Q&A: Jessie Ware on New Music, Disclosure & Soundtracking Condom Commercials

Jessie Ware backstage at Lollapalooza. (Jeremy D. Larson/Radio.com)

Jessie Ware backstage at Lollapalooza. (Jeremy D. Larson/Radio.com)

After touring the States three times within a two-year span, Jessie Ware feels like she’s finally found her groove in America. Though Ware feels more comfortable here, she doesn’t feel like she’s a household name just yet.

“Everyone goes, ‘Oh, do you want to break America?’ and I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t know if I’m going to break America. I don’t care. It’s just nice to be here,’” Ware told Radio.com. “The more I’m here, the more I love it.”

The British singer says playing the good ol’ US of A is an honor, but it’s also been weird to play festivals like Lollapalooza–where Radio.com caught up with her–and share the bill with American artists she admires.

“It feels very bizarre to be somewhere that has influenced me so much,” she said. “But this is a nice way to spend my day, singing to people I’ve never met before, it’s wicked. I feel like I’m on holiday all the time here.”

In our chat with Ware she also talked about new music, not being a pop star and why she’s totally fine lending her music to condom companies.

Radio.com: Recently your fans took to Twitter to talk about your song ‘Wildest Moments” being in a Durex condom commercial. You were pretty quick to respond and defend the use of your song.

Ware: So people started tweeting me and being like…”Ugh, Jessie Ware should know that her song is in a Durex ad. It’s awkward.” And I was like, “No, I okayed that!” I’m so happy it’s promoting sex and safe sex and I think my best friend who the song’s about is a bit iffy about it because she’s like, “Oh God, people are going to think we’re more than friends.” But no, I’m so proud of it to be honest. I’ve always wanted to make sex music. Now I can say I’m in a sex advert.

Your album Devotion is definitely sexy. 

I think it wasn’t purpose, it was kind of accidental. The way I delivered my vocals, I wanted it to be quite hushed and quite subtle and I wanted to be able to exist in a room where people could get it on. Not like in the room, but sonically. It definitely wasn’t planned to make sexy songs, but it was just about the delivery. I just didn’t want to ram my voice in people’s ears.

There seems to be a trend of female musicians opening up about sex and what they want from their partner. Do you think it’s important for women to speak up about this kind of stuff?

Yeah, definitely, of course. I guess I’m not confident enough to do that totally, I like to make nice songs. I love Destiny’s Child’s songs, don’t get me wrong, and be like “No, no, no, no, no” and all that, but I’m too scared to do that because I want to keep friends with all those I’ve done my songs about. [laughs] Or I hide it really well with metaphors so no one knows this song is about them.

Is Devotion about anyone in particular?

It’s about a few people, some not so nice people, some nice people. Family and friends.

Has anyone called you out for writing a song about them?

You know what? I’m such a bad person at keeping secrets that I usually blurt it out, “This one’s about you!” Yeah, there’s a few that don’t know that they’re about them but yeah, I’ll keep it like that. [laughs]

Devotion came out in August 2012 in the UK and then the following spring here. Are you ready to retire some of these songs?

I’m not going to lie, I’m ready to write some new stuff because it’s really exciting playing shows. I’m not tired of the set, but I can’t wait to bring a few more, you know? Like, because we’ve changed the set up a bit and we’ve added more live versions, but I am definitely excited about starting the next record.

Have you started writing new songs?

Yeah, I have started writing here and there because I’m touring so much. What’s been happening [with my career], I’m really proud of and I’m really excited about but I need to find the time to just lock myself away a bit. But that will happen once I do the full autumn tour here [in America], which is the last tour I’ll do with this album, so it’s absolutely fine.

Do you think these new songs will be in the same vein as your debut?

Yeah, man. Like I don’t want to turn my back on all the people that supported me for this kind of music. And I’m proud of the music I’ve been making. But I guess maybe I’ll be bit more confident with my next album. Maybe take a few more risks. Use my voice in a new way. I’d like to think this won’t be my last album, but who knows, it may be.

Did you go into Devotion thinking it would be your last?

With this album, I just went into it hoping I’d come out alive and I didn’t know what I was doing and I was really scared. So it really was just like, “Will my friends like it? Will my mum like it? Do I like it?” Because if nobody else likes it, I need to like it. And people have been really nice.

Is there any chance we’ll see you collaborating with the boys of Disclosure again soon?

Whenever we’re on the same lineup, if we can, I will always jump on the mic. In fact I try to jump on the mic and they’re like, ‘Jessie, go away!’ I think we’ll always work together. They’re going to be so busy for the next year doing their album, but I don’t know, maybe. I love those boys, they’re like my little brothers.

Would you consider yourself a pop star?

For me, I don’t really feel like a pop star, I feel like a 28-year-old woman that’s like singing a bit of a song. And I think in Britain, I don’t know, the pop stars that I look to and respect are people like Annie Lennox and Sade and Whitney Houston. If I can call myself a pop star, and I’m a bit like them, that’s cool, but I don’t really think I am a pop star. I think in America, pop stars are a little different than in England. We’re really self-deprecating and I’m a pessimist so we don’t always feel like it’s going to work out. So yes, it is quite different.

More from Shannon Carlin

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