British singer-songwriter Anne-Marie turned 28 exactly a week ago. As she made her Hong Kong debut on Thursday, she charmed audiences with her signature silver-grey, middle-parted hair and a sassy Essex accent.
Shortly before her concert at the MacPherson Stadium in Mong Kok, Young Post sat down with the megastar to chat with her about the life lessons she’s learned over the past year, and how she serendipitously became a full-time musician.
Aside from storming the charts with her debut album, Speak Your Mind, and picking up four nominations at the 2019 Brit Awards, including Best British Female Solo Artist, for Anne-Marie, 2018 was all about focusing on personal development and self-growth.
“Last year I learned the most about myself in my whole life,” says the star, who has more than 1 billion views and 5 million subscribers on YouTube, “I used to have a short temper and get angry quickly about little things.”
“I’ve learned to think more about other people. It’s easy to get wrapped up in yourself sometimes,” she adds, “I used to take each day as it comes and was hardly ever organised or prepared, but that’s something I’ve had to learn and get better at because it’s important to my career.”
With the success she’s had so far, it’s hard to imagine her doing anything else as a full-time job. Before getting into songwriting she was set on pursuing a career in musical theatre. By age 12, she had already been in two West End productions – Les Miserables when she was six, and Whistle Down the Wing, alongside fellow British artist Jessie J.
“The singing part was easy, but I didn’t feel comfortable becoming someone else – actors love living someone else’s life, but I just felt so weird doing that – you can bet on me never changing,” she laughs.
“I was studying performing arts in college and was preparing to go into musical theatre,” she says, “I thought that was what life had planned for me – it wasn’t until the age of 19 when I met a songwriter and got signed that I realised [working as a full-time musician] is actually a thing.”
Unlike 9 to 5 jobs, being an artist usually means that you’d often have to expect the unexpected. “You never know what’s gonna happen, as musicians we don’t really think before we do something,” she says, “with live shows I used to be like: ‘whatever, let’s just do it and see if it works’, but this year I definitely want to figure things out before moving forward while still taking everything as it comes.”
She’s always been very open and vocal about mental health, as well as her being diagnosed an empath, which according to Psychology Today is someone who feels and absorbs other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms because of their high sensitivities.
“Artists’ emotions seem to be [more intense] than others’ – I thought it was just me but have learned otherwise after reading interviews of other artists,” she says, “ I don’t know whether that comes with becoming an artist or if you become an artist because you’re like that.”
However, interestingly enough, she finds hypnotherapy to be the most helpful way of recentring herself. “I’ve been to regular therapy before, but hypnotherapy connects to a much deeper part of your brain – I’d love to do it more regularly as it’s helped me so much.”
As for young people who are still trying to find their place in the world, Anne-Marie believes we should all carve out our own unique paths in life. “You don’t have to rely on other people’s views on what you can be, keep focused on what you want and be as strong minded as you can,” she says.