Jessie Ware gets straight to the point when she talks about the images and inspiration behind her new album. What is your pleasure
“Oh my gosh, lots of pictures. So much dirt on my head! The singer-songwriter tells the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast (listen below).
“I mean, in my head, I was somewhere between (legendary and outrageous nightclubs) Studio 54 and Berghain in Berlin. That’s where it was. It was intentionally cinematic … I was picturing it at the club, but in my perfect version of a club, that, you know, would be selling a dirty martini and a pack of salt and vinegar chips (chips). “
What is your pleasure It marks the British star’s fourth studio album, and debuted on the UK’s official album chart at n. # 3, her biggest mapping effort to date (and the fourth top 10 in her homeland).
Ware says it is his “dream for this record” to play at Berghain’s Panorama Bar and he can’t wait to bring the album to life on a live show.
“You know part of the reason why I did so much choreography on this record, on the footage,” Ware says, “is because I’m going to do that on the live show. I’m going to have a good time with all my fans, and they will know the dance routines because they are not too difficult, because me you can do it and that’s how it is!
Below are a few highlights from Ware’s chat with the Pop Shop Podcast, including his reflections on the early days of the album (and who told him ‘let’s go to the disco, let’s go to the boogie, let’s go home’ on the set) , his ideal setting for his next tour, and how he thinks Rosalía is “killing” him in his shows. Also, Ware, who is also a very successful podcaster (as co-host of the food / chat show Tabland manners with her mother, Lennie), talks about how the podcast has influenced her music career and how she’s not quite sure if her recent guest Josh Groban knew it was also a singer.
Do you remember the time when you decided on the vibe and direction for this album?
I knew that even before I did my first session with (one of the album’s producers) James Ford. We speak. We are friends. And I said, ‘I want to make a dance record. And I want to make it sophisticated. I want to do it as a Jessie Ware dance record. And I want to have fun. ‘ And he said, ‘I want to hear you on a dance record. I also want to do this. Let’s go to the disco, the boogie, the house. And that was what we did.
So we knew what we were doing, and I felt like I was in good hands with James. And he approached producers like Morgan Geist, who is in New York, and Midland, who is actually close to me (in London). And then it was wonderfully collaborative. Then I would go to Kindness, or Joseph Mount from Metronomy. It felt like the old days when I just said, ‘hey, do you want to work together?’ And you would just say, ‘yes! I think so, I would like to work together! And it was really nice.
Did you have pictures in your head when you were making the album?
OMG many pictures. So much dirt on my head! I mean, in my head, I was somewhere between Studio 54 and Berghain in Berlin. That’s where it was. It was intentionally cinematic, and that was what I loved about the old ropes and horns, with Jules Buckley, whose incredible songwriter, whom he had worked with on tour. He had done this mini tour with (superstar DJ) Pete Tong everyone knows, and he had been singing dance classics, and it was a lot of fun, and Jules was the songwriter. I thought, ‘I’m going to have that, and I’m going to have that, and it’s going to be great!’ And for me, absolutely, I was imagining it in the club, but in my perfect version of a club that, you know, would be selling a dirty martini and a packet of chips with salt and vinegar (chips). You know? Like, that’s it.
On what Berghain is like:
In fact, I think phones are not even allowed. I’m not sure. Berghain is a place you don’t know, just like Studio 54, you don’t know if you’re going to enter. So there is this line, and you should expect that you look good or be with the right person to enter. And it’s like this kind of myth around you. It is a fact. And there is this Panorama Bar (in Berghain) that many of my friends have DJ. I remember my friend Julio Bashmore, with whom I made songs like ‘Running’ and ‘If You’re Never Gonna Move’ with ‘Sweet Talk’. Much in the first (album). And he would fly to Berlin, and he would get up at 6 o’clock to have his Corn Flakes, and then he’d go out to go do a kind of sunset in Berghain. I mean, I could have chosen to stay up all night and, I don’t know, do bad things and whatnot, but yeah, that’s how we do it. I love this feeling that has to do with dancing. It’s about keeping people dancing.
