Louise Redknapp interview: ‘Not everything is black and white’
After a tumultuous few years, the star is getting back to what she does best – singing and performing.
Shooting to fame at a young age as a member of all-female R&B group Eternal, Louise Redknapp (née Nurding and commonly referred to simply as Louise) went on to enjoy a successful solo career after leaving the band in 1995.
Her subsequent marriage to former Liverpool footballer Jamie Redknapp, as well as acting roles and numerous television appearances – in popular programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and So You Think You Can Dance – further cemented her celebrity status.
Louise was also was named ‘sexiest woman of the decade’ by FHM magazine in 2004 and, despite not having released an album since 2000, has remained in the public eye thanks to her TV appearances, her West End debut in the musical 9 to 5, and, unfortunately, the break-up of her marriage in 2017.
Her new album, Heavy Love, is set to be released on January 17 and she will be performing at The Junction in Cambridge in March.
“There’s obviously nerves,” she says of her impending comeback of sorts (she’s never really been away, it seems, despite taking time out to raise her two children), “because you want the album to do well, you want to be able to carry on doing it and you want people to love what you’re doing.
“I love what I do and I’ve just got to keep working with it and doing it.”
Louise says the songs from the album have so far been well received – the first single, Stretch, came out last March – and the record features contributions from the likes of Clean Bandit, Eg White, Raye, Sinéad Harnett and Karen Poole.
“It’s quite soulful and funky,” says Louise, 45, “with a few ‘poppier’ songs on there, which obviously work better as singles, but I would say the album has got quite a unique sound to it.
"The last song that I had out has a real gospel feel to it, there’s a couple of songs that are very soulful... so it’s got a little bit of everything, really. It sounds very much like a Louise album with a little bit of Eternal thrown in.”
Louise continues: “I played a big part in the writing of it; I felt that it was an album that I wanted to make quite personal.
"I think I’ve reached a stage in my life where I felt I could write quite a personal album, which is something that I felt quite strongly about doing.”
Do any of the songs deal directly with the divorce? “It’s not about dealing with the divorce issue,” replies Louise, “and it certainly doesn’t badmouth anyone or anything like that, but there’s definitely an element that just talks about how, as human beings, we sometimes feel.
“Not everything is black and white; there are things that go on in people’s lives that we don’t really know about, and for me it was how I felt as a woman, things that I found difficult, things that I didn’t find difficult...
"I think that when you’re making an album it is really important that there are certain things that just come out, so it wasn’t pre-meditated. It’s a very positive album, but with some strong elements.
“It’s got a lot of uplifting songs, there’s a lot of positive music on there; it just talks honestly about human beings and feelings that we go through and things that happen.”
Louise adds: “I’m a normal person. I have good and bad days like everybody else, and I think that comes out a little bit on the album.
“I wanted to do something that was really positive and that people can empathise with – but I also wanted songs on the album that people could dance around their kitchen to and enjoy. The last thing I wanted was all doom and gloom.”
Louise feels that the new album is coming at just the right time.
“It has been a long gap but I feel that I’ve got something to say,” she says. “I feel that vocally I’m more confident than I’ve ever been, because I’m an adult and I’m just feeling more confident about the music that I want to make.”
Looking back on her time on Strictly... (she and her dance partner Kevin Clifton were runners-up in 2016), Louise, a former student at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London, says: “It’s a programme that’s hard work and you give a huge amount of time to it, but it’s great fun and obviously it really helped me realise how much I love doing what I do and how much I wanted to get back out there.”
In the 9 to 5 West End production, Louise played Violet, the character made famous by Lili Tomlin in the classic 1980 film, which also starred Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton.
At the time of speaking, Louise was still on tour with the show.
“It’s a very different thing from music,” she says, “but you need great discipline first of all, going out every night and performing in a West End show – but I’m loving it and it’s amazing fun.”
Was Louise a fan of the movie? “I had watched the film – I wouldn’t say I was a fan of it back in the day because I was quite young and most probably didn’t understand it...
“But the women that were in it they’re such iconic women, and I get to sing songs every night that Dolly Parton wrote, so I feel really proud to have been part of such a successful musical and a show that tackles so many problems but in such a fun way. It’s a really strong show.”
Now busier it seems than ever, Louise doesn’t dismiss the possibility of working again with Eternal, who first found their way into the charts with Stay way back in 1993.
“Who knows?” she says. “I wouldn’t rule it out, we’ll just have to see. It would be something that would be lovely to do, and I think the timing would have to be right. We’re all still in touch.”
Will some of the older songs be given an airing in Cambridge next year?
“A hundred per cent, yeah,” says Louise, whose solo hits include Naked, Arms Around the World, and 2 Faced. “This is a real... I’d like to say trip down memory lane, but what’s really important to me with this whole album is that it’s got a real element of newness to it.
“I don’t want this to be a nostalgic gig, I want this to be really current, really modern, the old songs brought really up to date – especially some of those Eternal songs; they’re so strong anyway that they just stand the test of time. I’m really looking forward to getting out on tour and gigging the new album.”
Louise will be on stage at The Junction (J1) on Wednesday, March 25.
Tickets: £25 adv