“I really didn’t want to work on new music. I remember saying it out loud, ‘I’m done. I’m nearly 30, I’m not happy, I don’t enjoy this anymore.’ It was like the emotion was caught in my throat. I just want to keep it suffocated, I didn’t want to let it out. I couldn’t differentiate between the business and the art. What I wanted to give up was the business and forgot that the art could save me in all of it.”
That is the confession of Jessie J—the multiplatinum-selling artist behind hits like “Price Tag,” “Domino” and “Bang Bang”—who was at a major crossroads after 2014’s Sweet Talker. And then, a song came to the rescue. A producer named DJ Camper played her the beat for what would become “Think About That,” a moody, meditation-type groove and a clear departure from her past two albums.
“He played me the beat on loop and 20 minutes later I’d written the whole song. In that moment, something happened. Camper was like, ‘Yo, if you give up music, I don’t know if I could accept that. You need to write.’ Then everything just started happening really naturally. The more I didn’t want to do it, the more it was coming to me. It’s like when you go, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be in love,’ and then you fall in love. I didn’t hold anything back. It was like I gave myself therapy out of this dark place through music, which is what I did on my first album.”
Now six years after dropping her platinum-selling debut Who You Are—and winning the prestigious Critics’ Choice prize at the BRIT Awards —London-born Jessie J is readying her confessional new album R.O.S.E., to be released in early 2018. The title is an acronym for realizations, obsessions, sex and empowerment—all topics that will be explored in song. But the meaning behind that title goes even deeper.
“It didn’t come to me straight away. The more I started writing, the more I kept repeating the words, and then one day I realized those words spelt ROSE. My mum’s name is Rose. They have always been my favorite flower, so beautiful but when handled badly can fall apart, so delicate but so very strong. I just started seeing roses everywhere, it was so weird but I knew it was for a reason, I was definitely paying attention to a deeper and higher energy.”
With DJ Camper (Nicki Minaj, Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey) producing, Jessie J wrote the entire album herself, making this her most personal statement ever. Other standouts include “Not My Ex”—whose stripped-down soul puts Jessie’s dynamic voice right up front—and the empowering anthem “Queen,” which kicks some positivity on loving the body and skin you’re in.
“I was so angry but passionate that day in the studio recording “Queen”. I was so fed up of seeing negative comments and these forever changing rules for women on what is set as beautiful and ugly. There is no such thing, we are all QUEENS. I wanted to write a song that represented all women. I know there will be women that would have never said these words out loud to themselves before. “I love my body, I love my skin, I am a goddess, I am a Queen”. That alone is so powerful. Whilst focusing on lifting up myself, it never left my mind the importance to uplift all women at the same time. So important to me.”
Now Managed by the Madden Brothers (of Good Charlotte) and their Company MDDN —Jessie J is back and stronger than ever.
“Benj and Joel are my brothers. They nurtured Jessica before Jessie J could even be in existence again. You have to find your people that go forth in life pursuing what you feel is important. I never had that with the people I worked with in the past. It was always about business. I gave someone my magic and they didn’t look after it, but I got it back.”