With a vocal range like Adele, and the soulful charge of Amy Winehouse, Jess Glynne is in command of one of the most distinct and piercing female voices in the music industry today. She garnered international attention when Clean Bandit featured her vocal on their breakthrough track, “Rather Be”. The single quickly became a global sensation, later netting the team of producers and vocalist a Grammy win!
Glynne has since been busy in the studio working on her debut album, I Cry When I Laugh, which is now available at all digital service providers. The album showcases the many facets of her explosive talent, “I was involved in every part of the creative process,” she revealed, “from the songwriting and production, right through to the mastering of the album.” Her lead single, “Hold My Hand” has steadily climbed the charts, and is prominently featured in a Coca Cola commercial.
In the midst of her busy U.S. tour schedule, I was fortunate enough to snag a few minutes with this blazing star on the rise. She opened up, vulnerably discussing the challenges she has overcome, what it was like to win the Grammy, and a few fun personal facts you probably don’t already know about her. Read on to get to know this genuine and thoroughly beautiful talent.
You can also catch her performing live this evening in Minneapolis, MN. Tickets are available here.
Marian Tuin: Let’s start with the hit single, “Rather Be” that featured your vocals and launched you into the international spot light. How did you get the feature with Clean Bandit? And more importantly how dramatically did this single change the trajectory of your career?
Jess Glynne: Clean Bandit heard the track I’d done with Route 94 (My Love). They are also on the same label as me – Atlantic – and they got into contact asking if I’d like to work with them. At first I wasn’t sure as I don’t like singing on songs I haven’t written on, but there was something about it that I just connected with and the rest is history.
MT: What was it like to then win the Grammy for “Rather Be”?
JG: I still can’t quite believe it. When they announced our names as the Grammy Winners, I was in shock. It was a surreal but an unbelievable experience and one I’ll always remember.
MT: How did your songwriting experience prepare you for the catapult into the industry?
JG: One of the best pieces of advice I got coming into the music business, was to write 100 songs and then to find your niche, find what excites you, and keep on writing and working on it. When I started writing songs, I was doing lots of other jobs to support myself and one of those jobs was in a music management company. So I had some understanding of what the demands on an artist are before becoming an artist myself and experiencing those demands first hand.
MT: To date, what has been one of the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve had to overcome in your career?
JG: Undoubtedly having to have the vocal operation. I was so scared although I was in the best possible hands with Dr Zeitels from Boston, who has done similar ops for lots of people like Lionel Ritchie, Roger Daltrey, Adele and my friend Sam Smith who recommended him to me. I was with the best man in the world but there’s still no absolute guarantee that it would work. Thankfully it has and I think my voice now is the best its been – possibly ever.
MT: Tell me about the writing and creation of your forthcoming album, I Cry When I Laugh. Is this all material you’ve written? What were the inspiration/influences behind it? Any collaborations?
JG: There’s a lot of songs that I’ve written that didn’t make the album and there were some tough decisions on the song choices. I collaborated with a whole host of people. Probably the key people for me were Knox Brown, a really talented musician and producer from Birmingham in England. We worked together on songs like “Aint Got Far To Go” which, for me, became the spine of the album. And then my friend Janeé “Jin Jin” Bennett who is my key co-writer and finally Starsmith who really helped finish things in the studio.
MT: Thematically the album seems to be emotionally charged, and eloquently styled. How much of the creative process were you involved in, in the studio, producing, etc.?
JG: I was involved in every part of the creative process. From the songwriting and production, right through to the mastering of the album and then the artwork which I worked on with my friend Jo’Lene Henry, who made my first video.
MT: How will all of this emotional energy translate to your live set? What are your plans for the tour?
JG: I’m so excited for the tour. The songs take on another life when you play live. I love my band – there’s seven of us on stage – and I really feel it’s a show now and you feed off what you get back from the audience, whether it’s a big festival, or a smaller club. I just love that whole experience.
MT: Once this album releases here in the U.S., what are some of the goals and next steps you have planned for the rest of 2015?
JG: Simply to take my music around the world. After the first US tour, we are off to Japan and Australia before going back to England and the rest of Europe. Hopefully we’ll be back in the US for more touring either side of Christmas and then again in 2016. It’s going to be busy!
MT: Since we are all just getting acquainted with you as an artist, and a woman, what is one fun fact you want fans to know about you and/or your artistry?
JG: I love horse riding. Haven’t been able to do it for a while but hopefully I can do it again when I get a break. Maybe I’ll have my own horse one day!
MT: If someone were putting together a life soundtrack of Jess Glynne, what would be one of the songs that you would say has defined you, or made a tremendous impact on your life?
JG: Have to say the album “Frank” by Amy Winehouse. I can remember when my parents, who are both huge music fans, came home with that album. It was an inspiration – that voice, those songs, from a London girl who I could relate to.
September 24 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Cafe
September 26 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza
September 27 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
September 29 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
September 30 – Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour