Twenty five years after topping the charts globally with the single ‘All Around The World’ and ten years after the release of her last album, the Grammy nominated, multi-BRIT, Ivor Novello and Silver Clef Award winner – the Rochdale singer who can boast sales of nearly 20 million records and a string of international top 10 hits – is back looking and sounding better than ever.
With new album ‘Seven’ hitting number 13 in the UK album charts and a big tour ahead of her, we thought it only right to feature local girl Lisa on the glossy pages of VIVA! So before our photography team kidnapped the music icon for the afternoon we sent VIVA Ems down to Cicchetti to have a bit of a chin- wag with the lovely Lisa Stansfield.
VIVA EMS: So Lisa, your new album Seven came out end of last year, it hit number thirteen in the charts. Were you happy with that?
LISA: It was absolutely incredible.
VIVA EMS: It’s been ten years since you released your last album. What have you been doing?
LISA: I did quite a bit at acting and an awful, awful amount of writing. Just constantly writ- ing all the time. Writing songs and coming up with ideas and stuff like that. I wasn’t just sit- ting in bed for ten years eating chocolates. I suppose it’s all been leading up to this album, really. It’s been preparation for this. It took a lot of time but hopefully it’s worth the wait.
VIVA EMS: Have you been mostly based locally or have you been away living abroad?
LISA: We were in New York for a while and we just got a place in LA. So some of the first things we did on the album were done in New York, in our wardrobe – well like a walk-in closet. We just set up a whole vocal room in there. We had sound proofing and I glued all the sound proofing into the wall. We’re good at amending.
VIVA EMS: We’ve actually been to your studio in Rochdale, to interview the Sticks when they were rehearsing there.
LISA: Yeah, we did most of the recording in Graceland for this album!
VIVA EMS: I read somewhere the reason it’s taken so long to get this album to come out is that you really didn’t fit in anywhere. Why was this?
LISA: Just because what was going on at the time wasn’t really what I was into. I think that when there’s a predominant genre of music at a certain time, if you’re going to try to put something that’s different out there you may as well just flush it down the toilet because nobody is going to want to listen to it. But, when the mood is right and when everyone is receptive to a certain thing, then that’s when you go in and you attack.
VIVA EMS: How long did it take you and Ian (husband) to put the album together? Was it a long process or did you decide to do it over the last year?
LISA: Well it was weird because we were writing for so long. We were constantly making lists and rewriting the lists. This is a good track, that’s a good track or not, because they were songs. So really, in the very end, it was very quick what we did and we did most of it at Graceland. We did some of it in London but most of it at Graceland.
VIVA EMS: You have a shed load of awards already but do you think any of the tracks on the latest album have potential to get an award? We really like ‘The Rain.’
LISA: One of our best friends, Andrew, he’ll get drunk in the evening and he’ll text me at two a.m. telling me, ‘You’re a genius. I’m listening to The Rain.’ and I’m like, steady on love.
VIVA EMS: Ha ha! Is that about Manchester because it’s always raining here?
LISA: No. Well actually, it’s funny because we were in New York. There’s a really lovely bar called Finelli’s and it’s on Mercer Street. You know the Mercer Hotel. So we would always go there and it was absolutely p*ssing it down. You know when you get stuck there and if it’s four o’clock in New York, you can’t get a taxi anywhere, because they all change shift at the same time. So from four til five you can’t find a taxi anywhere. So we were just stuck in Finnelli’s in the rain and that’s kind of what we did with the idea. And I said, “How come everywhere we f**king go, it rains?” We even went on holiday to Barbados for two weeks, when it was supposed to be the sunniest time and it p*ssed it down for two weeks.
VIVA EMS: Probably because you take the Manchester rain with you
LISA: Maybe that’s why we write music. Because we never see the f**king sun.
VIVA EMS: Another one of my favourites is “Stupid Heart.” You’ve had a few tracks in the past that have been on soundtracks and, for me, that tune would be on a soundtrack. Do you see any potentials for a soundtrack?
