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Interview: Jessica Clemmons

Photo: Rob Cable
Jessica Clemmons is quite honest, actually; I didn’t expect that. From new artists, you usually get the same, nicey responses and from the bigger stars, media training has esentially killed any elements of what might have been interesting or human about them. Jessica is somewhere in between – aware of the scene and not a snarky or sarcastic person, but more than willing to dish out the truth tea which, you’ve got to admit, is the best attitude to have when cracking this music lark. Ahead of her Living Room Sessions where her talent is looking to be encompassed into your humble abode, Jessica spoke to me about her love for Jessie J, her American Idol venture and how she could be singing in your front room if you fancied it – and who doesn’t?

Hello Jessica! Thanks for answering some questions!
Anytime!
What is your favourite track from ‘Loving This Day’? Incase I hadn’t told you enough on Twitter, mine is ‘Keep On Moving’.
Oh that’s a really tough one. ‘Keep On Moving’ is definitely one of my favourite tracks as well… you’re going to love the music video by the way! For me two of the most special songs to me are ‘Free’ and ‘Ready To Fall’. If you listen to the lyrics you’ll quickly hear how open and honest they are. Sometimes as writers we can hide behind clever lyrics but other times we can put it all out there. That’s what I did with those two songs. I kept the lyrics raw and honest.
Tell us about the writing of the album’s title track, your current single…
You know, I’m lucky enough to occasionally be submitted tracks by some amazing writers. When starting to put together this album I received a song called ‘Loving This Day’ and instantly fell in love. It felt like it was my song from the beginning, like something I had written myself. I knew at that moment it had to be on the album and we would structure everything around that song.
Since the whole record is so optimistic and uplifting, does Jessica Clemmons ever feel a bit sad?
Oh gosh yes. Not only am I one of those creative types but I’m also a woman so I can be all over the place.  I can be optimistic, uplifting and sad all in a matter of about 5 minutes! In all seriousness though, I definitely have my moments but I try to snap myself out of it and look on the bright side.
Can we expect to see a darker side of your music coming through on future releases?
Oh absolutely. My next project might be a bit darker. I’ve had lotsof inspiration lately.

Photo: Rob Cable
You’re set to embark upon The Living Room Sessions – your latest ‘tour’. What is it all about?!
You know, something that is important for an artist, today more than ever, is to build relationships with their fans. I have the unique opportunity right now to get out there and reach them in a way that many other artists wouldn’t. I’m literally taking my music to the fans. I’m travelling around the UK and performing for fans in their living rooms. It’s great! They get a load of people over and my guitarist, Marius, and I perform for about an hour, take pictures, sell and sign albums and try to make it an unforgettable experience for everyone that comes. During our first set of Living Room Sessions it went so well that the response this time was overwhelming.
Who came up with the concept for the sessions?
My manager and I were driving back to London after one of shows with The Overtones last December and she and I were joking about different ways to get creative and reach the fans directly. I think that’s when my manager joked that we should do a Living Room Tour and then we realized that it wasn’t such a bad idea.  So we changed the name to the Living Room Sessions and began the process.
How far can fans interact with the sessions? Can they make requests? Choose the songs you perform?
We have a set list that we stick to but occasionally we’ll throw in an extra song here an there. I’d love to take requests but sometimes you never know what people will throw out there! This time around I’ll probably have a few they can pick from.
Have you had any heartwarming and/or strange encounters with fans? Any stories or individuals that stick in your mind?
Oh I’ve had so many but a couple are from when I was on tour last Autumn with The Overtones. I had a girl come up to me and ask me to sign her arm so that she could go the next day to get it tattooed. I still don’t know if she did it! Another was after one of the shows up north. During my set I sang one of my songs called ‘Beautiful’ which is about loving who you are regardless of what people say you should or shouldn’t look like. A lady came out to meet me during the interval and she cried and told me that she never feels beautiful but when she listens to that song it makes her realize that she is beautiful. I’ve received so many emails and messages about how some of the songs have helped people through a difficult time in their lives and that’s when I know, it’s all worth it.
As a US artist that has achieved success in the UK, what differences do you see between the UK and the US music scenes?
There are so many similarities that it’s hard to pick out the differences. I would say the biggest things are that in the UK there are times when the music wins out over the looks or the over all package of the artist. Ed Sheeran and Adele are perfect examples of this. In America we are far too superficial to let the music triumph over what the artist looks like. We would rather have a mediocre artist who looks good i.e. Britney Spears. Although, full disclosure; I have a few Britney songs on my iPhone but don’t tell anyone.

