Brooke Combe, voted Best Female Breakthrough Artist at the Scottish Music Awards 2021, is a singer-songwriter on the rise. She grew up on the outskirts of Edinburgh, listening to Motown, soul and R&B and playing instruments from a tender age. She discovered rock influences at 17 and was encouraged by her school music teacher to develop her vocals and to study music at university.
Savvy with social media, Combe’s early cover songs found mass appeal, particularly her rendition of Baccara’s ‘Yes Sir, I Can Boogie’, the Scotland international football team’s anthem in summer 2021. Since signing to Island Records, football crossovers continue, with song excerpts recently featured on BBC and Sky Sports football highlights on primetime television. ‘Miss Me Now’ is her latest single, driven by a punchy bassline and aligned with catchy lyrics, rhythmic and melodic hooks in three minutes of disco-pop perfection.
Tell us about your latest single, ‘Miss Me Now’.
I came up with the little bassline that the song is introduced with when I had got home from a night out. The song came together as a studio recording, then went back and forth with producer Mark Ralph, who added some lovely sparkly bits that sort of elevated the tune. I love it: it’s nothing like I’ve ever done before, so it felt like it was a bit of a gamble for me to release, but everybody loved it. It’s quite a light-hearted tune – it’s fun, it’s summer.
How do you approach your original songs?
I feel like I’m in a position at the moment where I’m able to be a bit freer with my tunes and just play around. I’m still trying to find the Brooke Combe sound. I think the running theme, however, throughout all my singles, is that they’ve all got the same soul. That’s the most important thing to me, being a soul singer: making sure there’s still depth to all these tunes even if they are quite light-hearted.
As your sold-out debut you memorably opened Glasgow’s King Tut’s after a period of lockdown last summer. What was the mood and atmosphere like at that gig?
The show was postponed initially. I was a bit gutted to have to move it, but then people wanted it more. They hadn’t really seen any live music in 18 months, and as it was my debut, I hadn’t ever done a gig before, so people didn’t know what to expect, and they were really excited for it. The atmosphere was amazing. It couldn’t have gone any better for me. I wasn’t really that nervous about it. I think just seeing friends and family in this tiny little venue that is quite famous was amazing.
What has been your most memorable of your gigs to date?
I would say supporting Miles Kane this May at his Liverpool date at the 02 Academy – that was bouncing! The crowd were just loving it. I’ve always said Liverpool feels like a second home. I have also just done two shows for Sound City in Liverpool, which were amazing, as always. I just love it there, and the feeling is reciprocated by the looks of it, which I’m quite happy with. I’m toying with the idea of maybe moving there. It’s just quite a special place for me at this point.
What would you say is your proudest musical achievement so far?
Signing to Island Records – it’s something any singer dreams about, especially coming into this industry. It’s all been a whirlwind, and it’s been really fast. So being able to sign, and have all the opportunities that have come with that, has been just remarkable and I probably never could have imagined it. I was only 21 at the time and it’s an amazing, surreal thing to say you have done at that age, so I’m really proud of that.
What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
I’d like to have released an album by then: a nice body of work that I’m proud of. Really mastering my live shows is becoming one of the biggest things for me. I love performing live, and I love being on stage and connecting with the audience.
You’ve got a lot of gigs coming up – which one are you most looking forward to?
Obviously Glastonbury is a massive one, I have to say. I’m excited to just go and enjoy the weekend, as I’ve never been and it’s one of the big ones. I’m equally nervous and excited. Also, I’m doing a little festival near where I’m from: it’s just outside of Edinburgh, on the coast, and it’s called Fringe By The Sea. I’m supporting the amazing Candi Staton, so I cannot wait for that. I think I’ll be doing a solo acoustic set.
Brooke Coombe will play festival dates throughout the summer including: TRNSMT, Glasgow, 8th July & Fringe by the Sea, North Berwick, 12th August (supporting Candi Staton)
By: Yasmin Ali
Photo credit: Island Records