As a child, Anne-Marie starred in a production of Les Misérables in the West End. Then, in her teens, she became a karate world champion. She’s been equally successful in music, spending the last two years touring with Rudimental as a backing singer, and recently taking a starring role on Clean Bandit’s Number One single ‘Rockabye’. Now, the Essex-born 24-year-old is prepping more solo material – and she tells NME all about her plans to take on 2017 alone.
What was it like being in Les Misérables at such a young age?
“At the time, I didn’t really understand what was going on and I didn’t actually fully take in what I was going into. Now, when I write songs I’m just writing stories, and being in musical theatre taught me how to act them out through singing.”
You were a world karate champion at one point too? What got you into that?
“I loved karate. It acted as my release of frustration when I was a teenager, because I was f**king horrible. I was angry and just s**t. All the kids at school would bully me and always wanted me to fight them. I never did, but if I wanted to I totally could.”
What did you learn from touring as Rudimental’s singer?
“It made me realise that all of my own songs were really slow. I was like, ‘F**king hell, I need to write a song to jump around to.’ It was the best thing I could have gone through for what I’m doing now. It was like work experience!”
Your first solo single ‘Alarm’ was a Top 20 hit – did that immediate success surprise you?
“I think all my life I’ve grown up and had high expectations, but that becomes so stressful. I could have put that single out and thought, ‘F**king hell, why isn’t that Number One in three weeks?’ Now I don’t have any expectations, so everything is a surprise.”
Now you’re a part of Clean Bandit’s Number One single, and one of only four women to top the singles charts in 2016. Why do you think that is?
“When you’re coming out new, it’s harder as a girl to gain fans because most of them are girls, and they can be like, ‘Do we like her?’ If I were a boy it’d be much easier. But it’s mad – I just hoped other people connected with that song and clearly they do.”
LIVE: Anne-Marie plays KOKO on 28 November.
STYLED BY Koulla SERGI