Entertainment & Arts

Anne-Marie: Chart topping pop star (and karate champion)

Anne-Marie

There aren't many pop star interviews where you can open with the question: "Do you still practise Shotokan?"

But Anne-Marie, aside from being extremely hot musical property right now, is a triple world champion in the style of Japanese karate.

"I still love it so much and it's such a massive part of who I am," the singer tells the BBC ahead of her appearance at BST Hyde Park on Sunday.

But, she adds: "I don't have time to even sleep at the moment, so not much time to practise, but another thing is my teacher is in Essex, so it's about whenever I can get back home as well."

It's easy to understand why the 26-year-old doesn't have much spare time at the moment. She's been a little busy touring, recording and topping the Christmas chart with Clean Bandit.

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Image caption These dancers must all be British to form a queue this orderly

The singer's love of Shotokan and her music career have even crossed paths along the way - she showed off her moves in the 2015 video for her single Karate, and still regularly sings its praises.

"Even just as a part of growing up I think it really helped me in my character and the way I was and dealt with situations, it's such a big part of discipline, I think it was the first thing I truly dedicated myself to.

"And it taught me a lot about sticking with something and really trying hard and working for it, which is a great lesson for what I'm doing now, because it is so much hard work, and it's actually taught me how to love doing that."

Anne-Marie will share a stage with Martin Garrix, Tove Lo and Naughty Boy on Sunday afternoon as one of the support acts for Justin Bieber's Hyde Park show.

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Image caption Anne-Marrie will play BST alongside Justin Bieber and Tove Lo

"I think [Bieber's] really cool, to be an artist from that young an age you've got to have something special, and his new music is great," she says.

Anne-Marie may not have reached Bieber-esque levels of fame yet - but she's certainly heading that way.

Since topping the charts for nine weeks in December as the vocalist on Clean Bandit's Rockabye, she has continued build up her own repertoire as a solo artist.

In February, her single Ciao Adios - a song still impossible to escape or get out of your head months later - reached number nine. It was her first single as a soloist to break into the top 10.

So, when can fans expect the album?

"I'm such an impatient person, I've wanted to get the album out since last year," Anne-Marie says.

"But luckily I didn't because I've been able to write so many more songs with great producers that I hadn't met before."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Anne-Marie's Ciao Adios reached number nine in February

"I chose my next single this week which is exciting, and right now I'm just thinking of the flow of the singles and all of them connecting with each other, and when the time is right then we'll release the beast."

Asked if there are any further artists she wants to collaborate with, she quickly replies: "Eminem. He's a big one.

"Also Kendrick Lamar, Anderson Paak, I obviously love rappers. And Alanis Morissette I think she's one of my biggest inspirations. And Pink. I think it'd be really cool to collaborate with another female singer."

She also hasn't ruled out attempting a return to the festive charts, but adds jokingly: "I think the next song I try and get to Christmas number one will just be me on my own!"

Away from the microphone, Anne-Marie has been steadily building a social media following, and using her platform to promote positive messages about body image to her hundreds of thousands of followers.

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"I always try and put out posts on social media about feeling good inside, and there's so much pressure for people to look a certain way and have a certain hairstyle or a certain lipstick.

"I just feel not many people hear that you should feel good inside and feel happy within your soul, instead of needing to look a certain way, so I always try and talk to people about that."

There's little doubt the singer has an exciting time ahead as she gears up for the release of the album - an prospect she's fully embracing.

"I think what's surprised me about the music industry is that you never know what's going to happen. I've had to teach myself that, because I love to know everything, I'm quite a control freak when it comes to stuff like that," she says.

"But you never know what's going to happen so I'm always surprised, and I've come to realise that that's actually a great thing."


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