Why 'lookalikes' Jessie Ware and Gemma Arterton teamed up

By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

media captionJessie Ware and Gemma Arterton on the making of their music video

Jessie Ware's new single was inspired by Donald Trump but caught fire when Barack Obama added it to his personal playlist.

Remember Where You Are was written when then-President Trump made his state visit to the UK in 2019.

She was writing music in her friend James Ford's attic flat in Hackney, when suddenly helicopters started buzzing around them.

"Apparently Melania was down the road at the Salvation Army," she recalls, "and it just like really intrusive and aggressive."

In response to the protests and division, Ware decided to write a song of love and togetherness - inspired by 70s musicals like Hair, and Minnie Ripperton's psych-soul classic I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun.

"The heart of the city is on fire," she sings in the chorus, "But nothing is different in my arms / So darling, remember where you are."

"It felt like us acknowledging the state of what's going on - and that a bit of intimacy and love can always work a treat."

The song quickly became a fan favourite when it was included as the final track of her 2020 album, What's Your Pleasure? But it was destined to remain a deep cut, until Obama unexpectedly added it to his "favourite music of 2020" playlist at the start of January.

"Then everyone woke up and said, 'Oh, maybe we should put this out as a single'," the singer laughs.

Wanting to create something "special and poignant" for the video, Ware hatched a cunning plan....

Over the years, the singer has found herself compared to and mistaken for award-winning actress and former Bond girl Gemma Arterton. Might she be up for making the video?

"It's very weird, I've very generously been mistaken for Gemma Arterton, which I will take all day," says Ware. "There's even Pinterests comparing our faces together, and stuff. I mean, what a compliment."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionArterton (left) and Ware (right) have both had hugely successful careers

Inspired, Ware "pursued" the actress - first as a guest on her Table Manners podcast, where they bonded over Arterton's obsession with cheese, then as the producer/director of her video.

"As soon as I heard it I thought, 'Oh, this feels like an anthem for this moment that we were literally in that right now,'" recalls the star.

"I was walking around listening to it in the park, and I thought about how amazing is that in London, at the moment, there's no-one around, especially at night-time, and how unique that is in the history of London.

"I don't think there's ever been a time where there's been no cars, no buses, no people - even during the wars."

The idea began to form of shooting a video with Arterton wandering, lonely and isolated, around the empty streets of Soho - before making her way to Primrose Hill to see the sunrise, offering a glimmer of hope and joy for the future.

"I thought, we'll never have this opportunity to shoot this again," says the actress. And although the song wasn't written specifically about the pandemic, it serendipitously felt like an anthem of hope in the middle of the third lockdown.

"It felt right," says Arterton. "And to have it coming out this week, as we're getting the news that we can kind of gradually come out of lockdown, I just thought, 'Oh, this is the right feeling for this video.'"

Valentine's night

The video was shot and directed in a single night by Dominic Savage - with whom Arterton previously worked on the critically-acclaimed marital drama The Escape.

"I didn't really know what to expect because I hadn't been in central London during the night-time for about a year," says the actress.

"And it was really sad but at the same time, kind of beautiful to see these iconic streets that have always been so populated - Carnaby Street and Regent Street - just having literally nothing and nobody on them.

image copyrightPMR Records
image captionThe video ends with Arterton's character watching the sun rise over Primrose Hill

"Also we shot the video on Valentine's Day, which is the night when usually people go out for dinner and people are everywhere. It was kind of poignant, yet so beautiful, and hopefully it's a bit of a love letter to our city".

There's no lip-syncing in the video, but Arterton - who is due to play Dusty Springfield in an upcoming biopic - does sing a few lines sotto voce as the film progresses.

"Dominic worried that if I started singing, then it would take us out of the realism of the moment but I sort of felt like, when I was walking around, I wanted to dance I wanted to sing.

"You know, if I - Gemma- was in the middle of London and there's nobody there I would definitely do a cartwheel or sing a song. So, we wanted there to be natural little moments in there - but it's definitely not performed singing!"

"It makes a connection between Gemma and the song," says Ware. "It's how I feel when I listen to music in my own headphones. So for me it was a huge honour to have her hum and sing."

The finished video was released on Friday, 26 February, and Ware says it has given her song "a new lease of life".

"I don't take anything for granted at the moment, so to get to do something like this in a pandemic - it was just the most beautiful experience."

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