The Big Interview: Ella Henderson

Former X Factor contestant and chart topping singer Ella Henderson speaks to Motley’s Laura Hussey about her creative process and her number one album.

Ella Henderson won our hearts from her first audition on The X Factor UK in 2012, blowing the judges away with the emotional rendition of her original song, ‘Missed’. After reaching the live shows, she continued to impress the public and the judges’ right up until her final performance. It’s been two years since the former X Factor hopeful signed her record deal with Syco Music after coming sixth on the infamous talent show.  With her debut single ‘Ghost’ having dominated the charts and her album Chapter One becoming number one in the UK, Motley got to speak with the bubbly Brit about everything from her idols, to her age, to Adele.

The talented teen has enjoyed much success after the release of her hauntingly beautiful single, Ghost. ‘It’s been very overwhelming and very surreal,’ said Henderson of her journey so far, ‘my highlight has definitely been the number one single and number one album in the UK.’ Not only has Henderson got a stunning voice but she is also a very talented songwriter; penning all the original tracks for her first album Chapter One. ‘I’ve gotten to travel with it, meeting a lot of co-writers and producers along the way, everything that I do in my songwriting is from the heart,’ explained Henderson, ‘I’m very open, I mean that’s why the album is called Chapter One. Every song that I’ve written on it kind of depended on my mood at that time, if I was angry I’d write a song about me getting through that or if I was happy I’d write a really uplifting song.’

No doubt after the success of Chapter One we can expect some exciting duets on the cards. We asked Ella who she would record with if she could choose any artist and she didn’t have to think for long before exclaiming it would definitely be ‘Adele, I’d love a female power duet with her one day, I’d really like to meet her, she seems like a lot of fun and her voice is phenomenal.’ Having been signed to Syco music at a young age, it’s not a stretch to assume that the teen had little control with Chapter One. However, Ella was quick to set us straight saying despite the fact she’s 18, she’s never felt her age to be a barrier towards being taken seriously adding that ‘I was 16 when I signed my record deal so it was important for me to feel that the moment I came into everything I was mentally prepared and capable of everything. I really feel like I’ve grown up a lot, I’m still learning new things every day and experiencing new things. With this job you have to experience everything, it’s the only way you learn. I’ve been very lucky and fortunate to have had respect, guidance, advice and freedom in this whole process.’ Henderson told Motley that if she could speak to her bright-eyed 16 year old self, she would tell herself ‘to not worry, I’m here to enjoy myself; if I’m not enjoying it I may as well not be doing it.’

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It’s a given that young women like Henderson in the public eye are under constant scrutiny and pressure from the press and at such a young age it must be extremely difficult to adapt to such a lifestyle. But it’s being herself that helps Ella Henderson deal with this pressure; saying that ‘definitely with this job comes the idea of, you’re putting yourself out there and you’re a role model. That’s kind of on your shoulders but, you know, I’m constantly going to make mistakes. I’m young myself and I live and I learn. All I ever want to be is just honest and be myself. If I’m not being me then I’m not gonna feel comfortable or confident in what I do.’ Henderson went on to talk about her own role models, admitting that her mother has been the biggest influence and best female icon in her life. ‘I admire her for everything that she is,’ admitted Henderson, ‘she’s a great woman.’

Looking back, Henderson believes that if she hadn’t auditioned for X Factor she’d probably ‘still be in college studying music and I’d still be song writing right now; sending my songs off and trying to get my foot in the door. If I lost my voice tomorrow, I’d still have to do something in the creative world. I loved art at school so maybe something to do with makeup or hair. It would have to be something where I can use my mind and let it creatively roam free.’

With so much success in such a short space of time, Motley was eager to find out any future plans that the young star may have and she certainly has plenty more to offer. ‘Right now I’m doing a lot of travelling and promoting the album,’ she divulged, ‘and next year, fingers crossed, I’d love to eventually put on a tour with myself and my live band. I’m two years writing in the studio so to actually get the songs live and out there and performing them really excites me.’

Chapter One by Ella Henderson is available now.