Former Spice Girl MELANIE C has visited Lancaster to promote her new single and album.
GREG LAMBERT spoke to her about her new material, The Spice Girls and her decision not to join in their upcoming reunion.
GREG: You have a new single ‘Anymore’ off the new album ‘Version of Me’. What are your thoughts on your new solo material?
MEL: I’m really happy with it. The album is quite a different sound for me, I wanted to do something more electronic. I’ve always wanted to do that. I’m a huge fan of Massive Attack, Portishead and Zero 7, albums I’ve continued to go back to again and again. Something more atmospheric and beautiful. It’s a real mix. I love everything on there, I’ve been really picky, any songs that weren’t making me super excited didn’t make the cut. I’ve been ruthless.
GREG: Your first solo album Northern Star had some timeless songs like the title track and number one hits Never Be The Same Again and I Turn To You. Around the time when it came out in 1999, all The Spice Girls were releasing solo material. Was there a friendly competitiveness between the five of you over who would have the best solo career?
MEL: I think it’s only natural. After we’d worked together, everybody did a solo record like most pop bands. There was a little bit of competitive spirit but the great thing about us is, we are so different. That was the beauty of The Spice Girls, even when it came down to our passions. Everyone has gone on to great things. Victoria has conquered the fashion world, Mel is doing TV work, Emma is on the radio and Geri has done lots of writing. For me, there was nothing else. I loved musical theatre but again, that was music, and that’s what I’ve always loved and it’s always stood me in good stead. I’ve never diversified much.
GREG: When The Spice Girls shot onto the scene in 1996 it was a huge time for British popular culture, what with Euro 96 and Britpop. It must have been a whirlwind for you.
MEL: It was such an exciting time. It was such a positive time for Britain. Different to lots of things that have happened since then, sadly. Sport and music were great, even politics seemed like an interesting place and change was afoot. It’s a period of time I look back on very fondly.
GREG: Another highlight in your career must have been performing with The Spice Girls during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games when you memorably arrived in five London taxi cabs!
MEL: It’s bizarre it’s four years ago, it feels like yesterday. We knew from the get-go this was a really big deal. We had a wonderful performance. It was so exciting leading up to it because when we were together in the 90s there was no social media, and even when we reformed in 2007 and toured the UK and US, social media wasn’t as huge as it is now. But at the Olympics it was incredible to watch how many people were commenting and excited about our performance. We said to ourselves in the dressing room, because our performance was only four minutes long, that we had to take all this in. We were so nervous, but we thought every second counts. So I remember it all so vividly, sitting in the back of the cab, waiting to go out, looking at the girls, making eye contact, looking out at the flashes in the crowd, seeing all the athletes at the bottom of the stage, it was a wonderful memory that will never leave me.
GREG: Recently it was announced that The Spice Girls will be reforming again, but only with Geri, Emma and Mel B. Are you comfortable with the decision you made not to join the reunion?
MEL: It’s a really emotional one, really difficult. The girls I’m sure would rather I was joining them and the Spice Girls fans would love to see that happen. I think this is why it took me so long to make my final decision. But I’m a mum, and I think the girls respect that. We’re all in a similar situation, we’re all busy mums and family comes first. It didn’t feel right for me, I had to follow my instincts. I love the girls and I wish them all the luck in the world and I completely support them, but I’m 42 now and I feel like I have to put myself first, and that’s what I’ve done.
GREG: As a Liverpool football fan myself, I have to ask you about your feelings on the current Liverpool team and their manager Jurgen Klopp!
MEL: You’ve got to love Klopp for his passion. He’s such a character. But I have to confess, I haven’t been following football as much as I did in my youth. But I’m a lifelong Liverpool supporter and always will be. It’s going to be an exciting season, it will be interesting to see where it goes.
Melanie was speaking to Greg Lambert at The Bay radio studios in Lancaster where she performed two live tracks from her new album ‘Version of Me’.