“Oh my god, so many pictures. So much gunk in my head! the singer-songwriter narrates the Billboard Pop Shop podcast (listen below).
“I mean, in my head I was somewhere between (legendary and outrageous nightclubs) Studio 54 and Berghain in Berlin. This is where it was. It was intentionally cinematic… I imagined it in the club, but in my perfect version of a club, that, you know, would be selling a dirty martini and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps (crisps).
What is your pleasure? marks the British star’s fourth studio album, and it debuted on the Official UK Albums Chart at No.3 – his biggest charting effort to date (and fourth top 10 in his country).
Ware says it’s his “dream for this album” to play at Berghain’s Panorama Bar and looks forward to bringing the album to life on the road in a live performance.
“You know, part of the reason I did so much choreography on this album, on the visuals,” says Ware, “is because I’m going to do this in the live show. I’m going to have a great time with all my fans, and they’ll know the dance routines because they’re not too difficult, because is can do them. And that’s how!
Below are some highlights from Ware’s conversation with the Pop Shop podcast, including his additional thoughts on the album’s debut (and who told him ‘let’s go to the nightclub, let’s go to the boogie, let’s go to home ”on set), her ideal stage setup for her next tour, and how she thinks Rosalía“ kills ”in her shows. Additionally, Ware, who is also a very successful podcaster (as the co-host of the food / cat show Tablegood manners with her mother, Lennie), discusses how the podcast influenced her music career and how she doesn’t know if her recent guest Josh Groban knew she was as well a singer.
Does Ware remember when she decided on the mood and direction of this album?
I knew before I even did my first session with (one of the album producers) James Ford. We talked. We’re friends. And I said, ‘I want to make a dance record. And I want to make it sophisticated. I want to do it like a Jessie Ware dance record. And I want to have fun. And he said, ‘I want to hear you on a dance record. I want to do that too. Let’s go disco, let’s go boogie, let’s go home. And that’s what we’ve done.
So we kinda knew what we were doing, and I felt in good hands with James. And he reached out to producers like Morgan Geist, which is in New York, and Midland, which is actually down my road (in London). And so it was wonderfully collaborative. Then I would have contacted Kindness or Joseph Mount from Metronomy. It was like the good old days where I was just like, “Hey, you wanna work together? And you’d just say, “Yeah! I think, yes, I would like to work together! And it was really cool.
Did she have images in her head when making the album?
Oh my god, so many pictures. So much gunk in my head! I mean, in my head I was somewhere between Studio 54 and Berghain in Berlin. This is where it was. It was intentionally cinematic, and that’s what I went all out with old strings and horns, with Jules Buckley, including an amazing songwriter, whom I had worked with when I toured. I had done this mini tour with (the superstar DJ) Pete Tong that everyone knows, and I sang dance classics, and it was really fun, and Jules was the songwriter. I was like, “I’m going to have this, and I’m going to have this, and it’s going to be awesome!” And so for me, absolutely, I imagined him in the club, but in my perfect version of a club that, you know, would sell a dirty martini and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps (crisps). You know? Like, that’s it.
What Berghain looks like:
I actually think phones aren’t even allowed. I am not sure. Berghain is a place where you don’t know – just like Studio 54 – you don’t know if you’re going to enter. So there is this line, and you have to hope that you look good or are with the right person to come in. And it’s like that kind of myth that surrounds it. It’s a fact. And there’s this Panorama Bar (in Berghain) that so many of my friends have DJs. I remember my friend Julio Bashmore, with whom I did songs like “Running”, “If You’re Never Gonna Move” with and “Sweet Talk”. A lot on the first (album). And he was flying to Berlin, and he would get up at 6 o’clock to have his Corn Flakes, then he would go to make a kind of sunrise in Berghain. I mean, he could’ve chosen to stay awake all night and, I don’t know, do naughty stuff and everything, but yeah, that’s the way it is. I love this feeling about dancing. It’s about making people dance.
