WITH the senior women of Northern Ireland preparing to kick off tomorrow’s UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final, a call to rally in song rises to a crescendo, waiting for “Na-na -na-na” has passed through the stadium gates and locker rooms long after the final whistle.
At least that’s the hope of Belfast musician Jessica Hammond, who wrote and produced Girl Got Game’s catchy official anthem especially for the Euros – and Northern Ireland’s green and white army who will face Norway, Austria and England in Southampton over the next 10 days. .
“I really want the song to get into people’s heads and stay there,” says the 28-year-old singer, producer and sound engineer who runs Black Studios in Dundonald.
“The goal was to try to encourage and inspire the players in the locker room and the fans at home and in the stadium. There’s a feel-good vibe about Girl Got Power, but it’s basically an empowerment song for women.”
After being approached by the Irish Football Association to create the song for the women’s team, Hammond, who is currently working “hard” on the music for CBBC children’s show Nova Jones, was delighted to combine her love music with his passion for Football.
“I started playing football for fun when I was five years old and I still play today – for Bangor Ladies,” she enthused. “I remember when I was young having the opportunity to go to an American summer camp, but I was doing singing at the time and music and theater camps, so my mother gave me the choice to play football or music.
“I chose music because it was always my first love – but football came close behind. Combining the two now with this song is just brilliant.
“I’ll definitely try to see some games. We’re in the middle of Nova Jones’ third season – about an intergalactic pop star – but I’m hoping to finish early and get over it for a few games.”
The Ashfield Girls alum first embarked on a music career at the age of 14 as a finalist on Disney Channel’s talent search program My Camp Rock, and she was a teenager winner of the Belfast Citybeat Young Star Search competition.
She also appeared on BBC’s The Voice in 2012 aged 17, telling hosts Holly Willoughby and Reggie Yates that before her audition she was afraid to perform outside her bedroom after being victimized bullying at school.
“Looking back, I really think participating in those competitions when I was so young helped me gain confidence,” she says, “even though I’m still nervous when I play live today.
“All of those experiences were great in different ways, though, and gave me networking contacts, which is crucial in this industry. It was tough, the pressure to do a good job, but a great experience that remains. with you.”
She’s since graduated as a sound engineer and worked with top Grammy-winning producers and writers, including Amy Wadge (Thinking Out Loud/Ed Sheeran) and Ollie Jacobs (The Saturdays).
“I considered going to university and was accepted to study music at Brighton, but at that time I was playing a lot and wanted to get into music production,” she says.
“When I was in London for a few years I couldn’t get any jobs at any of the studios because they weren’t hiring anyone, so I came home and decided to do a degree in sound engineering. and open my own workshop.
“It was quite isolating being back in Northern Ireland at first because the producers I had worked with were all in London.
“I needed to record my own voice and send it out, so I had to learn how to record myself from scratch and learn how to produce for anyone to take me seriously. It’s been a long road, but I feel like we’re going somewhere now.”
Today, she self-produces all of her own releases alongside longtime collaborator and co-producer Matty Graham from their base at Black Studios, as well as working with other artists, including TV stars and artists. radio presenters.
“We work with the big stars that feature in Nova Jones and do all the recording, mixing and mastering for the show,” says Hammond, whose goal is to write “at least” 100 songs in a year. released on his own label. or with other artists.
“I’ve done remixes for Anton Powers of Kiss FM and we write everything for Molly Rainford, a big star on Britain’s Got Talent, who now plays in Nova Jones. I love writing pop and dance stuff, so working on the music for the program has been up my street.”
Without neglecting her own vocals, she recently released Hold You (Warner Records) with Belfast DJ and producer Hix and has a growing Spotify following of 225,000 monthly listeners and over three million streams, with releases on the Irish label Paragon Records, and European dance labels, Chill Your Mind and Loudkult.
Yet all of this might never have happened and she could have been a chef – only for the first few starts.
“I took a break from music whenever I moved to London when I was around 19,” Hammond explains. “I took a little six-month break and got accepted to do a chef’s apprenticeship, but as soon as they said it was going to start at 5 a.m. I thought, you know what, I’ll stick to music, music is more for me…
“I still love to cook, though, and I love cooking something special for my fiancée, Erin Riley, who has her own very successful TikTok career.
“I’ve been watching some tutorials from Gordon Ramsay and I’m going to cook his Beef Wellington as soon as I have some free time to disconnect and relax.”
But first there will be some not-so-relaxing moments to watch and wait to see how Northern Ireland’s women fare at the Euros – and whether her ‘edgy, urban pop song’ can inspire a generation .
“I really hope Girl Got Game sets the mood for success and everyone in the stadium sings along,” adds Hammond, who says the song sat “rehearsed” in his own head for three months.
“I was trying to capture that feeling, the atmosphere, in the stadium, with the ‘na-na-na’ section and the reference to Green and White Army in the chorus.
“It was important to use football terminology in the lyrics while keeping them out of the game – a feel-good song for all women, on and off the pitch. The women’s team entered the story in qualifying for the Euros and it’s great to have my soundtrack to accompany them every step of the way.”
:: Girl Got Game, released by Paragon Records, is available on all digital download sites.