Photo: Rob Cable
Who inspired you to get into music? What artists are you listening to today?
It was Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin and believe it or not, Celine Dion. One thing they all have in common is that they are/were real singers!  They didn’t hide their voices but let them shine. I grew up with two brothers so the only time I could sing was if I locked myself in my Dad’s car, put on the music and sang at the top of my lungs. I would do this every day as a little girl and sing along with those artists over and over again. I knew that’s what I wanted to be, I wanted to be a real singer.
From what you have already guessed I listen to Ed Sheeran, Adele and yes, even Britney Spears. I’m loving Emeli Sande and I’m a big fan of Lady Antebellum. The music I listen to is very eclectic. I just love music.
Which one song do you wish you’d written?! Any favourite songs that you love covering?
One of the songs that every time I hear it I say, ‘Why didn’t I write that?’, would be Stronger by Kelly Clarkson. It’s such a simple idea but written so well. As for songs I love covering, just about anything by Whitney Houston. I always love to perform ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’.
Had you ever been tempted to audition for a reality show? What do you think of music shows like The Voice and The X Factor?
Actually many many years ago I auditioned for American Idol but not for the reasons you may think.  I had no desire to be ‘the next American Idol’.  I desperately wanted this career but I was hitting dead ends and needed someone to be honest with me and say if I was good enough. Without telling anyone but family I headed to the auditions (before they became massive) and made it through the several different rounds.  I  finally got my shot in front of Simon, Paula and Randy and walked out of there without a pass to Hollywood but instead with a big smile on my face. They all agreed I have the talent and what it takes to do this, I just needed to work on a few things.  I went home and started working and here I am today.  Shows like The Voice and The X Factor are entertaining but I don’t believe that the producers have any interest in helping these kids reach their dreams. They are looking to make money and will chose the person that can make it for them, not necessarily the person who deserves to win. Sometimes you just find those qualities are all in the same person.
Nobody can deny you have an incredible voice, so I was wondering what you thought about your fellow pop divas…
Well thank you!
Beyoncé? 
What a talent! The girl can sing, dance and she’s not a bad actress either!  Plus we both grew up in Houston so that’s even better.  I always joke that I would like to be Beyoncé, but then again, who wouldn’t?!
Nicki Minaj? 
This girl is something else. I’m actually a big fan of hers. I like that she pushes the envelope and love the fact that she represents women with curves!
Jessie J? 
MASSIVE FAN!  From the moment I heard of here while on a tour in the UK I fell in love with her voice.  She is vocally, in my opinion, one of the best singers I’ve ever listened to. I hope to get the chance to meet her one day – maybe even do a duet?  I think that’s a great idea.
I asked Twitter if anyone had anything they wanted to ask you today, but what question would YOU like to ask yourself, Jessica Clemmons?
What question would I like to ask myself.  That is probably the first time I’ve been asked this one.  Let’s see. I would probably ask me if I’m sure I want to be in the music industry lol?  My answer to myself would be, as difficult as this world is for a new, independent artist, I wouldn’t do anything else.  This is what I was born to do and I’m going to keep at it as long as I possibly can.
Thanks for your time Jessica – good luck with the single, the album and the Living Room Sessions!
No, Thank you!


Jessica’s album ‘Loving This Day’ is available on iTunes, Play and Amazon. All info and Living Room Sessions news can be found on her official Facebook, Twitter and JessicaClemmons.com
Photos: Rob Cable
Interviewer: Simon McMurdo

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