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Music Interview

Pixie Lott

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Pixie Lott
She has girl group looks, pop diva pipes and A-list producers - in fact, she's spent the last couple of years working on her debut album with hitmakers including RedOne (Lady GaGa) and Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen). Oh, and did we mention she's just 18? Little wonder Pixie Lott's being tipped for big things. As she prepares to release debut single 'Mama Do', we met up with the talented Essex teenager to find out more.

When did you first think 'I want to be a singer'?
"I just always wanted to be a singer. My mum said I was even singing in my cot! I suppose the moment when people realised I could do something with this was when I used to do karaoke on holiday when I was about five. I'd get up and sing 'Hopelessly Devoted To You' from Grease and people would come up to my mum and say, 'You should do something with her'."

Did you always realise you had such a strong voice?
"I don't know, I still haven't really! Um... I supposed I used to do lots of little shows for my family and I'd always get compliments, so maybe around then. I'd always sing big, belty Mariah or Whitney songs because that's the music I grew up listening to."

Who's number one in your eyes - Mariah or Whitney?
"Nooooo, that's so hard! Um... I'd have to say Mariah because I absolutely love early Mariah, but I'm a big Whitney fan too. Her Greatest Hits is absolutely amazing. I listen to it every night before I go to sleep."

How did you land your record deal?
"Well, when I was 14 I went for an open audition. I was looking through The Stage newspaper and there was an ad for a young soul-pop diva aged 16-25, so I just lied and said I was 16. From that audition I got my manager and he introduced me to lots of people in the industry. Then when I was 15 I sang for (US music mogul) L.A. Reid in his hotel room and that's how I really got started."

Have you been working on your album ever since?
"I suppose so. The direction and the sound has changed a bit, but now I feel it's really ready and the material's a lot stronger than it was back then. When I first started the sound was more 70s pop - a bit Carole King-ish. Then it went more urban when I was recording in America, but now I think it's a really good happy medium."

You've worked with producers including RedOne and Greg Kurstin on the album. Did you find it intimidating heading into the studio with them?
"Not really, because they were all so welcoming. Every time I go into the studio I don't get nervous or pressured. I just think it's a great opportunity and we should all get the best out of each other. I co-wrote most of the songs on the album, so I'd be put in a room with people I'd never met before and be expected to write a hit song. I got used to it because I was doing it every day and my songwriting's really progressed."

There's a great line in your song 'Cry Me Out': "I got your emails, you just don't get females"? Did you write it?
"Um... I can't really remember who contributed what, but that's definitely my favourite line on the album."

In that case, take the credit!
"Haha! In that case, it was me, all me!"

What's the story behind your debut single, 'Mama Do'?
"It's about sneaking out the house and going to see a specific person without your parents knowing about it. It's a really cool song because it suits my age and I can relate to it. I mean, there have been a couple of occasions when I might have sneaked out the house and not told my mum and dad."

Are you quite good at covering for yourself?
"That's the thing, I think I am but I'm actually not! I'm a really bad liar. My mum finds out every time, especially now that she's got Facebook. There was one time I told her I wasn't going out, but then she saw the pictures on Facebook and all these comments saying 'Hey Pixie! Good one on Friday, wasn't it?' Oops."

Is it a good representation of your album?
"I think it's a good introduction song, because it's fun and poppy but still pretty soulful. The album's soulful pop but it's got R&B and retro elements to it. It's very fresh and contemporary-sounding too."

You're performing at the Isle of Wight festival and V Festival this summer. Do you have any other live dates coming up?
"I'm going on tour with The Saturdays pretty soon, so if you're going make sure you see the support act! I haven't met them yet, but Frankie actually used to live next door to my nan and grandad back in the day. Oh, and I did meet Vanessa very briefly a couple of years ago because we have mutual friends. I went to Italia Conti and she went to Sylvia Young so there's a bit of a stage school connection."

'Mama Do' by Pixie Lott is released on June 8.

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