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Interview: Charlotte Church

Ms Church is back... and better than ever!

Charlotte Church is floating in front of us. We're on set for her new video, Water Tower, and she's been immersing herself in a river all morning. It's not exactly warm, in fact it's pretty damn cold, but there are no complaints. Not any. The girl's a trooper. She's about to release not one but five EPs (Entitled One, Two, Three etc...) We've been looking forward to our chat with Charlotte and she doesn't disappoint...

You're recording FIVE new EPs; how's it going?
Well, difficult. I didn't really know what I was getting myself in for and I didn't realise just how difficult it would be. It's just a hard slog, let alone all the promotional and all the business side of stuff, because I haven't got a record company. I tried to get myself out of all of my deals that I possibly could and then just battle on alone. I wanted to see how it went and if the right people could be interested and collaborate. Plus, the creative side of it as well, it's just really hard just to be constantly having ideas. It's great fun when it all comes together though, like today.

It makes it all worth it?
Absolutely. Especially musically because when all the boys who are in the band are in the studio, and it's coming together, we're creating something beautiful. Hopefully, then it's phenomenal. But Three especially nearly drove us mad!

How are you finding the sound, or the process, is evolving as it's going along?
So far it's just been an incredible experience. Unbelievably intense, emotionally wrought and rough at times. Before, it was a whole different kettle of fish. You know, as soon as you're making a record company a lot of money then, although the work schedule's hard, everything is just made sort of easier for you and I just had to turn up and rehearse. When I was really young with an orchestra, or to a backing track on Top Of The Pops when I was doing all the pop stuff, this is just a totally different ball game. Much more rewarding, mainly because the music's just much better.

Do you feel like you're giving birth to five new children?
A little bit! It does feel epic in what we're undertaking because none of us have ever done it before. Nobody who's involved has ever tried to do anything remotely like this. So yeah, it's just mental.

With the project, it sounds like you're really taking control of everything. Are you enjoying planning the visuals?
Yes. But with that, all I really know how to do is to sing. I've never really taken a massive interest in anything else. Obviously there have been vague interests somewhere along the way. I find myself in a constant flux where I'm like, I think that's a good idea, but I don't know. I do find myself doubting myself, thinking, "Oh maybe let someone else take the reigns on this one", and that's why John [Bland] is incredible because John goes, "I see your vision, I get it, okay I'll do that, that and that; what you want me to do. I'm also going to do this, this and this, in case that, that and that doesn't work. We're going to make something beautiful!". It just makes it so easy. There's no ego, I've never worked with anybody like him before and he's just so much fun to be around.

Cool. So you're going on tour in September?

Three's released in August…
And then Four will be released in October.

Oh my God…
So, basically, what we've done is we gave ourselves two months to do Three, which is why it's so ridiculous. There's more good material coming up that everybody's involved with, which is why there's seven tracks on Three, which makes it not really an EP anymore, but whatever. We're recording twelve tracks for Four and Four has to be finished by the release date of Three. Which is, like, a month.

Okay, that's…

I was going to say something… Like a really cheesy line.
Go on.

You're a Crazy Chick!
Yeah, yeah, yeah. [Laughs].

It's alright. Let it go.

Thank you for letting me have that moment.
Was it good?

That felt so good. I don't know why… Just went there.
It's good to go there sometimes. And yeah, so then Five is gargantuan in our minds. We've just gone 'fuck it, let's just create! Whatever crazy ideas you have just bring them to the forefront'.

I've got a ridiculous question.

Have you ever seen a drag queen lip sync to one of your songs?
I must have. I feel like I have but I don't remember it, which would probably mean that I was rather drunk at the time. I've seen many drag queens perform. Generally, if I'm ever somewhere where someone's performing and it's like a cabaret thing, they'll sing Crazy Chick at me and then be like, "Come on, babes! Come on, give us a verse, babes. Come on." Which then, depending on how drunk I am, kindly oblige. Yeah but I feel like that probably has happened, I just don't really remember it.

But that's the sign of a good night?
Not really. I don't know. My friend's got a saying: "If I don't remember it, it never happened, alright!?" [Laughs] And she says it with such attitude as well. It's like, that's a fucking good mantra that one.

Would you like another ridiculous question?
Yes please.

Okay. You once sang, "I love it when you call my name"; when don't you love it when people call your name?
If it startles me for some reason. If they say it with a tone of fear in their voice, like something awful is about to happen. Any other time is okay. People often think, because I've been around for so long, that I'm like a distant cousin or something. People just get a bit confused for the fact they don't really know me. That I'm just somebody they vaguely know. So they'll often be like, "Hiya, Charl", in the supermarket or whatever. I'm like, "Hello?" and I just sort of look a bit confused and walk away. [Laughter] Yeah, but that's fine. If people recognise me, they're are always really nice. The only problem I ever had was with the press really. The general public have always been really, really lovely to me. When I'm out and about with my kids, and I've got two, you've got to constantly keep an eye on where they are. Then if somebody's like, "Can I have a photo?" generally I'll be like, "I'm awfully sorry but I'm with my kids and it's my day off and I'd rather not. I need to keep an eye on them". People are generally like, "Of course, I totally understand". One woman was like, "Ugh, can't believe that. So rude". And I was just like [pulls a flabbergasted face] and she just walked off.

Now it's EP Three, have you found that people have been taking the leap and it's been a lot easier to do this?
You know, I understand that this isn't the trouble and strife that a lot of people do genuinely go through, but I think that a lot of people have come on a journey from, literally from back in the classical days, because there are elements of that within the music and elements of my voice that are like that, because it's my voice. It's the only way I can sing. But I think it might be more difficult for the people who liked the pop stuff. Maybe not. The pop stuff was really… poppy. And really easy. I don't want to slag it off because I remember it all with really fond memories, but I just feel like I was really young. I was writing some of those songs when I was sixteen/seventeen, I didn't have a fucking clue what was going on, what life was about, do you know what I mean? And so I look back on them and I go, "awww".

Fond memories?
Yeah. But now that I'm looking at sort of creating things as art and real creation and something to be phenomenally proud of. I'm really trying to push forward. The people that have come on the journey with me, I really appreciate it because I know I'm not making it easy. But it's not like I'm not making it easy on purpose to fuck with people. It just is what it is and a lot of it is the lyrics are complex and odd and about odd subject matters. For example, there's one song called How Not To Be Surprised When You're a Ghost on the first EP. That whole song seems really abstract. It's was written by our bassist Jamie and it has such a phenomenally beautiful message, but it's not a nice little love song. It's, like, I've really gotta listen and I've really got to interpret what it means. It's almost like a poem.

After Five, are you going to give yourself a big holiday?
Right now I think I'll wanna have a little break, because I'll be totally mental by then. I feel like then I'd like to collaborate with loads of people that I love, with loads of interesting artists and see how they'd use my instrument. I can't play any instruments so I'm no friggin' use that way really. But I can write and I can sing and this is my instrument, and I'd just like to see what other people do with it.

THREE is out on the 19th August. Check out Charlotte Church's tour dates. here and have a butchers at her new video below...

Words: Harry Clayton-Wright

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