For Jessie Ware, singing is the easy part. Uncannily beautiful vocals have been pouring out of this London native since she was kid. It’s the path from “Girl With That Voice” to full-fledged pop star that’s proved trickier. She has been nominated for two Brit awards and her debut album, Devotion reached the Top 5 in England. But it wasn’t until the release of the If You’re Never Gonna Move EP this winter and subsequent US tour that American audiences got wind of the singer’s unique power. With the US release of Devotion, featuring two new tracks, Ware’s love affair with America seems to have only just begun.
She’s already a huge star in her native England and she is sure to become a big star in America. I got a chance to talk to Jessie on the first day of her tour about everything from the story behind her first single in America, “Wildest Moments” to her friendships with Adele and A$AP Rocky. Check out our conversation here!
Your tour starts tonight in Dallas right?
Fingers crossed man. It’s going to be my first time in lots of places on this tour and I’m really excited. I’ll get rid of my jet lag and get on with the show. I’m really looking forward to performing. I played so many festivals this summer and it’s really such a treat to perform in festivals and talk to the audience and meet them.
What are your plans after the tour?
I’m going to go home, write a bit of the new album, and then I’m going to Mexico for Christmas and the New Year with my mom and sister and brother. And then I’m actually going to start the next year in Los Angeles writing. So that’s going to be weird and different but I’m up for it!
For someone who hasn’t been to one of your shows, what are they like?
Well, I chat too much. I try to be a diva during the songs and then I ruin it all. It becomes a bit like a chat show. So it’s half Ellen [Degeneres], half Ricki Lake and then I sing some songs. It’s fun. I hope… I like to think of it like I’m having a dinner party and I’m playing host to everybody and I want them to go away thinking they had a great night with Jessie.
How have you been received in the US so far?
Um, I think well. I definitely love the audiences. They’re always excited to be there. I like going and meeting new audiences. It’s interesting to see what they like in different places. In Chicago, they always turn up and it’s so fun. New York is always a wonderful show. Seattle’s been great. I haven’t been to Atlanta yet. I like to talk and I’m going to get to see old friends and make new ones!
You’re so successful in England and Europe and you’re going to be a huge star here.
You’re really sweet. Thank you! Tell your mothers and your fathers and your friends about me and then I can come back!
I wanted to talk to you about “Wildest Moments.” The music video is stunning and you said it’s a song for best friends. What’s the story behind that song?
I wrote that song when I was having a huge fight with my friend Sarah. We were at my friend’s wedding and she threw pie on me and I threw some trifle on her. We didn’t speak but we lived together so it was really awkward. I thought the album was done. But I was just like, “Fucking Sarah, man. Why are we fighting?” I just wanted to tell her, “We’re fucking great.” And then we’re so terrible together. It was a really easy song to write. It’s a love song to my best mate.
One of your other friends is Adele. What is it like being compared to one of your friends?
I don’t think I’m that compared to Adele. But it’s a compliment. She’s absolutely massive and incredibly talented. I think we’re very different artists. I can’t see it as anything but a compliment really.
It’s so cool that you got to work with A$AP Rocky on the “Wildest Moments Remix.”
He’s a lovely man, lovely guy. He’s charming and really polite. Lovely. I’ve met him twice now. He’s made such an effort with me. I’ve met all his friends. I really like that guy.
Who are you hoping to collaborate with in the future?
I’d like to work with Kanye West. I don’t think that’s going to happen but I’d like that. Who else would I like? Annie Lennox! I’d love to work with Annie Lennox. I think Frank Ocean is a king. Who else do I think is really good at the moment? I love The Weeknd’s voice. Have you heard of Sampha? He’s my friend and we both worked together (on “Valentine”).
What is your dream gig?
My dream gig would involve a buffet. I’d like it to verge on a wedding. I’d have loads of people there and they would all dress up like they were going to a bar mitzvah. There would be lots of mini bagels and I’d probably have D’Angelo come play and we would do a duet together. That’s probably not the answer you wanted…
Do you have any strange fan stories?
A girl wrote me a book. She handed it to me on stage. I’m not even joking. It was a huge wad of paper. It was a book about happiness. It was very interesting. A good read. My boyfriend didn’t let me read it all because he thought it was slightly psychotic. I thought it was brilliant. What else has happened? I’ve had people do requests for their boyfriends which I have no problem doing. Oh yeah. And the calendars. I’m quite popular in Poland. One gig they brought me a lamp. They knew I had this nightlight so they got me this bedside table lamp. And they gave me this sweet calendar that had all my fan’s birthdays on it. It had the birthdays of all these people I have worked with on it. It had the death of Michael Jackson so I could remember. It was very detailed. In Croatia it was pissing down with rain at this festival and I felt very guilty that they were all staying and it was open air so I decided I was going to be the people’s princess and get in there and jump into the crowd. And this bloody boy pulled my top down and my boobs were out and everything. I may have punched him… It was a knee-jerk reaction. And I had these girls who were obviously very high on drugs blowing raspberries on my stomach. I had this crop top on. That was quite bizarre. I once had this cameraman that just started moving on the stage to the point where everyone just got giddy at the camera footage because he was moving so much. So I let him have his own dance solo.
I welcome people to take the mic from me. Isn’t Ludacris from Atlanta? He can definitely take the mic from me.
Isn’t there good food in Atlanta? You have good chicken there don’t you?
Yes, there is plenty of fried chicken.
Well then I need to know the best places to get fried chicken.
You know you can get fried chicken and waffles here too?
Fried chicken and waffles? My ass needs fried chicken and waffles like a hole in the head. But I need to try it. With loads of maple syrup.
Ever tried grits?
Yes, but I don’t think I’ve had proper grits. I should try grits then?
Am I just going to have a heart attack in Atlanta then?
What else are you looking forward to in certain cities that you’ve never been to before?
It’s always about food. I’m excited about getting a cowboy hat in Texas. I’m excited about going to New Orleans. And getting a bit of sun in Miami. I’m going to try and knock on Paisley Park Studio’s door in Minneapolis and try to become best friends with Prince. I love Toronto. There’s so many places. I love Seattle so much. I’m going to eat so much crab. It’s mainly food I’m excited about.
Ever played the Wireless Festival?
That’s where I hung out with A$ap Rocky actually. He was playing too. I was on hip-hop day. It was completely peculiar. I was on the main stage surrounded by Jay-Z and Justin [Timberlake], A$AP, Big Sean, A Tribe Called Quest, and then me. I didn’t know why I was on it but it was great. Nas was there as well. It was crazy.
Well I hope tonight and the rest of the tour goes well!
Please come to the Atlanta show! Bring all your girlfriends! Bring everyone!
Jessie will be at The Loft 10/22 with Mikky Ekko! Get your tickets here!