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60 Seconds with Lisa Stansfield

The singer, 51, on marrying her school pal, facing up to burnout and fighting shyness like George Michael

What can we expect from your new album Deeper?

It reminds me of the kind of album you listened to when you were younger, getting yourself ready to go out at the weekend. There’s a bit of everything: tracks that gear you up, others about your expectations of the night out because your whole life might change — and then we put Ghetto Heaven as the last track because it is a real comedown track when you get home from a club.

What inspires your songs these days?

I’m quite nosy so I really observe people. They might be talking about what they’re having for dinner but I’ll read things into the situation and come up with a little story. It’s always about the mood of something. There’s one song, Deeper, which is my love song to Ian [Devaney]. Because it’s a lot deeper now. We’ve been married 30 years this year!

Love song: With husband Ian Devaney

You’ve worked with him for most of your career. How do you manage that?

You get used to doing something, so it’s second nature to me. You don’t bring your arguments to the workplace, although it’s very difficult to not talk about work at all during private time. I think if you spend long periods of time apart it must be very difficult.

You met when you were 14…

Yeah, we went to the same school and Ian was in the year above me. We met in the school play because he was in the band and I was one of the main parts.

A song on your album is called Billionaire. Has money made you happy?

It makes everybody happy but with it comes responsibility and a lot of sadness because you do find out who your friends are. It can be upsetting because someone you thought genuinely cared about you, and who you might have known a few years, can be just another bastard who wants your money.

You had a bit of time out in Ireland under the radar…

Yeah, that was necessary at the time. I was at burnout point. I was having my make-up done one day in New York for a video and I thought, ‘Look at me, I’m in Manhattan with the most beautiful clothes, the best make-up artist and hairdresser, and I should be thinking this is the dog’s b******s.’ But I just wanted to be at home under my duvet. I thought, ‘If I don’t slow down I’m going to end up rocking backwards and forwards and chanting to myself for the rest of my life.’

Do you still enjoy performing your old tracks?

Yeah, and everybody loves that I do that. It’s really selfish to do all of your new stuff. Some people don’t have any intention of buying your new album, they just want to listen to the songs they know.

How has the industry changed over the years?

Everybody has to play live now unless you’re someone like Adele, who sells squillions of records. It can’t carry on with people not paying for anything because artists won’t put up with it. You can’t be expected to keep producing and having innovative thoughts, with people just taking them. But I think it’ll all sort itself out. There will always be somebody making quality music. I do love Dua Lipa at the moment, I think she’s got it sorted.

Warm person: George Michael

What’s been your most pinch-yourself moment?

The Freddie Mercury Tribute at Wembley was amazing. There were so many ultra-famous people doing that gig and nobody complained about not having the right water or snacks because they weren’t there for themselves, they were there for Freddie and Queen. It was such a beautiful feeling of solidarity. It was like he was watching and you had to get it right for him. I wish I’d met him, he was supposed to be such a laugh. I can imagine a few lairy nights out together!

How hard has it been seeing contemporaries like George Michael struggle with fame?

It’s horrible. You might think I’m a loud person but I’m quite shy and people can’t put the two together. George was very reserved and shy, so people thought he was stand-offish but he was a very warm person.

Will you do more acting?

I never pursue acting because if I did, it’d become a chore and I want to enjoy it. I’ve played quite a few bitches, which is good fun, but I’d like to play more complex characters. It’d be lovely to act more as I get older.

Deeper is released on April 6. Lisa’s tour starts on the same day. lisa-stansfield.com