To soften up the office, we listen to music all day, everyday. Sometimes in the background, often not, it’s what drives the Bandit office in busy times like these, and relieves the stress of multiple x multiple briefs. As you can imagine then, we eat up music faster than Cadbury’s Creme Eggs (the best chocolate snack ever invented, if you didn’t know).
We’ve run out of Creme Eggs now, but we’re still listening to Jessie Ware. She’s been a hot subject around here for weeks now and that takes something special.
Daughter of BBC Journalist John Ware, she had originally planned to follow in her father’s footsteps and was working for the Jewish Chronicle (UK) when old friend Jack Peñate requested she sang backing vocals for him at a session with the BBC. I would say that Jessie is probably Peñate’s best contribution to the music industry. From there things took off slowly though – perhaps to do with Jessie’s modesty and the refreshing fact she never even dreamed of becoming a pop star. Well sorry, Jessie, you are one.
Having made friends with the likes of SBTRKT, Julio Bashmore, & Sampha, she featured on a few tracks that caught my attention on Youtube in early 2011. Her gentle yet heartfelt highs work brilliantly, echoing over the carrying bass and chop-chop beat of SBTRKT in “Nervous”.
She went on to make her solo debut with “Strangest Feeling” later in the year, followed by “Running” and “Wildest Moments” in early 2012. Unfortunately, none of these reached higher than No. 46 in the UK charts, however the last track managed No. 3 in Belgium. Although Jessie may not yet have made her way onto many iPods on home shores, the connections and tracks she had made so far meant that the music industry was definitely listening up to her undeniably strong voice.
This track “Never Gonna Move (110%)” is one of my favourites. With Julio Bashmore on production it has a definite dance music, Little-Dragon-esque vibe to it, which suits Jessie well.
Enter those Disclosure brothers, who remixed “Running” into a fresh, spring/summer bouncer. Far from the only remix of a Jessie Ware song, this one in particular showcased Jessie’s vocal talents better than her own songs did, pushing Disclosure well and truly into the spotlight and pulling Jessie, obligingly, further in with them. Now it seems like everything they touch turns to gold, but that’s another story.
It was this track, that reminded me of Jessie’s name. In fact, this track does a lot for me and did a lot for Jessie!
SO GOOD, RIGHT?!
After it’s release in August 2012, her debut album “Devotion” reached No. 5 in the UK charts. It seemed that over the past few months everyone had woken up and now knew how talented she was. I think people needed an album in order to enjoy her voice properly. At least I did. One of her solo singles just didn’t fit in a playlist for me, and did little for me on it’s own, disappointingly after I had been so obsessed with some of her earlier work with Sampha. However now I have the album, I can sit and enjoy track after track of the
same soulful voice, paired with the production class of Julio Bashmore, Dave Okumu and Kid Harpoon. For me the album strikes a perfect balance between foot tapping, gentle desk-dancing and soul so rounded you stop still.
I had found that this need for an album before I could fully appreciate an artist was also true with Emeli Sandé and Adele. I never downloaded a single because, well, I wouldn’t listen to it. But an album is different. It covers a block of time and takes you somewhere: perfect for getting your head down and working, sitting in the London tube, or cycling somewhere in Copenhagen as dusk falls after work. Or for writing this post.
Jessie Ware has been nominated for Best British Female Solo Artist and Best British Breakthrough at tonight’s 2013 Brit Awards. I’m rooting for her in the first category where she’s up against Amy Winehouse (just… no), Bat For Lashes, Emeli Sandé, and Paloma Faith.
Jessie got lucky, is one way of looking at it. Her career was started by Peñate only to be helped along by SBTRKT and friends, Bashmore and Disclosure. No, she didn’t have a hard childhood to write about. She didn’t go through rounds of rigorous popularity auditions on the X-Factor, nor did she drink to excess and take all the drugs under the sun for her art.
But who cares, she herself said that she is a singer, not an artist, and she’s a bloody good one.
Here is the song that first caught my attention. Sampha & Jessie Ware – Valentine, with Jessie looking even more “normal” than usual!
And if anyone fancies sending us some more cream eggs, you know where we are.