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Siobhan Donaghy

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This article originally appeared on http://www.subba-cultcha.com


The luscious lady herself.

Sugarbabes? Who the hell are they? Siobhan Donaghy talks about McDonalds and scary gothic statues in rural France.

Hey, at least I left before they did their McDonalds commercial” yelps Siobhan Donaghy, referring of course to her apprenticeship in pop darlings Sugarbabes. It would be fair to assume that any artist attempting to ‘go serious’ after being in one of Britain’s most recognisable sugar coated pop bands since S Club 7 is always going to have a bit of a mountain to climb with the modern music press. Not that you could tell that from the infectious way in which Siobhan Donaghy is bouncing off the walls prior to the release of her dazzling sophomore album ‘Ghosts’.

It hasn’t been an easy ride mind. Following her flight from the wild pop fantasy of the Sugarbabes Siobhan set about recording and releasing her debut solo album, 2003s ‘Revolution In me’. Despite the album being well received it came at a transitional time for London Records. So at 19 she found herself homeless and desperate to get her record heard. Not that any lingering scars are evident today. “I can’t say enough about London Records, really they are responsible for me being here, they stood by me when I left the Sugarbabes.” Couple this with a broken heart and its no surprise that Siobhan found herself on an extended holiday. A trawl around her website quickly highlights the influence of this period with a list of her favourite cities and books reflecting a period of travel and reading. Its not unusual for someone in their late teens to go through a period of soul searching, discovering new music and literature, to not experience a wanderlust at the end of teenagerdom would seem more shocking. Yet not many of us can claim to have been woken from our travelling daze by a phone call from a top flight producer such as James Sanger (Dido, U2, Keane, Brian Eno), but that’s exactly what happened to Siobhan. “It was just crazy, a bolt from the blue, and it’s been incredible. James is like this eccentric genius.”

So it came to be that Siobhan embarked on the journey that led to the heart of rural France where Sanger set about pushing Siobhan further than she had previously imagined. “He would just play me all these records, Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush, Brian Eno” states Siobhan recalling a kind of classic eccentric pop cramming session. “I wanted the record to be a lot more emotive, to explore some new sounds and James used to open that up to me. I just think he’s this brilliant, eccentric genius.” Not that the transition was all sugar and spice. “We were staying in this old farmhouse and I was staying in a wing on my own and it had all these gothicy decorations…I had to wait until we knew each other but as soon as we did I was like “James, get these out of my room!!”.”

The resulting album ‘Ghosts’ is a work of evocative maturity and quintessentially eccentric British pop in the best traditions of the aforementioned Kate Bush et al. Whilst those who are close to Siobhan may have seen this coming for the general populous it really is an album out of left field. It’s a dramatic record that showcases the full range of Siobhan new pop sous, exploiting grand techniques to produce ethereal, beautiful soundscapes. It’s something that has the relationship between Siobhan and Sanger at its heart. “He allowed me a lot of freedom, and we come from completely different camps. I mean, like on the old record I used to read things like New Scientist and write songs based on articles I’d read like how the male chromosome was disappearing, I wouldn’t get away with that with James around.” This chalk and cheese dynamic certainly seems to have spurred Siobhan on to producing such a dynamic record.

Newly signed to Parlaphone, “a dream” she notes, Siobhan it would seem now has the world at her feet. Asked about who she’s currently excited about she raves about Damon Albarn, “who by the way I think is the best songwriter we have in this country right now” and Patrick Wolf, “who’s doing a remix for me”. Perhaps most intriguing of all is the possibility of working with her new found loves the Cocteau Twins in the future. Asked if she has a collaborative nature she says, “I could definitely see myself in a band again, if I got to write and it was a collaboration, sure.”

Of course there will still be doubters, those who see Siobhan as she was at 14, twirling around on the video to ‘Overload’ with her fellow saccharine babes, but that is a world away now and given the opportunities and support she deserves ‘Ghosts’ hints at the beginnings of an artist who could easily become one of the most important female solo pop artists in Britain.

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Written by Jonathan

June 29, 2008 at 5:30 pm

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