Sat. Dec 14th, 2019

Renowned For Sound

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Interview: Gabrielle

9 min read

Brit Award winning urban/pop hit-maker Gabrielle burst onto the mainstream scene 2 decades ago with one of the nineties biggest singles, Dreams which not only hit the top spot on the UK charts but also made a star out of the London born and raised vocalist throughout the world. With the following 20 years being filled with hit singles which have included Rise and Out of Reach, the singer celebrates her 20th anniversary as one of the UK’s leading vocal talents with Now & Always: 20 Years of Dreaming, a hit-packed 2-disc collection spanning the successful career of one of the industry’s finest singer-songwriters.

The new collection Gabrielle has offered us includes all of the tracks that have made her an RnB staple over these past 2 decades, some reworkings of early pennings including a Naughty Boy collaborative remake of debut single Dreams as well as a few new tracks.

Ahead of the release of Now & Always: 20 Years of Dreaming Renowned For Sound caught up with Gabrielle to talk about the new collection, what the singer has been doing since her last release and whether the her latest single, Say Goodbye, serves as a farewell to fans. Here is what Gabrielle had to tell us:

Brendon Veevers: How are you Gabrielle?

Gabrielle: I’m a busy bee these days, its great! I’m in a cab on my way to do a radio spot.

Gabrielle - Now And AlwaysBV: You are about to release a new collection called Now and Always: 20 Years and Dreaming. How does it feel to be celebrating 20 years since your debut single?

Gabrielle: I’m excited, its been a long time coming. I still can’t believe Dreams is 20 years old and I’m even older! (cackles) It feels great to celebrate all my old songs but also to have written and recorded lots of new ones.

BV: It’s been six years since your last studio album, Always. What have you been up to in the time between releases?

Gabrielle: Well I’ve been being a mum for most of it. Going to the school plays and doing the school run. Ive also done some shows abroad, I was lucky  enough to be invited to the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi to do a show, it was an amazing trip, Prince was also doing a show and I got to watch him from side of stage. He even invited me on stage to sing with him along with Nicole Scherzinger. I didn’t take him up on his offer as I’m a chicken but I loved the show and did go back to his hotel for the after party. What a night! What a Man! Other than that I have of course been recording new material and having lots of fun in the studio.

BV: Within the collection are two versions of your debut single, Dreams – the original version and a reworked version with Naughty Boy. How did the collaboration with Naughty Boy come about?

Gabrielle: I first worked with Naughty Boy on his album Hotel Cabana, He came looking for me to record a song he and Emeli Sande had written. I don’t normally sing other peoples songs but once I heard it and met him, how could I not. It was my managers idea to re-record Dreams, I wasn’t too keen at first. It’s 20 years old and still gets so many plays. I thought if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But Naughty Boy was the only person I would let touch it. I love working with Naughty Boy, he’s such a cool, talented and humble guy and a feeder!! His mum is an amazing cook.

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BV: What was it like to re-record Dreams? I imagine it must have been quite a nostalgic experience for you?

Gabrielle: I re-vocaled Dreams with Naughty Boy and fell in love with the song all over again. It makes me listen to Dreams with new ears, like a beautiful love song. Its amazing to have the opportunity to revisit the song 20 years alter and to love this version and the original. Naughty Boy did an amazing job.

BV: Now and Always: 20 Years and Dreaming serves as a testament? “Dreams can come true”, right?

Gabrielle: Indeed, 20 years later and I’m still Dreaming. I never imagined I would have the success I have had when I first released Dreams. I didn’t want to be famous. I just wanted to sing and then all beyond my wildest dreams came true. Dreams can indeed come true!

BV: On the new record there are several brand new tracks including your latest single, Say Goodbye. Is the title of the track a hint that you will be hanging up the microphone or is there more music to come?

Gabrielle: Yes, there are 6 new songs in total plus the new reworking of Dreams by Naughty Boy. I really love all the new songs, I feel they are still me but an updated me.

Say Goodbye is about saying goodbye to a relationship when you know it can’t go on any longer and when you’ve tried but it just not working. It’s definitely not a say goodbye from me, Ive got a whole other album ready to go and still recording more music. I’m greedy like that. I did consider myself retired a few years ago and I guess I had said goodbye then but I soon changed my mind and fell in love with making music again.

BV: Can you tell us a little about the single and a little about the inspiration behind the track?

