Our Interview with Jessie Ware

I hide behind metaphor and fantasy…”, Jessie Ware

South London’s Jessie Ware transfixed a packed Spotify office this week with a spectacular voice and a set of none-more-sultry torch songs. Jessie began her professional life as a backing singer for Jack Penate before first appearing on a record with producer SBTRKT. After an intensive burst of song-writing activity with David Okumu from The Invisible (who wrote recent single Devotion), Kid Harpoon, with whom she wrote Wildest Moment, and the house music producer Julio Bashmore, Ware’s album – also called Devotion – is now a real, striking and wonderful thing. “I owe an awful lot to those three,” she says. “They really brought me out of my shell.”

What music did you grow up listening to?
Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and the Grease soundtrack. My mum loved soul, but my dad wasn’t much into music – i think the last record he bought was Tina Turner’s Private Dancer!

Was a there a particular song that made you want to be a singer?
Yes – it was Maria McKee’s, Show Me Heaven. I wanted to do it on Stars In Their Eyes! It’s so uncool, but that was the one for me. Maybe I’ll do a cover of it – it could become a live favourite…

What was your first experience of singing live?
I was 10 and I sang the first verse of Away In A Manger in a Christmas Carol Concert on my own. It was a swinging sort of jazzy version. Everyone looked at me and went, “Oh, you’re good!”

How much will we learn about Jessie Ware by listening to Jessie Ware songs?
A lot! I’m everywhere, but I do sometimes hide behind metaphor and fantasy. A little bit of distance is good. Wildest Moment is about my best friend – her wildest moment was throwing a mudpie in my face – while Taking Water is about my little brother. To be honest, that one can make me cry before I’d even started it. I’m getting used to that level of emotion. You can tap into the emotions straight away.

Who do you think has done it all right?
Sade. Annie Lennox. Frank Ocean is doing it right currently. All three are great soul singers and they all know what they want to do. There’s a confidence in their music.

What do you want from all this?
I want to see some of the world, play a few hot places – like Brazil! I’d like people to know the words to the songs and I’d like to tour a lot. And I’d like to make a second record. Does that sound greedy?

Not at all. Finally, what is the greatest record ever made?
Oh wow, that is such a mean question. For nostalgic reasons, Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The sentiment and story-telling is incredible and the songs and the lyrics are just so beautiful. But also, Sade’s Diamond Life! That record never gets boring. I could imagine being on a desert island listening to her singing to me forever and ever.

Exclusive music from the session will be available on Spotify from September the 3rd.