INTERVIEW: ‘That’s Who I Am!’ Melanie C on her eighth solo record

We interviewed Melanie C, better known as Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls, on her latest self-titled record, how she stays healthy and positive during this year, and her experience reuniting with her groupmates on tour last year.

Last month, Spice Girl member Melanie C released her highly-anticipated eighth album. The self-titled record is the iconic singer’s newest LP in four years.

Melanie C breathes some fresh air for Sporty Spice’s vast solo artist discography, straying away from her past work of straightforward pop and soft rock and into dance music territory.

Also read: Melanie C embraces dance-pop music sensibilities with her latest self-titled record

The ten-track album is her at her most mature thus far, tackling themes of self-acceptance and empowerment from start to finish.

Fans got a taste of the album since March with four singles, from unapologetic lead single ‘Who I Am’ which tells listeners to value their self-worth to dance banger ‘Blame It On Me’ which tackles toxic relationships.

In addition, prior to the release of the album, the singer held the Colour and Light livestream concert where fans can enjoy her performing the brand new songs live, as well as an energetic DJ set, from the comfort of their own homes under lockdown.

We caught up with her for a chat on her newest release as well as how she manages to stay healthy and positive during a year where so many people are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conor Cinch

AL365: Hi, Sporty Spice Mel C! How have you been during quarantine?

Melanie C: I have been so busy. It’s been brilliant. I’m so happy that I had an album to release because literally if I didn’t have it, I think I would have gone nuts! It’s been great, I’ve had all of this music to get out there! I’ve been so inspired to create content. I’ve released four singles with videos, I’ve done live Q&As, DJ sets and a livestream to announce the album, so it’s been super busy on that front! On the other front, everyone has been like ‘Oh I want to travel and I want to see my friends!’ and I’ve been feeling like I’ve been fed up with it all but we gotta do what we gotta do right?

AL365: This year has been terrible! However, congratulations on your self-titled eighth album! It’s been four years since you released an album. I feel like the record is introspective, personal. How was the creative process like in weaving all these new tracks?

Mel C: You know what, I’ve had the best time making this album. There’s been moments in my career where albums have felt like almost too easy when the songs are just flowing and it’s brilliant such as when both Northern Star and The Sea felt like that. This one’s been the same, working with new songwriters , artists, producers, remixers. It felt like a new chapter in my career, you know? I felt so inspired!

AL365: I would say the new album embraces electronic music sensibilities in a way? What musical influences did you take when developing this new album. It’s like a new sound for you.

Mel C: Yeah, totally! Well I started DJing for about two and a half years ago, and it just reminded me how much I love dance and house music, and there’s been such a great influence in pop music over the last few years with the disco sounds and even 90s references so it was really fun to play with all of that and create this new sound for myself. And I think being on stage with the Spice Girls again was inspiring in so many ways but it just made me wanna make an album that was very positive and empowering. I wanted to make people want to dance but also give them an opportunity to listen because I wanted this to be a strong message behind the songs as well.

AL365: A lot of of people do find the messages behind your songs relatable. Like say, your lead single ‘Who I Am’. It’s an amazing anthem of empowerment, what was the inspiration behind the song?

Mel C: You know what, that song was really the perfect introduction to the album. I released it as the first single and it really embodies what the whole album is about. It’s about self-acceptance, feeling comfortable in your own skin. It’s really all of the thoughts and feelings I had leading up to touring with the Spice Girls last year because being Sporty Spice again really allowed me to realize that it’s not something I’ve become, it’s something that I am! This thing that’s within me, and I just felt ‘Wow, I’ve accomplished so many things in my life that it’s time to celebrate that, right?’ And ‘Who I Am’ is all about that. It’s about really speaking out and being yourself, and enjoying who you are.

AL365: You’ve also collaborated with rapper Nadia Rose on the song ‘Fearless’ in the album. How was the experience like working with relatively new talent?

Mel C: It was brilliant because she was so lovely, talented and full of energy. She’s very positive and we just immediately hit it off. I was DJing at the show in London, and she came running over. She was a big Spice Girls fan growing up and she was so excited to come and say hello. We just stayed in touch and I invited her to come do something in the studio, and we just wanted to see how it went. We had a lovely time just talking about being women in the music industry, and having dreams and aspirations, and how courageous you have to be, and that was what inspired the song ‘Fearless’. I love it because I think it’s quite the departure and it’s quite different for me and for her. So for both of our fans, the song is a nice, new little thing we’ve created together.

AL365: So what would you say is your favorite track from the album and why?

Mel C: You know what, it’s impossible! I think this album for me is so strong. I always think whenever I release an album as well as when I stream or download albums, there’s always a track or two where I was like ‘Skip! Skip!’ but on this album I literally love them all equally. I think songs with strong messages, such as ‘Who I Am’, is inspired by a dream and it is really about there’s times in life where we are kicked down and on the floor, and everything has gone wrong but you just pick yourself up and you just get back on with it. I wanted to write songs that explore that. And then on the other end of the spectrum, there’s this song called ‘In and Out of Love’. That one is about going out, having fun, finding a bit of romance on the dance floor. So that one’s just about having a good time. I just love that there’s such a broad mix of things that the songs were about.

AL365: I also saw your Colour and Light livestream a few weeks back! How did you prepare for that, were there any difficulties?

