First, congratulations to Sophie and Junior Caldera. Can't Fight This Feeling debuted at #13 on the Top Singles Chart and it still holds #3 on the Hits de Club. Things are finally starting to look good!
Electroqueer caught up with Sophie and had a nice little interview session with her. They also posted a beautiful picture of Sophie.
I've always wanted to chat to the pop legend that is Sophie Ellis-Bextor. She's just such a style icon and really knows how to make pleasurable and infectious pop music that I have always loved and appeciated. When it comes to top pop - Sophie Ellis-Bextor knows how to work it. Her fourth studio album "Straight From The Heart" is coming out soon and with "Bittersweet" (pre-order here), starting to make a splash, I got a chance to chat to this very busy woman about the new album, her work for Rimmel London cosmetics, how she now feels about some of her greatest hits, family life and working with the legendary Cathy Dennis - enjoy!
Well hello Sophie Ellis-Bextor. How are you today?
Hi Raj, not too bad thank you! (Raj? Indian? That is an Indian name. Now i'm jealous!)
I find it completely fascinating that you do so many things Sophie. You are an entrepreneur, you've finished up your fourth album AND you have two children - how do you keep up with it all?
Well - sometimes I don't! [Laughs]. I do find myself fairly busy most of the time, but I think I function better that way overall and most weeks it works out pretty well, but occasionally I feel pretty spread thin. I wouldn't swap any of it though - I don't really regard my job as a "real job" anyways [laughs]. Sometimes it feels a bit indulgent to call it work really.
Well it sure looks like you are having lots of fun doing it!
Yes - I really love all of it - honestly!
Your work with Rimmel has really helped boost your "icon" status. What's it like working with their brand of cosmetics and how does it help you with your music?
Firstly thank you - that's quite a nice compliment. I suppose Rimmel is just really nice for me because I always have loved wearing makeup and working with them is serendipitous. I like the brand anyways...
I heard your a bit of makeup fiend...
Yes definitely [laughs]. When I was first starting out in the music industry, it was kinda unusual to do endorsements and be seen as a "brand". But nowadays that seems completely the norm. If I have to get in bed with someone, I don't mind if it's a makeup company...I feel comfortable with it.
With Rimmel, it kinda positions you as a supermodel as well - but you're not a supermodel, you're a musician by trade - how do you find balancing the fine line between the two now?
Definitely a musician! I don't see myself as a model at all in my head. When I was asked to do the Rimmel campaign, it was because I was a singer that wears a lot of makeup! [Laughs] So I never saw myself as a model!
What's it like to work with Kate Moss when the camera's aren't rolling or when she's not in supermodel mode?
Well I don't really know her that well. I met her at a friends birthday party actually very briefly. Obviously Kate Moss is one of the most famous models in the world. I'm proud to have worked with her on Rimmel because she is one of the most ridiculously beautiful models in the world you know. It was probably good that she wasn't there during my work on the Rimmel campaign because it would have been intimidating for me I think!
"Murder On The Dancefloor" - is still one of my favourite pop songs - such an anthem. I YouTube it every so often just to watch the video. How do you feel about that track now that it's one of your "greatest hits" at this point?
Well I'm still on good terms with it. It's been quite strange really because that song has had a life of it's own - it went around the world and back. It's crazy, when I used to go and do promotions in places like Argentina, and you get there the song is already there to meet you! Crazy really! I'm proud of it. That was song I suppose you'd call "a career record". If I get into a black cab and the driver doesn't know my name, I can say I sang "Murder On The Dancefloor" and they will always know that. It's been a bit of a privilege to have done a song like that.
I heard even recently that "Heartbreak Make Me A Dancer" made it to number two in Russia. When something like that "hits" in a different territory - is it hard to manage life in-between two different countries?
That's been ok - Moscow is only four hours away and I love going there - it's so wonderfully foreign. I like the "russianess" of it - that sounds ridiculous! Sometimes you have to travel around a lot of places in Europe that don't have a strong identity - but Russia has got a great identity. They really like their electro and disco pop there!
They do! I primarily write about electro-pop and a lot of people ask me - which country is leading the way and I always say Russia...
I'm not surprised by that! A lot of people I know like DJs and singers who do dance music are always popping back and forth between Russia.
What was it like to work on your fourth album "Straight From The Heart"? You worked with some heavyweights on this one like Greg Kurtisn and Calvin Harris. How is different from "Trip The Light Fantastic"?
