It’s easy to see why Kelly Rowland’s glowing from ear-to-ear because, not only is she looking her best, the former Destiny’s Child member has a career which is rocketing sky-high. The R&B diva is currently taking the UK by storm as a new judge on The X Factor, dazzling viewers with her demure glam outfits, while mentoring her girls…
With her new single, ‘Down For Whatever’, and her third solo album, ‘Here I Am’, released later this month, life’s pretty good for Ms Rowland. Vanessa Laker had an exclusive chat with the Grammy-winning star, at the W Hotel, to talk about her new LP, dealing with drama on The X Factor, her love for fashion, why she’s a fan of Emeli Sandé, plus a lot more.
Vanessa: Hi Kelly! You’ve got a new song coming out called ‘Down For Whatever’. Tell us a bit about it…
Kelly Rowland: ‘Down For Whatever’ came about through RedOne (Lady GaGa, Jennifer Lopez).We were in the studio, it was my first time meeting him, and it was a party from the moment that we met. When I first heard ‘Down For Whatever’, I was just so excited about the record and the UK Universal team heard it and they were like, ‘That’s our first single!’
Vanessa: In the US, you’ve released ‘Motivation’ and ‘Lay It On Me’ – which are more urban-sounding songs – but your UK lead single is much more dance-orientated. Do you feel that there’s a big difference between your UK and US fans?
Kelly Rowland: Well, I have released many dance songs over here. From having the remix to ‘Work It’, to doing ‘When Love Takes Over’ on a whim, it worked. We’re just following suit. ‘Lay It On Me’ will definitely come out and be a single over here. I think that’s what’s so great about music now and that’s what’s so great about artists, period! Like, look at Chris Brown for example, he’ll have ‘Look At Me Know’, but then he’ll also have ‘Beautiful People’. I think as artists, we’re able to just not have limits and not allow anyone to put limits on us, and that’s what I did on this record.
Vanessa: ‘Down For Whatever’ is taken from your new album, ‘Here I Am’, which is your third solo LP. How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist from your first album, ‘Simply Deep’, all the way to ‘Here I Am’?
Kelly Rowland: Oh my goodness! Well, for one, it’s just being more certain and sure of myself as a woman. I feel like I’ve grown as a woman and I love that feeling, hence the album title, ‘Here I Am’.
Vanessa: With this new record, there’s this glow and confidence about you. Do you feel that you’ve really come into yourself?
Kelly Rowland: I have, I definitely have. I didn’t know what 30 was going to bring, but it definitely brought a load of confidence and self-assurance, and just feeling like I’ve got my big girl shoes on.
Vanessa: Tell us a bit your new album, ‘Here I Am’…
Kelly Rowland: ‘Here I Am’ is a very grown and sexy album, it’s sensual as well. I found myself being sensual a lot on this record, it just kind of came out. It’s really cool when things just come out on this record. There are moments that make you dance, moments that make you reflect, like ‘Heaven And Earth’, and there are moments that make you wanna just chill with your boo on a nice little night, like ‘Motivation’ and ‘Feelin’ Me Right Now’.
Vanessa: There’s pretty much a song for every mood…
Kelly Rowland: Exactly!
Vanessa: And how are you finding your new role as a judge on The X Factor?
Kelly Rowland: I’m really excited about my new role as a judge on The X Factor. It’s been quite a journey, especially as the weekend’s progress, but it’s been great. I love it!
Vanessa: Over here, The X Factor hype is pretty crazy – as you’ve now come to find out. Did you know exactly what you were getting yourself into when you signed up for the show?
Kelly Rowland: I knew that it was crazy, but I didn’t know that it was on another level crazy (laughs). But it’s all good, I really do enjoy myself on The X Factor and I’m genuinely having a good time.
Vanessa: There are gossip magazines in America, but the British tabloids are a little bit more intense. How are you dealing with the constant press stories about The X Factor and all of the drama surrounding the show?
Kelly Rowland: They’re just doing their job and you can’t really be upset when someone’s doing their job. I learnt that from someone I admire very much. Whether it’s the paparazzi or a journalist who’s twisting the story, because they can take one nice little one-liner and take it and make it their own, it’s just a matter of knowing that’s their job and understanding that it just comes with the territory.
Vanessa: And just taking it with pinch of salt as well…
Kelly Rowland: Exactly! I don’t let any of that stuff get to my heart.
Vanessa: You’ve been a revelation on the show and UK audiences have really warmed to you. Just last week you won Ultimate TV Personality at the Cosmopolitan Women Of The Year Awards. How was that?
Kelly Rowland: I know, right? That was very cool and I’m such a fan of Cosmo. I’m such a fan of Cosmo because of everything they do for females. They empower female and they award females for doing different things in their communities – they just make a difference in people’s lives. It was just really great to get an award on a night, where I’m looking at other women being honoured as well, it was phenomenal.
Vanessa: Your weekly outfits have taken the fashion world by storm, and style critics have been singing your praises. How important is fashion to you?
Kelly Rowland: I just LOVE clothes! I’m a girl who loves clothes, accessories, shoes, bags and jewellery. I feel as though my style has really evolved as well. When you come over here to London, you just get even more inspired. I also have some wonderful stylists. Between my stylists and my hair and my makeup team, we just sit there and go through magazines – because we’re just fiends for magazines. We’ll sit there and just look at things all day and we’ll have our little magazine parties (laughs). Photography and everyday people inspire us, too.
Vanessa: Your new judging role means that you’ll be spending a lot of time in the UK. Are you a fan of British music?
Kelly Rowland: Oh, most definitely. Right now I love Tinie Tempah. I love, love, love, Tinie! Oh, and Calvin Harris. Oh wait, there’s this girl, I love her song. OMG what’s her name again? She has the blonde hair…
Vanessa: Emeli Sandé?
Kelly Rowland: Yes! Emeli Sandé, that’s the one. I love her song. That girl sounds amazing live, she can SING. I really like her a lot.
Vanessa: And when can your UK fans see you performing live?
Kelly Rowland: I’ll be performing at the ‘1Xtra Live Tour’ on December 1 at Brixton Academy, where I’ll be performing some exclusive tracks from my new album. I’m so excited for that!
Kelly Rowland’s new album, ‘Here I Am’, is out now.
Words: Vanessa Laker (@VanessaLaker)