It took about three words to come out of her mouth on Route 94's 'My Love' before I declared, errr, my love for Jess Glynne and her voice. Then, once her amazing pipes lifted Clean Bandit's 'Rather Be' to somewhere way above your average dance-pop hit there could be no looking back. This was a voice that needed to be heard, that didn't seem destined simply for commercial success: Glynne's soulful, old-school singing style made you think of the classics like Aretha, and also of Amy Winehouse thanks to its smoky, jazzy quality and an ability to stop you dead in your tracks.

It wasn't until last month that the flame-haired Jess Glynne finally got to show that while she's got a killer voice, she can also write the hell out of a pop song. 'Right Here' is huge in every way; from the sentiment, through the massive chorus and back to Glynne's unstoppable voice. It's 2014's biggest and best song to date. I honestly think she could sing anything and it'd be amazing.

So when we got the chance to speak to the North London, Muswell Hill-raised pop sensation we couldn't turn it down. As Glynne tells me of her delight of sharing the stage with Kelis at Somerset House the previous evening, I'm happy to report her speaking voice is just as alluring as her stunning vocals...but time is tight, so we jump straight to business....


So, Jess, how does it feel now that 'Right Here' is finally out and, umm, right there at the top end of the charts?

I'm feeling great about it! It feels amazing to have released my own song now, and the fact it went into the top ten is unreal!

Is it good to have that wait over then? Has it been a long time coming?

I've been working for a good four or five years on my music but I only got signed last year, so ever since then I've been gearing up to release something. It's been a great journey, and obviously having the two songs released earlier this year I kind of needed to pick a moment and then concentrate solely on mine...so it's been a little wait, but it's been good!

Can you tell us the story of the single?

I wrote that song with Gorgon City in our first session; I'd only met them a couple of times before - once when we were in Ibiza - and we went into the studio after that and reminisced on our Ibiza memories. Originally I started writing it about a relationship, and the more we got involved in it and started talking about it, the song became something else. We were all going through a similar sort of thing at the time - signing our record deals and doing our albums, starting our careers - and it became a moment of finally reaching a point of doing what we love. That was the feeling that changed the session, and 'Right Here' just happened!

Photo: Tom Griffiths for The 405

That's interesting; because that's what I took from it as well...it's like a signal of your musical intent, in a way.

It is a moment of musical intent, but for me it does have two meanings: it does come from a relationship I had and those little connotations and things but yeah, it is predominantly about the music [career] from both of us. It's weird, because normally there's one solid story...but for me it is kind of two!

Let's go further back...how did you get started? Do you come from a musical family?

My family are massive musos; they love music but they're not musicians as such. No-one in my family sings but my parents introduced me to all different worlds of music and that's the reason I genuinely love music. I love live music, I love soul....good writing, I love it all! And they're the people who got me into it, definitely.

What about the voice? Is that all your own?

The singing...[laughs] I cannot give any credit to my family! I always naturally could sing, but I did have a few lessons because I think that's just what you do if you can sing, you know?

I'd read that your school wasn't exactly helpful when it came to following your dream...is that correct?

No, my school wasn't supportive, not at all. It was a really good music school and if they loved you, they loved you and if they didn't....well, I was unfortunately one of those kids they just hated. I auditioned for a few things and it was always like 'errr, not this time Jess', and that actually set me back so much that I didn't do it [performing] at school. I've never taken issue with it, because if I'm honest I'm very grateful for the actual determination it gave me for all the years afterwards and to get to this point. I don't think I'd have got here without that.

So did you keeping singing and performing away from the school?

I did a few performances but I mainly did a lot of writing and recording rather than anything else; I'm not a massive fan of....I did do shows, but I didn't do a lot of them...

Let's talk Route 94 and 'My Love'; how did that come about?

Route 94 was through my publisher, actually; they got us in the studio and he had this song that was already done, and we had to play around a bit because it kind of ripped off a song...well, not ripped off! But he'd used a sample...that sounded really bad, I take that back [laughs]! He'd used a sample we couldn't use so we had to edit it [the song] and rewrite parts of it.

Photo: Tom Griffiths for The 405

And was it due to that song that Clean Bandit approached you?

Clean Bandit approached me because they'd heard my voice on 'My Love', yeah; they said they basically wanted to use my vocal, so they sent me the song. Originally I was quite hesitant to do it because I'd never sang a song I hadn't written, and I found it a bit weird. But once I went into the studio and we'd created a song together it was such an amazing experience, which I'm very grateful for.

They seem like such perfectionists, that lot...

Do you know what? I give them full credit! I'm the biggest perfectionist when it comes to my music and my work, and they are exactly the same. It's their songs and they are very passionate about how they sound, and I think you have to be. If you're not, then I don't think you care enough and that's what so great [about Clean Bandit] and why I love them so much. They're perfectionists and they love their music and I think that's so important, to have that quality.

Going back to you, who influences your sound and your style of singing?

Oh, there are loads! I take influences from a lot of singers; soul-wise, Etta James, Aretha Franklin - all of their records gave me a lot of inspiration for vocals. Then for writing songs, Lauryn Hill is one of my biggest heroes when it comes to writing. She was the one that got me into writing, really. I hadn't fallen in love when I was a teenager, and she didn't always write about love; when I listened to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill I realised that I could write about life.

Outside of music, what are your interests? I'm guessing style is important to you judging from the 'Right Here' video.

I love visuals! I love the creative side of music [videos] and love getting involved in it! That stuff really excites me and I like being weird and different - I don't like your average video, I don't want average photos - I like to mess things up, and I think that makes it more exciting than just plain old singing at the camera.

Finally, when are we going to see a Jess Glynne album?

You're gonna see an album, but you won't see it this year! It'll be out next year; I'm kind of taking my time with it, it's nearly finished...I don't want to rush it, and I kind of feel like people still get to know me as an artist and have a feel for who I am. When you release an album, you want people to buy something they can really believe in and that they love. And I think you need to allow time for that.


Jess Glynne is set to play the following dates this autumn:

  • Wednesday 15th October – The Foundry – Sheffield
  • Thursday 16th October – ABC2 – Glasgow
  • Friday 17th October – Club Academy – Manchester
  • Sunday 19th October – Rescue Rooms – Nottingham
  • Monday 20th October – Temple – Birmingham
  • Wednesday 22nd October – The Globe – Cardiff
  • Friday 25th October – Thekla – Bristol
  • Sunday 27th October – O2 Academy 2 – Oxford
  • Monday 28th October – The Brook – Southampton
  • Tuesday 29th October – Waterfront – Norwich
  • Wednesday 30th October – Electric Brixton - London