“It’s an album about all aspects of love…” – hmv.com talks to Jessie Ware
Plenty of great albums were released in 2012, but almost none of them united opinion quite like London-born singer-songwriter Jessie Ware’s Devotion.
Devotion, which Ware had made quietly over the previous year, was full of elegant, yearning songs, as much inspired by hip-hop and R’n’B as they were by classic soul and folk.
Ware had first come to prominence after singing on a number of tracks with acclaimed dance oddball SBTRKT, her voice, which is both haunting and powerful, dominated the tracks and demand quickly grew for the public to hear what she had to offer on her own terms.
Devotion sold handsomely, shifting over 100,000 copies in the UK alone, and now Ware returns with a second album simply titled Tough Love (which you can preview on the right hand side of the page). We chatted with her about the making of the album, working with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Miguel and why this is an album about all aspects of love…
How long have you had the album ready for?
“Finished it back in April, so just a little while ago.”
Where did you record?
“I recorded it all over the world, in New York, in L.A, in London and it was all kind of in stages, I stopped touring in November, so from December onwards I was really working on the album. I had tracks I’d written before, but the bulk of it was done then. Most of the recording happened while I was in demo stages and throughout March and April.”
What was that what you wanted? Did you want to go right around the world?
“Not really, it just kind of worked out that way. I do like that each place has its own feel and I think you can hear that on the tracks. It was a lovely process, it wasn’t rushed or disorientating at all. At the same time there is something romantic about that idea of locking yourself away for months and writing and recording, but that couldn’t have happened with that album.”
You’ve got a host of great collaborators on the album. You’ve got Miguel, Dev Hynes, Ed Sheeran, Julio Bashmore and more besides. How did you go about assembling them? Were they suggested to you? Or did you reach out?
“A bit of both really. I reached out to Miguel, I really wanted to work with him. One of my producers actually suggested I get in the studio with Ed, he told me we’d get along really well. I kind of knew Ed already, through his cousin weirdly enough. Dev is a really good friend of mine. I basically wanted all the people from the first record, but with a few extras.”
How did you want this album to move on from Devotion?
“I didn’t want to separate it at all. I wanted this to be an extension of Devotion. I wanted it to show how I’ve grown, how I’ve developed and I wanted to make something more confident. But I used Devotion as a reference point throughout it, I didn’t want to jump away from that. I was always thinking about my live set, I’d be thinking ‘Oh this could work really well in the set next to that’.”
How did writing compare? Did it change how you wrote knowing that people were waiting for your next record?
“It was a nice feeling to have an audience in mind this time. I was mainly excited, I was thinking about how songs would work live and imagine people thinking along. I’m excited for people to have this album.”
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is it very different from Devotion?
“I don’t actually think it’s that different from Devotion. I feel inspired by the same themes, it’s got the same kind of use of words. Thematically I’m touching on the same things, it’s an album about all aspects of love. I was happy, I was happy on the first record, but this time I was just so excited about recording again.”
When did you decide on the title?
“I think I always knew that would be the title. I like titles to be song titles and this was a song that I really wanted the album to feel like.”
It’s a lovely cover, but quite plain, why did you settle on that look and feel?
“I love black and white photos. I wanted this to look like a classic portrait. I feel like I’m more relaxed this time round, I didn’t need the armour of all the make-up and the big hair piece. It’s me looking out a window in Brooklyn, which is where the album started, so it’s a snapshot of it all getting started.”
How much live stuff do you have booked?
“I’ve got Brixton Academy next year and there’ll be more dates around then. I want to tour all next year and go all round the world. I’ll be at plenty of festivals too.”
Jessie Ware’s new album Tough Love is released on Monday (October 13th). You can pre-order it in store now.