Last year Russell Crowe, Katy Perry and fellow British singer Adele raved about Jessie Ware for her fantastic set of pipes and a tasteful, highbrow mix of soul and pop falling somewhere between Sade and Lisa Stansfield.
So it might not be a stretch to say Ware, in the basement of Toronto’s The Opera House hours before her sold-out Canadian debut, is finding it difficult to comprehend what’s happening.
“Surreal,” she says when asked to describe it.
And no wonder. With a very strong critical and commercial debut Devotion nominated for The Mercury Prize last year, 2013 sees her audience growing with the North American release on April 16 complete with four bonus tracks.
Ware, 28, says she can sense something’s taking place but is reluctant to call it a “buzz.”
“You don’t want to tempt fate, do you,” she says. “But it feels really good playing here. It feels like people are on my side and that’s a really lovely feeling. But I don’t know buzz…you know what I mean? I feel like a prat saying it.”
A former journalist – and the daughter of BBC Panaroma reporter John Ware – Jessie started writing material a few years ago but found it tough starting out.
“I think it was more trying to get the confidence to write the songs at the beginning was actually harder than making the album,” she says. “I got into the flow of it, took the shackles off of the neurotic me who couldn’t write a song for my life. Once I started working with the right people actually it came not easily but it was really enjoyable.”
One of those “right people” was Dave Okumu who Ware says brought “love and real nurture and good taste” to the proceedings.
“He always said I could do exactly what I wanted, it was just about getting the right amounts of everything,” she says. “So I’d be like, ‘Why not get a choir on this one?’ and he’d be like, ‘Yeah, wicked, but….’ He said it was like making a recipe, you just had to have (the right amounts), not too much salt, not too much sugar.
“I think he loved the fact it was our first time with him producing an album and me writing one. It was all very exciting and he never quashed that. He just let my imagination run wild and let me run free and just took all of my ideas and tastefully held them up.”
Devotion has several high points but two of the best numbers were from Ware thinking the album was done. With the pressure lifted off her shoulders, she kept writing. The two songs she came up with were the timeless “Wildest Moments” and “Running,” the latter she describes as a sequel to the song “Sweet Talk” that she worked with Julio Bashmore on.
“It was a really easy song to write but we made it really late at night,” she says of “Running.” “I don’t usually work late at night. I quite like to treat it like nine to five, be really focused, but we wrote this really late and I loved it.
“It supposed to be like a scene in an old teen prom film, you know that last scene where the guy is going to apologize to the girl for making a huge mistake and then it’s all very dramatic. So ‘Sweet Talk’ would probably be earlier in the film and ‘Running’ would be at the later bit when she realizes she’s in too deep and she made the wrong decision.”
When it comes to her singing career, it was far from a mistake. Ware says while she wasn’t “a very good journalist” she took a few things from journalism and applied it to her music.
“I love when they can say something quite simply and it can universally resonate and people can understand it everywhere,” she says after thinking about it. “I really like to try and do that as well and take the idea of simplicity, even if you say ‘I love you’ that you mean it, however simple it is.”
She also says she’s better equipped for the ancillary rigors which come with being in the spotlight than if this stardom were to hit her in her late teens or early twenties.
“I think I can appreciate it a bit more,” Ware says. “I can also accept that if it all got taken away from me then it would be okay because at least I had a go. I kind of feel like it’s wonderful what’s happening and I love it and I hope this can be my career forever now. But if it didn’t then I’d go train at something else and I’d go and do it and I’d have wonderful memories.”
Although the April jaunt was a short trek across North America, it included MTV streaming her headlining gig at New York’s Webster Hall before concluding at Coachella. Ware enjoys touring and loves playing the new upbeat song “Imagine It Was Us,” one she says has “a different kind of personality” and is “quite fun” live.Just don’t ask her about a cover version of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” as she couldn’t perform it on the Canadian and American trek.
“I can’t do ‘Diamonds’ because I don’t have a fretless bass,” she says as if about to stomp her feet in disappointment. “I’m gutted. We did it all in Europe because we had a tour bus but we’re flying everywhere and fretless basses are quite expensive to hire. I’m gutted because I loved that but alas.”
If there’s any solace it might be the gifts she’s received from fans along the way. Ware receives items from all kinds of people and places. Toronto was no different as she tweeted about getting “a hand made dress, a cd and a lovely gold ring!”
“I get lots of roses which is lovely,” she says. “I got this whole package from these Polish gentlemen that gave me a guide to Poland. I think they’re kind of hoping I’m going to move there. (It was) chocolates, very long letters by both of them and some flowers. It was like a Valentine’s gift, very nice. People are very sweet.”
(more at da)source
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