Flavourmag’s Annika Allen sits down with music sensation, British singer Gabrielle who after a five year hiatus has released a greatest hits album to celebrate 20 years since the release of her hit single Dreams. Here she talks working with Naughty Boy, motherhood and plans for the future.

5 years you’ve been away what have you been doing during that time?
Lots of stuff, I was a full time mum. I just decided that, that’s was what I was going to do. I didn’t realise how hard it was. Being on the road and making music and putting out records my mum was relegated to that position of soul caretaker of the children. I said oh I can do this now mum. You have to ask how much hats off to women around the world who have more than one or don’t have the help and they have to juggle married life, work life and be a mother damn it’s not easy. I was lucky I had help but I don’t know if I wanna do this full time. I think for me it was just reconnecting with the kids because I felt for me for a while I wasn’t there for some school plays and I wasn’t there for certain things but it was nice to actually have that time. But as far as I’m concerned I will always have that time because I was gonna make music again.

Initially did they mind when you were doing the music thing, the fact that you weren’t there?
The kids were great. I think they had familiarity at all times. My mother was the only person I allowed to look after my kids so for me my mum did a good job of it, I like to think so anyway others might disagree. But the idea that who best than your own mother provided that she is not an utter cow. I think some people might recognise or haven’t been blessed with great mums but my mum is great. I remember the concern one day do they know I’m mum you know what I mean and it was one of those things that it was nice to kind of be home and be there and for them to recognise that and feel like mums around more. You know for a while that’s what I thought I’d be doing for the rest of my days didn’t go own like that. After I hang up my microphone I ended up meeting that monster of a producer called Science and it was hearing his music that someone else was singing I thought I want in. So it’s great not like anything I’ve ever done before and I had that opportunity.

On this new album now and 20 years always dreaming two of the songs in which I’ve done with him are on this album. I’ve got more but they’re gonna be on the next album but the two that I have chosen are new me and holding on for you basically It is definitely him that I will blame for reigniting that passion that I have for making music.


How old are your kids?
The youngest is 10 Patricia and the eldest Jordan is 18 and at uni. They don’t want me around anymore. But it’s nice I think their at that age where my son is more used to my music but the youngest she is quite musical but at the same time she love that I’m making music which is quite funny because my son up until I started making this album he said so haven’t you retired then mum. Hell to the no..I’ve still got something to give.

What can fans expect from the album?
This album celebrates and marks the twenty years that I have been making music. Dreams was twenty years old this year and the head of our label was like I know you wanna make a new record but there is no way we can put out a new record and not pay attention to the fact that you have spent 20 years making music. So whereas most people do that greatest of package, the best of they only put on one or two new songs and that’s it. Hell no I have material; I have material for a whole new album. So I was fortunate to take six brand new songs of the songs that will be on my album and a remake of the seventh song to be Dreams featuring Naughty Boy. I’m excited, it’s nice to have songs from that time and now and sit next to one another comfortably. They are all great songs I would say.

Do you have a favourite song from the album?
I have loads. I’ll be lying if I said there wasn’t one. There is a song called fallen angel that I love, there is a song called closure which a lot of people said should have been a single for one of my other records. I love rise and sunshine. When a women is one of my favourite ones because when I’m doing a show and the guys are sitting there and their wives or girlfriends have brought them to the show and they think she signs ballads I’ll be okay. Then they start snoozing then I get on there like Bobby Gavy telling everyone to move they’re tooshes. You and you. You don’t want to be sitting down when I point at you because I’ll show you. So I love that one just because I get people to dance with that one. So there is quite a few favourites.

Tell me about your experience working with Naughty Boy?
That was phenomenal because he is a lovely boy and I know he would rather me say he is naughty boy but he is. To me he was lovely boy but he is incredible, he’s so talented and he’s like a visionary. I love the ideas that he comes up with and the idea that he came looking for me to do Hollywood first and foremost was an honour. Although I was a bit sacred because it was a song that was already written and not by me..Emeli Sande had written it so that was quite nice singing one of her songs. I didn’t think I could do it justice. I remember saying I can’t sing like Emeli he said don’t sing like Emeli just sing like you. The song ended up completely different to the original in terms of vocal style but I’m really proud of that. I’d like to think that Emeli and Naughty Boy are happy with that and I’m pleased to a part of that whole genre of music. When you look at the line up Wretch 32, Ed Shereen, Ella all these amazing people and I love the fact that I’m on that.

