A flame-haired girl with an even fierier passion for singing, this voice behind some of radio’s big hits speaks to #TeamCLEO on where it all started.
It was just in 2014 when Jess Glynne’s mellifluous voice dominated airwaves with the song “Rather Be” with Clean Bandit. Now an unmistakeable talent and with a pretty impressive notch in her belt already (she’s the only female in Britain who has had six number 1s in the UK, with her song “These Days” with Macklemore), the 28-year-old singer took some time during her “insane schedule” (she’s doing promos, interviews and gigs at the time of interviewing) to speak with #TeamCLEO. Riding on the coattails of her new single launch, “I’ll Be There”, here’s what you need to know about the inspiration that fuels Jess in her writing, vocals, and for the visual feast that is her new music video.
Let’s talk about your latest single “I’ll Be There” since it’s your latest — it has been such a hit and we find it so moving. Can you tell us more about the song and what inspired you to write it?
The song basically comes from a friend of mine basically, the girl I wrote it with was going through something last year and she sent me a message and was just like I’ve been listening to your album and thank you, even though you haven’t been here you’ve been here. It was such a beautiful message and such an amazing thing to hear from a friend. When we got into the studio end of last year, she started this idea and that’s where it came from. She started it and I came into the room and she played it for me and there’s where it came from. So that’s why it was a song for me and for everybody else. So it was beautiful.
The video for this song looks amazing, can you tell us more about it?
We shot it in Mexico. We had two days where we shot the video; it was so incredible and intense. The idea came from me and my friend and basically what I do on the record, you come out from a place of insecurity and low self esteem and the burning house in that video represents that. Then, getting in the car in the video represents the journey in becoming more confident in yourself and getting more power. So that’s kind of like the journey of the video and the song. To know that you’re not alone and you’ll be all right, you just kinda need to take control of your life.
Watch the video here:
There is a bird of paradise symbol that pops up in some of the imagery of the video and your single artwork. Is there a significance why you chose this flower?
The bird of paradise is one of my favourite flowers, but secondly it represents joy and paradise and beauty. And it’s a good symbol for this project, I feel like it represents a beauty within and so I feel that it’s so relevant for my album [I Cry When I Laugh].
Your voice is so unmistakeable and unique; it’s caught people’s attention the world over. Did you always know that you always wanted to be a singer?
Thank you for that! I have always loved singing – but I don’t think I ever knew that I was going to be doing what I’m doing right now. When you look at other pop stars and what have you and think “Oh my god that’s so amazing, I want to do that,” you never think that’s going to be a reality. It’s weird and amazing all in one, in a way, there was always a part of me that always dreamed of it.
“Every time I set out, I knew music was what I wanted to do. It was the only thing I loved or had a passion for.”
Was there a turning point?
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, everyone was going to University and I realised that’s not what I wanted to do. Every time I set out, I knew music was what I wanted to do. It was the only thing I loved or had a passion for. At that point, I was like, “Right, this is something I want to focus on,”.
You reached six Number 1s in the UK recently for “These Days” – the first British woman to do so! Congrats on that! What was the experience like finding this out?
Thank you! It was pretty insane like a whirlwind. It’s a really weird thing to think that so early on in my career I would achieve so much.
Watch the video for “These Days”, below:
Who would you say are your biggest influences for your music and your writing?
I think early one, my heaviest influences writing were Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill. Their writing technique and what they wrote about and how they put their words into music and how they made it into a skill – they were my strongest influencers growing up. And I think vocally, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Aretha Franklin were massive influences on me becoming a big vocalist.
Text and interview Lina Esa; Photography courtesy of Warner Music Malaysia