Saturday, September 8, 2012

Official catch-up with Sophie: Aug-Sep instalment

Hi Sophie, how are you?
Really good thank you. Today is my first day at home for a little while, which is lovely. We just came back from our holiday.

Where did you go?
We went to Ibiza. We have some friends that have a house there. That was our third summer staying with them. It’s actually where I filmed the video for Not Giving Up On Love. It’s lovely going there. They’ve got kids and they have other friends staying that have children, so there’s always someone there for the kids to play with. They love it.

How long were you out there for?
For about 10 days, although Richard had to fly back during it because he was playing with Ed Sheeran at the Olympic Closing Ceremony thing.

Ah of course! Did you watch that in Ibiza?
I did. It was really incredible. I was quite nervous on the day actually, because you feel quite helpless watching a loved one doing something quite high pressure like that. But as soon as the whole thing started I knew he’d be fine.

He looked like he enjoyed it.
He did. And he looked very handsome.

Did the kids watch it?
Yes, Sonny stayed up to watch. He’s seen a lot of our shows and I think he’s probably a bit bored by it really. It takes quite a lot of attention span for a child to watch a gig. But I think with the Closing Ceremony he did kind of get it. He’d been quite inspired by the whole Olympic thing and the mascots and Team GB. I think it’s been really good for kids.

Were you in London for some of it?
Yes, for the first half. It’s actually the first time I’ve gone on holiday and been quite sad to be leaving. Because London was in such good spirits and so quiet and there was just a really good atmosphere in the city for the whole time. Like a lot of Londoners in the build up, I was thinking, “Oh God, it’s going to be so full-on, am I doing the right thing in staying here for it?” But then on the morning before the Opening Ceremony I suddenly got this real tingly buzzy feeling, like I wanted it all to work out and all the good intentions to really pay-off. Then it was just so lovely to see it happen. And obviously winning so many medals, I think everybody got really swept up.

Did you get to go to anything?
I didn’t. I had tickets to go to the men’s gymnastics with Richard, but I couldn’t make it, so he went with my sister. And then we toyed with the idea of me going to the Closing Ceremony, but it was quite unsettling in the holiday to have Richard leave, let alone to have me going too. So I stayed with the kids. But I’m very much hoping to go to something at the Paralympics.

And what else have you been busy with - have you been doing much work?
Yeah, I’ve started easing myself back into it. I’ve been doing a few trips away for shows, and now I’m starting to book in some studio time. It’s been brilliant, baby Ray is now four months old, and I’ve been feeding him so he’s been glued to my side, but now I’m starting to feel like I want to get back and make a new album. So, yeah, we’ve had a few meetings about it and I’ve got a few ideas. I’m feeling pretty focused. It’s good when you get to that point.

Do you have a rough timeline of when you hope to get the next album out?
I don’t, really. But if everything goes well and smoothly, there’s a possibility of it being in the first half of next year. So not too far away at all.

Have you been taking Ray away for the shows?
I have, actually. He’s been away to Moscow and to Odessa in the Ukraine. And I did one in Scotland and one in Poland. And then I’m off to Dubai with him this weekend.

Wow, so quite busy then?
Yeah, but it’s been quite civilised. It’s been mainly weekends, so because the kids have been on holiday I’ve been able to spend proper time in the week playing with them.

Sounds like Ray’s got a pretty stamped passport for a four month old.
He has! I didn’t travel so much with the other two, but with Ray I thought I might as well. They’re so easy to travel with when they’re under six months.

Do you think he has any awareness that he’s so well travelled?
I think it’s highly unlikely! But in Ibiza he did seem to enjoy being the baby in the house having lots of smiley faces around him.

That’s great that you can take him with you to all these places.
Yeah. I think the first thing I did was when he was maybe seven or eight weeks old, and after that I went to Camp Bestival and did some stuff there. It’s been really nice, actually. All pretty straightforward. And the fully-live stuff with the whole band - like in Scotland a festival in Poland - has been really good. I’ve really enjoyed getting back out there on stage.

So it seems like Eastern Europe is still loving your work?
Yeah, I still find it quite funny how much a part of my life it is, because you don’t really pick and choose these things. I’ve always just been someone that will go wherever wants me.

Can you attribute that success in those countries to anything?
I’m not sure really. As I was growing up, people often asked me if I had any Polish or Russian heritage, so maybe I’ve been mistaken as one of their own! Hahaha!  And the club scene is quite big there. They love dance music. So it’s maybe just the style of music and timing, I suppose.  And Armin van Buuren is incredibly popular in those parts of the world, so working with him probably helped too.

