Republished with the kind permission of: Chris Jones and courtesy of "The Gay UK"
This is the first time I’ve had to interview someone I feel like I grew up with, that I shared some of my most intimate moments with, that made me laugh and cry, made me shake my tushie round the living room - and still wanted to meet up and have a pint with.
I should point out that when I say sharing the most intimate moments with, we weren't actually in the same room, town or probably country... but you get my drift, I do mean as a soundtrack.
The lovely Lisa Stansfield is back. After a brief recording sojourn, she's here with one hell of an album and is working that whole media circus in her inimitable way. “Seven” (this is her 7th album) is chock full of tracks you feel you know but don’t - her style is here in full force, those vocals, that initial breath before she launches into a track that’ll tear your soul out and stomp all over it, and then make you dance like no-ones watching with the next track.
I got the chance to chat with Lisa (I still can’t believe it!) and ask the Rochdale chanteuse what she's been up to and what makes her tick.
First up, I asked about the influences on this album...
LS: Same as they always have been really, they are the reasons I got into music, Motown, R&B, Northern Soul.
So, on this album, any favourite tracks?
LS: When you make an album, it’s all very personal emotionally. An example is the track Conversation which makes no sense and everyone asks me what it’s about and I can’t tell them - but it makes them cry with its raw emotion.
It’s been a long time since the last studio album, why the gap and what’s been happening?
LS: I don’t see it as a gap. I’ve continued working, biding my time. Why bother making music if you have to compromise? These days it feels like if you’re not in the spotlight 24/7 then people forget you. I prefer to make work that’s timeless, doesn't date, rather than something that’s trendy.
So how does it feel to be more Radio 2 than Radio 1 these days?
LS: Things shift and audiences change or grow older. Radio 1 isn't the same as when I was younger, it seems less mainstream - that’s more Radio 2 these days.
How do you feel about the current state of the music industry?
LS: There are 2 sides, manufactured versus integrity. It’s always been like that though. You can feel empowered by taking your time, owning your work, putting your stamp on it rather than being told what to do and with some Svengali in the background.
Lisa’s personal sense of style has always been a talking point - remember the kiss curl and bakers boy caps back in the day? For Jools Hollands Hootenanny, she showed how to grow up and look classy and still relevant (lisa-stansfield.com/lisa-on-jools-hollands-hootenanny)
I asked her what input she had on this?
LS: I’m in control of what I wear, I have to be comfortable with it and not wear something that’s simply given to me. I work with a fabulous stylist called Johnnie Blue Eyes. He understands what I like and I’ll ring him and say “I’m thinking of wearing this with that and those” and he’ll come back with “yeah, but add that too” and it works. It’s part of being who I am.
With it being 25 years since the release of All Around The World, I asked if she still listens to her back catalogue?
LS: No! Do I fuck! Once you’ve done an album and done the promotion and tour, you tend to move on to create the next. It’s funny but Ian and I (husband and co-writer/producer Ian Devaney) did a Greatest Hits a few years ago, and we had to listen to the back catalogue to choose the material, and when we were done, we looked at each other and said god, we’re good! You forget some of the material you’ve created and hearing it together was unusual.
Some may be surprised by Lisa’s acting career - having appeared in several films and TV series already, she is set to star in the upcoming title: Northern Soul (imdb.com/title/tt1837613/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_1), an uplifting look at the world of all-nighters, flares and american soul music via a town up North. She stars alongside Steve Coogan, Ricky Tomlinson and John Thomson.
LS: Love acting, it’s looking at a character, getting inside them, finding their identity. I’m very excited about this film.
I asked if she had plans to do more?
LS: I’d love to, and might once my schedule calms down.
As the clock was ticking, I asked Lisa why she thought she was so popular with a gay audience? Was it her torch song prowess? Her ability to convey emotions so strong in her music? With typical Northern bluntness:
LS: Honestly, I don’t know but I think it’s because I don’t take shit from people and I stick up for my friends.
