At just 20 years-old singer Jessica Symonds is determined to make her mark on the world of music with her powerful voice and unique looks. Flavour caught up with the south London singer to discuss her journey to success and her EP Black Flame.
When and where did your love of music begin?
My mum is a jazz singer and actress so I have always been around the arts and music my whole life, it’s in me blood! When I was 14 I also got accepted into a project called ADP (Artist development Programme) at the Hackney Empire theatre, where I was put with a load of other young talented artists to write, create and perform a show at the Hackney Empire, the people I met and the whole experience of it inspired me so much that from then I knew 100% this was what I wanted to do always!
What’s Jessica Symonds about?
Passion for music…Zest for Life and Love!!!
You have a unique look. What’s your parentage?
My mum is originally from an island called St Helena, which is right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between South America and South Africa. It’s the most inaccessible inhabited island in the world. They have a unique look because they are a mixture of African, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese and French. I would love to go but you have to go to Namibia and then catch a 1 week boat ride to the Island… but they are getting an airport so maybe one day!
What do you love most about what you do?
Performing… being on stage is my ultimate LOVE!!
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Performing at the Hackney Weekender with Leona Lewis was pretty amazing!! Being in the back stage area, I got to meet some wicked UK artists doing big things right now, including Wretch 32, Example, Nero and Emeli Sande.
What motivates you?
When I get good feedback, not only does it make me smile but it lets me know I’m going the right direction and encourages me to push what I’m doing even further.
What 5 songs a you listening to at the moment?
Jessie Ware “Running”
Leanne La Havas “Don’t wake me up”
Delilah “So Irate”
Etta Bond “Baddy”
I have to give the female artists a lot of ratings right now! They are kicking arse!
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in your career?
You get told ‘No’ a lot in this industry, so it’s having the strength and belief in yourself to carry on. Keep knocking down doors and eventually one’s going to open.
Who is your music inspiration?
I grew up with the jazz and Motown greats playing and that has been a bedrock… I also love Beyonce and Tina Turner, ‘out there’ performances and sex appeal, Amy Winehouse and Plan B’s raw truthfulness, the way Eminem and Biggie Smalls can tell a story, the darkness of Rihanna and Lana Del Rey and I could still go on…
Why did you call your EP Black Flame?
Because I like to play with fire…
You have a very unique style, how would you describe your dress sense?
I think it’s like my music. It combines a load of different styles into one, to make it ME!
Have you met anyone famous, who has left you completely star struck?
I bumped into Rihanna in a Ladies toilet at the Wellington Club…that was pretty awesome!!!
If you were in charge for one day, you would….
Get the government to take the Arts seriously, I’d give back the funding. I’d put the Arts back at the top of the school curriculum, not to make everybody a musician or an artist but I believe you can’t underestimate what it does for self esteem and it enables people to think out of the box.
What’s the best piece of advice you received since entering the industry?
All the cliches are the best… Focus, believe in yourself, be brave
Quick fire questions
What was the first record you ever brought?
What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
I’m not prepared to say…but I can be a pretty wild woman (Laughs)
Eastenders or Coronation Street?
Easteneders all the way!