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Jessie Ware: ‘I try to be a classy bird’
It’s been just under a year since UK soul singer Jessie Ware first hit the scene with her stunning, Sade-esque debut single Running, and since that time – in subsequent singles, videos, and across her phenomenal debut album Devotion – she’s emitted a carefully cultivated aura of class and poise.
“Just as you’ve said that I’m poised, I’ve spilled water all over me,” she cackled, speaking to the Star Observer over the phone of this week’s Australian visit.
“To be honest, that’s not me at all. I try to be a classy bird, but I’m clumsy, I’m cheeky and I talk far too much.”
Devotion made its way to many critics’ best-of-2012 lists, thanks in no small part to Ware’s stirring breakthrough single Wildest Moments. Casting aside the subdued feel of earlier releases, this was Ware at her most emotional: singing from the heart in a lighters-aloft power ballad worthy of Whitney Houston.
“It definitely felt like a breakthrough, because I could watch it extend beyond that left-of-centre indie world. I mean, bloody Katy Perry tweeted it, which was so sweet of her,” Ware said.
While the song reads as an ode to a passionate love affair, Ware actually wrote it about the rocky relationship she shares with her best friend Sara.
“It came out of a fight with Sara, who actually now I’m a bit worried about. I’ve talked about the story behind the song in interviews, and it really hurt her feelings. She loves the song, but I feel guilty talking about it,” she admitted.
As you may have guessed, the 28-year-old Londoner was raised on a steady diet of quality soul music.
“I’ve always been a real soul and R&B fan, but I always feel like I’m learning more about old R&B that I didn’t even know about. I can’t get enough R&B – I’m loving the new Brandy album at the moment.”
Speaking of Brandy, Ware recently teamed up with fellow Brit music darling Katy B for an ultra smooth duet that tips its hat to Brandy and Monica’s 1998 classic The Boy Is Mine.
“We’ve always joked that we should do a ‘Boy Is Mine’ song. Out of the blue, Katy got in touch and told me she’d written a song she described as a new Jolene. It worked out so easily and naturally because we get on so well.”
The song takes on further significance given its title, Aaliyah, is a nod to the groundbreaking R&B singer who died in a 2001 plane crash aged just 22. Despite leaving behind only three albums, she inspired a new generation of female singers, Katy and Jessie included.
“I just thought it was genius of Katy. I loved the fact that it was a nod to this late R&B great who’d definitely have no trouble taking your man away. If you had to have anyone steal your boyfriend, it may as well be Aaliyah.”
INFO: Devotion out now. Jessie Ware tours as part of Laneway Festival until Feb 8. Dates at jessieware.com/live