She was on a major label, hanging out with Dua Lipa – but being sidelined behind the scenes. Now independent and thriving, the UK musician has a cautionary tale for women in the music industry

The pandemic temporarily spelled game over for emerging pop stars: who could compete for headlines and livestreams with the likes of Dua Lipa? For Connie Constance, it stalled a career she had only just jump-started. A few months earlier, the Watford-born songwriter broke ties with AMF, then an imprint of Virgin EMI, the major label that released her 2019 debut album, English Rose, when she felt sidelined. She spent the last of her money on a trip to Los Angeles, writing songs, networking and restoring her musical confidence. Back home, her manager secured a distribution deal that would allow her to start her own label. She was raring to go. “Then Covid came in and I was like: ‘No!’” she hoots, thrusting her hand towards her webcam. “What? How is this happening!”

In lockdown one, writing songs became difficult again. “The lyrics that were coming out were just so dead,” says the quick-to-laughter 26-year-old who was born Constance Power, video-calling from her boyfriend’s place in London. So she left music alone and “made loads of mansions on Sims 4”. Then a host of social issues bubbled up – Black Lives Matter following the murder in the US of George Floyd, Marcus Rashford’s free school meals campaign – that spoke to a woman who once said she found politics boring.

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