Ella Henderson hasn’t released an album in eight years, and she’s nervous. Her long-awaited second record, Everything I Didn’t Say is out soon, and she has a good reason for the gap in between studio albums: she’s relatable, and her life over the last 10 years has been anything but.
“Everything happened so young,” she says, cutting straight to it from her home in London. “I was 16 when I was on The X Factor and when I signed my first record deal, 18 when I released Ghost and my first album, and that catapulted and took me all over the globe. It was an incredible ride and experience, but after those four years I came back. I'd hit my early 20s and I felt like I had nothing to write about.
"I was like, ‘If I write about what I've done in the last three or four years, it's the most unrelatable album ever’. So I needed to live life and figure out where I was gonna live. I didn't know where home was anymore because I'm a northern lass living in London, and it was such a huge culture shock for me: buying my first sofa, my TV, learning how a mortgage works, and even learning how rent works at the start. It was like I'd done this amazing part of my life, but I hadn't had the groundwork.”
Now aged 26, Henderson says she has accumulated just the right amount of heartbreak, self reflection and personal stories to put into an album. Talking a mile a minute, – “James Arthur says I'm loud and gobby” – one of the most endearing things about her is that she has no filter. She also swears like a trooper.
“There's definitely no filter and no bullshit,” she laughs, nodding. “The album is me over the last seven years, so it's pretty much word vomit. Just naturally, the way I write is very open, and that's because writing is my therapy.
"Whenever I go to write a song or sit at the piano, it's always from a strong emotion I'm feeling. So everything is very transparent.”