If you haven’t heard Clean Bandit’s chat-smashing anthem for single mamas, "Rockabye" (featuring Sean Paul and Anne Marie), you’ve been living under a rock. We caught up with stunning, talented 26-year-old Brit singer Anne Marie Nicholson while she was in New Zealand for a flying visit to showcase her solo career.
Your biog says you were ambitious from an early stage – singing in Les Miserables as a six year old and becoming a Karate champion by the age of 12. Did you have pushy parents?
My mum and dad have never ever pushed me to do anything ever. So it must come from me! My dad always tells me this story about when I was six and we went to the park to play basketball and it got to like 5 or 6 and they were all like ‘OK, time to go home’ and I said: ‘I am not going til I get it in the hoop.’ And he had to stay there with me til I did! It’s always been inside of me in no matter what I’ve done.
Karate, musicals, singing, basketball. You’re a woman of many talents! You’re one of those annoying over-achievers aren’t you?
Haha! I’m really bad at tennis. Really bad. I’m really annoyed but I’m just not good at it.
How do you cope with jetlag?
Jetlag is quite hard. You feel like you’ve beaten it and then it gets to 5pm and you feel like you’re going to die but you just have to push through it. Touring with Rudimental prepared me well, though. They are such great people. The four guys are such different personalities. That’s why they are such a good group. They all give something different. It was a really fun tour. I’m a bit of a tomboy so I fit in with them. Except for the stinky sock and they farted a lot. But it was a really lovely, amazing tour.
What’s the downside of touring?
The hardest thing is not being able to settle or even look around. The thing I get quite sad about is that people go what did you think of Tokyo or wherever and I don’t even remember. It gives you a good idea about what you wanna see some day but this time it’s basically just me, so I’m having to take in everything a bit more, take a bit more notice.
You’ve said that you are ‘not just a voice for hire’ - could you expand on that?
I think collaboration is an amazing thing. Different brains in different places coming together. I’ve never felt bad about being a backing vocalist or featuring on someone else’s song because it’s why I am the way I am today. Each part of my life has been a step up and it all adds up to today. It’s a beautiful thing.
You’re mates with Arg from TOWIE – how did that happen?
When I was a lot younger I went to a singing competition and he was already in Towie. He was judging the comp. I saw him at a couple of different events more recently. He’s great, he’s funny.
You’re also mates with Ed Sheeran?
Yeah. The first time we met, we watched Game of Thrones and ate Mexican food. Well I tried to. I told him I don’t like spicy food and he’s like ‘Ok I won’t put that much spice in it’ and he put the whole thing in! And he ate all of it and I couldn’t eat any. I just had to sit there and watch him eat. I think he did it on purpose!
Talking of other celebs, are you fed up with the Khloe Kardashian comparison?
I don’t get Khloe as much anymore – though I guess we have the same hair and eyebrows… I get Drew Barrymore a lot. I kind of think it’s a compliment. Any comparison when you a bit like stressed or uptight is annoying but when you are comfortable with yourself it’s cool.
What’s the biggest amount of people you’ve sung in front of?
Wembley was 80,000. And Glastonbury. I get nervous before every single show no matter how many or few people. Sometimes, it’s even more nerve-wracking going in front of 10 people. But it’s good to have nerves. I’m always nervous! Sometimes if I hear someone’s going to be in the audience that unnerves me. I’d rather not know til after. Going from Rudimental to doing my first solo gig was also really nerve-racking. But my guitarist is Rudimental’s drummer so I took a part of the band with me!
Who would you like to collaborate with next?
I’d love to work with Alanis Morrisette. Two women collaborating together would be a really great thing. You don’t really see that that much – it’s mostly a man and a woman. So...I mean Alanis, Alicia Keys, and I love Eminem. And Kendrick Lamar. Anyone that wants to really make a point with their lyrics, with their story.
How did you celebrate "Rockabye" becoming a number one?
We were flying back from Berlin. It’d been out a week or two and we got on the plane and found out. I said to the air hostess ‘My song’s just gone to number one.’ And she whispered: ‘OK don’t tell anyone, I’m gonna get you loads of champagne!’ So we got drunk on the plane and I was running up and down the aisles singing. Luckily for everyo0ne around me it was quote a short flight.
The more weeks went by the more disbelief there was. When it went to number one at Xmas it was like history.
Your parents must be proud?
They are obviously really proud and happy. They are quite naïve to this whole industry thing. My mums a primary school teacher and my dad’s a builder. Neither of them can sing. My mum can sing a nursery rhyme or two she’s alright, My dad sounds like a mix between Elton John and Elvis. My dad’s really funny he’s amazing. They are great people, Sue and Wayne from Essex! They are cool. They love to just get me home and have a normal day asking me loads of questions about what’s been going on. Cos Essex is so far away, they love hearing all my tales from my travels. They are great parents.
"Rockabye" is a motherhood anthem. Did it make you broody?
I’ve been broody since I was 21! I just love children but I’m not gonna have a family yet – I’ve gotta find a boyfriend first! But I think it was an important song to put out. Not only is it a great song but it’s a great shout out for single mothers.