Belfast Telegraph

Lisa Stansfield: I'm scared they will throw rotten tomatoes at me as I have not been back in 30 years

 

The UK's biggest soul star of the 90s, Lisa Stansfield, is back with a new album. Ahead of its release, she airs her concerns about everything from the X Factor to #MeToo, and reveals a fear of being greeted by rotten fruit when she plays Liverpool next month.

There's video footage somewhere of a young up-and-coming Lisa Stansfield doing forward rolls through a Paris airport while she was being interviewed by what one can only imagine was a bewildered journalist.

That's according to her anyway. The video seems not to have made its way online but, given the energy of the woman sitting across the table, it's quite believable.

The 51-year-old (Lisa turns 52 on April 11) is here to talk about her new record, Deeper. Announcing the album, the soul singer said she believed there was "something special" about it - but she's struggling to explain what exactly that is.

"I can't put my finger on it, there's an excitement, an energy to it. If I knew I'd put it on every f****** record," she says in her broad Lancashire accent with vowels as flat as the black cap she has pulled over forehead.

She sips her coke and cackles at her own joke.

Stansfield returned from a 10-year break in 2014 with Seven, which shot into the top 20 and drew a sell-out European tour.

Before that, of course, was number one hit All Around The World, 20 million records sold, and an array of trophies including Brits and Ivor Novellos.

Deeper was, like its predecessors, created alongside her music partner and husband of 30 years, Ian Devaney. Full of funk and soul, Stansfield envisions it as perfect music before a night out.

"I think it captures that moment when you're getting ready to go out on a Friday night," she says. "You get your music on and then you face the night."

The couple spent 14 years in Ireland but they moved back to England in 2008 after her mother died and Devaney's fell ill.

They now live between Rochdale and London but miss Ireland, she admits.

"We felt so alienated when something serious was happening and we were in Ireland."

The album's release is followed by a UK tour - including one important date in particular for Stansfield which will see her career go almost full circle.

"I'm really looking forward to playing Liverpool because we've not played it since the very first gig that I did as Lisa Stansfield," she says.

"I'll be a bit scared actually, are they going to throw rotten tomatoes at me because I've not been back in 30 years," she adds with a laugh.

It's 38 years since she won the Search For A Star competition. But you'd never find her encouraging anyone to take part in their modern televised equivalents.

"I don't think I'd go on the X Factor or The Voice," she says adamantly.

"Unless you know exactly what you're going to do and you're very strong as an individual, you can get so lost on it," she adds.

"If you're on a show like that when you're 23, 24 or younger, if you don't succeed but you have that period of a few months or weeks when you're on TV all the time, that will define the rest of your life.

"You'll get thrown to the wayside and everyone will go, you're the one who was on X Factor eight million years ago. That can send people barmy."

She's also concerned about musical tastes of the youth.

They're not "f****** up" enough, she says.

Normally, she adds, it's the kids who are forced to listen to their parents' boring music, but Stansfield thinks it has now reversed.

"Kids have got so much responsibility now," she says.

"They're being born into a lifetime of debt and they've not even started. So they have to really learn to be sensible which is horrible. As a teenager, you're being told, 'Your f****** life is going to be s****. You're never going to have a mortgage'."

It's not exactly an earth-shattering opinion - but that's not Stansfield's game.

She's not one inclined to agree with the consensus but wouldn't shock for the sake of it. Her opinions are her own. And more intriguing are her views on Harvey Weinstein's alleged behaviour and the #MeToo movement it gave momentum to.

"I think women have to be very careful," she says - describing the revelations as a "bandwagon" which she believes is attracting a minority of people who are speaking out for attention and to "whip up the f****** frenzy".

"They're completely trivialising the whole thing," she continues.

"Women have worked for years to be taken seriously and a handful of women are trivialising it for everybody else.

"I think it's disgraceful for an issue which is so serious for some people to trivialise it."

It's a difficult point to prove and, in drawing attention away from the main message of #MeToo, might somewhat veer in the direction of hypocrisy.

She's no less sympathetic when I ask her why she thinks only 17 of 84 winners at this year's Grammys were women.

"I just think that's because (of) what's going on at the time.

"Next year the whole chart might be overrun by female artists, for me that's just the luck of the draw."

She does agree the world is in flux, however.

"It's f****** weird at the moment, isn't it?

"But I think you've always got to be an optimist though, the world is just deciding what to do.

"It's like going to the cinema and trying to find a seat, the world hasn't found its seat."

Deeper is out tomorrow. Lisa Stansfield is touring the UK this month

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