Written By:Tim Lewis
The Observer, Sunday 1 May 2011
Dionne Bromfield in Olympia, west London, April 2011. Photograph: Richard Saker for the Observer
Her godmother is Amy Winehouse, and she’s recorded her second album, but the teenage singer isn’t too cool for school
Dionne Bromfield sweeps into her record label’s office – her hair huge, her body tiny – flanked by a team of preeners and pamperers. She is wearing a Sass & Bide playsuit, Carvela heels and Topshop Boutique leather jacket and the effect is only slightly compromised by the fact that she is simultaneously stuffing her face with a ham and crisp sandwich.
Bromfield, you have to remind yourself, is 15 years old. Today she has come straight from school, changing out of her uniform on the way over. It was the first day back from the Easter break, and while her classmates caught up on their holidays, she had to report that she worked every day, putting the finishing touches to her second studio album and preparing to appear on Friday Download, a new CBBC music series (GCSE revision was crammed into any remaining gaps). Tomorrow, she has been given leave to film the video for her new single, where she will be spray-painted gold and lounge around a pool in Dulwich, south-east London. Even for a graduate of the Sylvia Young Theatre School, whose alumni include Leona Lewis and Nicholas Hoult, this is a precocious schedule.
“Everyone goes to me, ‘You’re so mature,'” she says, her accent a little London, a little Kent. “But you’ve got to be mature in this industry because you’re around adults all the time. When I’m with my friends, trust me, I’m definitely still the teenage kid.”
Bromfield was discovered, if that is the right word, when her godmother, Amy Winehouse, posted a clip of them performing the Alicia Keys song “If I Ain’t Got You” in Pete Doherty’s flat when she was 12 (“Next day, it was, ‘Let’s see if she’s taken it down off YouTube’ and it had 100,000 views and I was like, ‘Wow'”). The rest has been a whirlwind: a debut album of vintage soul and pop covers; a 14th birthday party at Shoreditch House members club that was crashed by Pixie Lott; a performance on Strictly Come Dancing with Auntie Amy on backing vocals. Bromfield claims only to have been starstruck twice: “With Russell Brand, really I don’t know why, and Justin Bieber,” she says. “I mean, Russell Brand’s a funny guy but Justin Bieber’s a very good-looking boy. That’s all we should say.”
Bromfield is serene and unfazed about the dangers of rock star excess. Winehouse is strict with her (“She loves feeding you; she’s a very Jewish mother, Amy”), her mother, Julie – a friend of Winehouse’s – even more so. “There’s no way my head will be getting big – she’ll be behind me with a pin popping it,” says Bromfield. And, for all the star stories, she’s not immune to quotidian teenage woes. “If I’m naughty, I’m grounded for two weeks or Mum takes my phone and my laptop because she knows I can’t live without them. Sometimes I’ll say, ‘Mum, do you just want to take my laptop?’ because I can still use the internet on my phone. But now she’s going to read this and see what I’ve been doing.”
Good for the Soul is out on 27 June