Melanie Chisholm Interview - Sporty no more

EMMA LEE Melanie C is back after a two-year break with a new album, and is on her way to a gig in Norwich. Invigorated, and brimming with enthusiasm about her new record, the former Spice Girl told Emma Lee how she has laid the ghost of Sporty Spice to rest.

EMMA LEE

“Now I'm not going to talk about my private life, so don't go asking,” chuckles Melanie C, the artist formerly known as Sporty Spice, setting the ground rules for our interview.

You can understand why – when you're one fifth of the biggest girl band in the world your personal life turns into tabloid property – and her battles with depression and an eating disorder have been played out in their pages.

However, the chatty Scouser does let a few snippets slip. “I am very happy with my life at the moment. I would love to have children, but not just yet – I've got a lot to do,” says the singer, who is in a long-term relationship with a property developer.

When the Spice Girls burst onto the music scene in 1996 with their debut single Wannabe they were like a breath of fresh air.

With their ballsy and inspiring girl power manifesto they stood out among a dearth of dreary identikit pop acts.

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They sold millions of records and Melanie (Sporty Spice) and her bandmates Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice, of course), Mel B (Scary Spice), Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) and Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) were, for a time, one of the biggest pop acts in the world.

But while everything was perfect and all smiles in front of the camera, Melanie freely admits that behind the scenes everything was not as it seemed.

“I'm fully recovered from the whole thing now,” she says. “It was one of the most amazing things that could happen to anybody. I have got great memories, but I'm very glad it's over and my life is much more normal now.

“We do see each other occasionally. It's been well publicised when we have got together. But our lives have taken quite different directions,” she says.

When the group went their separate ways, Melanie, like the rest of the girls, launched her own solo career.

Her debut album, Northern Star, spawned a string of hit singles and she teamed up with artists including Canadian rocker Bryan Adams and the late American R&B star Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes.

However, after her second album, Reason, was released she parted company with her record label – and it was time for her to take stock of her options.

“I spent quite a lot of time thinking about what I want to achieve,” she says. “It's something I had been discussing with my manager for some time. My time with Virgin came to an end and we were looking at our options and setting up my own record label seemed like the most exciting thing to do.

“In many ways it feels like a fresh start and I think it's benefited the album – it has been loads of fun,” she says.

Melanie, now 31, has just released her third solo album Beautiful Intentions on Red Girl Records – named in part in tribute to her beloved Liverpool Football Club and also because of her habit of blushing.

The first single from the record, Next Best Superstar, is about the fickleness of fame – something Melanie herself is all too aware of.

“I just think it is a very tough industry especially when you are very young. To have that much pressure – I know the problems I suffered with.

“The people who make it on shows like Pop Idol can have such short-lived careers – I think everyone gets caught up in the excitement of it all.

“People are so disposable. They have a very fast rise to fame and it falls away quite quickly,” she says.

She says she is “past caring” about what is written about her in the papers.

“It has been happening for so many years and I'm still here,” she says. “It does not affect my life that much, but it did when I was younger. A lot of the stuff that's written in the tabloids is rubbish. But I don't think that anyone really gives a toss. It is a waste of time worrying about it,” she says.

Although she is wary of discussing her private life with journalists, she admits that it is her inspiration when it comes to writing music.

“You know all of my solo work has been quite personal and a reflection of my life at that time,” she says.

“I'm quite honest, but I quite like people to draw their own conclusions. I have been very honest about some of my frustrations and things that have happened can be a great source of inspiration,” she says.

She says she is proud of the way the album has turned out and that the new venture has given her the artistic independence she has craved – she can do things on her terms, in her own time.

“I have spent these years experimenting with sounds and I thought it was time for me to go in a rock direction. It's got big guitars and energy.”

She says that while during the Spice Girls' heyday she played at some of the biggest venues in the world, she gets a buzz out of playing intimate club venues.

“I love touring. I think if people have never seen me live before they will be surprised. I have a great band and we love rocking out,” she says.

“It's great to have had that experience – it is so exciting to play big stadiums but really, with the music I'm making now, when you play clubs you get to build up a rapport with the audience. If you go to a concert in a stadium and you're at the back you can only see the person on a screen – I think smaller venues make it more enjoyable for the audience, you can interact,” she says.

All too soon Melanie, in the middle of a dizzyingly busy round of promotional duties for her new record, is whisked away for a TV engagement.

Sporty Spice and her wardrobe of tracksuits may be consigned to the pop history books, but Melanie still has heaps of one important thing – girl power.

Melanie C plays Norwich Waterfront on Tuesday May 3. Box office 01603 508050 or www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk

 

 

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