This record has been one of the most pleasurable to make and the easiest in comparison to "Trip The Light Fantastic" which I am very proud of, but it was one of the hardest albums to make. I think with the third record, if you manage to get that right, then you have a career. If you get the third album wrong, then you have to go back to the drawing board and think of something else...
With "Trip The Light Fantastic" - it was a change for you too when you started to explore more electro wasn't it?
Yeah I guess so. The new record "Straight From The Heart" is unashamedly more electro-heavy. I worked with a lot of DJs on this one. In the first three tracks there are songs I worked on with Metronomy, one with Calvin Harris and one with Freemasons - and after that I was like "yeah - let's just go for it". I think the third album had a bit more "indie" stuff left in there. I quite would like to do something different next time - maybe have some more guitars? [Laughs]
What are your favorite moments from "Straight From The Heart"? Which tracks are you most excited for us pop lovers to hear?
Well they are all shiny and new at the moment. Hopefully there is something for everyone on there, but the top ones for me are "Revolution" that I did with Cathy Dennis and Greg Kurstin. It's a bit different for me - a bit tougher. There's one called "Starlight" which Richard X which I think is really pretty and it's got a nice wistfulness about it. I do love "Off & On" too which I did with Calvin Harris, Roisin Murphy and Cathy Dennis. It's a sexy dance record.
Now I have to ask you this because she is one of my icons, but what was it like working with Cathy Dennis?
Brilliant! I love working with Cathy - she's one of the best pop writers out there as well as being a throughly lovely woman. The thing that makes her special is that she doesn't work with a business head at all - she does it because she loves it. She has happened to write some of the most brilliant and successful pop records. She gets so enthusiastic and lost in what she's doing while your working with her. She has such a signature sound too - it's got a real feel to it - a real flavour. She's pretty inspiring.
There is so much electro-pop being made these days and people are saying that electro-pop is sort of the new disco...how do you feel about that?
Yeah that's a good statement. I think I make contemporary disco music - that resonates with me. Disco should be a form of music that tells a story and has a beat to it. That's what I think dance music leaves out. It may sound sonically amazing, but it leaves the story out. Disco music also has a bit of sorrow in it - When I think of all my favorite disco records, they really get you you know! That's what should happen.
Now "Groovejet" that you did with Spiller recently has been named "most played song of the decade". Are you still proud of that song when you hear it?
Yes - I'm still really proud of that song. I don't know about you, but to me that song doesn't sound dated at all - it's ten years old! [laughs] I still like it. Is that accolade really true? I read that somewhere else too. If it is true, I think I should get some kind of disc, little medallion or at least a coffee mug or something...[laughs]
Now I read that you used to DJ at your own club night "Modern Love"...
Well we aren't doing "Modern Love" anymore now because it became too much hard work with being a mum and all. Richard and I did some DJ'ing for about two years, but now we do more guest appearances at clubs, special private events or playing for friends really. DJing just gives us a chance to play our favorite records really loud!
Now you and Richard really are the modern day music family with you and him being in The Feeling and all. Do your children have any ambitions in going into music being surrounding by you and Richard all the time?
Well they probably think it's quite a normal thing to be doing with your time. Our youngest is only one and the other one is five. The five year old is pretty interested in music. He's always asking what lyrics are about and I'll catch him humming "Wethering Heights" under his breath or Vampire Weekend...he's got an odd little musical knowledge. I don't know what he'll do when he's older, but I hope he's always a fan of music because that's been something that's been a deep rooted passion in my life and I hope he's always a fan and goes to gigs and be excited about it - I'll be happy if he does.
Is it quite normal for him when he sees one of your music videos on The Box or sees a Rimmel advert on TV?
Yeah completely normal. He's got me doing it and his dad doing it and his godfather is also in The Feeling. And my mom is also a TV presenter so he's sees grandma on telly. My brother Jack is my drummer too. He just thinks that's really normal. But it's starting to dawn on him that not every mommy or family is on telly.
Well that's it Sophie - thank you so much for your time. Any parting words for EQ readers?
I'm really excited for the album to be out and for you all to hear it - it's been two years in the making and would really love some feedback at this point! Lovely to meet you and all the best to EQ readers.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor's new album "Straight From The Heart" is out very soon and her new single "Bittersweet" drops on May 2nd. If you would like to pre-order the single - click here.