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Corinne Bailey Rae

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Corinne Bailey Rae 'The Love EP'
When we last spoke to Ms Corinne Bailey Rae, she'd just released her second full-lengther The Sea, an album that went on to pick up a nod from the Mercury lot. Since then she's been busy touring, but instead of relaxing off stage with room service and long hot baths, she's put her downtime to good use and recorded 'The Love EP'. Through five romance-themed covers, Rae has assembled what may well be her best offering to date. Impressed, we gave her a call to find out just how she achieved the rare feat of crafting a cool, classy release for Valentine's Day.

What can you tell us about 'The Love EP'?
"It's a conversation between a lot of very different musical influences that I have. I really wanted to record some songs written by other people. We play other people's songs in our set and we're always looking to do a cover that we love - maybe something that we can change and do an unusual version of."

Why did you choose these specific tracks?
"We've been playing 'Que Sera Sera', the Doris Day song, for a long time. We've been playing this really torn apart 6/8 version that's influenced by Sly and the Family Stone. I also love Bob Marley's 'Is This Love' and I wanted to play that like a soul ballad - and we really wanted to play Paul McCartney's 'My Love' like Stevie Wonder had come up with it. I wanted to take songs that I knew and loved and let other influences and feels come out into the songs."

Was it important not to pick really cheesy, sickly-sweet love songs?
"Definitely. When I'm writing love songs, I try to show a different angle. Sometimes when you're really close with someone, it brings this intimacy which brings a certain pain and opens up things in you that you didn't expect. I always think that love isn't a mushy thing. It takes a lot of commitment - it's work and it can be painful."

Our favourite track on the EP is the cover of Belly's 'Low Red Moon'...
"I used to love Belly as a teenager. I was totally obsessed! I love 'Low Red Moon' for the idea that sometimes when you've fallen in love or you've had a break-up you're looking around and even the natural world seems so different. I love the fact that it's this aggressive indie song but it could also be an 18th Century poetic ballad."

Do you think Belly fans will be surprised to hear you covering them?
"Yeah, they probably will be. People might not know that's my background. Some people think it's sacrilegious to cover certain songs but I think music's in the collective and it's open to everyone - songs aren't museum pieces. It might turn a load of people who are into me onto Belly, which I'd love. Hopefully there won't be too many Belly fans saying, 'What have you done?!'."

How different was it to record on the road?
"Up until now I've worked in seasons - you have a phase of writing, a phase of recording and a phase of touring. Everything's kept really separate. I really enjoyed the process of recording while we were on the road and just capturing things. I felt like I was less precious about it. It's definitely something I want to take into the recording of my next album - that feeling of freshness and speed and capturing something that's a one-off and not being too obsessive about things."

What was it like to get a Mercury nomination for The Sea?
"I was overjoyed actually. This record did really well commercially for me, it took me all around the world and I was really pleased to have people recognise that I'd written good songs. On the first album I did a lot of co-writing, which I enjoyed and learnt a lot from, but this time I really wanted to get ideas and be able to run after them and follow them. I wanted to be a songwriter, rather than be crafting things with someone else in the studio."

Have you got any plans yet for album number three?
"I want it to be different to my last album and I want it to be different to my first record. I always want to do something different. This year I'm feeling this bravery and this courage that I haven't had before and I'm feeling a lot of freedom. I want to experiment and I want to travel. I want to work with people I've never worked with before. I feel like I want to be really loose in how I approach it. I want to do a lot of writing for it but I also want to leave space for what happens in the studio and what happens in the moment."

'The Love EP' by Corinne Bailey Rae is out now.

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