The Wylde Interview: Jess Glynne
BREAKING RECORDS HAS BECOME A WAY OF LIFE FOR TITIAN-TRESSED PERFORMER JESS GLYNNE. AS SHE PREPARES TO SHARE HER LATEST ALBUM, ALWAYS IN BETWEEN, WITH THE WORLD, WYLDE MEETS THE WOMAN WHO COLLECTS NUMBER-ONE SINGLES LIKE NECTAR POINTS, AND WE LEARN ABOUT RECORDING, RIOTS… AND RYAN GOSLING
PHOTOGRAPHY AND INTERVIEW BY DAVID NEWTON
In four short years Jess Glynne has gone from unknown newcomer to chart-topping songstress the world over. First appearing on Clean Bandit’s Grammy-nabbing smash Rather Be, she went on to score multiple hits under her own name, busting records as she went; Glynne now has more number-one tracks under her belt (seven, at time of writing) than any other UK female artist. Her debut album I Cry When I Laugh – yet another number one – appeared in 2015 and it’s taken the last three tumultuous years for Glynne to record and release her next album: Always In Between. We like an intriguing album title here at Wylde, so that seemed a good place to start our post-shoot interview with the red-maned singer-songwriter.
Wylde: Where does the title of your new album Always In Between come from?
Jess Glynne: I guess it’s just a really good summary of where I’ve been in my life over the past few years, literally always in-between. I’ve been here, there and everywhere, in my emotions, my lifestyle, my friendships, my relationships. With the work that I do, you’re constantly being pulled left, right and centre, and, for me, the point of this album has been about accepting myself and not allowing those pressures and that in-between to be a negative; to just be, and to accept that this is me, this is my life and who I am. And to not be afraid of showing that.
Is there a progression, style-wise, on this album from the last one?
Yes there’s definitely a progression; it definitely doesn’t sound like the first album. It’s quite different, it’s a step forward in my career. It’s the best work that I’ve done and I’m proud of it. Musically, it’s come a lot further; it’s definitely not as overly produced. It’s a lot more musical, it’s more intimate, vocally. It’s more vulnerable and honest and real. The last album was very hopeful; about feeling hopeful through your heartbreak. This one’s more summarising me as a person and the things that I’ve been through, as Jess.
Are you a different person now, compared to who you were two years ago?
I don’t think I’m a different person at all, I just think I’ve grown a lot and been through a lot. It’s added to me, rather than changed me as a person. I think I’ve been more open with my lyrics on this album. I want to get it all out when I’m writing a song, but then it can be quite scary when I read it back and think: “Did I say that?!”
Is there a lyric on the new album that you thinktypifies the whole thing?
[Singing:] “Sometimes I’m sad and anxious. Sometimes I’m down on my knees. Sometimes I try to break through my insecurities.”
I heard you recorded the album in the English countryside? Why was that?
It was in the middle of nowhere in a beautiful house in Sussex. Before that, I kind of tried a few different things… I went to America for a while, but everything I did wasn’t quite right. I didn’t feel that I’d found my voice and what I was trying to say. I think that was due to the excitement of starting again, and due to the pressure of the success of the first album; I was overthinking things. I took a step back and took some time off and really lived a bit, and came back to myself. I reached the point where I was ready to write, and I felt that the only way I was going to get it all out was to go away with the people that I love, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, without any pressures. I wanted to be in a space that was organic and free and allowed us to have fun and make music that means something to us, rather than to somebody else. That was the best decision I could’ve made, and this album feels very close and intimate.
I notice you use the terms “we” and “us” a lot; do you feel that you work best as part of a team?
I’m a big team player, yes, although the album was created with my voice and my lyrics.
You keep breaking loads of records – does this just heap more pressure onto you to deliver?
I feel that I’m still so early in my career, and I’ve still got so much that I want to achieve. I’ve only had one album out and I think it’s so incredible to have so many achievements behind me, but I try not to focus on it. It’s not really a pressure, but it does make me want to work harder. There’s so much that people expect, but I try not to worry about it; it doesn’t get you anywhere.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself at the age of 15?
Oh wow… just take every day as it comes and don’t try to get ahead of yourself. And be prepared.
And what would you say to another girl who’s wanting to break into the music world right now?
Make sure you have an amazing team around you, who love you for what you want to do. I’d say that was the most important thing.
How do you even get an amazing team around you?
That’s a really good question. I think it’s all about having your wits about you and having people who give you solid advice. It’s really important to have people who care about you, around you. You’ve got to study your craft and know what you’re worth. And really understand what these people around you are about, and see what they’ve done themselves in the past, what successes they’ve had, and what their main concerns are. It’s also about having a good head on you, so you can understand when someone’s trying to fool you, or they’re out for the wrong reasons. I worked in a management company [ATC Management] and I worked with a great team there, and one of the guys gave me really great advice when I left. Working in the management world before I tried to become a singer, I learned a lot about the industry, how it all works; the dos and the don’ts.
Whose music are you loving right now?
Eminem’s album [Kamikaze] is my favourite thing right now. And I’m listening to a girl called H.E.R. She’s wicked. And I’ve been listening to a lot of Erykah Badu recently. And I love India Arie.
Did you enjoy our shoot? What did you think of the different looks we gave you?
The looks were a bit different to what I would normally wear, but I think that’s quite a cool thing. With the lace and the corset and stuff, we made them me, although I wouldn’t say it was something I would wear every day.
Who are your favourite designers?
My favourite designer, who fits me really well, is Alexander Wang; it’s almost like he makes his clothes for me. I also like Off-White; it’s not necessarily in my going-out-at-night option, but Alexander Wang is definitely a going-out brand. Also GCDS; they’re Italian and they’re really cool; they’ve got really great crops and stuff… kind of sports-luxe.
Would you ever go into acting?
Yes, I used to go to drama school, an outside-of-school thing. But I was always quite shit, ’cos I’d always get the giggles!
What kind of movie would you love to be in?
Something like The Place Beyond the Pines, because I love Ryan Gosling in it. My friend has an obsession with him and has done for a long time, and it’s really odd, ’cos she was watching The Place Beyond the Pines over and over again and she was like: “You need to watch it!” So I watched it and, because she was so obsessed with it, I think I developed the same obsession with him… and now I love him!
Why do you like it so much?
Just watch it and you’ll see!
Any recurring dreams?
Anyone who knows me knows I have really vivid dreams, and I always tell people my dreams… but to remember just one, hmmm…
What’s the weirdest one?
All my dreams are weird! I’ve had melodies in my dreams that I’ve managed to write down and record.
There was a story in the news recently about some passengers who were stranded on a Jet2 plane and forced to listen to your song Hold My Hand, looping for hours! What song would get you rioting in the aisles if you were forced to listen to it on repeat?
Oh god… that band called Las Ketchup! Or Macarena!
Will Jess Glynne’s imminent output be causing riots? Time will tell! This is a woman who now breaks her own records, rather than those of her peers, so whatever happens, it will all be on her own terms…
Photography: David Newton
Styling: Yamine Daaboul
Hair: Lyndell Mansfield @ CLM, using Pureology
Make-up: Jo Frost @ CLM, using MAC Cosmetics
Nails: Jenny Longworth @ CLM, using The GelBottle
Photographer’s assistant: Paolo Navarino