I’ve been making music for about 16 years now, which is really scary. There have been many highlights along the way, but the first time I felt a little tingle and thought, ‘Oh this is exciting’, was when I was with my first band, theaudience. We went to an awards ceremony and Debbie Harry walked in just before me. I remember hearing the photographers shouting ‘Debbie, Debbie’, and then as I followed, they started calling my name too. That was a real ‘wow’ moment – not only to see Debbie Harry in the flesh, but it was cool to think that people knew who I was.
There are so many artists that I find inspirational but one of the first people I really got excited about was Madonna. When I was a little girl I thought I was her biggest fan; it felt like she was her own boss, working under her own agenda and not trying to please anyone else. She has arguably changed what it means to be a female in the music industry, and I think it’s so exciting to find an artist that can still surprise you by doing something unexpected.
My new album, Wanderlust, is pretty different from anything I’ve done before. People know me for dance music, which is wonderful for expressing heady, in-the-moment feelings, but you can’t really tell stories or be retrospective or wistful. That was the idea behind Wanderlust. It was inspired by eastern Europe so there’s no disco, but fairytales, mandolins and even a Bulgarian choir.
As a child, I loved watching Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, and I was obsessed with how the Pink Ladies looked in Grease, which I think has played a part in influencing the way I dress today. I like tailoring but also garments that look like they could have been made out of curtains! It was funny doing Strictly Come Dancing because so much of it is about costume. I had three favourite outfits from the show: the beautiful gold Charleston playsuit, my foxtrot dress, which was covered in jewels with feathers around the hem – very Ginger Rogers! And, surprisingly, my rumba outfit [a midnight-blue floor-length gown] – I felt great in that!
I suppose I’m incredibly lucky because I love my job and it doesn’t feel like work to me. Collaborating with brilliant musicians and singing and writing songs is a brilliant way to spend time. I’ve been fortunate enough to do some really incredible gigs along the way: performing outside Buckingham Palace with a live string orchestra for the Olympic handover [party, in 2008] was definitely once in a lifetime! I still enjoy so much of what I do and every performance feels like a highlight because I’ve come to realise that it’s a real privilege, especially as I can also involve my children. It’s fun for them; they can hang out in the recording studios and bash drum kits or come on tour and see me perform. There are worse childhoods than to be brought up around music, and I honestly think I’m a better mother for it, too.
The singer puts a playful, retro-inspired spin on this season’s monochrome trend.
Sophisticated knitwear guarantees a top performance in the style stakes.
Polka dots are spot on this season.