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60 Seconds with… Sophie Ellis-Bextor

What’s your new single all about?

I did Hummingbird with a 23-year-old German chap called Leon [producer LCAW]. It’s about a lost love, someone you had a dalliance with and now it’s just a memory. It’s dancey but melancholy; it’s nice working with someone who is very talented and who comes at things from a different angle — he’s a classical musician who has gone into dance music.

Do you get asked to feature on things often?

A few times a year. I go with things I genuinely want to be part of. I’ve never been able to tell if something’s going to be a massive hit, so I go with things that make my heart beat faster.

Have you ever said no to anything that’s turned out to be a big hit?

I haven’t, luckily. But if you go with your gut it’s a purer process — it’s worse to do something just because you think it’s going to be commercially successful.

Good company: Meghan Markle

Aren’t you reworking all your hits with orchestral arrangements?

I am. Ed Harcourt is producing it, and it’s all violas and French horns. It’s been a delight hearing the songs with full orchestral arrangements — but you can still dance to it.

Have people been craving for an orchestral take of Murder On The Dance Floor?

It’s been 21 years since I signed my first deal, so in the old days I’d have released a ‘greatest hits’, but I didn’t want to do that, so it’s nice to breathe new life into things that people are familiar with.

Have you kept up your ballroom dancing skills?

I learned a lot from Strictly… but no one’s asked me to waltz since I finished the show. It was very helpful in removing any of the last embarrassment I had about performing on stage and in terms of my career, nothing will be that scary again. And I’ve stayed in touch with people from the show such as Abbey Clancy, Rachel Riley and Deborah Meaden. And Karen and Kevin [Clifton] danced with me when I performed at a festival last year.

You’re big in Russia — are you concerned about their attitude to gay rights?

Absolutely and I have a big gay fan base, which is why when I’m touring there I always say I believe people should be free to love whoever they want. I’ve performed at hundreds of gay prides. It’s a massive cause for concern.

Flight home: Strictly’s Brendan Cole

Is it fine to say those things when you’re on stage in Russia?

No one’s told me off. I’ve spoken to people and I know it’s very hard to be a gay Russian. That’s against everything I believe in. Music has always been a way for people to seek solace and find solidarity.

How do you know Meghan Markle?

I’ve spent some time with her. We met a few times at different events and hung out. She’s lovely but I haven’t seen her since she’s got engaged.

Will you be performing at the wedding?

I perform at weddings all the time, so if I was asked that would be lovely, but everyone’s wedding is their own affair. I’m always open to the call, though; I’m a singer, so that’s what I do. I’m an entertainer and we do all sorts.

Your husband can fly a plane — does that ever come in handy?

It comes in handy all the time. I bought him flying lessons for his 30th birthday and he’s had a pilot’s licence for six years. When I was doing Strictly he flew Brendan [Cole] and me and some of the contestants back from Blackpool. We fly to gigs sometimes. It’s cool.

What lessons has your career in showbiz taught you?

That if you can do something you adore for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life — that old adage is true. I can’t call what I do work because I love it.

Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?

My mind doesn’t really work like that. I deal with the here and now. I like creating my own pathways but I enjoy the fact that each day a phone call or an email might change everything I’m doing. Some people might find that really scary but I find it exciting.

Hummingbird by LCAW featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor is out now