LondonNet Music Guide

Imogen Heap - Interview

Upcoming gig tickets >>
Bush Hall gig review >>
Speak For Yourself album review >>
Buy Speak For Yourself >>
Hide & Seek video (WMP): hi / low

Page 2
<< previous

MMR: How about singing? You're quite known for having a very distinct voice. Did you grow up singing, or is it just something you discovered about yourself?

IH: Oh yeah. Singing. It was definitely something I discovered. I always seem to forget that part of it, because the music always comes much, much more in the first place, than singing. I always kind of forget that I actually do sing.

The singing, I guess, happened when I went to boarding school. I would write songs. I enjoyed writing songs, and would write songs for end of year school and the choir and things like that. I was a bit of a weirdo - not having kind of been hanging out in the local Romford car park, or you know, whatever kids do - because I lived in the village and I loved playing the piano, and I never went out and had an after-hours gang of friends.

I didn't really have very good social skills. And I went to the boarding school, and I was in the year above, and I wore the most ridiculous clothes, as I still do a little bit, but everyone thought I was a bit odd. So, that's when I started to write songs, because nobody would talk to me, and I just had all this stuff to talk about.

You know, it was the first time I was around pubescent boys, smoking, and drinking. There was all this stuff that was going on at boarding school, and I was just like, "Oh my God!". I had so much to talk about. I started fancying guys, and I didn't really have any mates, so that's when I started singing. I just wanted to get it out.

Then, the cool thing about that was, my worst bully was this girl called Lucy. She was really horrible. She used to throw my duvet out of the window every morning. One morning I woke up and there was lighter fluid around the bed - lighting, like, a circle of fire - waking up to this. Nobody was hurt, but sometimes went a little bit too far. And then I found out that when I was playing for hours and hours on end at the boarding school, Lucy would be waiting outside the door.

I didn't realise until one day, she just walked in, sat down, looking out the window, and started crying. I hated her with a vengeance, and she hated me, supposedly with a vengeance. I was playing the piano and I just carried on, wailing random words, and when it was time to go up, we went up back together and she was like, "I'm really sorry. I've been listening to you for ages, and I love your playing." And then we just became really good friends, and my life got a bit easier. As a result of that, I started to write songs. Songs for my friends, songs about my friends, songs for Christmastime - always a song for something, so I can play it for my friends.

MMR: Congrats on your self-produced solo album. It's really excellent work, and I understand it was quite an effort. You say in your liner notes you remortgaged your flat to build a studio & do your own production work. Why did you want to undertake this huge endeavour, and what other things did you have to do or sacrifice to make it come about?

IH: It was not that much of a big decision, really, because what had happened in working with Frou Frou was that Island Records left a message on my manager's answering machine, saying, "We don't really think that Frou Frou is working out. It's Good To Be In Love didn't get played on Radio 1, and we don't really think it's working out. We're not going to release the single, and we don't really want to do another record with Frou Frou because we don't think it's working out very well, but we'd be very interested in doing a solo record with Immi."

All in the same sentence.

If that was any other job, would anybody give a second thought to, well, fuck you, why should I do a whole another record with you and spend another two years, for you to leave a message on my answering machine like that.

So, I was like, "Hmm. I don't think so." But they did want to do another record, and I had a chat with the boss and just said, "Look. This isn't really working out. My next record isn't going to be as commercial as Frou Frou. So, I'd like to be set free, please."

So they let me go, and then there were all the other people who said, you know, "We'll sign you, now." I [already] had that experience with Island, and all promise at the beginning, as well. There's always the promise at the beginning. "You'll do great things. You're the best act, ever. We're going to really change this company with you." That's happened twice to me, now, with both my first record and this Frou Frou record. I'm just like, "I'm not ready to go through that again. Twice now that's happened, and I'm just not willing to do it again."

So, then I decided: okay. Then I need to get some money, quick sharp, because I don't have any, and I've got, like, ten grand on my credit card, and I can't pay the bills. I need to get a loan somehow. And I couldn't get a loan, for love nor money, in any bank or with any loan company, because I have no job and me turning up with my cd's, and kinda explaining to them how I make my money: "Well, yeah. I know I haven't got any money right now. But I need to make a record to make money." And them kinda going, "Uh, no."

That's when I had to remortgage the flat, because that's the only way to get money.

I guess if I'd really, really thought about it and I'd thought, you know, everything that I've ever owned, that I've ever worked for, is now on the line. If I really sat down and just thought about that for, like, five seconds, I probably wouldn't have gone into it so mentally, but I was so angry with past situations and so determined not to let it happen again, that's what drove me to, "I don't care. I've just got to get the money and make the record."

Thankfully, it's all worked out brilliantly because, I've made a great record - if I don't say so myself - I've made it exactly how I want to make it. It did take me quite a while.

<< previous

More Imogen Links:

Upcoming gig tickets >>
Bush Hall gig review >>
Speak For Yourself album review >>
Buy Speak For Yourself at Amazon.co.uk >>
Hide & Seek video (WMP): hi / low