You have to love this woman, she tells it like it is!
Feeling daring, I asked if she had an inner Diva she hid from the public? Was she the kind that demanded only yellow M&M’s in her dressing room?
LS: I think everyone has an inner Diva but to be truthful I’m an inanimate object first thing in the morning, I’m just human! I tend to live with whatever’s given on tour, no major demands - except for monkey balls!
Forgive me here dear reader, I had to ask….
LS: It’s a Chinese herbal medicine for your throat. I had a sore throat one morning and couldn't see me going on that night, and was given one of these and it worked. Now I take them with me on tour. It’s this tiny herb that you put in water and it swells up to the size of, well, a monkey’s ball but it soothes your throat!
And on that note, I’ll leave you to purchase a copy of the wonderful new album, “Seven”.
Me? I’ll be off down the pub with the lovely Lisa to bitch and gossip the night away…
Interview: Chris Jones for The Gay UK
Lisa joined the Daybreak team this morning and performed "Can't Dance".
She later joined Aled Jones and Kate Garraway for a chat about her new album Seven and the film Northern Soul
Used with kind permission of Mike Shaft (Listen to the 4 part interview below)
"This story all began some years earlier when I received a new 12 inch single by a group called BLUEZONE which featured a young singer called Lisa STANSFIELD. It was a fantastic dance track and one which I featured heavily on my Piccadilly Radio Soul Show, 'TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS'.
Lisa's voice was and is truly wonderful and I knew she was local to Manchester so I was delighted to be able to play it on the show.
After winning the Licence to set up SUNSET RADIO in Manchester, I contacted YELLOW 2 studios in Stockport to get our jingle package done. We agreed on the strap line and we had to find a vocalist.
It had to be LISA STANSFIELD. I got in touch with her record company who asked Lisa if she would do it. The message came back a few weeks later and it was no.
I was devastated but accepted that that was it.
A couple of weeks later I was at YELLOW 2 studios working on the music. Suddenly, in walks the secretary from the studio round the corner wanting to borrow a roll of fax paper. After a couple of minutes, she said, "You'll never guess who is in our studio? No we all said in unison."Well LISA STANSFIELD is in our studio".
I could not believe it, this was my chance. I wasn't sure what I was going to say to her but I went over to the other studio and there was LISA, sitting on the couch drinking a cup of tea. I introduced myself and asked her why she had refused to do our jingle package. She said that she had been told that it was a pirate radio station, and she had been advised not to do it.
When I told her it was a legal station and we were going to play SOUL MUSIC on the airwaves of MANCHESTER, she said she would be delighted to sing our jingles. Six weeks later LISA arrived at YELLOW 2 to record the SUNSET jingles. I had been looking forward to this day for months.
Unfortunately, a couple of days before she was due in I came down with Chicken Pox and was not able to attend the recording session.
We did end up with what many believed was the best jingle package ever recorded in this country. Our strap line was 'KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE'.
In the week that SUNSET went on the air, October 1989, LISA STANSFIELD had her first hit in the UK and she was riding high in the charts with the single 'ALL AROUND THE WORLD'. We were all delighted that LISA'S voice was played all day on SUNSET on our jingle package.
It really could not have been any better had we planned it ourselves.
Some weeks after launching SUNSET, I contacted LISA'S record company to see if she would be available to come in for a live interview with me. The message came back, YES!
We had a LISA STANSFIELD DAY, playing her music all day and she came in and spent a full hour with me. It was a wonderful day and a wonderful interview. It was certainly a day that I would never forget".
Lisa appeared on BBC One's "The One Show" earlier talking about her part playing "Mum" in Elaine Constantine forthcoming movie "Northern Soul "
The Festival will include other big names from the 80's and 90's such as, Level 42, Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet, Roger Hodgson of Supertramp, Maceo Parker and UB40. The festival is being organised by the Andorra Tourism under the company Rockland.
Lisa's performance on The Late Late Show (video below)