Future superstar Anne-Marie doesn’t do things by halves. Ever since she was two years old and joined her local performing arts school, she’s wanted to be the best at whatever she puts her mind to. Roles in two West End productions suggested she was pretty good at singing and acting, so when she started doing karate she won two international championships by the age of seventeen. But music has always been her passion and after touring the world with Rudimental (she also appears on four songs on their new album), she’s ready to be the best again. “I love being the best in what I do, always,” she says in her thick Essex accent. “I’m really self-critical. I’m a perfectionist. When I’m good at something and I know I can be the best, I carry on; so Beyoncé, Sia, Rihanna - I’m coming for you yeah.” She let’s out a huge cackle, as she does often, but she’s only half kidding. This summer she laid down a marker in the shape of the progressive Karate EP, a collection of three vastly different songs, produced by the likes of Two Inch Punch and Brad Ellis, all anchored by Anne-Marie’s supple voice and inherent talent for melody. “My plan was to put the EP out as the weird and cool side of my music, to let people know that bit of my personality, and then move towards the pop side,” she explains. As she said, watch out world, she’s coming.
The way Anne-Marie describes it, she was a bit of a nightmare child (“I was such a little bitch!” she giggles). So when her older sister started at a performing arts school, Anne-Marie had to go too. From the age of two until thirteen she studied dance, drama and singing, with the latter only really registering with her parents when, at the age of six, she successfully auditioned for a role in Les Miserables without their knowledge. “They had open auditions at my school and I just went for it and I got the part and my mum was like, ‘oh’.” From there she also landed a role in Whistle Down The Wind alongside Jessie J. At home music had also started taking over, with idols like Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys showing Anne-Marie that there was a way of singing outside of the typical stage school manner. “Because I was young I was just singing however I wanted, but I remember in Les Mis once I had to sing one of the songs so plain and really dull, and one day I just decided to do it my way. I was only eight and I was proper going for it. The next day at rehearsals they asked me if my voice was alright so I went back to what I was doing,” she laughs. It was clear that even at an early age the strong-willed Anne-Marie had an idea of exactly who and what she wanted to be as a singer.
In the end, the restrictions of that world became too much and Anne-Marie realised she needed to figure out her own route. “I wasn’t prepared to mould my voice into what they needed – I just wanted to do it naturally,” she says. Her performing arts had also started to overlap with karate, a discipline that had helped build her confidence and release some pent up teen aggression. “My friend already went to this club and so I joined and after three weeks the teachers were like ‘you’re so naturally good at it’ and I was like ‘bollocks’.” She lets out that laugh again. “But because of the dancing I could pick things up really quickly. Plus I was a little angry kid so I had anger to get out.” Around the same time, another channel for that emotion was found in writing. “Every time I went round to my Nan’s, me and my sister used to have these flower girl books and she used to make us write poems everyday for her,” she remembers. “So that helped with my writing and from then I started writing longer poems that then accidentally became songs.”