Like Ellie Goulding and Paloma Faith before her, Gabrielle Aplin’s career was given a massive boost when her song featured in a John Lewis advert.
Her version of The Power Of Love (originally by Frankie Goes To Hollywood) hit the top spot in the UK singles chart last Christmas after the department store’s advertising moguls asked her to cover it to soundtrack the story of a snowman buying gloves, hat and scarf for a snowlady.
But Gabrielle was even more delighted last month, when her self-penned tune Please Don’t Say You Love Me reached No.6.
‘Because it wasn’t plastered on TV every three-minutes, like my previous single, I had to work extra, extra hard,’ says Gabrielle, who is now part way through her seventh tour which brings her to the Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea on Monday.
The tour is a complete sell-out, which Gabrielle says came as a surprise.
‘I really wasn’t expecting any of them to sell out because I’ve stepped up the venue sizes, since my previous tour. Selling out Koko in London was a really big thing for me,’ adds the 20-year-old from Wiltshire.
Gabrielle admits that she was more nervous about this tour than she was playing in front of thousands of people in arenas in Australia and New Zealand.
She’s just got back from down under, where she’s been supporting Ed Sheeran.
‘That was an experience,’ she says. ‘And I was really surprised that it was Ed’s first arena tour. He’s never done an arena tour here in the UK.
‘We played to 12,000 people ut in Sydney. I thought I’d be more nervous, but I was more nervous for this tour because when there are less people, you can see their faces and there’s a different level of interaction. It’s more personal.’
Supporting Gabrielle on her headline tour is 19-year-old Welsh singer Hannah Grace.
‘We’re going to do something together,’ says Gabrielle, who’s working with Hannah on her Aplin record label.
Before signing to EMI, Gabrielle released songs on her own label. Her deal with EMI allows her to keep releasing through Aplin, which means she can also fund other artists like Hannah.
Gabrielle is a self-taught musician, brought up on a musical diet of Fleetwood Mac and the Carpenters. But, for her album, she chose pop producer Mike Spencer, who’s worked with the likes of Kylie and Emeli Sandé.
‘I’ve known him for a few years,’ says Gabrielle. ‘He produced the album as a favour, then – when I was signed – I was able to pay him.’
Gabrielle’s been recording the album for a year and just finished it a few weeks ago.
‘It has a folky vibe. It’s quite calm, but Mike’s brought some more upbeat anthemic parts to it,’ she says.
‘It’s got a much bigger feel to it than my older stuff. Because of the EMI funding, I could afford string sections and orchestras.’
Gabrielle’s excited to see how her album fares when it’s released in May. Then she hopes to fill her summer with festival appearances before hitting the road again for her eighth tour in November.
Announced earlier this week, the autumn tour will see Gabrielle headlining her biggest venues to date, including the O2 Academy in Bournemouth and Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
‘It’s mental. They’re all venues I’ve always wanted to play, so it’s very exciting,’ she says.
‘I feel the same way about that tour now as I did about this one when it was announced,’ says Gabrielle. ‘So let’s hope it pans out the same way!’