English singer Jess Glynne come to widespread attention with the hit single "Rather Be," by Clean Bandit.
Her debut album, I Cry When I Laugh, debuted at number one on the UK albums chart and her second studio record, Always In Between, helped make her the first British female solo artist to have seven number-one singles on the UK sIngles Chart.
Windy City Times: Hi, Jess. I saw you perform at Subterranean last time you were in Chicago. It was too small of a venue for you.
Jess Glynne: It was really small and tight.
WCT: You blew the roof off of it.
JG: It was amazing. Did you know that was one of my favorite gigs I have ever done? It was a long room, right?
JG: It was wicked and so memorable. Chicago and Washington on that tour were my two favorite shows.
WCT: When did you realize that you could sing?
JG: Growing up I was introduced to a lot of music. My parents love music. They always have been. They always introduced me to music as a kid and it was quite important to them. I became obsessed with it from a young age. I would listen to it around the house and sing.
I developed such a passion about it that I would imitate Aretha Franklin a lot. She was my idol at the time. I wanted to sing exactly how she could sing.
I liked big voices, like Mariah Carey, as well. My best friend in primary school used to sing with me. When we were about 7 years old we sang "Hero," by Mariah Carey. I think in that moment I realized I could sing songs that other people couldn't do. I was a little girl, but felt cool.
WCT: There is something about how you hit the notes that captivate people.
JG: Oh, the execution, well I really appreciate that.
WCT: You have a big gay fan base.
JG: I know. I really do. A lot of gay people really relate to me.
WCT: Do you have a song that speaks directly to the gay community?
JG: I haven't written a song specifically for that. I do have songs that people that are gay can relate to thought.
For me, I have been in relationships with guys and girls. I have never hidden from it. I guess that is something that people can relate to, but I don't specifically write in that way. It is definitely something that I allow everyone to connect with.
WCT: Your song "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself" I connected with because I can be too hard on myself.
JG: Yes, and I think the LGBT community has the biggest struggle. It is good to know you are not alone and express your emotions. Music is something that can help with that.
WCT: Should people not wear makeup after the lyrics about it on the new song "Thursday?"
JG: I have a bit of makeup on right now. It makes you feel good sometimes to wear it. The industry I work in is hard on your appearance and puts a lot of pressure on you. When I wrote "Thursday" I was going through my own insecurities. I was questioning myself. It is not about what other people think. It is about how you feel and your happiness at the same time.
Of course I want to give to the masses, but at the same time I want to sit in my own skin and feel comfortable. Writing that song was a bit of therapy for me. It taught me a lesson to not always care about what other people think. "Thursday" is a song that helped me and I hope can help a lot of people.
I wrote it with Ed Sheeran in the studio. I usually only like writing with Jin Jin because she is my best mate and she draws the best out of me. I spent a lot of time with Ed so we could talk about the highs and lows of everything we go through as artists. He's on a much bigger scale than me so he gets it and understands. It made the process a little easier.
WCT: How is it breaking through to [U.S.] audiences, as opposed to the UK?
JG: It's hard in America as a British girl. It's one thing I don't want to give up on. I love coming to America because everyone is so enthusiastic and supportive. I have had little bits of success here. I am on my third tour here. That is because you guys are so loyal. Everyone sticks by you. Every tour I have done has gotten bigger.
Coming here is so refreshing. Everyone appreciates music differently and every show is different. I love coming here because you don't mind saying how it is. The audience shouts it from the crowd and sings along. There's no shame and I love that.
WCT: Many of my DJ friends are looking forward to the upcoming concert in Chicago.
JG: I can't wait. It will be very different than what you saw last time. WCT: You had good backup singers.
JG: I did, but will have different backup singers now. I will have a four-piece band and three singers.
Glynne hits the notes at Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., on Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m.. She returns to Chicago on Saturday, April 20, with Leon Bridges at House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St.
Visit JessGlynne.co.uk to keep up with news and the tour.