I was supposed to play Berghain. You can read the pan bar. We spoke with the promoter in Berlin that I was going to play it, then I don’t know, I was transferred to another place. I don’t know what happened, if it was capacity or something. I was transferred to another location so I haven’t played Panorama Bar yet. And it’s like my dream that this record is playing there.
Has she been to the club?
No, but I heard a lot a story.
What did she imagine by performing these songs live? Is it total maximalism on stage?
No I do not know. It’s definitely a different setup (compared to previous visits). I really learned the hard way that touring with a full band is pretty expensive, and you can waste a lot of money, and it’s really sad that it’s the reality of being an artist that isn’t huge. , but people really still like to watch me. Anyway. So I kind of learned that and decided I wanted to do something that I found more economical. And I think people are a lot more forgiving about (pre-recorded) songs (as opposed to having live musicians).
At the start of my career, there were only four of us on stage. I was triggering things with my MPC (drum machine) and it was kind of allowed? And then I think I got into this purist version where I was like, “Oh, everything has to be live! ” No, this is not the case! You see Rosalía killing him with dancers and loads of backing tracks and she kills him, and she sings and it has a vibe. And so I looked at Rosalía, and I was actually talking to Kindness, who was, you know, really like, “You have to be less purist about this, for example, it’s too expensive to play with ( a) full group. So… the beauty of this record is that I can go with a DJ on my own and do (shows) if I want to. Or, I can bring my two faithful choristers who will do the dance moves with me, and then it will be a bit more of an atmosphere. And then if we really want to go, and someone wants to pay me the big sum to be able to afford to play, we bring in musicians, of course!
My dream would be to have two musicians. Like, a DJ / electronic assistant and two BV (choristers). And we would do choreography. You know part of the reason I did so much choreography on this album, on the visuals, is because I’m going to be doing this in the live show. Because I’m going to have a great time with all of my fans, and they are going to know the dance routines because they are not too difficult, because is can do them. And that’s how! So he can kind of grow up, and he can grow up, and he can grow up. Or it can shrink. And it will still sound great, because I can sing live, so that’s it.
A Table manners influenced his musical career in a creative or commercial sense?
Yeah, it took the business out of the music, which I needed. Because I was doing this podcast that works really great, and I loved it, and it was fun. And I think the music and the business side, and the money side, got really heavy for a while. And it’s not fun. And then it ruins creativity. So the podcast was incredibly empowering for me as an artist, to really feel like I can let go and feel free and creative again. It was truly amazing. And then, you know… I think people came to the podcast that maybe didn’t even know anything about my music, and then really liked the podcast, so potentially like ‘oh I’m going to listen to Jessie’s music because I have it in my ear every bloody week anyway. So I think it was really interesting to see how it worked. I can never say how much impact it had on, you know, listening to this record. But I think it certainly helped. I mean, I wouldn’t mind 75,000 bloody sales of my record in week one like we do on the old podcast, but you know we’re getting there!
Josh Groban was a recent guest on Table manners, but Ware isn’t sure he knew she was a singer too:
I don’t think he knew who I was, it was hysterical. I don’t know… Josh was lovely and so sweet. And I loved the way he got into cooking on lockdown. I don’t remember what he cooked, but he was having a good time with it. But yeah, I just (laughs) feel like I don’t think he knew – I think he just thought he was on the phone (with) two Jewish women who wanted to chat a bit about food. It was funny. It’s funny… Maybe he knew! Maybe he knew!
In addition to Ware’s interview, Pop Shop welcomes Jason and Keith to the news table on Dua Lipa who gets her third No. 1 on the pop song chart with “Break My Heart” and Drake breaks the record for most top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 with his two new top 10 hits. Plus Jason shares his quick and hot version of Taylor Swift’s new surprise album Folklore.
the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one stop shop for everything that is happening Billboardthe weekly charts of. You can always count on a lively discussion of the latest pop news, fun stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and people from the pop world. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear BillboardKeith Caulfield, senior chart director, and Jason Lipshutz, senior music director, weekly on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or uploaded to Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show on Billboard.com.)