LISA: That’s something we have to potentially approach. It’s so amazing when you can get a song in a film.
VIVA EMS: This album is about a lady who is kind of trapped in love. So you could make a film out of your album?
LISA: Well that’s the sort of thing I’m try- ing to do, in a way. We’re doing vignettes and such. In the end, we really want to release a DVD with films of all the tracks.
VIVA EMS: Oh wow, that sounds like it’s going to be amazing! Do you just think of characters and the songs come around it?
LISA: I think things just pop into your head and at first they don’t make sense. You just start singing, and then you think, ‘What the f**k does that mean?’ You have to make sense of it yourself out of your own head. At the end you go, ‘F**king hell, I’m really weird aren’t I?’ It’s sort of like being your own psychiatrist.
VIVA EMS: Ha ha! So tell me about act- ing. You’ve done quite a bit! Do you prefer that to singing?
LISA: I really enjoy it. But no, It’s really nice to go between the two because you never really get bored. VIVA EMS: I know you have recently been featured in a locally made film called Northern Soul, what’s your character all about?
LISA: Yeah, we watched it for the first time the other night. It was so good. Well, I play the main character’s Mum. It’s quite ironic really because I’m the Mum who wants to be the upright citizen with every- thing squeaky clean. So she encourages her son to go to the youth club because he never goes out. He just sits with his Grand- dad at home and does really boring things. So he agrees begrudgingly and I’m like, ‘YES. I’m so glad he’s going to the youth club.’ and then he just gets into all sorts of trouble.
VIVA EMS: Talking about some localness and bands and such, a lot of the big bands have gotten back together in the last few years, like Happy Mondays and Stone Roses. I know that your influences growing up were Barry White and Marvin Gay. Were there any local bands that inspired you or you wanted to be in?
LISA: I think I was really always influ- enced by American soul, you know. That’s what my Mum played in the house when I was little. It’s always there; it’s in your soul. So no, I wasn’t really influenced by anyone around here. I do love The Happy Mondays and Stone Roses though. They’re absolutely brilliant. I met Ian Brown the other night, because he came to the film. He is so lovely. He’s one of those people who you think – and I think I’m probably a bit like this – people think I’m very cold and aloof. He’s like me, he’s really happy and really nice.
VIVA EMS: You’ve always been quite a stylish woman. I mean you set the trend for the legendary curl, didn’t you!
LISA: Ha ha I don’t know if I did that but if you have your own personal style, I think the trick is not to try too hard because sometimes it’s f**king awful when you try too hard, like when everything matches! Women get the shoes dyed to mass their dress and they’re going to Ascot!
VIVA EMS: Have you got any favourite designers?
LISA: Literally, if I like something it can be high street or it can be troll. It can be anything. I think that if you’re going to wear a jacket that costs two thousand pounds, it doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing a Gap tee-shirt or not. It’s what you see when you try it on in the mirror and not think too much about what other people think of you. If you like it, then it’s good for you. I’ve got a brilliant guy work- ing with me at the moment and we’ve become really good friends. He’s called Johnny Blue Eyes and he’s an amazing thinker and he’s very innovative. He’s a stylist and he does his own performance art. He’s incredible as a stylist. He’s like bang, bang, bang!
VIVA EMS: You’ve got the new tour starting soon, are you excited?
LISA: We did quite a bit last year, as well. So we’re kind of back in the swing of things. We tested things out and it all went really, really well. We’re not just go- ing to do all the new music but a mixture of old and new. I think it’s really cruel if people pay a lot of money to come see you and you just play things they’ve never even heard before. That’s not nice to me.
VIVA EMS: Well, it’s always on the encores that everyone breaks out into the old skool classics isn’t it!
LISA: Yeah, of course. That whole tactic ha ha!
photos: Jamie Cowlishaw | styling: Ross Forsythe | make-up: Collette Casey | hair: Lizzie Bardsley |VIVATV: Tobias Longmate