Since her 2010 debut single, singer Jessie J has enjoyed a phenomenal run of success. As she releases her second album, quits role on The Voice and goes on tour, arriving in Belfast October 15, she tells Andy Welch about the many lessons she’s learned
When Jessie J wrote her debut album Who You Are she had her time at London’s premier talent academy, the BRIT School, to draw upon. Not to mention knockbacks from a record label that went bust before releasing her music, songwriting for the likes of Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus, and the various trials and tribulations of being a teenager.
Who You Are, following on from the huge success of her debut single Do It Like A Dude, was a big deal in the UK. It didn’t go to No 1 - her former schoolmate Adele kept her off the top spot. But it has since sold more than 2.5 million copies.
Jessie’s also headlined festivals and appeared on just about every TV show an artist can do, even becoming a regular judge on one.
But things are very different this time around as she releases her second album, Alive.
“I know what I’m doing that bit more,” says the 25-year-old, clad in a cream outfit almost the same colour as the shock white crop she’s growing out after shaving her head in March for Comic Relief. “I feel like I’m in control and prepared, rather than just turning up. I know how I want to represent myself, what to wear and all that. I know a catsuit on Lorraine just isn’t right.”
There’s a new-found self-awareness to Jessie.
Alive took five weeks to write, spread over a year to accommodate her other commitments and as with her first album, she called up a host of big names to help co-write and produce, none bigger than Rodney Jerkins, who’s worked with the likes of Michael Jackson.
All producers and co-writers this time were people she’d worked with before, or close friends and colleagues of previous collaborators.
In her view she treads a fine line on Alive between being truthful and holding something back for herself.
It’s best demonstrated by the new song I Miss Her, one of the album’s big ballads. “It’s someone in the family, but I don’t want to name them because it’s a privacy thing,” says Jessie. “This someone is very close to me and very ill, and isn’t them any more. So she’s here, but she isn’t her.
“A lot of people have family members who suffer from dementia and things so I wanted to write a song about it, when someone isn’t themselves.”
One song she’s happy to explain is recent single It’s My Party, which is directed squarely at those on Twitter who spend their time sending her abusive messages.
“I was in the studio one day and looked on Twitter and there were all these messages coming in, like ‘I hate you’, or ‘You’re ugly’, and I just thought about how negative people are. You know - get a hobby, or a job or some friends. These people should focus inwards, because it definitely seems like they need to work on themselves a bit and find some peace.”
And then there’s The Voice. Jessie, along with The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue, announced that she won’t be returning for a third series of the BBC singing contest. “I won’t miss it,” she says. “Not in a bad way, just that it’s time for someone else to have a go.”
Jessie J , Odyssey Arena, October 15.