it all out. My mum says that if she listens to a song [of mine], she can understand what’s going on in my head.” venbee grew up in a musical family in Chatham, Kent [southeast of London]. Inspired by watching her grandfather play piano in church, she was “always bashing around on instruments” and started writing songs when she was just eight. A career in music felt like “just a dream” until 2022, when she posted her song “low down” on TikTok, which took off “almost overnight.” She says she “fully expected” her follow-up single “messy in heaven” to be a flop because of its heavier subject matter of drugs and addiction. It was, of course, no such thing, and in April 2023, venbee received an Ivor Novello Rising Star Award nomination. On venbee’s debut mixtape, zero experience, she sings affectingly about her hometown, mental health, grief, and an eating disorder. Though it includes collaborations with her drum ’n’ bass heroes Rudimental and Chase & Status—a reflection of venbee’s swelling reputation—the project’s title is self-deprecating. “When you get to 16, there’s this pressure to know what you want from life,” she explains. “But actually, none of us knows anything up until the day we die. That’s the reason I called it zero experience because I genuinely have no idea what I’m doing.” Read on as venbee supplies a track-by-track guide to her deeply personal mixtape. “rampage” (feat. DJ SS) “After I wrote this song, I sent it to Chase & Status. They were so down to produce it, which is such an honor for me because I’m a big fan. It’s a heavy drum ’n’ bass tune, which I haven’t really done before, so Chase & Status helped me to do that [sonically]. When I perform it live, there are mosh pits everywhere!” “messy in heaven” (with goddard.) “The lyric ‘I heard Jesus did cocaine on a night out’ is based on a dream. One of my friends was struggling with addiction at the time, and I was raised with a faithful background, so the metaphor to me felt fitting. [That lyric] did for sure ruffle a few feathers, but I’m basically saying that great people can fall down a difficult lane. I’m really trying to remove the stigma [that surrounds] addicts because they’re not terrible people. They’ve all got their own story.” “low down” (with Dan Fable) “I’d come across a diary [from] when I was 16, and clearly I wasn’t feeling well. That’s where I got the inspiration for the line: ‘I’ve been on a low down, lowkey for a while now.’ I’d written the chorus and some of the verses at midnight in my bedroom, and then the next day I had a call with Dan [Fable] and we co-wrote the rest of the song. When I put it on TikTok, I only had the chorus recorded, but it just blew up straightaway! So we all went into panic mode to finish the song and get it out.” “ME4 (council estate)” (feat. Shakes) “I wanted to write a song about Chatham, my hometown, because I don’t think enough positive light is shed on it. It’s really important for me to keep my roots and remember where I come from. Chatham isn’t the richest place and people do struggle here [financially] because job opportunities are low. But the people are good: If someone was in need, another person would help them out. It’s a rough area, but full of love.” “gutter” “This one’s just my life story. Growing up, I got myself into some sticky situations, whether that [was] hanging around with the wrong people, getting myself into trouble, or just my own mental health. This song is a timeline of my life [from then] to where I am now. I genuinely shouldn’t be alive right now—and there are certain things [relating to that] that I will disclose when I’m ready. But I also feel like this song is a positive vessel, because I didn’t die. I’m still here, and I’m all right.” “POV” “I start my songs on acoustic guitar because that’s what feels like home to me, and I think you can hear that here. It’s a song about [those times] when someone can’t see your point of view, whether in a friendship, a loving relationship, or a family relationship. It’s essentially about a dysfunctional relationship [where the people have] been through a lot.” “mona lisa” “I was at a writing camp and saw this painting, which made something click in my head. There have already been thousands of songs called ‘Mona Lisa’, but I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before. This song is basically asking, ‘What would Mona Lisa be like if she was still here? Would she go through the same things as I went through?’ It is somewhat [touching] on beauty standards and society’s idea of what a woman should be, but it’s basically me having an internal conversation with Mona Lisa.” “If Love Could Have Saved You” (with Hybrid Minds) “I wrote this with [songwriters] Charlotte Haining and Ollie Green; it’s a tribute to Charlotte’s stepbrother. It’s touching on the subject of mental health and it was important to Charlotte that it was a drum ’n’ bass [record] because that was [her stepbrother’s] favorite genre. So we took the track to [production duo] Hybrid Minds and they dealt with it so delicately and gracefully. We’ve partnered with the mental health charity Joe’s Buddy [Line] so the meaning of the song is tied to something that’s making a change. It’s a song about grief, but also [to provide] comfort for anyone struggling with mental health and families who have lost loved ones.” “ana” “This song is about anorexia, which I went through as a teenager. I’m still in recovery. I actually started writing it as a heartbreak anthem, but it didn’t feel honest because at the time I wasn’t going through heartbreak. So I [rewrote] it as a letter to anorexia because it was important for me to get those words out so I can let go of another piece of my eating disorder. I hope that people who are going through something similar will understand and find comfort in it.” “die young” (with Rudimental) “I wrote the chorus on my guitar in my bedroom, and then I finished the song with my friend Nick [Gale]. Me and my team were thinking, ‘What can we do to make this song special?’ So we sent it over to Rudimental, which was very ballsy of me, and they made the track something really cool. It was basically a slide-into-the-DMs kind of vibe that really paid off.”

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