We talk designer sneakers, London hangouts and My Love with the unstoppable force that is Jess Glynne, ahead of Lovebox and Summer Series at Somerset House
The unstoppable force that is Jess Glynne rose to fame when her collaborations with Clean Bandit and Route 94 reached number one within two weeks of each other. Over a hundred million YouTube hits later Wonderland catches up with the London based singer songwriter on the eve of her first Glastonbury performance.
It’s hard to fathom how quickly Jess Glynne’s success has come into place. Born and bred in Muswell Hill, the North London girl didn’t let her school’s lack of encouragement deter her from a career in music. Rather the flame haired vixen has used initial setbacks to her advantage, which has led to her working with the likes of Rudimental and MNEK. As expected, summer 2014 is set to be a hectic one for Glynne. Her gravelly voice and luxe ghetto style will be making their way to Glasto and Lovebox, before we even mention Lovebox and her slot supporting Kelis at Somerset House Summer Sessions this July…
With two collaborations having gone to number one in quick succession, how does it feel to go it alone?
It actually feels very exciting. I feel as though it’s given me another lease of like ‘Ah! Let’s do it!’
Your outfits in the video for Right Here are very fashion forward. What are your style influences?
I love fashion. I’ve never been one to know the names of every designer but I’m very conscious of what I wear and how I piece things together. I take a lot of inspiration from other people’s looks and fashion week: I love crazy stuff like Tom Ford’s bombers from last season. I never worry whether I look different to other people.
And of course those trainers from Givenchy and Nike in your new video…
I saw the white ones and became obsessed with them. I felt I needed to get them for the video and a woman called Crystal customized them with Swarovski.
What was it like working with Clean Bandit? Being Cambridge graduates, were they ever the perfectionists?
They are super, super, super perfectionists. They are the most lovely people to work with and also the most intelligent people and I love them for that. Working with them was a very unique experience. When we recorded ‘Rather Be’ they were very specific about how they wanted it and rightly so: it was their song, I didn’t write it. It was such a pleasure getting on stage with them.
What do you think of the current wave of classical music within the dance genre?
I think it’s really cool. I wrote a song called Home. I’ve always really been into live string and orchestral stuff and I put a whole quartet on it. It’s a great thing that music’s becoming more real. I think what brings music to life is when you put in a live bass or a live horn.
Route 94 created My Love with no intention of it being the hit that it has become. Do you think there has been a flux of integrity in the dance world?
I think Disclosure and Rudimental set a great tone for Dance and that new wave of music and opened a really big door for House and Garage: stuff that’s previously been underground. When did you ever think that a House record would go to number 1?
With tens of millions of YouTube hits for Rather Be and My Love, how does it feel to have this level success in such a short space of time?
It’s really weird because it still doesn’t feel real. And when you say ‘This level of success’ I’m still like ‘What?’. ‘Rather Be’ has broken records and done stuff that none of us would ever have thought it could do and the fact that my career is only at the beginning, to have that is like: oh my gosh!
Not only do you have this amazing, soulful, raspy voice but you’re also very hands on with the production of your tracks. What do you love about being in the editing suite?
When it comes to music, I don’t know how to produce, I don’t know how to create a beat but I know exactly how I want things to sound. When I work with the producers I get on with so well, I can sing a line and they know exactly where I’m going with it.
You have the voice and presence of someone beyond your 24 years. What life experiences have fuelled your music?
Even though I’m quite young, I’ve done and been through quite a lot, which has influenced what I’ve written about. My school wasn’t that supportive when it came to me singing. One thing that really inspired me to work hard and succeed: they didn’t let me do school performances. Then I went travelling for five months with my best friend and saw loads of different cultures and had lots of different experiences. I came back and have been working ever since.
So you’re supporting Kelis at Somerset House Live Sessions this summer. What do you think the atmosphere will be like in the alternative gig space?
I can’t really imagine it. I think it’s going to be something out of this world. The setting in itself is going to create something magical. You’re going to have the Thames behind you, you’re going to have all the lights from the shops. If there’s one gig I’m excited about it’s that one.
What are your favourite London hangouts?
I love where I come from: Muswell Hill. Alexandra Palace has definitely got to be up there. The Southbank’s a great place to hangout. East London’s a great spot for chilling. The last exhibition I went to was the David Bowie one at the V & A. I love exhibitions! I went to the Diane Von Furstenberg one in LA ‘The Journey of a Dress’. It had 100 mannequins in a room with dresses starting from 1950. All the décor and the way that it had been designed was wicked. I’m really into visuals.
You’re performing at both Glastonbury and Lovebox this year. What are your festival survival essentials?
I’ve just been told it’s going to be really bad weather this weekend. I need to have hair product because my hair is a beast…
You do have beautiful hair…
It can go wrong! Lipstick and definitely Burt’s Bees.
What can we expect to see next from you?
I’ve got the single that’s coming out in a few weeks. I don’t think people really know who I am so I suppose the next six months will be to unveil that.
Jess Glynne @ Somerset House Summer Series supporting Kelis 14th July somersethouse.org.uk/music/summer-series-2014
Words: Elinor Sigman