Gabrielle: I wrote Say Goodbye with a lovely guy called Paddy Byrne. He first played me the track and it had a sample of ‘say goodbye’ through it. That’s where the title and topic came from. I loved the track and style so much I knew I had to write to it.  It took me a couple of visits to the studio to get the song right, I loved the music so much I never gave up. I think most of us have been in a relationship where you know its time to move on but its hard to walk away from what you know, at some point you realize you have to Say Goodbye. Then you can listen to this song, cry for a few days, then play Rise and keep it moving.

BV: You worked with a few well known producers and artists on Now and Always: 20 Years of Dreaming. What was the selection criteria when deciding who to work with on the new record?

Gabrielle: To be honest my manager chose them all. She would listen to stuff and book me in with them. I trust her completely and I think she did a great job. One of the biggest criteria was enthusiasm. It was great having all these producers who wanted to work with me. After being around for so long it’s great that they came to the table and we could combine what they did with what I do. I had so much fun recording the new songs, it felt really natural.

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BV: Looking back on your career, what would you say are your favourite moments? What do you look back on with the most fondness?

Gabrielle: I’d have to say my first ever Top Of The Pops performance is a stand out for me. To be on a programe I grew up watching was amazing, I went back a few times to perform Dreams, they couldn’t get rid of me! Winning my first ever Brit was also a highlight, to be recognized and win awards is always special. In 2008 I was awarded an Ivor Novello for outstanding song collection, that was amazing, the list of those who have won that award is phenomenal. To be on that list is mind blowing.

BV: Did you ever think that your debut single Dreams would lead to a 20+ year career in music?

Gabrielle: No way! I still can’t believe it. Dreams happened so quickly, I went from singing in night clubs and anywhere that would have me to having a number one record. I always wrote songs but never imagined that’s how I would make a living not then and definitely not 20 years later. Ive been really luck and am so grateful to all the radio stations that still play me and all the people that still want to hear me being played.

BV: Losing your passion for music has been cited as the reason for your hiatus. Is this the real reason behind your absence from recording and touring and if so, what rekindled this passion?

Gabrielle: Yes, I basically wasn’t enjoying it anymore. The team I was used to working with had changed and I just naturally fell out of making music. I thought I’d had my time and shouldn’t be greedy so was happy to be a full-time mum. Then a couple of years ago I was visiting a friend at a recording studio, the producer Syience was there (Beyonce/Frank Ocean) and all of a sudden I wished it was my session and that the songs were for my album. It looked like fun and I wanted in! The first studio sessions I did after that were with Syience, he flew over from New York and the rest as they say is history. There are 2 tracks with him on the new record, Knew Me and Holding On For You.

BV: Every fan has their favourite Gabrielle song. What’s your favourite song from your career and why is it your favourite?

Gabrielle: That’s a hard one. It literally is like choosing a favourite child. I’d have to say Dreams as it was my first born and Sunshine as it was written about my son. There are a lot of songs that weren’t singles that I love and are on this new record like Fallen Angel. Heartbreaker because it’s got a rocky vibe and I  don’t think people expect that of me. Closure is beautiful and then of course there’s Rise and Out of Reach. They have all been part of my journey so it’s really hard to choose.

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BV: Aside from the record, what other celebrations have you got planned to mark the anniversary?

Gabrielle: I don’t know yet, I’m having such a great time anything could happen. Id love to work with some other artists maybe. Ive just done a Transmitter TV recording with Wretch 32, we did Sunshine together. It was amazing to have him say yes to working with me, I’m a huge fan of his and when I met him he couldn’t have been lovelier. He wrote his verse about his daughter and I wrote Sunshine about my son, it’s beautiful.

BV: Will you be taking your greatest hits out on the road at all?

Gabrielle: Most definitely! Ill be announcing dates very soon and will be on the road in March I believe. I still love performing my back catalogue so to have shows with old songs and new songs will be a lot of fun. My band is ready to go!

BV: With Christmas approaching, do you have any big plans to celebrate the festive period?

Gabrielle: No big plans just lots of food and family, see how i said food before the family, how terrible! For me Christmas is all about being at home with those you love and enjoying the festivities.

BV: Thanks for your time Gabrielle – we really appreciate it.

Gabrielle: Thank you!

Gabrielle’s new collection Now and Always: 20 Years of Dreaming is out now through Island Records.

Get Gabrielle’s new record Now and Always: 20 Years of Dreaming:

[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Gabrielle – Now and Always: 20 Years of Dreaming’ from Amazon[/CBC]

[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Gabrielle – Now and Always: 20 Years of Dreaming’ from Amazon[/CBC]

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