Interview

Jorja Smith

What’s you writing process like, how do you get started?

If I’m in the studio and someone’s playing chords or patterns I’ll start singing a melody and certain words will just start to stick – I might just keep repeating a word – and that’s what I’ll tailor the song to. Blue Lights started with ‘don’t you run’. I used to write things down in a little book and now usually it’s with a voice note on my phone but I like free styling when I’m singing.

There aren’t many young singer/songwriters around at the moment that can, in the space of a couple of songs, reference grime royalty Dizzee Rascal and 17th-century composer Henry Purcell, and do it seemingly so effortlessly. But that’s the vibe Jorja Smith gives off – from that gorgeous voice to easy-going manner to her unique style. And having also recently nabbed fourth place on the BBC Sound of 2017 Poll, you can expect to hear a lot more from her this year.

How did the video for Where Did I Go? come about? You filmed it all yourself right?

Yeah! At the house I’m staying in with my auntie, uncle and cousins – they were all away for the weekend – I noticed the lighting was really good on the stairs where there was a skylight, so I balanced the camera on the banister and just started singing. What I like about the video is that any girl could do it, so I feel like it’s more real and relatable for people.

Is there much music in your family?

Yeah, my dad was actually in a band called Second Nature and music was always played in the house, a lot of reggae when my mum was cooking! There was a lot of music growing up and they’re always showing me new stuff – my dad will text me links to new stuff all the time.

Which artists would like to see yourself emulating in terms of retaining artistic control over what you do?

I love Amy Winehouse as a writer – if I could’ve written any song it would be You Sent Me Flying – and I love the way Rihanna presents herself. She’s very real, she always comes across as she’s just acting as herself.

And have you been able to do things the way you want to do them so far?

The team I’ve got around me like what I’m doing so they’ve just allowed me to be me. I’m not rushing anything, allowing myself time to develop because I know how I want things to sound and look. I’ve got a lot of growing up to do but I know myself quite well at this moment in time. I feel in a good place. Everything’s growing and when I listen back to old songs I can see how I’ve grown lyrically.

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