When did you realize you had this great singing voice and wanted to get into music?
I think I was always into music from a young age. I have a lot of brothers and sisters. And when I was really young, I couldn't get their attention because they were so much bigger than me. So I always used to stand in the living room and make them watch me while I did Judy Garland impressions.
Who are your musical influences?
Judy Garland because she's a star and fabulous and was sensational. And actually all those people from the old movies really. I like Mama Cass, Barbara Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Joni Mitchell. I like Carly Simon. I like all those great women, all those strong women.
What drew you to singing old soul music as opposed to more modern pop tunes?
I listen to what I think is the best for traditional songwriting. For example great, great, great old-fashioned duos like Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen or anyone that Mercer wrote with, basically. Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and all these fantastic American composers, they were just unbelievable with the music they wrote. So for example when I go in 'Slow,' [sings a few bars] it's like "I'd like to add his initial to my monogram" [from Ella Fitzgerald's 'Someone to Watch Over Me']. It's kind of like what [George] Gershwin would do. I think I was just taking instruction from that.
What was the inspiration behind your single, 'Slow'?
It's really about infatuation. When you kind of fall for someone who's inappropriate, and it's not going anywhere but you just can't help yourself [laughs]. I think we've all been there.
The music video for 'Slow' has a movie feel. What were you trying to convey?
I think the American edit actually makes me look like a stalker in it. Don't you think? I mean I'm looking out my window. It looks like I'm envious of the couple in the video. It looks like I'm madly in love with somebody who is madly in love with somebody else. I think the mood was romantic and was supposed to be very mysterious and all the phone numbers on napkins and looking out of windows and all that stuff.
But I really enjoyed the video because I got to sit in cafes and write in my book. And I was so busy around that time of making the video that I never got to do those things, so it was like therapy for me. So even though the camera was on me while I was writing in my book, I forgot about them because I was enjoying it so much.
Burt Bacharach and Elton John have both praised your music. How does it feel to get such great feedback from music legends like them?
The Burt Bacharach thing was just such a huge moment in my life, and I'll never forget it. It was a real "Cinderella" moment for me. I'm a huge fan of Bacharach and [Hal] David. So to get validation from him was amazing. And Elton John was instantly familiar and warm and encouraging. It just felt so nice to have that validation from him. It's fantastic.
While you've been praised at home in the UK, are you nervous about bringing your music to the US?
I'm really looking forward to going to America. I've been told it's a lot of hard work, and it's a long slow process to win hearts and minds. But I'm a hustler so I enjoy the hustle. I enjoy trying to win people over because I spent 10 years hustling and trying to win people over. I must say I'm more comfortable doing that than I am basking in the glorious success. So it'll be good to go back to my original default setting of hustling and hustling. But you know, I love America. I love the people because I spent some time out there in 2005. I love the landscape. I love the nature. I love the history. I just love the country so much. I just can't get enough of it.
And for people who haven't heard your sound before, how would your describe your music to them?
I would say it's heartfelt singer-songwriter music with a conversational tone in a traditional songwriting style.