So would walking down the street in Warsaw be tricky for you?
I don’t think so. I’ve never really lived my life like that anyway. I can walk around anywhere, really. And I count myself very lucky that I can.

So, have you finished anything that you think might make the next album?
Well, I’ve been doing some stuff with Ed Harcourt. We’ve done a few tracks together and I want to finish that off. I don’t know if we’ll do a sort of separate EP or short album of he and I together. With the other album, I’ve obviously got a few collaborations that I’ve done in the past six months that I can start to put towards that. But I actually quite like the idea of doing the album with one person. I've always wanted to do that, but it's never really worked out.

With one producer and co-writer?
Yeah. I think then you'd get into a bit of flow. I think that's what I want to do now.

So the stuff with Ed Harcourt is presumably not as beat-driven?
No, it's not beat-driven at all. It's very live sounding. We always start off with just piano and vocal and then add in loads. Ed's a bit of a one man band. He'll start playing the drums and bass and guitar. He's incredibly talented.

Is it quite folky then?
Some of it is a bit, actually. And we've been listening to stuff like Serge Gainsbourg, so it's got a bit of a French-y thing. And I think Ed's also quite inspired by my tales of Eastern Europe, so some of it's got a bit of that kind of vibe as well. So it's a bit of a different thing. It's quite good for your head to do something like that.

And that might see the light of day before the album proper?
I guess that's possible, yeah. Just because I see Ed quite a lot anyway, so knuckling down and finishing it might be a bit easier.

It must be nice to be making music again.
Yeah, well I haven't done anything since I had Ray, but I think I'm ready to get back in the studio now. In the last fortnight or so, I've really felt like I'm ready and that I've got loads of ideas. That's the way I've always worked - I have to wait until I'm really feeling like I've got lots to offer.

You went to V Festival the other weekend. How was that?
We had a good day out, because it was sunny! And how unusual has that been this summer? It was almost too hot, in fact. It was great seeing the Feeling boys play to a really big crowd. I hardly saw anything else though, which was a bit disappointing. I'd literally got back from Stansted with all the kids the evening before, so we just went up there, saw the Feeling, had lunch, moseyed about a bit and then came home.

Is travelling about with a third child noticeably harder?
At the moment, no, he's fairly easy. He's quite a quiet and content baby. But I think when he gets a bit bigger we're going to know what we're up against, because I seem to remember the other two starting out like that as well! Hahaha! And we've already encountered the problems of transport quite a few times. The logistics of having three are much more of an issue. Particularly if we need an extra pair of hands to help because we're working, because then you have three adults and three kids and you can't all fit into one car.

Ah, tricky.
I know. The things you don't think about! But then again Sonny being eight is really working because he's quite self sufficient these days. So at V when I was sitting helping Kit have his lunch and feeding Ray, I could get Sonny to go over to a stall and get me a coffee! That's really handy.

Have you been watching any good telly recently?
We've been watching the Newsroom. That's quite good. And the new Alan Partridge series, which is great. And Adam Buxton's Bug which we love.

What have you been listening to?
Well on holiday, a DJ called Sander Kleinenberg was there. He's the one I would credit with getting me into house music. Twelve years ago when Groovejet came out I went to Ibiza and sang in a club called Privilege. I was on at four o'clock in the morning and was totally sober. He DJ'd before I sang and he was really good, and kept me dancing. That was when I realised there was more to DJing than playing one track and then playing another track. So, yeah, he was playing me some of his new stuff. And we've been hearing some of the Freemasons' new stuff too. And I love that new Pnau and Elton John album. That's really lovely.

And what's happening in the fashion world?
Oh golly, I don't know! I just buy the same stuff all the time. I went to see my mum in a play at the Edinburgh Festival and while I was there I bought some vintage stuff. But I've just had a baby, so don't ask me about fashion!

What's coming up in your diary?
I've got a few studio days booked in. And there's a show in Kiev too.

Have you become a fan of East European cuisine after all these trips out there?
Yeah, some of it's excellent. All the little dumplings and good stews. And luckily I love borscht.

Can you now tell a good borscht from a bad borscht?
Oh definitely. I guess some it's down to preference, but I like the ones that have got proper chunky bits of vegetable and meat.

Have you tried cooking your own?
I've had beetroot soup but not a proper borscht, no. But I think it's delicious. I think I might have to dig out a recipe.

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