After a whirlwind two years which have seen her score five No 1 singles and a chart-topping album, you’d think Jess Glynne would be well accustomed to fame.
But the down-to-earth Londoner insists she keeps forgetting that she’s a pop star and still isn’t used to being recognised.
Speaking to Loaded from her US tour, Glynne reveals: “Sometimes people shout my name out, and I still assume they’re saying it because they know me.
“Three Brit nominations? That just doesn’t happen to normal people”
“I turn around thinking ‘I must know this person’, as I always forget they’re only calling out ‘Jess!’ because of who I am. It takes me a couple of seconds to realise, and it’s always really funny.”
When Glynne first found success, featuring on chart-topping singles with Clean Bandit and Route 94 before going solo, she admitted that the idea of being famous felt “weird”. Is it any easier now that the 26-year-old has been nominated for three Brit Awards?
“I don’t find it as weird as I used to,” she considers, before laughing: “But I don’t think getting recognised is something I’ll ever think is normal.”
At the Brits, Glynne is nominated for Best Breakthrough, Best Female and (for Hold My Hand) Best British Single, following the success of her debut album I Cry When I Laugh.
“Three Brit nominations? Things like that just don’t happen to normal people,” Glynne cackles. She laughs a lot, does Jess Glynne. “I don’t know if it’s sunk in, to be honest. It’s like, I know it’s happening really, but there’s no way it’s going to feel real until I’m actually at the Brits on the night.”
Has she begun thinking about her acceptance speech? “No! That’s a bit premature, and I’m certainly not going to put a bet on myself to win.
“I’m not going to have a fit if I don’t win anything. But if I do, wow, I’m going to go fucking mental! That’d be super-exciting, but the idea of winning is just too much to think about. All I can do is put positive energy out there.”
“My music helped a girl get over open-heart surgery and a bad break-up. That’s amazing”
Glynne watched the Brits every year when she was a kid, and there’s none of the studied indifference towards awards you get from a lot of pop stars. “I looove the Brits!” she enthuses. “It’s essential viewing, isn’t it? I’ve so many memories of so many great performances – The Spice Girls, Amy Winehouse, Adele… I promise I’ll put on an amazing performance. It’s going to be really fun and full of energy, but that’s as much as I’m going to tell anyone right now.”
Glynne is in San Diego near the end of her US tour when she speaks to Loaded, though she admits: “I’ve no idea what San Diego is like. I’m lying on my hotel bed with the curtains firmly closed.” It’s 10:30am in California, but Glynne says she sleeps whenever she can.
It’s hard to blame her, with her hectic touring schedule: her latest UK tour starts on Wednesday and finishes two days after the Brits at Birmingham’s O2 Academy. “Birmingham is going to be a big post-Brits celebration,” she enthuses. “But then every show I do is a celebration.”
Despite her ambivalent attitude towards being recognised, Glynne does enjoy meeting fans. She was particularly taken with one young devotee recently. “This girl had had open-heart surgery and, on top of that, she’d been through a really bad break-up,” she recalls. “She said that my music helped her through it and gave her a lot of positivity. Knowing I’ve helped someone like that, and being able to touch her, that’s an amazing feeling for me too.”
Several of the songs on I Cry When I Laugh were written after Glynne broke up with a girlfriend, and she admits the songs can still move her when she sings them live.
“My life is a crazy rollercoaster. I should get a song or two from it all”
“Songs sometimes change their meaning the more I sing them,” she ponders. “I’ll sing something and it’ll really resonate with something else I might be going through, and that can be weird. But it doesn’t change where the song first came from.”
Glynne has started to think about her second record, and she says: “I’ve got loads of ideas, and I can’t wait to start writing again. I just haven’t had time yet. I haven’t gone deep enough into my ideas to tell you how the next record might sound – I’ve so many ideas to pick from that my sound could go anywhere right now.”
She’s certainly not short of things to write about, though. “The past two years have been the maddest journey of my life,” she laughs. “It’s been a crazy rollercoaster with so many life experiences. I should get a song or two from it all!”
Before then, however, Glynne releases new single Ain’t Got Far To Go from her current album. Although it’s the ninth single from the 20-song album, it was actually one of the first songs Glynne wrote, with Birmingham-born Jay Z producer Knox Brown.
“It was the first song I wrote with Knox, and it’s one of the defining songs on my album,” she explains. “Once we wrote it, I thought ‘OK wow, now I know where we’re going with the album.’ It really set the tone.
“As soon as I met Knox, we shared the same energy. With the people I write with, I need to feel that vibe or it’s not going to work out. I write much better if I’m relaxed and it’s fun.
“Even if the song itself is really intense, it’s best if it feels natural when we write it.”
After Ain’t Got Far To Go’s release, Glynne already has an appearance at Isle Of Wight Festival in June lined up. She was due to play the island last summer, but cancelled after needing vocal surgery last June. “That was a shock to the system,” she says with some understatement.
“It made me realise how much I need to look after my voice. I’m so much more cautious with it now. But I can’t wait to get back to Isle Of Wight and put on the performance they should have had last summer.”
Earthy, funny and definitely no-nonsense, it’s hard to imagine someone so untamed being entirely cautious. Particularly if she needs to go mental and conjure up a quick acceptance speech at the Brits.
“Hey, I’ve been nominated for three Brits and I get to perform there,” she says. “I already feel like I’ve won.”
Jess Glynne releases new single Ain’t Got Far To Go on February 26. The Brit Awards are on February 24 at London’s O2 Arena, shown live on ITV 1. Voting for the Breakthrough prize starts today, where Glynne is up against Catfish And The Bottlemen, Years And Years, Wolf Alice and James Bay.
Glynne’s tour dates are:
Edinburgh Usher Hall (February 17)
Manchester O2 Apollo (18)
Brixton O2 Academy (20-21)
Birmingham O2 Acadmey (26)
Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn