Since the release of “BTEC Lily Allen” earlier this year, British singer-songwriter Josie Proto has been on a rocket of success. The track immediately went viral on TikTok, giving her the push and support to release her debut EP Pub Songs: Volume 1.
The EP, just like “BTEC Lily Allen,” grabbed listeners’ attention and admiration for Proto’s clever lyrics and relatability. Most recently, she released “I Bet You You Fall Apart,” a bubbly track about the horror of getting “the ick” with a lively music video to match.
We caught up with Proto to chat about the new single, her start on TikTok and what she has in store for the future.
Okay so let’s just recap really quick: You posted your first TikTok on February 27th and just five days later you posted part one of “BTEC Lily Allen” which went on to not only get over 576,000 views but also was a track featured on your debut EP which was released less than four months after that. Is it safe to say your expectations when you first created your TikTok account were much lower than that?
I honestly put off making a TikTok account for so long! My manager nagged me for about 3 months but I really didn’t think that it was for me. When I first started, I was really only messing about, I hadn’t promoted my account on any of my social medias, I didn’t even tell my boyfriend, I was way too embarrassed. When the video blew up, I think I had 15 followers to begin with, I told my boyfriend at about 5000 views, checked again a few hours later and I had already hit 20k followers. It was absolutely ridiculous, I had had 100k views by the time I went to bed, and my manager did THE BIGGEST ‘I told you so’ I think has ever been executed. It’s been a wild ride since then, working with some incredible people and releasing music that I have been dying to have out since I was 16!
We mentioned your debut EP Pub Songs: Volume 1 which hit #1 on the iTunes Pop Chart and #4 on the UK Albums Chart (congrats, by the way!). What was the first thing that popped in your head when you heard that news?
I remember waking up the day after it had been released and charted in the top 100. I think when I had gone to sleep it was at number 18? It blew my mind that it had even charted in the first place so I had celebrated the day before with my family. We were all joking about how we would celebrate if it reached number one, my mum actually said to me, “Josie I know you’re my daughter and I love you and think you’re very talented, but I honestly don’t know how you’ve charted with that EP”, brutal really! But, when I woke up, my friend has messaged me saying, “you know you’re number one right?”
I was like “NO! I DIDN”T KNOW THAT THANKS” and then cried. A lot. I rang my manager and thanked everyone who had helped in the process, it was very emotional and overwhelming.
One thing that makes your music so successful and relatable it how honest and real you are with your lyrics. Do you ever struggle with putting your feelings into words or does it come as effortlessly as it seems?
I think I find putting my feelings into songs is my way of communicating them. I’m not one to hold things close to my chest, but writing songs is a really good way of encompassing how you feel into two minutes and making it comprehensive. I usually struggle to talk about my emotions in a way that other people can understand them, I think that’s something that a lot of teenagers/young people can relate to, which is why I think people enjoy listening to songs that explain the way they feel, because then they don’t have to. Usually my lyrics are just a stream of untampered consciousness and it’s relatively easy to see that when you talk to me because I speak the way I sing/ write. I like to see my songs as just an extension of me rather than a different persona or a creative bubble. It’s just me and my little notebook of stuff I write that kind of pours out of my head.
Let’s talk about “I Bet You Fall Apart”—what was the process of creating that song like?
This song came in so many different iterations. I wrote it with Nick Hodgson after having a conversation with my friend about her relationship coming to an end. Both her and her partner knew that they were about to break up and she was talking about how she wanted to do it first so that she came out looking better. It’s very much a feeling that a lot of people go through with new and young relationships. It’s a psychological lie that we tell ourselves; we will feel better if we are the ones who end it. Paul Whalley helped me recreate the song which I really enjoyed doing.
Like the song itself, the music video is so lively and fun. How did you come up with that video concept?
I have a fantastic team of creatives that helped come up with the concept. I knew that I wanted to use both my best friend and my cousin because its very scary how alike they look and they have the same name! I took a lot of inspiration from Wes Anderson films, he’s my favourite! I also wanted to do something funny and light hearted to match the song. I really liked the idea of using the childish idea that you’d be better off if you are the one to breakup with your SO. I thought about what my younger self would tell me now on the topic of breakups and that’s where the ideas came from.
Was your cousin Mia able to provide any on-set breakup advice?
You can actually see in the video at some points on the whiteboard behind the desk, there are words written that say ‘Boys are stinky’ which was a Little Mia set idea! In fact, Little Mia made sure we all knew that the best way to get way from a breakup is to be taken away by helicopter! She was stella on set, and you never know, there might be some more appearances!
Last question: Do you have any plans for 2020/2021 that you’d like to reveal or are you playing it by ear?
I definitely have gigging plans coming up, my instagram is the best place to be if you want updates on that! It’s all dependent on our dear friend COVID-19 and keeping people safe. I know that there is a LOT more music in the pipeline and I am desperate to see some fans in real life! I’m very excited for all that is to come over the next few years and I’m even more excited to be sharing more music with everyone, really really really soon!