INTERVIEW: Jilly Riley on her new music, famous faces and battling anxiety...

Jilley Riley
Jilley Riley

Jilly Riley’s passion for singing has its roots on the road. The South Elmsall songwriter found comfort in music as a “travelling companion” as she moved from place to place throughout her childhood.

Aged six, she played her first melody, at eight her first song had been written and by 11, she began bashing away on pots, pans and even biscuit tins.

Jilly performs on The Voice.

Jilly performs on The Voice.

And that quirky method of rhythm still features in much of her music today.
Fast-forward 20 years, and Jilly, now 35, has recently graced our television screens on popular talent competition The Voice.

And with her time on the show now over, losing out in the battle rounds to fellow contestant Jake Benson, she talks about her new music, meeting famous faces and battling anxiety. 

How did you end up on the show?

I got an email from them, I was scouted. They saw a video I did of Come Together by The Beatles and asked if I would be interested.

South Elmsall singer Jilly Riley on The Voice. Picture courtesy of ITV.

South Elmsall singer Jilly Riley on The Voice. Picture courtesy of ITV.

I have almost been involved before about three or four years ago.

Last time, I started with the process of it but couldn’t go through with the blind auditions. I suffer from anxiety and I thought this time I’m going to give it another go and challenge myself. I decided to face my own fears and I wanted to do it to make my friends and family proud.

How was it performing to the backs of judges Will.I.Am, Jennifer Hudson, Olly Murs and Tom Jones in the hope one of them would turn their chair to pick you for their team?

It was the scariest moment of my life. I completely forgot they were meant to turn then when Jennifer did I thought ‘oh yes, that’s why I’m here’.

How did you feel when she turned, putting you through to the next round?

‘Wow’ was the first thing I felt - and then I thought I am going to have to perform in front of the audience again.

The feedback they gave was really nice. I brought my daughter Melody out to meet Will.I.Am because she loves him and I brought my dad to meet Tom Jones.

It was on to the battle stage then, where you went head-to-head with another member of team ‘J-Hud’. What did you think about your pairing with Jake? When we watched each other’s blind auditions, I had a feeling when I saw Jake sing that they were going to put us together.

I was really pleased because he has an awesome voice. We became good friends. It was meant to be a battle but we just hit it off.

Only one of you could go through to the next round after the battle - how did you feel when Jennifer picked Jake?

I thought Jake deserved it. For me it was quite a struggle all the way through. I am nervous on stage and [the show] kind of went against my morals as an independent musician

But I wanted to conquer my anxieties and do something I normally wouldn’t do.  It was a lot of pressure so I almost felt relieved. It has been a great experience and I met so many lovely people through it.

What has the support been like from the local community?

I feel like Rocky Balboa, it’s amazing. I wasn’t expecting to have so much love and support.

What’s next for you now?

I have been working on a single which I’m hoping to release in the near future. I started writing it during my time on the show and the second verse is about the battle round of The Voice.

I’m also in the process of making a new album.

Jilly’s new single will be called Anxiety and will raise money for mental health charity Mind.

She said: “The song is about a mental health issue. I know lots of people that suffer from different mental health issues and Mind are awesome because they do so much to support and protect people.

“I support their work, I think it is really important.

“This song is about a new beginning for me. It is the first time I have spoken about stuff like this publicly and the more I can do that, the more it helps me and the more it can help other people too.”

It is not the first time Jilly, who is also an activist, has linked music and supporting good causes.

In 2015, she was involved in the work of We Are Wakefield, helping refugees in camps in Calais and Dunkirk.

She wrote a song entitled Refugees and performed it at a charity concert which raised more than £1,000 for education, medication and supplies.

And whilst in Calais on an aid mission the following year, she helped to teach songs to vulnerable children.

Also in 2015, Jilly worked with pupils at Stockingate Mill School in South Kirkby to record charity single Without Love.

It raised money to help indigenous Zapatista people facing oppression in Chiapas, Mexico.

CHARITY

Jilly’s new single will be called Anxiety and will raise money for mental health charity Mind.

She said: “The song is about a mental health issue. I know lots of people that suffer from different mental health issues and Mind are awesome because they do so much to support and protect people.

“I support their work, I think it is really important.

“This song is about a new beginning for me. It is the first time I have spoken about stuff like this publicly and the more I can do that, the more it helps me and the more it can help other people too.”

It is not the first time Jilly, who is also an activist, has linked music and supporting good causes.

In 2015, she was involved in the work of We Are Wakefield, helping refugees in camps in Calais and Dunkirk. She wrote a song entitled Refugees and performed it at a charity concert which raised more than £1,000 for education, medication and supplies.

And whilst in Calais on an aid mission the following year, she helped to teach songs to vulnerable children.

Also in 2015, Jilly worked with pupils at Stockingate Mill School in South Kirkby to record charity single Without Love.

It raise money to help indigenous Zapatista people facing oppression in Chiapas, Mexico.