The past few years have been a whirlwind for Jorja Smith. After making waves in 2016 with tracks such as ‘Blue Lights’ and ‘Where Did I Go?’, the talented singer-songwriter caught the eye of Canadian rapper Drake, and later appeared on two tracks on his 2017 More Life album.
2018 has seen Jorja make her mark as an artist, winning the BRITs Critics’ Choice award in February. This Friday (June 8), she will be releasing her highly anticipated debut album Lost & Found, which is destined to propel Jorja to even greater heights.
Ahead of the release of her album, Jorja sat down with Julia Adenuga on Beats 1 on Apple Music to discuss Lost & Found, fame, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, how she wants to write a James Bond theme, and much more.
On her future plans and writing a James Bond theme tune
I just want more people to hear my music. Be able to do big shows but they’re still intimate…My plan is to get a lot of people to listen to this music. I also want to write a Bond tune. Also want to direct some of my videos and perform in bigger venues but make it intimate. Don’t know about this, not being able to leave places without loads of security. It’s weird.
I remember he said one thing which I learnt from him. He wants to be the greatest ever. The best. So whatever he does is the best. At his Boy Meets World Tour, he had this huge globe, because he wanted that. Whatever you want, do it. No matter how mad it will sound, you believe in what you do, do it…He opened a whole new world [to me].
On working with Kendrick Lamar on the Black Panther soundtrack
I get a DM from Tunji [while in LA] saying “hey, do you want to work with Kendrick?” I said “yeah.” He said “okay, I’ll connect you with his manager.” So Kendrick said “meet Dave.” Dave Free, Kendrick’s manager, is really cool. He’s like “do you want to write tonight?” “Yes.” So I get it…I didn’t even know he listened to my music at all. So I was just like “cool.” Get an Uber, took me like 20 minutes to get there. Get to his studio house at about 7. I’m like “hi.” So it’s Kendrick, Dave and Sounwave…Then I get to the studio, he left the room but he was like, “you can just mess around.” So I was like [sings] on the mic. Getting a melody started. He comes back in, then we play that…He’s just sick. The things he comes up with, sick…He told me that he wanted to work with me for a while but it just wasn’t the right time. So I was like “I didn’t even know you knew my music like that.”
On sending Kendrick the new album
I sent Kendrick my album and he liked it. I was happy.
On whether there are any collaborators on her album
No features on my first album. I thought nah. Just me. People probably are gonna expect me to have a Drake feature and Kendrick feature. Maybe Kali Uchis feature, too. Who else? Stormzy feature. Sorry!..But what am I going to do for album two? I’ve got stuff to do.
I like love. I love people in love. I love hearing about love. I like romcoms. Love is like… you can experience love in so many different ways. Love with your friends, love with your parents, love with boys, love with girls, love with so many different ways and it distils in my head and I write about it. I feel like I did fall in love, not easily, but, I don’t know, I’m still young, I’m still figuring out how I do feel. I’m quite mature. I feel like I’m an old soul.
On not having a boyfriend until 19
At school my friends and I all got called frigid. I used to be like “I really liked loads of boys at school and they all rejected me.” I wasn’t the prettiest girl as school…I used to go up to boys and ask them out and they’d say no to my face. I’d be like “will you go out with me?” “No.” “Okay!” “Teenage Fantasy.” I wrote that because I used to like road men.
On how she ran her music past her parents
Before I put up ‘Blue Lights’ I’d be back at home in Walsall writing songs, I’d come down, play them to my mum and dad and my dad would be like “nah, can’t hear a chorus”. And I’d go, “what do you know dad? You don’t know anything about songs.” I’d go upstairs, change it, and come back down. “Can you hear the chorus in that?” “Good one.” I’d go upstairs, write another one, come down. We’d just be doing that, but I’ve always been quite confident but also I’d only play it to my mum and dad. Music would not go anywhere but my house, in my living room. And then I guess when I was like, I think I really like it, and I’m confident in my opinion. Now more people like it, boosts my confidence. I think “oh okay, it’s actually good. People like this.”
On when she first moved to London
Because I worked in Starbucks four times a week then I’d write. I literally didn’t have any friends. I just like to work, come home, write, do a session. And then I left in Christmas. I left home 2015 [in Walsall], the day after I failed my driving test and moved. Worked in Starbucks, wrote songs. And then I guess the sacrifices the fact is I’ve left home so now mum and dad weren’t close but had my aunt and uncle.
I had to make loads of sacrifices. I guess now sacrifices are like privacy and I can’t do stuff. It’s weird. It’s only been two years and things have changed from small. People forget I’m from Walsall. When I talk more, my accent does come out, but I’m not from London so for me to even be where I am now is crazy. When I was growing up, I used to watch people at the Brit School and think “I want to be that, I want to do that.” I couldn’t because I didn’t live there. I’m very lucky to have had parents who told me “follow your dreams, you can move.” Some parents say, “music? What’s music?”
On not listening back to her music
I don’t listen to myself. When I do stuff and listen back to songs I think I just told myself not to do that, and I just did it. Always. ‘Still Found’ because it’s one of the songs on the album. That was one of the early songs when I would come up to London with my big suitcase and then have to go back home a couple days after, and I’d remember the first time I went to Notting Hill. I’d never been West before in Ladbroke Grove and I had this big suitcase because I was going back home after the session, I just remember thinking I’m such a small girl in the city, quite lost, but I’m on my way to write a song, I know exactly what I’m doing. That part of “I know what I do, I’ve found myself.” And then the next day I become confused. It sums me up very well, ‘Lost & Found’.
Watch Jorja Smith’s Beats 1 interview in full below.
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