Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting HL NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Jessie: I'm in control now
6:00am Saturday 5th October 2013 in Music
Since her 2010 debut single, singer Jessie J has enjoyed a phenomenal run of success. As she releases her second album, and quits her role on The Voice, she tells Andy Welch about the many lessons she's learned in a few short years.
You have your whole life to write your first album. It's a cliche almost as old as recorded music but, like most cliches, there's a kernel of truth within it.
When Jessie J wrote her debut album Who You Are she had her time at London's premier talent academy, the BRIT School, to draw upon. Not to mention knockbacks from a record label that went bust before releasing her music, songwriting for the likes of Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus, and the various trials and tribulations of being a teenager.
Who You Are, following on from the huge success of her debut single Do It Like A Dude, was a big deal in the UK.
It didn't go to No 1 - her former schoolmate Adele kept her off the top spot with her record-breaking second album 21. But it has since sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide.
Jessie's also headlined festivals and appeared on just about every TV show an artist can do, even becoming a regular judge on one.
But things are very different this time around as she releases her second album, Alive.
"I know what I'm doing that bit more," says the 25-year-old, clad in a cream outfit almost the same colour as the shock white crop she's growing out after shaving her head in March for Comic Relief.
"I feel like I'm in control and prepared, rather than just turning up. I know how I want to represent myself, what to wear and all that. I know a catsuit on Lorraine just isn't right."
She hasn't actually worn a catsuit on the Daybreak sofa, but she concedes that her outfits haven't always been appropriate.
"It's all just ripped trousers and knickers! I like to travel light," she quips.
"Joking aside, some of the stage outfits I've got are ridiculous. I'll lay out clothes to pack, or designers will send me something, and it'll look like Polly Pocket clothing - because it's all stretchy, it's tiny. I don't need a case when I tour, I can fit it all in my handbag."
There's a new-found self-awareness to Jessie. She still says ridiculous things - her analogy that women are like onions "because they have layers, and if you cut us, you'll cry" is maybe the most ridiculous thing she says today, but she at least stops halfway through to laugh.
Alive took five weeks to write, spread over a year to accommodate her other commitments. As with her first album, she called up a host of big names to help co-write and produce the songs, none bigger than Rodney Jerkins, who's worked with the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears.
Trust is a big issue for Jessie. All producers and co-writers this time were people she'd worked with before, or close friends and colleagues of previous collaborators.
"I spoke to my dad about this. He's a social worker and knows a lot about therapy," she says. "He says if you open your heart to people you've never met, you have to make sure to close it back up before you leave... Don't just talk to anyone."
Jessie says the more successful she became, the more people tried to tell her they were responsible for it, and the more they wanted an input on what she did next. "Before I was successful, someone might not be bothered. Now, they all want to get their little spoon in the glory pie."
In her view she treads a fine line on Alive between being truthful and holding something back for herself.
It's best demonstrated by the new song I Miss Her, one of the album's big ballads. "It's someone in the family, but I don't want to name them because it's a privacy thing," says Jessie. "This someone is very close to me and very ill, and isn't them any more. So she's here, but she isn't her.
"A lot of people have family members who suffer from dementia and things so I wanted to write a song about it, when someone isn't themselves."
She reckons it was the hardest track she's ever written, difficult to record because of the emotional content and, as her trembling bottom lip indicates today, difficult to talk about too.
"I didn't really want to record it, because I know that as soon as I record something, people want to talk about it and know all about it. And I don't want everyone to know about this because when this person does pass away, I don't want loads of strangers asking if I'm OK. I don't want sympathy from people I've never met. That's me being honest."
One song she's happy to explain is recent single It's My Party, which is directed squarely at those on Twitter who spend their time sending her abusive messages.
"I wish it was more interesting," says the singer. "I was in the studio one day and looked on Twitter and there were all these messages coming in, like 'I hate you', 'I want to kill you', or 'You're ugly', and I just thought about how negative people are. You know - get a hobby, or a job or some friends, or something.
"There are always people telling me stuff like that, or 'Why don't you wear red lipstick any more', or 'Why did you cut your hair?' But I'll do what I want. It's my party, basically. These people should focus inwards, because it definitely seems like they need to work on themselves a bit and find some peace.
"Considering these people hate me, their whole Twitter feeds are filled up with me. Grow up!"
And then there's The Voice. Jessie, along with The Script's Danny O'Donoghue, announced that she won't be returning for a third series of the BBC singing contest.
"I won't miss it," she says. "Not in a bad way, just that it's time for someone else to have a go. I will still go back and see them, but I can't sit there telling singers that I'm a successful artist if I'm available to film a TV series for half the year.
"It's easily the biggest break I've had, and so many more people who wouldn't know my music now know who I am. It worked perfectly."
Extra time - Jessie J
:: Jessie J was born Jessica Ellen Cornish on March 27, 1988 in north London.
:: At the age of 11 she was cast in Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End production of Whistle Down The Wind.
:: She attended London's prestigious BRIT school when she was 16, and was also a member of the National Youth Music Theatre.
:: She signed to Gut Records in 2006 but the label went bust before she released anything. She then concentrated on songwriting.
:: Jessie's debut album Who You Are is the first album by a British female artist to produce six or more Top 10 hits.
:: Jessie J's new album Alive is out now. She begins a UK tour on October 15. Full dates below
15 - Belfast Odyssey
16 - Dublin O2
18 - Birmingham LG Arena
19 - Sheffield Arena
21 - Aberdeen AECC
22 - Glasgow Hydra Arena
24 - Nottingham Arena
25 - Nottingham Arena
26 - Newcastle Arena
29 - London O2 Arena
30 - London O2 Arena
1 - Manchester Arena
2 - Manchester Arena
4 - Liverpool Arena
6 - Brighton Centre
10 - Bournemouth Arena
11 - Cardiff Arena
Comments are closed on this article.