“Are you beating the bloody eggs?” It’s not something I’ve been asked in an interview before (especially since I’m supposed to ask the questions), but as we all know, these are unprecedented times. That’s why I’m in my kitchen chatting with Jessie Ware via Zoom, with my laptop propped up over my food bin. Like I said, unprecedented times.
Back to eggs. The south London-born singer shows me how to make brownies from the cookbook she wrote with her mother Lennie. The two host the hit ‘Table Manners’ podcast, where they invite celebrities over for a home cooked dinner and good old fashioned conversation.
As we speak, Ware is in her living room at her home in New Cross where she is in custody with her husband and their two children. Her 15-month-old son is taking a nap (“it’s those magical two hours”) and her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter is watching something on Disney Plus. Meanwhile, Ware throws his daughter’s dolls off the couch and tries to find something to prop his iPad up on. “These angles are killing me. Damn iPads, they bow! It’s the bane of my life. I can’t wait to not have to do this again. I’m so bad.
Ware’s production over the past few months suggests otherwise. While most of us used video calls for commercial quizzes and remote trouble, Ware found wild ways to use technology to remotely promote his fourth album, “What’s Your Pleasure?” “. Released this week, it makes you want to be on the dance floor at a sweaty disco party. During these very weird times, she filmed a locked out music video, performed (virtually) on “The Graham Norton Show” and “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and continued to record episodes of “Table Manners” , scoring interviews with John Legend, Florence Pugh and Joe Wicks, everyone’s favorite YouTube physical education teacher, all via Zoom, with his mother calling from her home.
With Ware seated on the now dollless couch, I start slicing chocolate bars, as if I were organizing a hobbyist version of “Sunday brunch.” The constant video calls involved in promoting an album from home must be exhausting. Is she tired of Zoom? “Yes, my eyes hurt from using a screen,” she said. If she’s tired, she doesn’t show it. She is full of energy. When she is particularly animated, she gesticulates and gets closer and closer to the camera of her iPad. She’s easy going, a little jealous – the kind of person you’d want to go out with at night (when that was one thing we could do) or have a DMC with more than several bottles of red wine (as I’m certain of his ‘Table Manners’ guests can attest to this).
How did it go to prepare for the release of an album in confinement? “It’s unusual,” Ware says. “I try to make the most of a particular situation. I feel like we had to be even more creative and I appreciate that. Obviously, it’s not the ideal timing when you’ve been working on an album for two years, but she’s pragmatic about it. “There is a lot more to fear. “
But there were some advantages to promoting your album from home. For example, those great TV performances are much less nerve-racking. Ware says they feel like an audition tape or singing in the shower. “I would be a lot more petrified to do Graham Norton or James Corden if I was in the studio.” Her Graham Norton performance was performed in her daughter’s bedroom. Between the smoke machine and the lights, her children thought it was “the best sensory room ever.” “It made me laugh, the drama of me singing ‘Spotlight’ while my husband gives my daughter chips to try to make sure she doesn’t jump on me.”
In fact, in some ways, containment has made it easier. “I really enjoyed the time I spent with my kids, especially promoting a record when I was usually extremely stressed,” she says. “And I can do a clip in three hours now instead of a full day.”
The music video she talks about is for ‘Save a Kiss’, the album’s second single, released in early May. With people around the world unable to see their loved ones, the lyrics resonated in a new way: “Save me a kiss tonight / Wait for me, no compromise / Promise yourself it won’t be long / Save just a little bit of your love, baby. “It definitely took on a new meaning during this,” Ware says. The video is made up of clips from fans and professional dancers around the world, following the same choreography. a logistical nightmare to organize? “I’m sure that was a bugger for whoever edited it,” Ware said. “For me the only thing was moving the furniture.
“I can do a clip in three hours now”
Speaking of logistical nightmares, I need to move forward with my brownies. I start beating the eggs, which I pushed back because using an electric whisk isn’t really conducive to conversation. “I’m going to be the driver in the backseat, directing you now,” Ware said, shifting gear. She looks at her webcam to see what I’m doing. “You have to do it to double in size, so give it some good.”
