Celeste talks life in lockdown, performing from her flat and the songs that boost her mood

'It’s been beautiful to see relationships bloom during lockdown and I’ve personally really valued the opportunity to slow down and see the world around us for what it is...'

(Image credit: Redferns)

'It’s been beautiful to see relationships bloom during lockdown and I’ve personally really valued the opportunity to slow down and see the world around us for what it is...'

You would have to be living under a rock not to have heard of Celeste, with the 26-year-old British-Jamaican soul singer bagging the BRIT Rising star and BBC Music's Sound of 2020 awards this year.

But with the world on lockdown and most of us isolated to our homes, it might be a while before we get to hear her hits 'Stop This Flame’, 'Strange’ and ‘Lately’.

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Now, she's back, providing the soundtrack behind John Lewis' 2020 Christmas advert, with her original song, 'A Little Love' - sure to be a Christmas hit.

Marie Claire's Digital Features Editor Jenny Proudfoot sat down with Celeste in lockdown 1.0 to talk about her new Google Nest project and what we can all take from lockdown.

What drew you to the Google Nest project?

Music can be such a therapeutic and exploratory part of someone’s life. As a teenager, without even realising, if I was anxious or had an argument with my parents, before even thinking about it, I turned to music and it became my own world. The impact that music can have on mood and supporting the mental state is so underestimated.

Music is obviously my job, so I’m constantly in conversations with people about what they’re listening to, but for normal music listeners a programme like Nest Sessions is a very helpful way of accessing and discovering new music and identifying your own moods and needs as you transition throughout the day. One of my favourites is saying, “Hey Google, play songs I can dance to” and me and my housemates have a dance party in the kitchen - which is pretty great at the moment for lifting our spirits!

What can we expect from you during your Nest session?

It’s going to be a very relaxed and chilled session. Just me, sitting on my sofa, experimenting with some of my existing tracks as well as doing a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Could You Be Loved’. It’s always a song I sing when I’m in a daze … I was actually in a queue at the Tesco tills and found myself singing a lyric quietly under my breath and then a man next to me in the line sang the next bit back to me! So I thought it would be a super fun track to experiment with for Nest Sessions. I’ve also created a playlist of songs that make me feel inspired ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, which I’m hoping will help stimulate creativity, confidence and passion for those who tune in.

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Do you have a favourite song to perform?

I love singing my song ‘Both Sides of the Moon’ because I love how it allows me to play with my voice and tone. I actually can’t wait to be able to sing some of my news songs too - I haven’t had a chance to practice with my band throughout lockdown so I’m looking forward to that!

How are you finding lockdown?

I didn’t think it would be for so long! It’s definitely felt strange at points but I’ve been keeping myself busy, I’ve bought myself a piano which is due to be delivered next week. I’ve always really wanted to learn and I would love to get to a stage where I can play my own songs on the piano at my next live performance - so watch this space…

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Have you been working on your music during lockdown?

Yes! I’ve been doing lots of live sessions and finishing production on my music remotely - luckily my team have been really quick to adapt. Actually, one of the guys I work with does string work from home and records in a really clever way - he plays nearly every string instrument and just moves around the room to create different tones, it sounds like he’s got a whole band in his living room - it’s ingenious! I have a song coming out on May 27th called 'I Can See Change', which I wrote in February when I was in LA just before I came back for the BRIT awards. I actually even made a video for the song in my house last night. I roped my housemate in and we bought a tone of black drapes to create a total blackout. We moved all the furniture around and hired some camera equipment, my stylist even picked out my looks remotely for me and did a styling session over the phone - we were up until 3am!

Which songs do you listen to when you need to lift your mood?

Great question! I’m a huge fan of 'Use My Body' by Mavis John when I need to boost my mood and inject some energy into my day and I always play Kendrik Lemar’s Untitled Unmastered album when I’m working.

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What do you think we can all take from lockdown?

I have a real sense of optimism for the future and I’ve developed really strong relationships with people close to me during this time. This period is a time to create memories in what is a crazy, crazy time - I hope I look back and think ‘wow, remember when we used to live in that flat and tried to create a music living room in the living room!’ You really recognise who the important people are to you in your life during this time, I think that’s quite important to identify - who we keep up with that isn’t based on going out and partying, but rather experiencing much deeper emotions. It’s been beautiful to see relationships bloom during lockdown and I’ve personally really valued the opportunity to slow down and see the world around us for what it is.

Anyone with a Nest smart speaker can tune in this weekend for a range of mood-lifting activities to help you change gear this weekend, from anywhere in your home

Google Nest smart speakers and displays give you a helpful connected home assistant that can set the mood from any room. Whether you’re cooking dinner, folding laundry or just playing music, you can control the sound with just your voice.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.