ARTS AND FEATURES — 07 January 2014

Lisa Stansfield is back with her first album in ten years

By David Hennessy

This year, it is 25 years since Lisa Stansfield topped the charts globally with All Around the World and the Grammy nominated and multiple Brit-winning singer from Manchester is about to return with Seven. So called as it is her seventh studio album, Seven marks Lisa’s return to recording after an absence of ten years. Since the release of 2004’s The Moment, Lisa has spent much time living in Ireland and acted with Cillian Murphy but there has also been great sadness with the loss of her mother.

“I don’t want to believe it but I do believe it,” the singer laughs in her thick Mancunian accent when asked if she can believe it’s a quarter of a century since her most memorable hit. “It’s fine. Time doesn’t bother me. I think people’s attitudes towards time is quite weird. What’s really strange to me is when people have the time of their lives and then they want to be in that time all the rest of their lives, in a time warp. I’m sorry, I just get on with it and I move on. I don’t want to wear that skirt forever and I don’t want to wear that eye shadow forever and I don’t’ want to listen to those songs forever… Because it’s like dying, it’s like slightly dying and I’m not prepared to do that.”

Written with her long-time song writing partner and husband Ian Devaney, Seven sees Lisa moving with the times, presenting a record that sounds contemporary while also returning to the soulful sound she is known for. It has already received positive reviews: “It is very exciting because when you put something out there, that’s when the reality bites, isn’t it? People are actually listening to this thing now and we can’t, and I’m sorry to say it but, toss ourselves off. Because you do when you’ve got a project and it’s all your own: You get very self indulgent when you listen to it and then when you think about other people listening to it, you just get really scared and it was just such a lovely, lovely relief to know that everybody just really likes it.”

Is it true the album name came about by kind of accident? “It did because everyone kept saying ‘oh, your new album Seven…’ ‘It’s not called Seven’. There were loads of Australian and south east Asian journalists and they’re saying ‘oh, but it’s here on the sheet’ like that must be The Bible and I went ‘no, it’s wrong’. Then we came back home and we just judged it: ‘It’s a pretty nice title really, isn’t it? So why don’t we just do that? F**k it.”

Asked what motivated her move to Dalkey, Lisa explains: “(Ireland was good) just to take stock of everything really. We had such a lovely time there. It did get sort of weird towards the end because I was just travelling so much and flying so much, I felt like I was just living half my life either on an airplane or in a car and I just thought ‘I’m sick of it’. It was the year Ian’s mum got sick and my mum ended up dying at the end of the year. We just thought it’s too far to go if there’s an emergency. It’s a tiny bit of water but it takes so long to get there. That’s when we decided to go really.”

The artwork for Lisa’s forthcoming album, Seven

Asked about her Irish roots, Lisa says: “My mum was called Kelly and apparently we come from Galway. My husband, his dad’s side of the family come from Mayo, and my mum’s side of the family come from Galway so we’re a couple of Irish bastards. I’ve no idea at all (where in Galway), Kelly is a very common name but one of my cousins Janine, she traced the family back to Galway.”

Lisa’s mother Marion was well known for being immensely proud of her daughter’s success. Is this release tinged with sadness due to her not being here? “Oh God, she were more of a star than I ever was. Yeah, it is sad because, oh you’re gonna get me all upset now, but hopefully this is gonna be a major album for us and I would imagine that if my mum had been here, she would have just been over the moon with everything.”

The death of her mother in 2006 caused Lisa to realise she wanted children of her own but despite trying IVF, this wasn’t possible.

Early on in her career, Lisa took part in and won the talent competition, Search for a Star in 1980. What is her take on The X Factor and all the current talent shows that have taken over? “I think it’s completely exploitative and I think that the artists themselves who go on the show benefit the least of anyone. I think it’s absolutely disgusting that when you vote, you’re charged £1 so if you vote four times for someone, you’re paying £4 but that artist never sees any of that but everybody else does, everybody else who’s in on it. And it’s that sort of thing of: ‘Ah, if you can’t hack it, we’ll get someone else to do it..’ So you’re a very disposable commodity in there as an artist, to go on a show like that. I just think it’s always better to go in your own garage and do your own sh*t and get it out there. I know it’s a fast track to acclaim to fame and stuff like that but unless you’re really, really incredibly talented like with someone like Leona Lewis, you’re not going for the long haul, are you? It’s just a con and if you can’t hack it, they just get someone else to do it. It’s not fair, I don’t think but loads of people like it. I think a lot of people are being conned by a lot of things. I don’t like people being told what to buy and what to do. Sorry am I being a complete killjoy?

“I started my career in a talent show but it wasn’t to the scale that it is now. I just think it’s very daunting and I don’t know whether they do but I hope they have psychological counsellors for these people because it’s a shitload of stuff to deal with. It really is a lot to deal with. They just expect those people to just do everything, don’t they?”

Lisa with Ricky Tomlinson, both star in Northern Soul

Lisa can be seen with Steve Coogan and Ricky Tomlinson in the film Northern Soul, a film about 1970s youth culture: “That will be great. I get to play a dowdy, naggy mum and (in an Irish accent) a Catholic at that. There’s a lot of people into that again now, the Northern soul thing and I think it’s a sort of genre that will stick around for a while. I just wish Elaine (Constantine, writer/director) all the luck in the world with that film because she’s worked her arse off for it, she really has.”

For the full interview, see the January 11 Irish World.

Lisa Stansfield’s new album Seven is released on February 10 on Monkeynatra. For more information visit www.lisa-stansfield.com.

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