Jessie Ware: My mum hates the song I wrote with Ed Sheeran
The London singer, who’s just had a baby and released her third album, discusses writing with Ed Sheeran and adoring being a mother
‘It’s mad being a new mum’: Jessie Ware performing at the Lido, Berlin, in September. Photograph: Frank Hoensch/Redferns
There are very few artists that can sing about love the way that Jessie Ware does and since she’s become a mother, this love has only grown and it’s all there on Glasshouse, her latest album.
She began writing new material for her third album when she was pregnant – and in the case of some songs on the album, very pregnant. Iit was completed after the birth of her daughter but the year leading up to the release date was difficult for Ware.
A true London girl, Ware was vocal about her support for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK’s general election in June and across her social media, posting about her social activism, taking part in the anti-Trump Women’s March in January, baby strapped to her in a papoose, while also giving insights into her personal life, uploading photos with her friends and family.
“I think I’ve been pretty transparent with the fact that this year hasn’t been the easiest; it’s also been the most magical and memorable but, like, it’s mad being a new mum and also when you’re trying to write a record and put it out in the same year,” she says. “I’ve managed, I think, to get through it and it’s quite exciting and I love my job and I’m adoring being a mother.”
She roped in some of pop’s big guns, such as Benny Blanco, Julia Michaels, Francis and the Lights and One Republic’s Ryan Tedder, to help create a smooth and soulful album but one of the album’s standout tracks is Sam, co-written by Ed Sheeran, who she says has helped her write some of her best songs.
Dedicated to her husband Sam Burrows, who she has known since they were in primary school together, Sam is a promise to herself, her husband and their daughter that their family unit will be solid.
As simple as the message sounds, it was a labour of love and while she was providing back-up vocals for Sheeran’s album Divide ÷ when she was eight and nine months pregnant, she decided to pull him aside in the studio one day to call in a favour.
“I respectfully did all of my stuff on his tune and then I was like ‘listen, I know this is your session for your music but do you think we can look at that song because I really think it’s great and I think we can do something with it. I just think the chorus just needs to be better’, and he was like ‘sure’,” she says. “And, no problem, we rewrote the chorus together.”
“I think maybe with me being so pregnant made it so poignant and that’s maybe why the chorus is how it is. It was very much focusing on this anticipation of being a mother and reflection. And, I think, we captured it pretty beautifully together but it is really thanks to Ed. He is such a wordsmith and he really helped me.”
The song delicately closes the album. When she puts such personal details into her songs, like mentioning her fraught relationship with her own father, how did her husband and family react?
“It’s not my mum’s fave, I’m not going to lie. She prefers Selfish Love, I think, but my husband loves it,” she guffaws. “I kinda thought maybe it would be a bit of a Marmite song, people would be like . . . because it’s so personal but I realise that it’s resonated with a lot of people and, you know, I was happy. It if had just been a song for my Sam, then that would have been okay too.”
Even though she is a sterling pop star and has collaborated with massive acts such as Nicki Minaj and Disclosure, there is still pressure on Ware to get as much radio play as possible and that can be a massive distraction when it comes to making new music. While that sidetracked her briefly, her producer Blanco had the sense to snap her out of it, allowing her to give her new songs time to breathe and develop.
“I think I lost myself a little bit along the way with this record but I was reminded of what I could do and I homed back in on that and I stopped thinking about, I guess, necessarily like a radio song. But I think about that craftsmanship and the artistry, I think that’s when I made my best music and thank god I had Benny Blanco reminding me of that,” she says.
“Even though I took a slight detour, I’m feeling more confident than ever about what I do.”
- Glasshouse is out now on Island Records