Connie Constance on resilience, recalibration and music
The 25-year-old British singer on the joys of having your own music label and the courage to go your own way
By Hanna Hanra Top image: Connie Constance (Sophie Jones) Friday 8 May 2020 Short read
Last year, Constance released her debut album, English Rose. With nods to punk, as well as indie disco and subterranean soul, it’s energetic and flips from sly digs to powerful mantras. The title track is a cover of a 1978 The Jam song originally about fair-skinned beauty, but Constance takes the term ‘English rose’ and uses it as a symbol for the everchanging nature of British identity – what it means to be mixed race. Growing up, Constance thought she’d never make it in music, and only recently felt like she started to belong. ‘I thought, me? A kid from Watford? I should never even be this deep in music.’ Once you’ve heard her album, you’ll be grateful that she is.
Considering the climate, why is 2020 the time for you to release your EP?
At the end of last year, I left a major label and created my own one. I found my music identity and, because I’m in control of everything, I can portray everything I’ve learnt about myself and about music, rather than having to second guess what someone else wants. It feels like a really big year. I don’t want to put that on hold, but I guess we have to wait and see.
What have you learnt from starting your own label?
Music is a place I can always go, it’s super cathartic – especially now. I never had a problem with writer’s block; I felt lost in my career, not the music. I finished my album and wanted to get out of the deal I was in. Eventually, I went to LA and did some sessions and that really helped me get over the panicky thoughts about what I was doing. When I came back, I set up my own label with my management. I didn’t realise I hadn’t been enjoying a big portion of my own life. But now, I can come up with an idea, create it, finish it, deliver it and not miss an opportunity because there’s something standing in the way.
Connie Constance (thursday)
I started listening to rock and rock and soul when I was about 13 – Oasis, The Clash and The Jam. That was really the basis of my first love of music, and Paul Weller was really the leader during that era.
You covered a song by The Jam, but do you prefer them, The Style Council, or Paul Weller’s solo stuff?
It’s all great. Last year, I met him [Constance joined him for The Black Barn Sessions and Weller, aka the Modfather, has a writing credit on English Rose]. He was such a nice guy. I brought my family down, my stepdad is a huge, huge fan, so being in his studio was quite a thing. He had all these plaques for selling millions and millions of albums, which doesn’t happen now with streaming. All his team are super nice and them being able to record while he makes music was really inspirational.
In what way do you find it inspiring?
The whole song is important, from start to finish. And I think that is something people miss a bit now. Songs should be able to be played on piano or acoustic guitar, but recording today can be in lots of sections. I try to write my songs myself and then take them to be produced.
Did Paul Weller give you any advice?
Yeah. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do. And I don’t.
English Rose is out now; itsconniesworld.com