After three years away from the pop scene Gabrielle is back with Always, the new R&B album she describes as being about “heartache with attitude”.
You’ve had quite a long sabbatical. What do pop stars get up to in their down time?
“I don’t label myself a pop star, I prefer to leave that to the younger ones! When I’m not on stage I’m actually being a mum – doing the school run, taking my 12-year-old son Jordan to football, being a cab for him.”
Apparently he thinks Rihanna’s cooler than you…
“He’s a great supporter of mine. But he will say things like: ‘Mum, why can’t you do a track like Rihanna?’ or ‘Can’t you add a phat beat here?’.”
You’ve said it’s hard work going on the road as a parent – do you still have the same enthusiasm for it?
“Completely, even more so now that I’m older. When it’s something you love I don’t think you ever lose the enthusiasm. Going on the road with the band and doing live shows up and down the country – my enthusiasm for that will never die.”
Your single Why is a collaboration with Paul Weller. How did that come about?
“My producers had the backing track to Paul’s Wild Wood playing and asked how I’d feel about writing something new to that. I loved the original song so I was really happy about that. They laid it down and I started singing a vibe and Why was born.”
But he actually played on your song in the end, too?
“Yeah. They were like: ‘What if we could get Paul Weller in the studio?’. And within a couple of weeks Paul was in the studio singing my track and playing a few chords and I was chuffed to bits. He is major! I was an Eighties pop kid and I loved him in the Style Council so it was just like ‘Wow’.”
The track is taken from your new disc Always. Tell us what that’s about.
“It’s a classic Gabrielle album. Some of the songs have that summer feel-good vibe. Others are about breaking-up, but still being a strong woman.” “It’s about heartache with attitude. The idea is that you can have a broken heart, but you don’t have to allow it to consume you. You can be sassy with it. The style is very much: ‘I’ve had my heart broken, but don’t think you’re that big a deal’.”
Is your other single Every Little Teardrop in that vein?
“Yes, it’s about breaking up with somebody who made you feel utterly crap about yourself. Then when you finally find the inner strength to make the break, the person who made you miserable says they want you back. And you’re like: ‘I don’t think so. I’ve cried every little teardrop I had over you’.”
You’ve said you’re not looking for a relationship yourself…
“Been there, worn the T-shirt. There are too many great things going on. There is no time – relationships are like flowers, they need to be nurtured and if you don’t they flounder. I’m being utterly selfish, focusing on my career and my family and I’m happy with that.”
And is true you prefer ice cream to sex?
“Every time! You can have as many flavours as you like without being called a slapper. It never lets you down or talks back to you. For me personally it’s about having kids – I’m not interested in sex outside that.”