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Music Interview

Shontelle

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Shontelle
Shaking off the T-Shirt tag may be as much of a struggle for Shontelle as proving that she and countrywoman Rihanna are actually friends, but with the 25-year-old's new single 'Impossible' a certified hit across the pond, we gave her a call to find out how she fancies her chances of repeating the feat over here.

Congratulations on your success with 'Impossible' in the US.
"Thank you so much. First of all, I love Digital Spy and I check the site all the time! Oh my gosh though, the single's success is great because it's really challenging breaking the US. It's probably more challenging than breaking anywhere else, so going top ten is pretty exciting for me."

Did you know the song would be a hit when you first heard it?
"You know, I knew it had potential but there are so many things that go together to make a song work - from the artist to the timing to having some luck! There are so many different factors, but I just really hoped people would like the way I deliver the song... and luckily it seems they did!"

Have you heard rumours that it was turned down by both Leona and Rihanna's teams?
"You know, I've heard those rumours, though I've never had them confirmed. I don't know for sure, but I'm really glad I recorded it!"

What's the inspiration behind the song? Can you relate to it personally?
"Yeah, I'm literally living it right now myself. Sometimes you're in love and it doesn't work out and it breaks your heart - especially when it's a person you never saw that coming from, someone you thought could be The One. I think everyone has a heartbreak story and I definitely can relate."

And the video - it tells that story really well.
"Thank you. When we were thinking about the video, we thought about how the economy's been crap of late, labels are cutting budgets because no-one's buying music, and lots of videos aren't how they used to be. You know how they'd be like mini-movies and tell a full story? We wanted to accomplish that with 'Impossible' and I think the director, TAJ Stansberry, did a great job."

Of course, Lady GaGa is a big fan of the mini-movie style videos you mention. Would you be keen to make your own nine-minute promo?
"Oh my gosh, if I had that kind of budget, I'd do it too! I remember Michael Jackson's videos used to be like that. MC Hammer too - you'd never forget his videos! Who knows, maybe we can get back to those days?"

Are you hopeful that 'Impossible' can score a higher chart peak than 'T-Shirt' in the UK?
"I hope so and I feel confident. The UK has been so good to me and I have some of the most amazing fans here. I stay in touch on Twitter and Facebook and I can tell my fans are already so excited about 'Impossible'. They keep saying, 'Why won't you release it yet? We want it now!'"

Is 'Impossible' a good reflection of the new album, No Gravity?
"Yes, but I don't want to say it's a complete reflection of the album because it's a ballad and I have some serious bangers on there. For example, my next single in the US is called 'Perfect Nightmare', it's a Rodney Jerkins production and it's a lot more uptempo. This album has a lot more edge than my debut and it's a lot more radio friendly, which I think 'Impossible' reflects."

Shontelle
Who else have you worked with on the album?
"Oh man, I got to work with so many great people like Tony Kanal from No Doubt, DJ Frankie, Jimmy Harry... the list just goes on and on. I've even been in the studio with Mr Hudson, who was so great to work with and so much fun. I can't wait to get back in the studio with him and make some more magic."

Will 'Perfect Nightmare' also be the second UK single?
"I don't know, but usually the US singles spill over into the UK. That said, there's a song I've written called 'No Gravity' that people are really excited about and I know my UK fans are going to love. It could go either way, so I'll say at the moment that I'll let my UK people decide what they want next!"

What made you choose "No Gravity" as the album's title?
"Any artist will tell you about the struggles and ups and downs of trying to break through. I feel like I've passed the first album test, I have fans in different parts of the world, and now I have to gel it all together and make it blossom into something much bigger. I feel like, 'OK, you've got to have nothing in your way. There's going to be no gravity and you're just going to keep floating higher and higher'.' It's a mantra that I wanted to adapt to the entire project."

From Twitter, it would seem that you're good friends with Alexandra Burke.
"Alex is my homie! I've got a few best friends in the UK - Alex, Tinchy [Stryder] and Taio [Cruz]."

You mention Tinchy - I saw that Alexandra posted about wanting to work with him. Is that something you'd like to do too?
"I would love to... I'd love to work with all of them! Alex, Tinchy, Taio, even my little buddy Chipmunk. The UK has such great artists and I can't wait to do some fun collaborations with them. Lots of people have said to me, 'You girls need to make something happen', and I know Alex would do it in a heartbeat and so would I. Hopefully we can work something out."

Alexandra won The X Factor here of course, and on the same day you release 'Impossible', last year's X Factor runner-up releases his debut single. What's your view on shows like The X Factor and American Idol?
"Well, if you look at people like Alexandra, you see that these shows really do work. The great thing about shows like Idol and The X Factor is that by the time the artists are finished, they already have a fanbase. I also think artists learn so much on these shows. You know, I didn't get to have a coach there with me along the way to guide me and teach me things, and I think when you go through something like The X Factor, you come out so well-prepared. You've already been on the red carpets, you've already known what it's like to have fans, and you know what it's like to experience the crazy parts of this industry. It's like boot camp for entertainers."

Could you ever see yourself judging on one of those shows?
"I'd love to. I'm waiting for my chance to be a judge on one of those shows. Fingers crossed!"

Finally, you always speak very positively about Rihanna, but people seem to think there's a huge Bajan rivalry between the two of you. Do you find that tiring?
"People want to make us enemies so bad and we laugh about it because we don't get it! We're two girls from Barbados who are just so excited about the fact we come from this small island that many people didn't even know existed until Rihanna broke out. You know, we're so excited that our little island's making such great waves! We've recently been in the studio together and we just keep laughing. It's like, 'Wow, we're rivals but yet we're working together, this is funny!'"

You're working together? Can you tell us more about that?
"This is where I get to tease you now! Yeah, recently I've been in the studio with Rihanna and we have some fun stuff that we're working on and we'll definitely be giving you guys some further details at a later date. Hopefully this will relax anyone who thinks we're massive rivals."

Shontelle releases 'Impossible' in the UK on August 30.

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