"Are you cool with that?" Sinead Harnett points to her iPhone which is being propped up in a plastic cup. It's barely audible and I assure her it's fine to continue playing while we chat in her dressing room. "It's very lightly playing but it's not as loud as... that!" [Laughs] "That" being fellow artist Ady Suleiman, who is currently soundchecking on stage. He's due to open the live proceedings for Harnett in about two hours and sounding pretty pitch perfect for a soundcheck. She says she a bit tired after celebrating a friend's birthday and her first run of live shows for the summer. "There wasn't really much time to sleep."

Meanwhile, back in her dressing room, a young lady is styling Harnett's not-so-recently cropped hairdo. Early adopters of Sinead Harnett would probably be more familiar with seeing her with long flowing brunette hair but ahead of the release of her new single, the feisty TMS-produced 'She Ain't Me' she chopped off her locks, trading in for a more 'edgy' pixie cut. Reluctantly, I ask her about the change; bearing in mind this is probably a topic that's come up a few times in interviews. I refer it back to Britney Spears' extreme head-shave situation in 2007 and her MTV 'For The Record' special in which she mentions not realising what a big deal it would have been ("People shave their hair off all the time!") but she's laughs it off ("That's so jokes because I would never put her and me in the same category, especially as hers wasn't really a haircut!") and reveals it's a change that's not totally out of the ordinary for her. "I just wanted a change- You know what? I've done it before! I've had short hair, like four years ago when I was at uni and I thought "I'm just gonna do it again!" It was that simple really. And it's been a nice spruce; I feel like it's signified a lot of me adopting this new found confidence..."

Confidence is a big part of her new mantra and a word that comes up a lot in our conversation. In her earlier days - when she was collaborating with the likes of Rudimental, Wiley and Disclosure - she recalls being shy and reserved, especially when it came to performing live. Her debut headline show back in 2014 was, as she put it, "a mess" in comparison to what she showcased at Oslo. "[I'm feeling] very different to how I was last year. I found a way to enjoy it all now whereas before I was so shook; so scared. I feel like now it feel natural now whereas before I felt like "I don't belong here." I was always really nervous but now it's really fun. I want to give everyone and good show and I want to enjoy it. I still get nerves but it's about learning how to use them and not letting them beat you. I've found a way to use them as a positive rather than let them get to me. I'm glad I found a good way to be in the moment."

Part Thai, part Irish, Harnett admits that her colourful background has unconsciously made its way into her music and her album, which is currently earmarked to be released later this year. She's worked with a selection of producers and co-writers from the UK and across the pond including Two Inch Punch, KOZ, James Fauntleroy and TMS, who she says came into the mix quite late into the creation of the record. Recently, it was also revealed that she'd been taking meetings with the legendary Rodney Jerkins and that Janet Jackson was interested in working with her after he played her some of her material. She's called the album a "jigsaw puzzle of me growing up once I realised that I could make singing my full time job," and seems really excited to not only release the record but to just be back on stage once again.

What promoted your decision to release 'She Ain't Me' as your new single? I remember you performing it at your last show, actually...

Yeah, I think it came from a different angle compared to any of the stuff I'd written on the first EP. It felt a bit feistier and a bit truer to me. The EP was where I was at that time and as I was getting into the real core of the album, 'She Ain't Me' was one of the first songs I wrote. It felt special so I instinctively said "I think we should go with this next." It's like a bridge between the first single and the last EP. I guess it's a step up and in my plot, it just felt like the right next move to make rather than just go straight in with the first single.

Does it come from a real life experience?

Yes. It's something that's occurred to a lot of people that I know but it definitely happened to me more than once. When I went to the studio that day, [producers] TMS were like "Come on, I want to see the feist, where's the feist? Who's breaking your heart?" I was like "I'm not writing a song about a guy, don't piss me off! Why should a guy get the credit? Why should I be singing a tune about him?" I was almost quite defensive. Then I just thought, "Ok, I'm going to challenge that defence. Ok, this has happened recently...." And I talked to the boys about it and the melody came out in about 10 minutes and the lyrics came soon after. I think for me, that tune was making a positive out of a negative situation. I wasn't crying about the situation in the song, I was celebrating the fact that the person ended up with a disloyal person. I thought "I'm still a great girl so... bye!"

TMS produced the song and I know you've worked with a variety of producers for the album. How heavily do they feature on the album?

I've done a few sessions with them since but they went to LA soon after that session and I went to LA for some sessions myself. Before I knew it, I was mastering the album! They came in at a point where I'd written a lot and I'd kind of found producers that I wanted to stick with... but it's weird because 'She Ain't Me' was one of the first songs that I'd written for the album. I think because I'd been writing for over a year, I'd already met people that I'd gelled with as well. Luckily they were there too and I would like to do more with them as well.

Some will know of you from your past collaborations with Disclosure and Rudimental and the story goes that you ended up working with Wiley through Twitter. How did that happen?

I went to Uni in Bournemouth and I was in my final year doing my final assessment. I was in a girl band. It was just me and another girl, I was a singing waitress, I sang in a club once a week so everything other than the degree was dedicated to music. It wasn't even measured. It wasn't like "I must do this!" It was just part of the fun and something I enjoyed as a hobby. My friend Josh from uni said "If you don't get a Twitter account, you're an idiot. And if you want to do this, it's a good way to self-promote, meet people, connect etc." I'd recently got it and Wiley found a video that someone had posted of me singing a tune that I'd written and that was that.

What did you study at university?

Acting.

Did you want to be an actor or was music always your passion?

