Interview: Ella Henderson
Ella Henderson chats to No.1 about what it’s like to be on tour with
She may have made an early departure from The X Factor back in 2012, but 19-year-old Ella Henderson has rocketed to fame since releasing her first album. Not only is she enjoying success in the music industry, but she’s also the face of dry shampoo brand, Batiste. The global star explains to No.1 what it’s really like to be famous and how she keeps her feet firmly on the ground.
You’ve come a long way since being on The X Factor. When did you realise your career was really going to take off?
I don’t think you ever really realise that to be honest. I’ve always just kept my head down, worked hard and aimed for my goals. For me, it was all about the music. When I came away from the show I didn’t see it as the be all and end all, it was just the beginning. It doesn’t matter how long it takes because I know what I want to do. I was lucky enough to get a record deal at the age of 16 and all I wanted to do was just focus on what my music sounded like.
Did you get fed up waiting such a long time to release your music?
Not really – it didn’t matter whether it took two years or 10 years to get my music released, I needed to focus and get my head down. I think to rush into something at the age of 16 is just too soon, especially with the pressures of this industry.
What’s the thought process behind writing your music?
I would describe my music as an open diary and that’s just the way I write. I don’t try to reveal things, I write very autobiographically and that’s something I’ve always done from a young age. Writing is my place to let my thoughts escape.
What was it like to be on tour with a band as big as Take That?
Incredible! We kicked the tour off in Scotland, which was brilliant. It was great; their show was huge and exciting, so to actually be invited onto it by the guys themselves is really amazing for me. It was the best warm up gig in the world!
Gary Barlow was a judge when you were on The X Factor. What was it like to be working with him again?
It’s funny you should ask, Gary and I spoke about this. It’s crazy that I auditioned for a show and that’s the first time he met me, now I’ve been on an arena tour with him. I guess you never know what’s going to happen in life.
It’s almost time for The X Factor to start back. What would you say was the most stressful aspect of being on the show?
I don’t actually think I was stressed at all when I was on the show. I enjoyed every second of it to be honest – I was in my element! It was my decision to audition and I knew it wasn’t going to last forever, so you have to embrace it and learn from the experience.
It must be great having Simon Cowell to guide you. What’s it like to work with him?
Simon is great, he’s such an amazing guy when it comes to advice and his experience in the music industry is priceless. When I’m struggling to make a big decision, he’ll always be there to guide me. He’s a great boss!
What’s the best advice Simon has given you?
Probably just to enjoy every second of the experience. The one thing he told me is that he’s seen a lot of young
Take That, the best advice Simon Cowell has given her and reveals her biggest beauty secrets.
people come into the music industry and they don’t always get a chance to enjoy it. He doesn’t like seeing that, he wants to make sure I’m happy.
You have your own tour coming up in the autumn. Where are you most looking forward to visiting?
I definitely can’t wait to come back to Scotland! Glasgow was so much fun when I was there with Take That, so I can’t wait to be there again. I’ve got loads of Scottish family, my grandad was originally from Stirling, so it always feels lovely to be in Scotland.
What’s the most showbiz moment you’ve had so far?
Probably meeting Prince Charles when I performed for his Prince’s Trust charity event. I was stood in the company of Kevin Spacey, Rod Stewart, Simon Cowell and Prince Charles – that just felt crazy and a little bit mental.
Have you ever been starstruck?
When I performed on The Voice in America, Pharrell Williams was one of the coaches on the panel. He was singing my songs to me backstage before I went on and he was having a deep chat, saying he wanted to write with me. Hearing things like that makes you feel so positive, it definitely puts you in the right head space. I’ve always felt very humbled when you get any credit or praise from people who you look up to.
You’ve also had a fair amount of success in America. What has that been like?
Going over to America has just been a complete whirlwind for me. It was never the plan for us to visit the states in the first year of me releasing music – that would have been at least the second or third year of promotion. It’s amazing how huge it is compared to the UK.
How does the American music industry compare to our own?
Well, you could be in America for months and find that your songs still aren’t getting played on the radio – success doesn’t happen as quickly as it would here. A lot of work goes into it, I mean just think about how many states there are over there – you need to visit all of those before you can have any chance of success. I love a challenge though, so trying to conquer America has been very exciting for me.
Was it daunting being exposed to such a crazy industry at a young age?
I don’t feel like I was exposed to anything as such. At the age of 16, I made sure I took two years to take my time, which was very important to me. I wanted to grow into a young woman without the limelight on me. To come into this industry, you have to be mentally and physically prepared, which is how I felt.
Do you ever feel pressure to be a good role model for young people?
There’s definitely a sense of being a role model when you’re in any position that’s in the limelight. I’ll just always be myself and as long as I surround myself with people who make me feel happy and confident, I know I’m going to feel happy and confident. I’m only young myself, I’m bound to make mistakes.
You seem to take everything in your stride, how do you manage to keep yourself so grounded?
I’m lucky – I have an incredible family and team of people around me. If I’m surrounded by people I love and trust, then that’s the main thing for me – I can count those people on one hand and as long as they’re with me, I know I’m going to be good.
Have you ever been sent any crazy fan mail?
I don’t get any really crazy things sent to me, fortunately!
As the face of Batiste, dry shampoo brand, what advice can you give us on taking care of our hair?
As I’m always performing, I add a lot of heat to my hair, so I make sure I do about two treatments a week. I’ll leave the treatment in overnight and just wash it out in the morning, to make sure my hair is getting the vitamins and nutrients it needs.
You always look great on and off stage, what are your beauty secrets?
Less is more. Making sure you’re cleansing, toning and moisturising your skin is important. If I have a day off, I’ll wear a tinted moisturiser rather than a thick foundation. It still gives me a glow, but allows my skin to breathe a little.
How would you describe your personal style?
I like anything that’s quite classic and timeless, but with a modern day edge. I love Bridget Bardot – her image was quite sassy and chic, I love anything like that. I often look at other women and praise them when they look great, but I never want to copy anyone.
What else do you have coming up that we should look out for?
I’ve done the full festival season this summer and I’m writing for my next record – I can’t wait for people to hear it. I also have a few collaborations, which I’m excited about but I can’t say much more about them at the moment!
What advice would you give to someone who is going to audition for X Factor this year?
I would say just go for it and don’t over think anything. Just keep a positive head space and do all you can. Just enjoy it.
“I can’t wait to come back to Scotland, I’ve got loads of Scottish family, my grandad is from Stirling.”
Ella meeting Prince Charles at Prince’strust event