Many former students talk about the importance of the friends they make at The BRIT School. Each strand has its own ‘feel,’ and the friendships developed within each arts area of the school often become lifelong. Former Music department students form particularly strong relationships when they set up their own bands whilst at the school. One such band, Nequai, enjoyed a close bond and artistic success in equal measure. They had the privilege of performing at the Royal Albert Hall whilst at the School but have always kept their feet firmly on the ground, remaining close friends to this day. Since they left the School, the three band members, Jodi Milliner, Bev Tawiah and Blue May have each gone on to establish different profiles as musicians in their own right but often still get together professionally, with Jodie and Blue now working mainly as producers and Bev working as a solo artist. When they met up at Jodi’s local pub in 2009, their reminiscences about The BRIT School and their reflections about their friendship and working relationship were typically good humoured and affectionate.
“This purveyor of ‘twisted soul’ is blessed with a voice bigger than God and the kind of self-confidence only five years at The BRIT School can give you.”
Paul Lester, The Guardian
Bev got early professional experience as a studio background vocalist for Corinne Bailey Rae, among others, shortly after graduating from The BRIT School. Mark Ronson soon hired her as the female vocalist for his live band where she toured the UK and featured at Glastonbury in 2008. Influential BBC Radio 1 DJ Gilles Peterson had previously championed her song Watch Out in 2007, and also named her the recipient of his Worldwide Award for Best Newcomer. ‘Tawiah’ as she is known as a solo artist recorded In Jodi’s Bedroom (2008), an introductory sixtrack EP, and released it independently on her own label Bush Girl.
“Her voice blends force-of-nature vocals with shimmering vulnerability, underscored by a sound which she describes as “twisted soul” – a kind of genre-straddling electronica underpinned by nu-jazz, indie and broken beat. As one of those artists who needs to be seen live to be understood, Tawiah’s rowdy, enchanting and assured showmanship belies her youth. And she’s thrilled that she’s been chosen as a Time Out On The Up artist.”
Tamara Gausi, Time Out 2008
“At The BRIT, everything’s done for you. When I left I expected things to just fall in my lap so I spent the first few months just doing some crappy jobs until I got my stuff together and did quite a bit of session work , collaborating with Bev, working on her album, producing, sound publishing – loads of different stuff really. It was good to have a couple of such close mates from The BRIT School to share that experience with. It was also cool to know that I could still play a part in their careers as well as develop my own. I’m really proud of Bev’s EP – it’s called In Jodi’s bedroom – cause that’s where we wrote it – in my bedroom! And I live just across the road from the School still, so it proves that we were keeping it real and close to home!”
“Before BRIT, I was just a spotty teenager listening to Nirvana songs in my bedroom. Meeting other people your own age – you
get exposed to different music, different styles of clothing, your whole perception of life gets challenged. The School introduced me to the best people I’ll ever meet. Me, Jodi and Bev are proper lifelong friends and we appreciate each other’s company as well as each other’s music. That could only have happened because of what we learnt and shared during our BRIT days.”