Jorja Smith Talks Meeting Rihanna, Collaborating With Frank Ocean And Her New Music

·5-min read
Photo credit: Mike Excell
Photo credit: Mike Excell

Yes, Jorja Smith has released new music. But, she wants you to know that her latest project Be Right Back is not an album.

It is, in fact, what she describes as the 'waiting room' for her second album – due in 2022 – and is a compilation of eight-tracks released to tide us over until then. Which, we're totally here for.

It's been three years since she released her Grammy-nominated, BRIT Award-winning 2018 debut album Lost & Found, which made her a household name at 21. Though it's safe to say her meteoric rise began long before, when the West Midlands singer and ELLE cover star appeared on tracks with Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and opened Bruno Mars' 24k Magic tour.

She's been working away relatively quietly ever since, if you count quiet as performing at the best festivals, releasing the song of summer 2019 with 'Be Honest' and setting up her own record label FAMM. In 2020, she also jumped on rising star rapper Enny's viral Tik Tok track 'Peng Black Girls' (her first FAMM signing) and has had us refreshing her Instagram feed daily to see the latest look she's serving as part of her red-headed reinvention.

Drum'n'bass influenced 'Addicted' is the lead single that burst her back onto the music scene this year and 'Bussdown' (featuring rapper Shaybo) is the subtle dancehall beat launching us into summer 2021.

Photo credit: Mike Excell
Photo credit: Mike Excell

With Be Right Back, Jorja wants to show you that she's grown up and isn't the same teenager who wrote 'Teenage Fantasy' and 'Blue Lights' as she reveals to ELLE for our series, My Life In Culture.

Be Right Back is a must-listen because...

I hope it gives people a moment to escape to a safe place. I wrote these songs over the last two years because I needed to clear my head and feel better about certain situations. You’re never alone and music is so wonderful at letting people feel like they aren’t. This project is like a waiting room to my second album, I haven’t written it yet but I miss my fans and performing so I just wanted to give them something whilst I work on this next chapter. I’m 23 now, and my debut album featured songs I wrote around the ages of 16-18. I’ve matured and I’m evolving constantly and with this project I think you will hear the change.

What I’ve been listening to recently...

I mostly listen to music while I’m driving at the start of my day; when the sun is coming up and the roads aren’t too busy. I’ve been listening to Bellah's 'Evil Eye' COLORS performance a lot, it's incredible. She starts the song saying, ‘Say a prayer for me, I’m surrounded by some people that need prayer mommy’. Every line is just too honest. Then also the flows on Amaarae's 'Sad Gurlz Luv Money ft. Moily' are so hard and I’ve had Estelle ‘Wait A Minute’ and ‘Break My Heart’ on repeat too.

Photo credit: Mike Excell
Photo credit: Mike Excell

My biggest fan girl moment was…

Almost meeting Rihanna. In 2019 I was in LA with my girls at my friend's event called Shabba, which goes off. We heard Rihanna was on her way and as we are about to go to the toilet, we notice that the party starts acting weird. Security comes towards us and we move to the side and Rihanna walks past. She doesn’t see us but my friend Erin squeezes my hand so tight and we are just in awe. I wanted to say hello but it was a club, I don’t like people trying to talk to me in noisy places and when I’m just trying to have a lit time. But next time I'm that close I'll introduce myself.

The first albums I owned were…

It's hard to pinpoint one album because I was obsessed with my mum's compilation albums. She had 'Chain Of Fools' by Aretha Franklin going into 'Hurts So Good' by Susan Cadogan and then into The Velvelettes' Needle In A Haystack.

I would absolutely love to work with...

Frank Ocean. His melodies and lyrics are something else and then the instrumentation; the sounds transport you to another place. I'd just love to sing with him.

Photo credit: Mike Excell
Photo credit: Mike Excell

To feel comforted, I always listen to…

Jazz music like Alice Coltrane or Yussef Dayes, Alfa Mist or Sault. Just music that swallows me up because it’s so complicated I can’t think of anything else.

What TV shows I’ve been watching recently…

I don’t really watch much TV, it normally goes on at night and I always fall asleep, which I hate because I hate people that fall asleep watching things. At the moment I’m watching the series Atlanta again, I can just laugh and not think too much. I’ve also just started The Sopranos, I know I’m late to that but just let me enjoy. I binged Snowfall, you actually can’t not binge that. It’s too good to have to wait a next day to get watch it again. The way it’s shot as well, there are some trippy moments.

The last film I watched was...

Spree. All i'm going to say is my heart was racing, I felt like it was real, I was sitting on the edge of my seat for most of it. It has a really interesting concept about someone wanting to go viral, wanting to have lots of followers, likes etc and the lengths they go to, to achieve that.

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

In need of more inspiration, thoughtful journalism and at-home beauty tips? Subscribe to ELLE's print magazine today! SUBSCRIBE HERE

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting