British Breakout Interview: Jessie Ware on Brixton, British Pride, and Breaking the States (Video)

Jessie Ware in BBC AMERICA's New York office. (Photo: Freya Last)

Jessie Ware in BBC AMERICA’s New York office. (Photo: Freya Last)

This week, we welcomed Jessie Ware to BBC AMERICA’s New York office for our British Breakout series. The Brixton-born journalist-turned-chanteuse has all of the earmarks of a great American crossover. Her addictive debut album Devotion, set to be officially released in the U.S. this month, was on all of the critics’ year-end lists in 2012 (including our own); she was shortlisted for Britain’s Pulitzer of pop music, the Mercury Prize; and her creamy R&B sound, like that of her idol Sade, is sensual enough for the boudoir and sophisticated enough for the high-end boutique. She kicks off her U.S. tour this Friday with a sold-out gig at New York’s Webster Hall.

But one thing is to-the-marrow certain: no matter how successful Ware becomes in America, she’ll never stop flying the Union flag for the U.K.

“I don’t know why I’m so patriotic about being musically British!” she told, adding that she grew up in the drum ‘n’ bass scene that was dominated by English DJs and producers. She added: “I love and am so influenced by American R&B, but there’s nothing worse than when a British person tries to sound like an American. However influenced I am, I want to sound British.” She cites her pronunciation of “dancing” as “dahncing” in her elegantly yearning club track “If You’re Never Gonna Move” (previously known as “110%” in the U.K. and famously endorsed by Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith):

Here are a few choice bits from our chat with Ms. Ware. First, we spoke about embarking on her first major U.S. tour and the audience response here. Not surprisingly, our crowds tend to be a touch more “vocal”:

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Also, if you’re in London and just happen to be stumbling around Jessie’s home neighborhood of Brixton, she has some great advice on sightseeing in the area. Plus, she talks a bit about her collaboration with rapper A$AP Rocky, who expressed fervent interest in working with her in the press earlier this year:

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Finally, what’s the one TV show Jessie misses when she’s here in the States?

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And a few more samples of Jessie’s music, starting with her newest track, the uptempo “Imagine It Was Us”:

Devotion will be released stateside on April 16 via Interscope Records.

Jessie Ware fans, make yourselves known in the comments below:

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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