Jessie Ware: My mum defends me against nasty remarks
With the UK underground dance music scene rapidly grasping the attention of many more than ever before, one unique talent to emerge from the depths of the expansive bass music culture is South Londoner, Jessie Ware.
Since exploding onto the scene in 2010 after lending her vocals to the masked producer SBTRKT for his track ‘Nervous’, she has featured on various other projects. Last year she collaborated with the Bristol based Dubstep producer, Joker on the track ‘The Vision’ which also featured on his album. In addition to this she has sung on tracks with Sampha and other songs produced by Julio Bashmore and Disclosure.
However, this certainly didn’t happen overnight. After Jessie completed her English Literature degree at Sussex University she went onto to work as a PA for an executive television producer before she quit the role to do the backing vocals for her old friend Jack Penate, who both attended Alleyn’s School in Dulwich. It was on Penates US tour in 2010 where Jessie’s own career embarked on a new journey after she met Penates bassist and XL Recordings employee, Tic, who pointed her in the direction of SBTRKT.
Two years on and the underground scene has embraced the soulful vocal chords of Jessie, and she has since released three solo singles on PMR Records entitled ‘Strangest Feeling’, ‘Running’ and ‘110%’, but not to forget the hugely successful release of her track with Sampha, entitled ‘Valentine’ on Young Turks label in 2011.
The unique sound of Jessie’s impassioning, subtle and touching vocals are all attributes she effortlessly attains within her live performances as well as her recordings. It is somewhat obvious to many that she prides herself on replicating the aura of her idols Diana Ross and Chaka Khan by employing such personal and elegantly sung tracks. With the release of her debut album ‘Devotion’ due to be released on 20 August drawing ever closer, I managed to catch up with Jessie just before she set off to perform at Mallorca Rocks.
First up, what do you want people to feel from your music and in particular your lyrics?
I think I just want them to feel something at least, that is all. I’ve realised that quite a lot of my music is quite melancholy, I hope they feel romance and sentiments from it, and can relate to the lyrics. Even if it’s just on in the background you know, that’s great.
I hear your Mum is very supportive and has been known to fight your cause against online criticism, is this true?
She is just very proud. She is always the first to know stuff about me before I even do. She also sifts through comments on YouTube and defends me against any nasty remarks. There was a guy that said I sound like Katy Perry which I thought was quite cool and then he called me a fur wearing prostitute, when I wasn’t even wearing fur in the video. His name was Vick123 and my mum commented back ‘oh its funny your username rhymes with *ick’. She’s just really proud. It’s all playground stuff really. (Laughs)
What are you main musical influences?
When I was growing up I was listening to people in the car like Dusty Springfield, Whitney and Diana Ross. I love good singers. I think the likes of Grace Jones and Chaka Khan are all wonderful artists and have created their own identity and stamp within in music. And for the album these guys really inspired me, just because they’re so influential in the way they are as people and musical artists.
You made a very successful track produced by Joker called ‘The Vision’ – how did this come about and would you like to work with him again?
It came around after he heard my song ‘Nervous’ with SBTRKT. He was quite adamant he wanted to use a British singer who hadn’t had much publicity and was up and coming. So he got in touch. My flatmate was really into dubstep and he said the instrumental always goes off in the club, so I really didn’t want to piss them all off with my vocals, but I went to his and he liked it so we went with it.
You have done quite a few collaborations now and you’ve made your own album, do you prefer solo stuff or working with others.
I never really saw myself being a solo singer. I love collaborating as it gives you the chance to explore your own ideas with other artists. It’s the only way I’ve really worked, I love that I have collaborated on dance tracks because I love dance music and dancing. In that respect I have been very lucky to have the chance to work with some really great producers who have been so helpful and supportive to me.
What’s your favourite track from the album?
It changes all the time, but at the moment it’s ‘Taking in Water’, because it’s a song which wasn’t going to be on the album, it was a latecomer but it has really worked as part of the final cut. But generally I like Running off the album, as when I was writing on this I feel I really cemented myself as a songwriter and it felt so natural and as if I was in my element. [Laughs]
Can you tell me a bit about the track ‘110%’ with Julio Bashmore and how this partnership came about?
We are both managed by PMR and we got put in touch. He was already on my wish list to work with one day. Before I got singed I thought he was an amazing producer.
I went to his house in Bristol and we wrote 110% and it was kind of a struggle at the beginning and I was nervous, but he was really sweet. He did the instrumental and we found it easier to write something not about me but getting a guy to dance with a girl. And eventually it just jelled together perfectly.
And finally, your album which comes out next month was produced by Dave Okumu, what was it like working with him?
He was so generous and wanted me to feel happy in what I was doing and explore what I wanted to say and do. I love him dearly, he has such great taste. When we used to go and work at his place we called it the Lewisham library, because when I was there I was soaking up new information on bands, a new way to do things, I was learning loads and loads in the way of helping me as an artist. Our relationship just really clicked straight away and I’m delighted with the album.
For details on her album release and upcoming tour dates, check out the Jessie Ware Facebook page.Tagged in: Disclosure, jessie ware, Joker, julio bashmore, music, Nervous, SBTRKT, Taking in Water, The Vision
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