Jessie Ware seems shocked when Mixmag reminds her it’s just 12 months since her first single ‘Strangest Feeling’ was released.
But what a 12 months it’s been for the shy, self-deprecating singer. Over the course of 2012 her debut album ‘Devotion’ has gone top five in the UK charts and picked up a Mercury nomination, she’s become one of the country’s leading female stars and generated a fan base so fanatical that they even make videos to celebrate her birthday as if it’s a global holiday.
But the standout moment for Jessie was playing in front of a packed, 1,500-capacity home crowd at Brixton Electric. “It was really, really special,” she says the day after the gig. “It felt like a homecoming, and was the highlight of my year. Plus it’s always good to get people to come south of the river!”
The 28-year old singer-songwriter has had a pretty remarkable rise. Channelling the likes of Stevie Nicks and Chaka Khan she’s captured the hearts of those who love powerful female vocalists, as well as the imaginations of Britain’s leading dance music producers.
Joker and SBTKT had already snapped her up to feature on their tracks before Dave Okumu, with help from Julio Bashmore, produced her own material. T Williams, Zed Bias and George FitzGerald then came knocking to remix her – but it’s a duo who Jessie discovered herself that really sent bass-bins crazy at the start of the year.
“I saw Disclosure before they were signed to [her label] PMR,” she explains. “I asked for them to remix one of my tracks because I just knew they were so exciting.”
The brothers took ‘Running’ and spun it into a track which will top many people’s end-of-year charts, and in doing so set bass music on course for commercial success – with the duo’s follow-up, ‘Latch’, just missing out on the Top 10, and more inevitably coming in 2013.
Disclosure’s star may be rising, but Jessie is getting set for even greater things herself. Her first trip to Australia and the USA beckons – including a sold-out gig at New York’s iconic Bowery Ballroom – and she says she intends to squeeze in time to do some songwriting for her second assault on the Mercury Prize. Not bad for someone who 12 months ago, didn’t even have a band to support her.
JESSIE WARE'S HIGHLIGHTS OF 2012
‘Running’ (Disclosure remix)
Her vocal helped ignite the biggest genre rise in dance music this year
Shows off her vocal range – and the production talent of Okumu and Bashmore
If you want to know why such a fuss has been made about Jessie Ware, listen to the album in full and you’ll understand