Ipswich: Regent-bound Gabrielle on why it was the right time to return to music
- Credit: Archant
“Honey, that’s an understatement,” stresses Gabrielle when I ask if she was reluctant to revisit chart-topping single Dreams for new album Now and Always - 20 Years of Dreaming. “I told them they were crazy.”
Dragged kicking and screaming into the studio, the multi-million selling, multi-BRIT, multi-MOBO and Ivor Novello Award winner had one mission; prove it.
“When my manager first suggested it I was like ‘are you having a laugh, have you lost your mind’. I literally sat her down, ‘it’s not going to happen... people are still playing this song on the radio 20 years on. I still get a lot of letters, messages via Twitter, people telling me it’s one of their favourite songs’. The prospect of me trying to revisit it and give it this new flavour was, for me, unthinkable.
“I’d poo-pooed the idea. After being dragged to the studio with my favourite producer, who I thought was mad for wanting to do it, mad my manager suggested it, I went to the studio to prove them all wrong,” she laughs.
“Cover my own song, what do you mean,” she says in mock indignation. “Mess with something that kick-started my career, what was it... the highest ever debut song by a debut artist? These are all things I’ve got to my credit, not much else but it was like how dare you,” she laughs, “it was such a scary thing.”
Even leaving the studio she was convinced.
“I remember coming out thinking ‘it’s going to be c**p, they’re going to find that out’. I didn’t feel it, I felt it was too far from the original... then my manager sent me the initial version and I was ‘oh my God, I actually love this’. I was very shocked, I’ve got to be honest, I’m glad I was proven wrong.”
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Not just the remake that nearly wasn’t; the new album and tour is a return to music that nearly wasn’t.
After years of having the same people around her, many of whom who’d been there from the start of her journey, the music industry changed. Companies merged, people moved on. “It was almost like everything just fractured, it didn’t feel right; the right people, the right energy had gone. I felt I wasn’t in a place where I was happy, I didn’t have that support of people who understood what I was doing. I was thinking maybe it is a case of shut up shop and be a full-time mum and I was sticking to that and happy doing that,” she remembers.
“I’ve been so blessed, (I) never imagined I’d be this singer-songwriter people would get to know of and be interested in my music. It was a case of ‘okay, I’ve had a better run than I ever thought I would’ve done’ and took the time out.”
Things changed after a chance meeting with American producer Syience, who has worked with the likes of Beyonce. She suddenly realised it wasn’t that she didn’t love making music, she just didn’t like (making) it in the situation she was.
“I wasn’t coming back to make music anymore and I was sticking by it, that’s what I thought. I heard someone else singing to his music that I’d kind of fallen for and it wasn’t me... I had my hate-on, that’s a bit strong but until I got to work with him I wasn’t happy,” she laughs. “That was when it was ‘oh my God, I do want to make music again’.”
The right producer, right music, right energy, proved infectious. After that, everything fell into place and soon snowballed.
Double album Now and Always, initially intended as a CD of all new songs, features some of Gabrielle’s biggest sellers like Rise and Out of Reach as well as seven songs she’s worked on with world renowned producers including Syience, Paddy Byrne (who’s worked with Paloma Faith) and Naughty Boy (who’s worked with Emeli Sande) and reworked Dreams for the album.
It also includes a few remixes, like The Daft Punk version of Forget About The World - “To put these on this album, is it calculated, of course it is,” she laughs. “They’re really hot right now, I’d be stupid not to. They’ve remixed stuff for me in the past and it was a lot of fun.” - the Wookie mix of Sunshine and the Artful Dodger remix of Rise.
“Having a change in environment, different people, a different energy, that’s what happened... Syience, a young British singer-songwriter called Jake Issac, to write with him was incredible...,” says Gabrielle, whose love of performing live was reinvigorated at the 02 alongside McFly, Jamie Cullum, Kim Wilde and The Overtones for radio station Magic.
“Sometimes I’d have producers say ‘sing this way, sing that way’, but I could only ever sing the way my voice would take me. These producers allowed me to be myself and I had such a blast because of it.”
She’s looking forward to bringing her 2O Years of Dreaming tour to the Ipswich Regent on March 18.
“I’ll do all the hits and some of the new songs; get in as much (as I can); I’ve got a great band and I’m excited because it’s been a while. I go out and dance... I say dance but I can’t dance for toffee,” Gabrielle laughs.
“I’ll be moving around singing the songs, expecting them to sing back to me because I’m greedy like that, just having fun. There are certain songs I want you to dance too. Like When a Woman, which I know the guys hate me (for).
“Their wives or girlfriends have pulled them out after work (and) they think ‘oh Gabs, she’s all ballads; we can sit down and have a snooze-fest’. Then When a Woman comes on and you’ve got me screaming ‘come on everybody, bums off seat’, I think they’re looking at me with daggers, hating me right then,” she laughs.