LISA STANSFIELD’S been around the world and back again but she’ll admit that there’s no place quite like home. Despite the global success and international fame that she’s achieved as a result of her illustrious recording career, she talks to SJF not from London, Paris or New York but somewhere a tad less glamorous – her native Rochdale, Lancashire.
Between 1989 and 2001 Lisa racked up twenty UK chart entries – including two chart-topping singles – but the last decade has been a fallow one with the singer being conspicuous by her absence from the music scene. Now, though, exactly ten years after her last album – 2004’s ‘The Moment’ helmed by uber-producer Trevor Horn – she’s back with a brand new long player, ‘Seven‘ (which entered the UK albums chart at #13 this week) and has just announced an extensive tour of the British Isles for September 2014. On the eve of her album’s release, Lisa talked to SJF’s Charles Waring and explained the reason for her long absence from the pop scene as well as discussing in-depth her new record and other aspects of her career…
Lisa, it’s good to have you back with a new album.
Oh, it’s nice to be back…
Why were you away for such a long time?
I just felt that I didn’t really fit into anything and rather than change the approach and change the way that I make music I thought I’d wait until I could fit in again. I thought if my time never comes round again then it never comes round but if it does then I’m there and I can jump in the portal or whatever it is and get in there. So that’s what I did. I was all prepared for it but it was dependent on whether it came around or not. So if it didn’t come round it would just be me doing everything in my bedroom on my own (laughs).
What’s the story behind the new album?
I suppose there is a bit of a story behind it. It’s all about one woman’s journey: finding love, losing love, and finding love again really.
I believe that you worked with some guys in LA on the album – Quincy Jones’s right-hand men ex-Rufus drummer John Robinson and horn player/arranger Jerry Hey.
We’ve known Jerry Hey and John Robinson for a long, long time. We’ve known them for over 20 years so we’re not jumping on any bandwagons. We’ve been there before and done that.
What did they bring to the album that other people couldn’t have brought?
I just think that when you write a song and you give it to someone like that, they put a different slant on it completely. You give them a brief of what you want and then they are just so amazing and in the pocket with giving you what you want. We did, also, use quite a lot of our band on the album as well so it’s not just Jerry and the boys: there’s a lot of British people in there as well. It’s a very multiracial album (laughs).
Most of the material is written by you or with your husband Ian. How would you describe your creative partnership with Ian?
I sort of can’t. I’ve been trying to explain it for years and years. It is what it is and when you’re close to something you can’t really explain it. I don’t know. We have our private life and we have our working life. It mingles sometimes but if ever we fall out we never let that affect us in the studio. We’re quite professional in that sense.
You seem to have a unique chemistry together in the studio when you get together, don’t you?
I think it’s sort of telepathy in a way. When you’ve been with someone for so long you become part of each other and you’re not second-guessing but you sort of know what the other one is going to do, which is sometimes nice, but it’s also nice to work with other people sometimes because they can bring something different and put a little spanner in the works and make you think about new stuff.
Can you recall when you first met Ian and how you got together musically?
I first met Ian at school when we were doing the school play. We didn’t get together then. We were friends for a long, long time before we got together. But that was the first time and then after that I met Ian again after I’d been a TV presenter and it’s very weird because I was on a really bad date. I was with this guy and I was thinking why am I on a date with this man because he’s just not my type at all. And then Ian comes in with Andy, his friend, and I just mouthed to him: “please will you save me, save me?” (Laughs). And so we got talking about music and that’s basically when we formed a band, Blue Zone, with me and Ian and Andy.
How much are the songs that you write shaped by their own experiences or do you put yourself into other people’s shoes?
I suppose some times – you know when you have arguments or you see other people in situations then you write about those immediate emotions. I just take an emotion. I’m a great storyteller, I think, and I just completely make things up all the time. Not in my real life – I don’t go round lying to everyone. (Laughs).
On your new album is a song called ‘The Crown.’ What’s that song about?
It’s all about the same woman. She’s a woman of the world but she knows that she’s been threatened by a younger girl. It’s the age-old story of youth and wisdom. She’s saying to this girl get off my patch or you’re going to be really, really sorry. I think the woman in the song, the story, will win in the end. I never regard myself as the subject. I’m acting a part for people, you know.