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Jessie J

October 2013

SHE has been delayed by two hours due to London traffic.
“I wish my car could fly,” says a frustrated Jessie J, finally arriving at rehearsals for her debut UK arena tour.
“Traffic and rain is never a good combination.”
The tour, which comes to Nottingham next week, is up and running but when we speak she’s just about to go through her first full production rehearsal.
“I feel like I’m back in a musical at school,” says the 25-year-old who walked away from the BBC’s The Voice to concentrate on her music career.
“I have someone in my ear saying ‘exit stage centre and walk through the doors...’ because there is so much to remember,” she continues.
“It’s the biggest show and the longest setlist I’ve ever done. We have pyros, fire, five costume changes, footage on the screen...
“I’m, like, sweating three songs in.”
She says ‘like’ quite a lot. It’s an Essex thing.
She adds, excitedly: “The band just ran through Do It Like  A Dude and they were saying ‘it was so hot!’ I was like ‘Why?’ and they were like ‘There’s so much fire!”
She laughs: “At least there are no wigs to set on fire.”
The hair, now blonde and cropped, is a stark contrast to the black bob she sported for her first album. There has been a lot of fuss over the change, which came about when she shaved it off for Comic Relief in March.
“I’m surprised that people think I’ve got a plan for it. Of all the things in my life, the hair is the thing I think least about. I just need a haircut every now and again.”
So has she got a plan for it?
“I might go dark again soon. It’s just hair. It doesn’t define me it doesn’t change my voice or my personality.”
She says that there are dozens of people involved in the staging of the tour but Jessie J is the one calling the shots.
“I remember Beyonce once said: ‘Being polite isn’t always fair to yourself’. That really struck a chord with me because, as a female, so many people can make you live your dreams through their eyes and their vision.
“When you’re talented people take it for granted and it becomes their thing instead of yours.
“There are moments I look back and I’m like ‘I wouldn’t wear that... I wouldn’t wear my make-up like that’ but someone convinced me that it worked.
“Now I go ‘No, no, no... I don’t want to look like that!’”
She adds: “This is my life and I have to look back at it and go ‘Yes, that was me!’”
One imagines it would be easy to exercise her fame and success to gain control but she says not.
“Because everyone has an ego.”
Jessie has taken control of the show, creating a narrative that runs throughout.
“When I found out I was doing an arena tour I wrote a treatment and I said ‘this is my idea and this is what I want to do’. It’s a little story that’s kind of explaining the album,” she says, referring to Alive, which reached No. 3 last month.
It was kept off the top spot by Haim and Justin Timberlake, while her debut had to sit behind 21 by Adele, a fellow graduate of the Brit School.
It was there that she transferred her passion for musicals to pop music.
“I wanted to do musical theatre from when I was really young,” says Jessie, who was 11 when she was cast in Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End production of Whistle Down the Wind.
“I did musical theatre until I was about 18 but when I started writing songs I got excited that music is really the only global language and I’d be able to share my feelings with the world through my music.”
In many ways, Jessie J, who was born Jessica Cornish in Chadwell Heath, prefers the theatre to pop.
“It’s a lot harder playing yourself,” she says.
“That sounds weird but playing a character means you can go home after work and no-one knows you. Being you is weird sometimes because you get asked questions and you’re like ‘I’ve never really thought about that, I know I have to answer it but I don’t know what I’m going to say.’”
So I need to ask one of those questions you’ve never been asked before, don’t I?
“Yeah, basically. Go!,” she says, playfully.
OK, if you were a biscuit, which biscuit would you be?
She’s quick to reply: “I think I’d be either a Hobnob; you can dip them and they won’t break; or a bourbon.”
She pauses, then wonders: “Is a Twix a biscuit?”
Sort of.
“It’s got biscuit in it. It’s mostly biscuit.”
There are different layers...
And it’s soft on top.
“Oh God,” she sighs.
At 17, while still performing in stage musical, Jessie was signed to a record label and recorded an album but before it could be released the label folded.
She then found success as a songwriter for artists such as Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus.
Eventually, Universal signed her and released Who You Are, which produced the singles Do It Like A Dude and Price Tag.
She thinks the new album is a more mature offering.
“My demographic is changing with this album, so I’m excited to see who comes along to the shows. Three and four-year-olds were at gigs when I toured with Who You Are. I’d like to think that I’ve now caught the attention of an older crowd too.”
She has never been to Nottingham before and only knows that it’s a big student city. So what is she expecting?
“Everybody dressed as Robin Hood,” she quips, when I remind her of the local legend.
“I’m just really happy that people are going to see something that I’ve dreamt of,” she says of the show.
“But you never know if people are going to like it or not.”
She’ll soon find out because she is in touch with fans through social networking sites such as Twitter and the photo based Instagram.
“I love Instagram,” she beams.
“And you can set the story straight using it.”
“Ever since I’ve been doing Instagram the stories in the papers are taken from my Instagram. It’s something that I’ve put out there, not something that’s come from someone hiding in the bushes or in a car park in a creepy car with a creepy camera...
“I’d much rather it came from me.”

Jessie J plays the Capital FM Arena on October 24 and 25, where she’ll be supported by Lawson, the band featuring Ravenshead guitarist Joel Peat. Tickets are £28 to £36.40, available from the box office, call 0843 373 3000 or go to
Follow her on Twitter: @JessieJ or Instagram: isthatjessiej

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