Mel C: Yes, there were loads of difficulties! It was so hard, oh my goodness! I’ve done lots of things such as charity bits, streaming, DJ sets and stuff. And as you know, thank goodness for technology, but when it works it’s great. When it doesn’t, that’s it. (laughs) Leading up to the Colour and Light stream, we wanted to do something visually interesting because we know people can’t go out and have fun in the way they used to. We wanted to present the music in a way which could take people away and allow them to escape. We came up with the idea for the LED screens and a little box where I could perform in with my musicians. The logistics and the technical aspects was something else, and we spent two days freaking out. Thankfully, it all came together and it worked out really well but there was lots of very, very tired and stressed out people at the end of it but it was worth it.

AL365: Your energy in the livestream was all over the place, it was so positive! It was great!

Mel C: Oh my gosh, I was so exhausted! I was like squeezing my last bit of energy out! To perform new songs live, that was the first time I was able to do it with my musicians, it was like the best thing in the world. I just can’t wait to do it again with REAL people in a room. Hopes and prayers for 2021.

AL365: Hopes and prayers for 2021. I was going to mention that I didn’t know you DJ. That was the biggest surprise of the entire show. I didn’t know Sporty Spice can DJ!

Mel C: Yeah, I love it!

AL365: With all due respect, you look great at 46! What’s your secret to maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

Mel C: Oh man, well I think the pandemic definitely made that challenging. But I find for me, like I love exercise, I’m Sporty Spice, c’mon. So, I’m true to my name! For me, i’ts not only about physical fitness, but it’s about my mental health as well! It helps me feel good if I can get out and get some fresh air, get to gym – run, cycle, and swim – so all of those things are very important to me. I’ve asked so much from my body for so many years from touring, singing and travelling. I think you have to take care of it, so for me I do like to eat healthily and just generally take care of myself. I think as you get older, it becomes more important. Health is wealth!

AL365: You’ve been around the music industry for a long time. What would you say have been the hardest things to deal with as a celebrity such as yourself?

Mel C: I think for me the first thing that really struck me when I was with the Spice Girls when we became known to the public. I think it was that invasion of privacy. The tabloids here in the UK are pretty ruthless. I mean, they were worse in the 90s, they were awful! That was kind of weird, I haven’t prepared myself for that. I don’t think you can, and you don’t how you are going to feel about it so that was weird. The culture is so different now because everybody is on social media, so everybody has this ability to be very open and to show a lot of their personal life. I think for a lot of artists, I think it’s hard to find that line of balance of what is your private life, and what you need to do to promote your work. I think lots of people are encouraged by the label to get themselves out there on social media, and I think sometimes that’s not the best thing.

AL365: With the invasion of privacy, how do you cope with that?

Mel C: Well I just learnt quite early to be private. As a celebrity, there’s two raods you can go down. You can either live your life in the public eye, or for me, I’m being famous as a by-product of the profession that I love. I’m happy to put up my work, but my personal life is my personal life. It’s actually not even that interesting. (laughs) I don’t need to use it to publicise myself out of all people. So all of my energy goes into my creativity and performing.

AL365: With this album, you’re trying to show who you really are. Was there a lot of pressure to continue staying in the spotlight as Sporty Spice?

Mel C: Well I’ve kinda come back to really appreciate Sporty. I’ve spent many years trying to be different to her because as a solo artist, I have to establish myself as something different to that. Last year made me realize that every day, whatever I do whether I’m on the stage performing, being in the studio, or giving interviews, I’m not only Melanie C, I am Sporty Spice. I need to celebrate having both, it’s such an honor to have both things, right? I don’t differentiate, I inhabit them both at all times.

AL365: You’re such a positive person! How do you manage to have this personality at all times?

Mel C: Oh my gosh, it’s a survival mechanism, believe me! Even during these times, this year has had moments for me when it’s being incredibly difficult. I have a little girl, she’s only 11. I think being a parent through this pandemic, one of the things which is really challenging, is to maintain positivity for your kids! As an adult, we understand more about how this is going to affect the world for many, many years to come. So we just try to stay positive and find the positive in things because everything has positives. Nothing in life is all good or bad, well maybe there are some things that are all bad, but it’s important to find the good within the bad.

AL365: This year is definitely terrible. Regardless, you went on tour with the Spice Girls last year! How did it be feel to be reunited with your band members?

Mel C: It was the BEST year of my life! 2019 will take some beating. Of course, the 90’s were incredible, we played the Olympics 2012 in London, that was amazing. But being back on stage with the girls last year was so special because I think we’ve just come to a point in our lives where we really appreciate each other. We just celebrate each other, and to see the fans from all over the world coming to the UK to enjoy being the Spice Girls fans again, it was just incredible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4RBgv4vOcc&feature=emb_title&ab_channel=LeandroPenatti

AL365: For all your fans out there who might be feeling down because this year wasn’t great, what would you like to say to them?

Mel C: I would like to say I miss you all so much, I love you and I appreciate you. I’m sending you all lots of love, I hope everybody is safe and well. With this pandemic, I’d like to think that we’re through the worst of it. Every day is a day closer to us being together again. That’s what keeps me happy and smiling.

AL365: Thank you so much, Melanie! Hope to see your perform live soon!

Mel C: Thank you. Have a good day, see you soon! Take care, bye-bye!

Listen to Melanie C via Spotify below.

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