Before all this pop-star stuff, were you a competitive swimmer? When I was a child in Jamaica with my mom and dad, I used to love getting into the water — the sea. And my mom was a bit worried about me getting carried away, so she took me to a pool for lessons, and it turned out that I was quite competitive. Swimming taught me a lot about sportsmanship and being on a team, and it’s certainly served me very well now in the music business.
You were on a swim team? I was part of my local team, Acton, and then I went to a boarding school which specialized in sports, and a lot of English Olympians came out of there. And I learned that if I wanted to be an Olympian swimmer, I really had to up my game. But I ended up quitting because of medical issues — my ears are really sensitive, and I get ear infections when I go in the water. I get ear infections when I fly, as well. It was a shame, really.
Then you simply switched majors, from swimming to drama? I didn’t really discover singing at school until I was cast as Tallulah in “Bugsy Malone.” I’d always enjoyed being in the choir, but I never took it seriously until then — I absolutely loved performing. So I went from swimming to doing musical theater, and that’s how I ended up at the BRIT School, where I came out a musician.
Do you really have such bad luck in romance as your songs indicate? Ha! Yes! I’m not a teenager anymore. But as a teenager, it’s difficult when you’re in a relationship, and you start to consider it the one relationship for the rest of your life. That thought scares the s--- out of me, because I don’t want to be with that person for the rest of my life. So I write about it instead.
IF YOU GO
Ella Eyre, with Samsaya
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $13 to $15 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.rickshawstop.com