Music was first.... not choice but just what came naturally. When I went to choose my degree, which I felt that I had to do because it was quite expected, instead of doing psychology I did acting because I was like "I'm 18 now, I'm just going to do what I want!" I wasn't really encouraged to do anything arty. If anything I was discouraged.

Why's that?

My sister and I were raised by my mother who had quite traditional East Asian expectations. Not to stereotype but she came from a family that wanted you to do something academic or medical, not creative. I don't think she was into the acting idea but by then I was like "I'm an adult."

You're on quite a few 'One's to Watch' lists for 2015. Do you see that as added pressure to do well? How does it feel to be touted as the "next big thing" by these publications?

I see it as more ammo to go for it and a little more like "I must be doing something right." If they believe in me, I'm going to believe in myself even more. I hope to prove them right rather than "Oh my gosh, I must do it!" Because of this epiphany that I've had recently about enjoying it, living in the moment and just owning it, my positive outlook on it is "Wow, that's great! What a great platform, let me prove them right." Whereas the older version of me would probably have been more like "Have they got it wrong? How do I live up to this?" Part of my growth as an artist is accepting that this is what I'm meant to be doing and I just take it as a positive.

A lot of the other people on these lists are your peers and friends; the MNEK's, Becky Hill's, Kate Stewart's etc. Does it feel like competition to you?

Well... I think everyone knows that if you're doing something similar to your peers, you're going to have to compete at some point; there's charts, there's iTunes, but everyone's got their own lane. They are friends of mine so I see it as everyone's on their own journey and everyone's time is not necessarily the same. I feel lucky that we've got each other to talk about it to each other and share the stage, it's a blessing. I don't see it as a negative and I don't feel like I'm in a competition. I feel like I'm amongst very talented people and I'm like "You're sick!" to all of them!

How are you feeling about the album? Would you say it's an accurate depiction of where you're at in life right now?

There are a few songs that I wrote at the beginning of my journey... not even journey... I guess when I say journey, I mean when music became my full time job. There's songs on there that I wrote when I was a lot younger, then there's some that I'd written before I was signed and there's a few that I wrote while I was on the road with Rudimental and finally, in the last year when I was putting it all together and writing more, some of those things made it. It's basically a jigsaw puzzle of me growing up once I'd realised that I could make singing my job. I think it's a reflection of the last few years' situations but then the more personal ones like for instance, the title track which is called 'I'll Remain' is probably the most important one on there. That's about a situation I've had since I was a child about a family member.

That's an interesting question when I think about it. Imagine if we could go up to Stevie Wonder and say "What was this album about?" I guess when I'm thinking about it now because no one has ever asked me, it's definitely me now but it's also younger versions of me also. I'm feeling positive about it. I've used that word a lot today!

What do you normally listen to before you go on stage?

Well, I normally do a vocal warm up first. I like to listen to upbeat stuff that makes me happy like a bit of house music or I'll just put my phone on shuffle. There's a tune out by Melé called 'Ambience' and that is just... I love stuff that makes me feel happy because if I'm happy and enjoying it, they are going to enjoy it. My last headline show, I was struggling and I think people could see that. Well, actually I don't know if they could but I definitely feel like I wasn't as happy then but now I'm going to be listening to things that'll put me in a good mood. I think back then I wasn't even listening to anything before I went on stage and also there was a corridor for a dressing room. I didn't really have a Zen moment to get into the right frame of mind.

Who are your inspirations? Who were you listening to when you were growing up?

Michael Jackson and Tina Turner were always on when I was little. As I was grew up, I had such eclectic taste but some of the more obvious female role models were Lauryn Hill, Etta James, Amy Winehouse as I got older but then I got into quite dark, sad stuff as well. I remember I had the Damian Rice album and I watched Closer; that album is so beautiful. I love strings! Now, if you looked at my Spotify, you'd be a bit like "Whoa! You listen to a lot!" But I think the biggest influences came when I was a teenager with the likes of Sean Paul, Blu Cantrell, TLC, Destiny's Child, Mya, Usher... all of that classic R&B shit!

You briefly mentioned your Thai background earlier. Does that or your Irish heritage have any influence on your music?

I do think there's a bit of an Asian spruce on the album. I remember when we were listening to the album, one of my A&R's Glyn [Aitkins] said "Your music makes me want to this!" and he was doing all these arm movements. I was like "Bro, you really shouldn't be doing that...!" Even on 'She Ain't Me' people have said they can feel a dancehall tinge to it; that's not Thai but there's certain things on the first single that's a bit... pentatonic, maybe? Things that make you want to move your hips a bit in that way. There's definitely no Irish sounds in there though [laughs]. I am proud of where I'm from, however. When I was growing up, I found it difficult because there was a bit of racism going on. People wanted to put you in boxes and because I was half Thai, they were like why are you white but your mum isn't? I'm glad to be different and I love Thailand and Ireland!

What are you looking forward to for the rest of 2015?

Performing, writing and the album campaign roll out.

Finally, what would you like your musical legacy to be?

I have got a few other passions however. I grew up with my mother but she was in between the UK and Thailand a lot. There was a family up the road that are like my other family. That has probably influenced why my other part of my ambition is to have some sort of... I don't like the word orphanage or foster home. I think they always sound sad but I'd like to have somewhere people can go to be brought up because they don't have anyone to help bring them up. I'm quite a cheesy spiritual person so anything that promotes you belonging somewhere within a community, I want to do that and I also want to do acting again.

What I want to be remembered for is inspiring people to believe that they fit in because I didn't think that I did and now I am going to fit in. Positivity is what I want to be remembered for.


'She Ain't Me' is available now on iTunes.