Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s household may be regularly filled with the celebrity and musician friends of her and her husband – The Feeling guitarist Richard Jones – but that’s not to say she isn’t as concerned with the day-to-day domestic issues that affect us all. Christmas dinner is a case in point. This year the 31-year-old mother of two will be cooking for the family – about 15 of them including former Blue Peter presenter mum Janet Ellis and Sophie’s younger sister, Martha, who is currently studying History of Art at Oxford University.
“I’m not too worried about it because a roast is probably one of easiest meals if you’re cooking for lots of people, but I’m a bit nervous about the size of the turkey and fitting it in the oven. My mum will be there and she can always step in if I start screwing it up,” Sophie explains then catches herself mid-flow and laughs, “that’s quite boring to mention really, isn’t it, but you have to think about these things!”
It’s comforting that beneath the flawless facade, the princess of the dancefloor, who was catapulted into the spotlight 10 years ago when she collaborated with DJ Spiller to produce the smash hit Number 1 single Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) (recently awarded the accolade of ‘the decade’s most played track on radio’) is just as normal as the rest of us. Well, nearly.
Sophie will be in Oxford the week before Christmas for the last date of her UK tour promoting new album ‘Straight to The Heart’. Originally tipped for release last summer, the album will eventually be on the shelves in March 2011. “I always feel like I’m too much of a blabbermouth because I tell people in interview when the album is being released and when it isn’t they wonder what’s happening; I should learn from my mistakes!” she adds with a smile.
For the new album, Sophie worked with a team of writers and producers including Freemasons, Greg Kurstin, Calvin Harris, Cathy Dennis, Metronomy, Richard X and Armin Van Buuren. The result is described as a ‘plugged-in pulsating pop juggernaut.’
It has been more than three years since Sophie’s last album offering. Her 2001 debut, ‘Read My Lips’ spawned four top-twenty hit singles, including the addictively catchy Murder on the Dancefloor and this was followed by a further two solo albums: 2003’s ‘Shoot from the Hip’ and ‘Trip The Light Fantastic’ in 2007.
She took time out from recording following the birth of her two sons, 6-year-old Sonny and Kit, 22 months, but she’s kept her finger on the disco beat, spending time behind the decks running Soho club night, ‘Modern Love’ with Richard.
“It wasn’t intentional to have such a big break before this album,” Sophie admits, “it just turned out that way. It was finished at beginning of the 2010 and then the first single was released in spring (Bittersweet, co-written by Freemasons and Hannah Robinson) and it’s all been a bit staggered. To be honest, I would have loved it to be a bit quicker but that’s the story of the last ten years, pretty much. I’ve always been a bit impatient.”
Delays aside, Sophie loved the opportunity to work with such a diverse mix of artists on the album. “When you’ve been doing what you do for a while people know what you’re up to and who you are and it’s lovely when you can approach really diverse people and they are like ‘great, let’s give it a go.’ The album’s got some polar opposites on there: from Ed Harcourt, who is a really talented singer, songwriter and an incredibly strong musician and lyricist, to at the other end of the spectrum Armin, who is a massive trance DJ. I found it really exciting to work with that range,” she enthuses.
Whilst the dancefloor is where she has been most comfortable to date, Sophie admits to wanting to try something “really different” for the next album, and will start writing as soon as the tour’s over in the New Year. “I’d really like to try something else and give my voice some different options. I think I’m ready for a change.”
Sophie’s had to leave the family behind at home for this tour but she notes how she is lucky to be able to juggle work and family life as she can.
“Of course I don’t enjoy being away from the boys, but for me giving up my work was never really an option. In comparison to a lot of working mothers, I think I probably have a lot more time at home than on average, because I work very intensively for a period of time but then have time off and can be my own boss. I focus on the fact it’s really brilliant to be out there and doing what I do and I think touring is a real treat. Plus we don’t really know anything different in our house because it’s always been a bit chaotic and a lot going on.”
If she’s been plagued with sleepless nights as mother of young children, it certainly doesn’t show as Sophie is looking better than ever. With her striking and individual looks she was chosen as the face of make-up brand Rimmel. “I was a bit overwhelmed being involved with a make-up brand really,” she admits. “I’m not conventional looking and never felt like one of the pretty girls, so I suppose it’s a bit of a triumph for the more peculiar looking girls!”
With two musicians as parents, Sophie hopes that Sonny and Kit will inherit some of their musical genes. “I think the fact the kids have always been surrounded by musicians and music is quite a nice thing and our jobs are quite silly so they like coming to work with us at times and going to sound checks and festivals and things. Sonny is very diplomatic and likes both mine and Richard’s music; I’m not sure if he’s being sincere or just being smart! she laughs.
“All children really respond to music but Sonny has a slightly sharper interest than your average six-year-old. Maybe I just know what to look out for but he hears songs on the radio and asks what lyrics are about and remembers things. I hope they are both fans of music because it’s always been a big part of my life; it’s not just a day job but also a bit of a companion for me.”
Being a mother has in a sense, Sophie admits, helped her to focus more on her work. “I am focussed a lot more because I don’t want to spend time being aimless about stuff, so if I go into the studio I want to knuckle down and get it done and am more driven. I’m also aware I’m doing it for them as well and it’s all about working towards a better future, not just for myself; there is a bit more of a shape to life now.”
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.greatbritishlife.co.uk/article/celebrity-interview-sophie-ellis-bextor-28375/