In your 5 year hiatus has there been anyone that you thought were amazing that is now in the music industry?
Apart from Emeli. I love Wretch 32. You’ve got Ellie Goulding, you’ve got Laura Mvula. I love Adele. The list is endless. I loved Amy Winehouse when she came out her whole musical style was very retro but they’ll never be another Amy and we now that because her song writing was second to none, no one else. I look around and I do love what’s going on. Its nice were bringing out music. We have all the new music. Instead of one I can’t just say one. I’m a big fan of Justin Timberlake, and then he comes out. Beyoncé love her. Then you have Gaga. Then Mary J Blige is bringing out a Mary Christmas a Christmas album. I’m like Mary just give me your voice. I’m sure a Christmas song featuring Mary j singing would still be phenomenal. So I just love what happening.

Who/what inspires you?
One of those things that inspired me to do music again was meeting that producer Science. Musically he was doing what I hadn’t been doing and musically he was doing something fresh. Sometimes it is just what somebody will say to you that will inspire me to do a song. I love Wretch 32, I love what he sings about. I think he’s so real and has a sexy voice. (Laughs) I’m old enough to be his mother. We met in real life and he’s so lovely. He has an amazing voice, when he sings he makes you want to sit up and listen. So I’m just inspired by whoever is making great music. Justin makes me want to know how to dance properly. Laura Mvula because she is fresh and different. You get the more poppier acts that I still love. For me life inspires me. Every day I wake up and I can still be and that’s an opportunity that you can make a difference to yourself or someone else. Life and my children but that goes without saying.

If you look back over the last 20 years, what is your one highlight?
Does it have to be music.

When I met Nelson Mandela. You can get all the accolades which I secretly love but it was meeting someone. When you meet a man who has encountered what he has and is so regal and so gracious. No having hate for his captures people that held him captive. To have the opportunity to meet him, when you meet someone who stood for what he stood for all these years. Freedom and hope everything is kind of pales in comparison. Then if you look back at my music, my first ever brit or mobo .

December is around the corner. What are your plans for 2014?
Tour, tour, tour. Because it is a new album and I’m showcasing the fact that that now and always dreaming 20 years comes out on Nov 18th the single comes out after that say goodbye. I’m really proud and I just want to go on the road and show case. I believe that we’ll have dates from March onwards all around the country. That for me is the be on and end all. I love making music, writing and going on the road and performing.

What is the legacy you want to leave?
The idea that Gabrielle came out and said Dreams can come true and I’m testimony of that. The idea that when I first came out that I never believed would still be here twenty years later. That I never had this amazing platform to be writing songs and for people to make me feel humbled for people to say that my music has been soundtracks to their lives or to get them out of negative situations. So for me I would like to think that the legacy will be whatever you want to be and don’t let anybody stop your dreams. If I had listened to other people. I didn’t have the biggest voice, the look. I have a lazy eye so I don’t tick all the boxes to be in the public eye but follow your dreams and believe in yourself and my dreams have come true.

If you weren’t a singer what would you be doing?
I’d probably be working with kids. Being into psychology. When I was twelve or thirteen I had never heard of it until they came. Then I started doing my O Levels in psychology. It was something I wanted to do work with children if I didn’t pass the exams and have to retake them. Something to do with children, helping children. Alongside this career I want to play a bad bitch in a movie but I can’t act for toffee. I don’t even like making videos so how would do that. I’d love to be in a Brit flick or a little cameo in Eastenders because I was born in east London so that would be cool.

Throughout your career how did you manage not to be the focus of tabloids?
It’s easy probably being the most boring artist in the world helps. First I don’t knock people. I never came to be famous, I just came to make music and I didn’t know I would have the success I’ve had but I think that the other aspect of doing stuff just for the sake of it. If it’s not what I do then I’m not interested. And you can go out and have a life without courting the media. I have been drunk and fallen out of clubs but just not where anybody knows. You can live your life but it’s just how you choose to do it that can help you or hinder you. I wanted to have that life where I can still have that privacy and anonymity and be away from the media. Apart from having the odd glitch where there has been that media attention but I find it easier to kid my kids out of the media and that’s how it worked for me.

Anything you’d like to add?
My album is out now and it has seven songs. The new version of dreams featuring Naughty Boy so I think people should give it a listen and I hope they enjoy.

Gabrielle’s ‘Now and Always -­ 20 Years Of Dreaming’ out now through Island Records