I wonder if to shout questions about the whir of the whip when Ware has another thought, “How’s your chocolate and butter?” Make sure it doesn’t burn! ‘ I run between the baking sheet, where my chocolate and butter melt on a pot of boiling water and my bowl of eggs and sugar, which definitely doesn’t double in size. ” Does that suit you ? I scream at the noise. “No, you have to do it a lot longer. ”
I start to mix things up a bit distractedly as we chat. What inspired the album?
‘Wait a minute. Did you just put the flour with the eggs? ‘.
” Is it a mistake… ? ” I ask.
It is clear from his expression that the answer is yes. Then my camera freezes. I am frozen. The dishes are frozen. And I managed to mess up some pretty simple instructions. I feel a new respect for Simon Rimmer.
Fortunately, once our faces thaw, Ware is full of pragmatic encouragement. “Damn, it’s all going to come in. Just put in some chocolate too or you’re gonna be there all day, baby. Let’s put this show on the road! ‘
The brownies come in and we’re talking about the confinement life. Did she find the time to bake banana bread and sourdough between promos on the album? In fact, yes.
“I killed about four starters. Then my mate gave me his entry which was lively and efficient. We made bread together: he must have held my hand from a distance via a Zoom call. Now, in her new home, the mini oven she works with has put another key in hand. “I can’t put bread in there, so I had to ask my neighbor to bake it for me. “
Aside from the inevitable baked goods, Ware has done a lot of barbecues (sesame seed and honey halloumi is her current go-to dish), she has made kimchi and apricot compote, both in her fridge. What else is there right now? “Bars from the local fishmongers – my daughter and I went there the other day and she said, ‘I want a whopper! I also have wild garlic which is on the turn. The fruits of a local picking? ‘Surely not.’
We move on to confinement habits. DIY? Nope. Gardening? Nope. “My thing is food. And drink. Wow, I drank a lot. She remembers one night when she and her husband listened to Annie Mac and Toddla T’s DJ set from their garden shed. “I made margaritas and my husband started pouring them for free. I don’t remember such a bad hangover as the one I had the next day. She is also delighted to see the back of the virtual quizzes. “It was a really bad time for a lot of people, I think. We always came last, which is probably why.
“It’s fucking chocolate, butter and sugar – it’s gonna be awesome”
But videoconferencing has proven to be useful in keeping the “table managers”. Doing the podcast remotely meant they were able to book guests who wouldn’t normally be able to plan a dinner at Lennie’s. Who’s on their dream list right now? “We would love to have Tracee Ellis Ross and Bette Midler. I think everyone wanted Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones: “Normal People” was so awesome. ‘ Ware loved the angst-filled BBC TV show so much that she watched the first four episodes before going back to the beginning so her husband could watch it with her.
We start exchanging TV recommendations (I tell her to watch “Succession” and she suggests I watch “Dave”). I pretty much forgot about the fact that my kinda random brownies are in the oven, but Ware is on it. ‘How are they?’ she asks. I disappear off the screen to take my wobbly creation out of the oven and … actually, they look pretty good. I hold them in front of my laptop’s camera for her to see. “Fuck me, I want one now!” It looks excellent. I get a touch of pride – a feeling that I have somewhat missed over the past few months of only wearing loungewear and baking medium banana loaves of bread. I’m not sure I can take all the credit for it, though – as she pointed out earlier, “It’s fucking chocolate, butter and sugar – it’s gonna be awesome.
I feel a little bad for having a tray of brownies and not ware. “I’m going to have my fucking green juice, so kill me now,” she laughs. While eating a tray of brownies for myself seems like the best kind of Friday night lockdown activity, part of the fun of cooking is sharing it with your friends. Is she missing this? “I think we all really want this. I can’t wait to cook for people and get drunk with “Table Manners” guests and have them stay for hours at my mom’s. I can’t wait to have some normalcy. Until then, the new normal seems to be working pretty well for Jessie Ware.
“What is your pleasure? »Comes out on Friday June 26th.