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Music Interview

Nicola Roberts interview: "I begged for Kate Bush"

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Nicola Roberts
We were always in two minds about Nicola Roberts going solo. On the one hand, she was always the quiet and elusive member of Girls Aloud, on the other, her aloofness left us mightily intrigued with what she would come up with. Thankfully, her debut single 'Beat of my Drum' more than satisfied our curiosity, and having collaborated with the likes of Diplo, Metronomy and Dragonette on her forthcoming LP, well, we couldn't resist phoning her up to get all the juicy details.

You recently performed your new single 'Beat of my Drum' live for the first time; were you nervous?
"Last Thursday was my first live solo performance ever, and it was in front on 10,000 people, so no pressure! I'd forgotten what a crowd like that feels and looks like. I try not to get nervous - I don't like to think about things too much beforehand, otherwise I worry too much. I like to deal with the situation when it happens."

Were you pleased with the reaction to the song?
"I thought it was really good actually, especially as not many people know about it yet. It's strange though - two years before I was on the Girls Aloud tour and had every single word sang back to me, so this was a completely different side of the spectrum."

You had an on air, on sale release; were you worried about that?
"I was, but that's the way Universal [Records] want to work now. I think because of illegal downloading it's much better for sales, but it's now harder for artists. We were used to putting a song out after six weeks of promotion, radio play, TV and press, and to put it out there with none of that is very scary. I guess I'll have to get used to working like that."

Hopefully that means the label won't focus as much on chart positions...
"Exactly. I think it's harder for the public now because it's always been about the chart position. I also think it takes the excitement out of the charts because it's not a competition anymore."

Is your debut album Cinderella's Eyes finished now?
"Very nearly. There's two songs that I need to re-vocal and play around with, but other than that, it's done."

How would you describe the record?
"It's electronically lead, and if you're a fan of electronic music then hopefully there's something for you on there. 'Sticks and Stones' is a ballad but not a slushy one, and hopefully people will be able to relate to the lyrics. There's the Dragonette track which has a dancey, Robyn-esque production, and then there's the hard and dramatic Metronomy sounds on the song 'Eye'. My favourite changes all the time, but at the moment it's a song called 'Take a Bite', which is really cheeky, upbeat and rough around the edges."

Was there a collaboration you wanted on the record but couldn't get?
"I wanted Kate Bush."

She's quite hard to get hold of.
"Well I know that now! I don't think anyone knows where she is to be honest. I kept asking and hinting and eventually begging my label for the whole year I was making the album. I was influenced by a lot of her music and was desperate to work with her. As far as I'm aware, nobody could track her down."

Is there a Girls Aloud member you'd most like to duet with?
"I don't think we'd want to leave the other ones out. The rest would be saying, 'Why didn't you choose me?!' We couldn't do that to each other, we're a five."

Nadine has announced that she is to release new material soon, have you heard it?
"I didn't know, but I knew that she was in the studio working on music. I think it's a really good thing. It's nice that we've all been able to take a break from the band, and it's great to hear what everyone comes up with."

Nicola Roberts


Were you a fan of her debut album Insatiable?
"I was, though we all have different tastes in music. I think my music is probably a bit 'out there' for a couple of the girls. I thought her record was really good, and vocally she was absolutely amazing on it."

You recently interviewed Lady GaGa. What was she really like?
"She was lovely. It was great to see her in person and get a real sense of who she is as a human being. We all see her as this character Lady GaGa in her crazy outfits."

So she's definitely a human being then?
"She is! I like her morals too. I stand by a lot of the things she stands for - individuality and appearance. She's strong enough to say it out loud and I admire that."

Do you get annoyed by people constantly asking when Girls Aloud are reforming?
"No, but we get annoyed with the word "reforming" because we never split up! We took a break from making music for a while, not each other. We don't mind it though, you've got to answer those sort of questions. It's funny - Justin Timberlake hasn't made an album for five years, but people haven't stopped seeing him as a musician."

True, although we'd quite like another album from him soon too.
"Oh my god, me too! I was listening to his last album with my boyfriend on his iPod the other day. Oh my god, that album is incredible! It's so good - his taste is so refined and stylish. It's aged very well."

So when are Girls Aloud releasing a new album?
"We know next year is our tenth anniversary, and personally, I would love for that to happen."

You've previously said you'd like to write songs for the next Girls Aloud album. Would you work with Xenomania again too?
"It will probably be a bit of both to be honest. We have a history with Xenomania both personally and musically and it's very solid, so it would be a crime for us not to go back. I'm looking forward to us all setting up camp and working as a team again like all the other records. Now we're a bit older though, there's definitely room for some creativity."

Do you think they've got a load of songs ready and waiting for you?
"They're definitely not pressuring us to get back together, but they've probably got a load of stuff ready for us! I wouldn't be surprised at all."

'Beat of my Drum' is out now. The album, Cinderella's Eyes, follows later this year.

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