Jessie Ware is brimming with enthusiasm. When we caught up with her she was in Boots shopping for stage make up but couldn’t contain her excitement that her debut album is about to drop - the same day it streams on the Red Bull Studio website on 20th August. “To be honest I've not been able to think about things. I wouldn't say I’m nervous - I'm really excited!” She bubbles down the phone. “I owe a lot to Red Bull Studios, so for me it feels a bit like a party and a celebration for all that they've done for me.” The south London vocalist’s debut album ‘Devotion’ is one of the most eagerly awaited records of the year and she's not feeling the pressure: “I'm excited for people to hear it as I'm really proud of it.“
Recorded almost entirely at the Tower Bridge hub, with The Invisible’s Dave Okumu, Julio Bashmore and 19-year-old producer Slime, Ware can’t get over the amount of support she received while she was there. “I couldn't believe there was no strings attached. They let me use this amazing studio, with the wonderful Brendon who got really involved and was such good fun to be around and nothing was ever too much hassle and bother.” She laughs. “We proper bedded in for two weeks and everyone would come and say 'hi' and it was such a lovely atmosphere. They made me feel so comfortable and wasn't at all corporate. It was like being in any studio but with more atmosphere and lovelier people. It was like being in someone’s house for two weeks.”
Before meeting Okumu, Ware was lacking in confidence in her own abilities and direction. “I kinda just thought that I wasn't really articulating what I wanted to say and doing the music that I wanted to do.” Ware explains. “I felt a bit lost and then Dave and I started working together and it all started to make sense. He really, really opened it up for me to know what I wanted to say and what I wanted to sound like. Dave's no nonsense - he's the kindest, sweetest person. He made me laugh and he made a lot of sense to me.” The chemistry between her, Okumu and Bashmore was instant and an important thing to have when you’re creating emotional and sometimes gut-wrenching songs.
Her confidence grew as she started to compile a body of work she was happy with and started to play around and try new ideas with her producers. “I was adamant that I didn't want guitar in it and now it's become really prominent on the album.” She recounts. “I guess it's because of the joys of loop pedals and Dave is incredible on the guitar as well. I also learnt the use of recording vocals and reverbs and delays and whether you want to track a vocal or not. On some tracks I treated the vocal more like an instrument and then with other tracks I'd take the lead. I'm really happy that I got Bashmore to play the guitar - I didn't even know he played the guitar. I'm also really pleased that I managed to get Dave's vocal on the album as he's got such a beautiful voice.”
All of the tracks on the record capture a moment in time in Jessie’s life: ‘Devotion’ is the album title as that’s where it all started – when Dave came to Jessie with an idea and that track is the product of them first working together. ‘Wildest Moment’ is about her best friend, ‘Sweet Talk’ was written by her and Bashmore after a curry on a hot night in Bristol and the final track ‘Something Inside,’ produced by Slime, was her perfect outro song. “I think it sounds like it feels like a Disney film. It was actually supposed to be called 'Pocahontas' -that's how much I thought it was so Disney.” She says, laughing. “I like it because it takes you into a dreamy world and it's a good way to exit the album. I'm glad I got to work with such a talented young producer.”
‘Devotion’ is a British electronic soul tinged album completed by a bold, confident lead singer, inspired by the likes of Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston and more recently Frank Ocean and Feist, taking on the world head on. “I definitely feel like I'm a singer now. It's a reality now and it's such an amazing opportunity that I don't want to ruin it right at the start. And I’m going to start enjoying it.”
'Devotion' is out 20th August on PMR, pre order your copy.
Watch Jessie’s live performance of 'Devotion' @ 7pm on Monday 20th August
Come to Broadway Market, Hackney for some Jessie Ware inspired art
Check out pics from Jessie’s first ever solo performance at The Nave