10 Years of the BRITs Critics' Choice: 2018 winner Jorja Smith talks her debut album and why she won't sign a record deal

10 Years of the BRITs Critics' Choice: 2018 winner Jorja Smith talks her debut album and why she won't sign a record deal

Last night at the BRITs, Jorja Smith announced herself to an audience of millions.

Sure, her burgeoning fanbase is already smitten with the 20-year-old from Walsall (she recently told Music Week she’d met representatives from two Jorja Smith fanclubs), but now, as the winner of the BRITs Critics’ Choice Award, she has the world’s attention.

Smith is the 11th winner of the award first given to Adele in 2008, and follows a group of artists including Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith, James Bay, Jessie J and Florence + The Machine.

Unlike those artists, and her fellow 2018 nominees Mabel and Stefflon Don, Smith got there without a major record deal. Sony/ATV secured a publishing agreement with the singer some time ago, but that’s as far as things have progressed so far.

Smith features in a BRITs special the new edition of Music Week, here’s part of the conversation we had with the singer as her recent sold-out UK tour wound towards its conclusion…

Did you expect to win?

I didn’t think I would. Loads of people said, ‘She’ll never get that because she’s not with a label’. Well, oh look I got it! Haa haaa! When my manager was talking about it, I knew how much of a big deal it was but I didn’t think id be considered. I’ve done quite a lot, I’m very proud of myself and it’s quite an honour to get it. I’m very happy.

Is there anything we should expect this award to do for an artist’s career?

I’m not sure if people will expect anything, more people now know about me, my whole thing is getting more people listening to my music and enjoying it. Since I won the BRIT I’ve just got a load of people finding out about me. Hopefully they will be waiting to hear my album and we’ll see how that goes, but I don’t think I want to be like, ‘My album’s going to sell loads’, because if it doesn’t that’s so disappointing for me, not for anyone else.

Do you have any plans to sign a record deal?

No plans right now. I just want to write some more music. When I was 12, I thought, ‘You can’t make it unless you’re with a label, you have to go to America and sign a deal’. Living in Walsall, that’s how I thought you became a successful singer. Now you can do it by yourself, if you have a good team and the music is good… I don’t know any different, I don’t know what its like to be with a label. Labels are there for a reason, they’ve always been here and they always will be, I just don’t know what its like to be with a major label. I just like what I’m doing at the moment, it’s going well, I don’t need to add anybody to my team. I don’t think I need to go to a label at the moment.

How is your debut album coming along? 

“I’m going to put an album out in June. It’s being mixed [at the moment]; it’s songs from when I was 17-20. My songs haven’t changed that much, its just more what its about, before it was observations, now I’ve actually been through stuff. It’s personal stuff, or things my friends have told me or I’ve seen people go through. There’s no title for my album yet, I’ll figure that out last, but I love it, man. It’s my first big body of work, of like my EP but bigger…

Read Music Week's interview with Jorja Smith in full here.

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