“I went from practising in my lounge to performing in Radio 1's Live Lounge - in a month!”
Meet Bonnie Kemplay, the winner of Radio 1’s Live Lounge Introducing talent search.
Back at the turn of 2021, Bonnie Kemplay was sat at home – like the rest of us – in Manchester, making music in her student room. Cut to four months later, and the 19-year-old Edinburgh newcomer is performing for Clara Amfo in Radio 1’s world famous Live Lounge.
There’s a very good reason for this: Bonnie is a seriously talented new artist, and the first ever winner of BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge Introducing, a talent search where over 10,000 UK artists submitted their own Live Lounge, recorded at home.
Bonnie’s was the pick of the bunch – according to an esteemed panel of judges, including Clara, YUNGBLUD, Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell, Sam Fender and Arlo Parks. BBC Music Introducing teams whittled down the thousands of entries to a top five, and our panel of DJs and musicians saw Bonnie as the standout.
"Winning is weird," she says. "Have I ever won something? I don’t know! 10,000 down to one and I’m the one. It’s just stupid!"
Self-taught in guitar, keys, bass and drums, her songs are emotion-led, stark examples in how to carefully construct a striking pop song. She takes influence from U.S. stars like Phoebe Bridgers, Taylor Swift and Julien Baker. “My music is like their lovechild,” she says, describing her music as “bedroom indie sadcore.”
This is her first gig in over six months, the last being a socially-distanced set at The Royal Northern College Of Music, where she studies. Although the Live Lounge is technically the first time she’s ever performed under her own name.
She had a tight window in finding out she'd won and travelling to London to perform. In the interim, some of our Live Lounge Introducing judges shared words of advice to deal with pre-gig nerves. "Tom Grennan’s my hype man, and Arlo [Parks'] message was very calming," Bonnie says. It was so nice to hear from everyone, and very odd to be addressed by those people, because I really do look up to them. I’ve watched all of their Live Lounges. To be playing the same thing that they’ve played is an honour.”
“All of the judges said, ‘Inevitably you’re gonna be nervous, but you can do it.’”