Medway has given the UK a few cultural diamonds in the rough, Billy Childish, Adele songwriter Kid Harpoon and Drag Race contestants among them. Now there’s a new young upstart from Chatham putting Kent back on the musical map: 22-year-old Erin Doyle, AKA Venbee. Her delicate voice opens one of the most omnipresent dance tunes of the past year with the remarkable line: “I heard Jesus did cocaine on a night out.” A collaboration with rising drum’n’bass producer Goddard, Messy in Heaven has spent 19 weeks in the UK charts. It’s a key tune in D&B’s current renaissance, with newcomers such as Nia Archives nominated at the 2023 Brit awards.
And yet, Venbee’s vocals skew towards bedroom pop: intimate, melancholy – a world away from the Ella Eyres and Rita Oras who belted out the D&B hits of the 2010s. Messy in Heaven’s woi-oi attitude is catnip for Gen Z, although there’s more to Venbee than cheeky charm. On TikTok – where she first went viral with the 2022 track Low Down – she talks about having down days and struggling with ADHD. Next single Gutter is another reality check, as she details being a teenage tearaway with Kae Tempest-style lyrical rawness. But she can laugh at herself too: her forthcoming tour promises songs that wittily send up being a “one-hit wonder on the radio”. Here’s hoping she proves herself wrong.
Venbee tours from 23 February. Her new single, Gutter, will be released in March