Berghain was supposed to play. You can play the Panorama Bar. We talked to the promoter in Berlin that I was going to play it, and then, I don’t know, they transferred me to another place. I don’t know what happened, if it was some capacity or something. They moved me to another place and I still have to play Panorama Bar. And this is my dream for this album to play there.
Has she really been to the club?
No. but I have heard much a story.
What have you envisioned in terms of performing these songs live? Is it total maximalism on stage?
No. Well, I don’t know. It is definitely a different setup (compared to previous tours). I really learned the hard way that touring with a full band is quite expensive, and you can lose a lot of money, and it’s really sad that this is the reality of being an artist who is not massive, but people still like to see me . But anyway. So, I learned that and decided I wanted to do something that felt cheaper. And I think people are much more forgiving of things that are on a (prerecorded) track (rather than having live musicians).
At the beginning of my career, there were only four of us on stage. I was activating things with my MPC (drum machine) and was it allowed? And then I think I got into this purist version where I thought, ‘Oh, everything must be alive!’ No, he does not do it! You see Rosalía killing him with dancers and a bunch of backing tracks and she’s killing him, and he’s singing and he’s got an atmosphere. And then I saw Rosalia, and I was actually talking to Kindness, who was, you know, really saying, ‘You need to be less of a purist about this, like, it’s too expensive to play with (a) whole band.’ So … the beauty of this album is that I can go with a DJ, alone and do (shows), if I want. Or, I can bring my two loyal backup singers who will do the dance moves with me, and that will be a bit more of a vibe. And then, if we really want to go there, and someone wants to pay me a lot of money to be able to play, we bring musicians, of course!
My dream would be to have a couple of musicians. Like, a DJ / electronics assistant and two BV (backup vocalists). And we would do choreography. You know, part of the reason I did so much choreography on this record, on the images, is because I’m going to do that on the live show. Because I’m going to have a good time with all my fans, and they will know the dance routines because they are not too difficult, because me you can do it and that’s how it is! Then it can grow, and it can grow, and it can grow. Or it may shrink. And it will still sound great, because I can sing live, so that’s it.
Have Table Manners Has it influenced your musical career in any creative or commercial sense?
Yes, it has removed the commercial aspect of music, which is what I needed. Because I was doing this podcast, I’m doing very, very well, and I was enjoying it, and it felt fun. And I think the music and the business side, and the money side, got really heavy for a while. And that’s not fun. And then that just ruins creativity. So the podcast has been incredibly powerful for me as an artist, to really feel like I can let go and feel free and creative again. That was really amazing. And then, you know … I think people have come to the podcast that maybe they didn’t even know anything about my music, and then I really liked the podcast, so potentially they were like ‘oh, I’ll listen to Jessie’s music because having it in my ear every bloody week anyway. So I think it was really interesting to see how it worked. I can never say how much it has impacted, you know, listening to this album. But I think it definitely has probably helped. I mean, I wouldn’t have cared 75,000 bloody sales of my album in the first week like we do on the old podcast, but you know, we’re getting there!
Josh Groban was a recent guest on Table Manners, but Ware is not quite sure that she was a singer too:
I don’t think he knew who I was, he was hysterical. I don’t know … Josh was charming and very sweet. And I loved how he got into cooking while locked up. I don’t remember what I had been cooking, but I was having a great time. But yeah, I just got (laughs) the impression that I don’t think he knew, I think he just thought he was on the phone (with) two Jewish women who wanted to talk a little bit about food. It was fun. It’s funny … Maybe I knew it! Maybe I knew it!
In addition to the Ware interview, Pop Shop features Jason and Keith reviewing the chart news about Dua Lipa earning their third # 1 on the Pop song chart with “Break My Heart” and Drake breaking the record for top 10 in the Billboard Hot 100 with its two new 10 top hits. Also, Jason shares his quick version of Taylor Swift’s new surprise album. Folklore.
the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one stop shop for all the things that appear BillboardWeekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion on the latest pop news, fun stats and stories, new music, and interviews with stars and people from the pop world. Casual pop fans and list junkies can listen BillboardKeith Caulfield, Senior Chart Director, and Jason Lipshutz, Senior Music Director, every week on the podcast, which can be viewed on Billboard.com or downloaded on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show. on Billboard.com.)