Interviews \

What We Learned From 15 Minutes With VMA Headliner Jessie J

On "Bang Bang," Al Roker, and requesting "Lady Marmalade" in the club.

When “Bang Bang” was released in late July, it immediately landed in the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 10 while debuting at #1 on iTunes’ digital download chart, falling just behind Ariana Grande’s “Problem” in sales. The song has since become a powerhouse of a summer anthem with UK’s Jessie J, America’s sweetheart Ariana Grande, and anaconda-appeaser Nicki Minaj’s brassy, bubblegum belts garnering comparisons to “Lady Marmalade,” another diva-fronted collab that became a hit almost exactly ten years before. The Max Martin produced single is Jessie J’s first massive stateside success since 2011’s “Domino,” and with a new album in the works and an officially confirmed performance at the VMAs alongside her “Bang Bang” costars next Sunday, Jessie J has launched herself back into the U.S. limelight. We caught up with the singer as she wrapped up a New York photo shoot and jumped into a limo to catch a flight back to London. Here’s what we learned:

She enjoys staring out the window:
I’m on my way to the airport in New York. The view of the statue of Liberty is just amazing. Anytime I’m happy to sit in traffic is when there’s a view like that. The clouds look like the Simpsons out here, I wish you could see it.

She’s not perfect:
I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as perfection. You can always change something. And perfection can change as time goes on. But of course I get moments of anxiety when I’m releasing something, an album or single, or shooting for a video, you go “Oh should I have worn those shoes?” but there’s no point in worrying about it.

Making a song is like buying a present:
It’s exciting, it’s so weird because you make something and it’s almost like buying someone a present, you don’t know if they’re going to like it or not. “I love this, this is the best thing I’ve ever heard” or “Hm… I don’t love this” or “I wasn’t in the mood for this” and you never really know.

Al Roker loves “Bang Bang”:
I feel like I needed this song. The reaction we’re getting – I saw a video online of that guy – what’s that weather guy’s name? Al Rocker? Yeah! I saw Al Roker dancing to it and that was crazy.

She requests “Lady Marmalade” at the club:
The first time I met Ariana and Nicki properly was at the video shoot, which was amazing as “Bang Bang” was number 1 on iTunes at the time. They were both so sweet and so funny and they looked amazing! I have heard the “Lady Marmalade” [comparison] and I am so happy with that description. I still go and request that song in the club.

She cried when she first heard “Bang Bang”:
Max Martin the producer, he had the idea of it being a female anthem. He sent it to me and said “I want you to sing on it” so I went in and recorded it, made it mine the way I wanted to sing it. Then he was like, “I want to get Ariana Grande on it” and “Oh, let’s get Nicki on it.” I heard [Nicki is] very wary but with this she only heard it once and knew it was something special. When I heard her verse, and I heard Ariana’s verse, I just cried. I was so thankful for the opportunity. Over the past few years, the success and everything… sometimes you don’t like what you’re doing and other times you’re like, “Oh my god.” I think I was tired, I always cry when I’m tired.

Who runs the world? Girls!:
I think every female artist has moments of genius and moments of female empowerment which is why they are successful, independent and have reached a point where people want to listen to what they have to say and what they do.

Jessie, Nicki and Ariana on the set of the "Bang Bang" video. / Photo by

Even when it’s hard:
I think being a woman being asked about their sexuality is just one of those things you have to take with a pinch of salt and it’s something that comes along with being a female celebrity or person. Not even an artist, but just a women in general that is in the public eye. I think it’s a very unhealthy thing. I try my best to embrace it; to not be fearful of it but to not be in denial about it.

She’s not sure what “Bang Bang” actually means:
“Bang Bang” basically represents what it did back in the day when you were little. It was just a word that kind of is explosive. Like, “BANG BANG! Pour me a beer!” It’s like a Do It Like A Dude mentality; it doesn’t really mean anything in particular. It’s not violent. It’s just a very in-your-face, catchy phrase. It’s like “Stomp stomp!” or “Pow pow!” It’s edgy and you can kinda take what you want from it.

She’s trying to get weird:
My new album is definitely more eclectic and more risky. I took a totally different approach making this album and let people in a lot more than I have before, really to teach me different ways of writing and recording, different melodies, different styles of singing. The album represents the woman that I am now. I thought I did that on Alive but I don’t think I did it to the degree that I did on this album.