Thanks to seven number one hits, frequent radio airplay and her song Hold My Hand’s ubiquitous presence in summer holiday adverts, it feels like Jess Glynne has never been away.
But when she appears at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Dundee, the London-born singer will be taking her first steps on stage for several years having taken time out to re-focus.
Reintroducing herself at a festival in front of thousands of people is a nerve-wracking prospect, but riding high on the success of new single Silly Me, Jess can’t wait to take on a new chapter in her life and career.
“I haven’t done shows for a good few years now so it’s quite daunting. I’m diving straight in.
“Scots are lovely, such a fun crowd. You guys are loud! I’ve always been welcomed with open arms and it’s been such a pleasure.”
The journey back
A hiatus from music was always on the cards, but not one quite this long.
It’s been five years since Jess, who first topped the charts with Clean Bandit collaboration Rather Be in 2014, has released a solo single.
“It was really important for me to take a break and have a minute for myself,” she explains. “Having just a little bit of normality was super important for me.
“I think it was a journey I had to go on. I changed my management, I moved label and then I lost a friend, which was really tragic and set me back a bit.
“These things have been hurdles. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, I’ve grown a lot and I feel like I’m in a really strong place, mentally and physically. It’s definitely taken longer than I ever anticipated, but you can’t rush these things.
“I’m really excited for people to hear all the new music and to start this new journey with me. So much for me has changed, positively.
“I’ve been hidden a little bit for the past four years. It feels quite vulnerable, I guess, putting myself back out there, but at the same time it’s quite an exciting feeling to have another go.”
With seven number ones to her name – a UK chart record for a solo female – latest track Silly Me is already proving a hit.
A song about learning from your mistakes and growing from them, it encapsulates the journey that the 33-year-old has been on.
“I’ve always been, I suppose, quite a private person, which is still very important to me. However, the song has allowed me to talk and to kind of say hello again. Five years is a long time to be away.
“I think a reintroduction is important because I’m not the same person I was. I’m still me, of course, but elements have changed, musically, mentally. You turn 30 and things change.
“I needed to figure things out. I needed to have the ups and the downs in order to stand here and look back and go: ‘Oh yeah. That’s why I’m here. That’s who I am.'”
‘Give us a break’
Jess is joined on the line-up at Big Weekend by a number of female artists making the breakthrough in the industry, including Anne-Marie, Mimi Webb and RAYE, something which is all too often not reflected in festival line-ups.
“Just being a woman’s hard in this industry,” she said. “It’s a blessing and it’s so nice to see so many young women coming through. They don’t get enough praise for it where we’re from.
“In general, just give us a break. It’s hard. Whatever you wear, whatever you do, you’re judged. That’s part of the insecurities and the stresses of being us.
“It’s not hard when people are nice, and being kind is not hard – it doesn’t cost anything. I think it’s just about respecting and understanding that we are human.
“We also go through stuff, have hard days, and suffer with anxiety and depression. We all have our moments.”
Jess looks forward to a bumper 2023 but is taking things day by day ahead of an album release in the pipeline.
She also knows that, as summer hits, people will start messaging her again about those infamous Jet 2 adverts.
“I’ve never flown with them, ever,” she laughs. “The whole thing makes me laugh so much and I’ve just realised it’s summer season – I’m about to get it…
“Maybe I’ll jump on board and sing it live and just annoy people even more!”