How did it feel to see ‘Hold My Hand’ debut at number one?
Ah man, it was one of the most amazing feelings ever. I was pretty shocked and overwhelmed when I found out.
What led to you signing with Atlantic Records?
Signing with Atlantic came about really quickly once I’d found the right management. They were the only label I met. I never really wanted to shop around, I just wanted to meet the right person.
Your first few big tracks were collaborations, but can you tell us a bit about your solo album?
I’ve been working on my own stuff for a long time and I’ve been writing for years. I’ve spent a lot of time finding the right sound, so I’ve really been doing that for the past year and a half. When I was working on ‘Rather Be’ and ‘My Love’ last year, things kind of deferred and I went through a phase of thinking, “this isn’t going to be the album I want”, but it turned out to be the exact album I wanted. It’s full of soul and R&B influences, and it makes so much sense now that I’ve finished it.
Your work is very varied – ‘Hold my Hand’ has something quite jazzy to it – but would you say there’s any defining quality to your music?
I think the defining quality is that it’s just what I love. Whenever I write a song I always know exactly what I want to achieve. It usually comes from me jamming with someone or hearing something that’s inspired me. [My first solo track] ‘Home’ was something I created so off-the-cuff and it came from a more rap-inspired place. ‘Hold my Hand’ definitely comes from a more country-jazz place, but both connect to a soul side. It all interlinks; if you listen to the melodies in the songs they’re all very similar.
Who inspires you, musically?
I’ve been listening to loads of India Arie and just kind of taking it back a bit, and I immediately wanted to go and get into the studio.
You’ve been passionate about music since you were very young, but your school wasn’t very supportive. How did that affect you?
School just made me completely turn away from [music]. It’s rubbish as a kid when you love something but you don’t have that push to do it. You think you’re not that great immediately, and you don’t bother. Part of me is annoyed that I didn’t go for it then, but I’m also grateful because when I did leave school, after I went travelling and came back, it was the right time for me.
What did you do to ensure you’d be successful at it?
I worked really hard to meet the right people, get the right stuff together and learn about the business by working in the business. And then having been pushed aside from it at school I wanted to do it ten times more and all the things that put me off it made me want to go for it.
Jess Glynne plays at DXBeach. From Dhs200. Fri April 24, noon-3am. Zero Gravity, near SkyDive Dubai, Dubai Marina, www.dxbeach.ae.