Just-turned 21 years of age, but with formidable songwriting, vocal and piano abilities, Hertfordshire’s Hope Winter has been steadily building up a buzz since she began releasing music in her early teens with several EPs and singles to her name, and a YouTube channel that boasts over 130,000 subscribers. We organised a chat with the singer-songwriter as she releases her jazziest number yet, I’m Gonna Love Me.
“I've been a gigging musician and songwriter since I was about 13,” Winter says. “I started writing songs when I was nine or 10. And as a way to deal with some quite difficult things that happened in my life. And then a couple of years later, I got picked up by a local indie label in St Albans — they really helped me to see that there was a career possible in music and helped establish my YouTube. I was uploading every week and getting millions of views, which was really, really cool, but also very overwhelming for someone who was doing their GCSEs and still figuring out what kind of music they wanted to make.”
A relatively well-trodden path by the likes of Gabrielle Aplin since the advent of YouTube is for musicians to upload cover song videos, and once the views start coming in, they hit their audience with the original songs. Winter recently hit the 100k subscribers milestone, and it was around that time that the covers suddenly stopped.
I say to Winter that this was a fairly bold move, with videos like her covers of Andrea Boccelli’s Time To Say Goodbye and Robyn’s Dancing On My Own pulling in millions of views — there is clearly a huge hunger for her to keep doing that, perhaps even a lucrative one. But you have to respect that she has decided to place her focus where her passion is, which is her own original songs.
“It's always a bit nerve wracking,” she says. “Because when you've got a product that people clearly really like and enjoy. There is a feeling of responsibility there, like I need to carry this on because people really like it.
“But for me, it felt a bit like my creativity and originality as an artist was being stifled by just churning out the same sort of thing. So after having a little bit of a break from YouTube, when I come back, I’ll feel like I've claimed it a bit more. Hopefully they'll enjoy the videos that I've got coming out that will have a bit more bit more Hope in there.”
After cutting her teeth with pub open mic nights from 14 years old onwards, including being turned away from Ronnie Scott’s for being underage when she’d been booked to play, the steam gradually built up to a milestone EP launch party at St Pancras Old Church in London at the tail-end of 2019.
Winter had run a Kickstarter campaign to be able to finance her last EP, Road To The Moon, and there was enough leftover money that she was able to book the church that is a few minutes walk from London St Pancras International Station.
“God, that was just such an amazing night,” Winter recalls. “It was one of the nights that I will never forget. It felt like everything came together. I was wearing this amazing Elton John-style sparkly dress, and it was with my full band. It felt like all the work that I’d put in all came to a head. I didn’t want to come off stage.”