“A fat arse and a dodgy eye”Gabrielle is so amazing we can’t believe she’s not been knighted for services to pop and loveliness. If you’ve not yet discovered it, her new album, ‘Always’, is a stunning return to form (after 2004’s slightly iffy ‘Play To Win’). She’s also as lovely, humble and hilarious as you’d hope. We spoke to her about the new record, working with Paul Weller and avoiding the trappings of celebrity…
Hello, Gabrielle, we’re enjoying your new album very much. Could you sum it up in one word for us?
Oh my God! ‘Wicked’, yeah definitely ‘wicked’ and a heartbreak album. No that’s two words. No, OK I would say it was ‘wicked’. For me it was fun.
How much fun is heartbreak, these days?
It was fun because it was writing songs for a heartbreak – breaking up with an attitude. It’s like, yeah alright, you cheated on me but what do you think I was doing when you were off with your hookers, you know what I mean! That kind of attitude. But it’s all different aspects of a break-up. The other ones that have a positive side and the reflective ones and then the ones where you have to take the initiative to break up. So it’s all these things and for me it’s actually funny because I don’t see why breaking up has to be all about heartbreak. I think it’s about a learning curve; it’s one of life’s lessons.
We’d say the album is classic Gabrielle, but what are the ingredients of that particular recipe?
In terms of ingredients, all I did was put my heart and soul into it. I don’t love writing about heartbreak but it’s natural to write it. Maybe that’s how I work best. Delving, digging into the deepest and dark things I’ve gone through. And digging into what my friends have gone though in their relationships and thinking that would make a fucking good song!
Musically I’m the kind of person who listens to all different types of music. I’m a big fan of Adam And The Ants. When I was young I was listening to Billy Idol ‘Rebel Yell’, that’s the closest I’m got to rebellion – playing that loudly on my record player. I like soul music. And I love Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton… You marry all those things and you get me as an artist and all the things I like to do.
You seem to have a perfect balance between being successful and having a private life. Have you intentionally avoided living the celebrity lifestyle?
I was up for it, but you have to remember I wasn’t someone you would ever imagine being up there and singing. I love singing but with my friends it was always: “You’ve got a lazy eye, a fat arse and a dodgy eye, how the fuck do you think you are going to be on TV with all the glamorous people?” Well I did it. I kept pinching myself and thought someone would pull the rug from under me but when that didn’t happen I just kinda went with it. I never made any conscious decision that this was how my life was going to be. I had a hit. I wasn’t going to be stereotyped – because I wasn’t stereotypical. I’d just sing and then go back to my friends. So I haven’t really got any famous friends. But then I’m a boring old shit!
You’re anything but that. You have one famous pal: Paul Weller, who plays on your album. What was he like to work with?
He’s an icon of mine, he’s the Modfather! I’m an eighties kid and was a big fan of the Style Council. He’s so lovely and so down to earth. I’d had the opportunity to work with him before but I was too afraid to even think about writing lyrics in front of him. But he was really nice. He came to the studio and, I have to say, I loved every minute and I loved him.
Aw. We’re very glad to have you back, Gabrielle.
Thank you. You know, someone asked me the other day why I’m making a comeback. I haven’t made a comeback. I just take this long between songs!