Jess Glynne has performed in Dubai throughout her career.
When she made her debut regional performance in 2015, as part of the alfresco DXBeach festival, she was the illustrious vocalist behind the hooks of chart toppers My Love by Route 94 and Clean Bandit's Rather Be.
When she returned a year later to headline the Meet d3 festival, she was singing her own songs courtesy of her debut album I Cry When I Laugh.
Now, the 29-year-old returns for her biggest UAE performance yet, as Thursday’s sunset headliner for pop music festival Redfest DXB at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre.
It should make for a dynamic set due to the new ground Glynne has covered in her new album. With Always in Between, Glynne tempered some of the fizzy pop production of her debut album to take on a sound more in line with classic soul and light RnB.
These styles pose a useful foil for her voice, which remains warm and dramatic throughout. Speaking ahead of her appearance, Glynne tells The National she's looking forward to belting out the tracks among the large festival crowd.
“I am really excited to be out there performing again,” she says. “The new songs sound great live and I enjoy playing them. My other shows in Dubai have been small and minimal, this time around I want to do something a bit bigger.”
Ahead of her RedFestDXB show, she talks to us about why making music from an honest place is the most important thing, her biggest influences and what she looks for in an artist before embarking on creative collaboration.
‘Always In Between’ deals with big emotions, with songs about love, forgiveness and anger. What draws you to these topics?
It comes from me trying to be as honest as I can when it comes to my music. When it comes to the album, I think it's a quite joyous one and I find it cathartic. A lot of the time, people say, you deal with very big emotions, but I kind of feel that with this album I am dealing with them from a more accepting place.
The album is ultimately an uplifting one. Who are the most positive influences in your life?
My dad is a very positive guy. He is always giving me courage and, you know, he taught me how to live, how to get out of life what you put in. I think it's a really good thing to live by. Holding grudges is not really worth anyone's time, and I think it is important to always see the light in something or in someone, because you don't really get anywhere with a negative attitude.
There are some cool minimal sounds in the album, particularly in the song ‘Thursday’. Was it a deliberate choice to move away from the big dance pop styles of the first album?
With this one, I really wanted it to be less about the production and more about the lyrics and the vocals. That was important to me, because when I am saying something I want people to hear it. I feel like Thursday is a great example of that. It shows you don't need a massive production in order to make people feel something.
‘Thursday’ was co-written with Ed Sheeran. You have collaborated with a lot of your peers, including Emile Sande, as well as Sheeran, to name just two. What do you look for in a potential songwriting partner?
Something that just fits. It has to be natural for me. I can never force feelings, so if I connect with someone and it feels right, then I just go with it and, if it doesn’t, I don’t. But at the same time, every song is different. You have to find the right music and lyrics to go with it. And that changes from song to song.
You do different things with your live shows. Some are big, full-band affairs, while on other occasions, you have enjoyed doing a more stripped-back set. What are you doing when it comes to this tour?
I like the idea of performing the new songs as they are. For many people, it is the first time they are hearing these songs and I have just begun to perform them. It’s great and really refreshing to be performing new material.
Jess Glynne will perform on the opening night of RedFestDXB on February 14, at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. Doors open at 6pm Tickets start at Dh395 from Virgin Megastores and www.redfestdxb.com