In­ter­view: Ella Hen­der­son

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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

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