Cornfield’s Content Editor caught up with nationally-loved, Strictly sensation Anton Du Beke ahead of the release of his debut album From The Top, featuring old school swing classics, original songs and surprising covers. The much-anticipated album, dedicated to Anton’s wife Hannah and close friend, the late Sir Bruce Forsyth, is a celebration of the songs that have inspired the entertainer throughout his career. Produced by award-winning producer, Brian Rawlings, and featuring vocals from quintet The Overtones, From The Top is a wonderful collection of inspired tracks – a credit to Anton’s creative repertoire. 

Words by Evie Kissack


Good afternoon Anton! How are you?

Hello my love! I am fantastic, thank you!


What have you been getting up to this week? 

[Laughter] Well, this week I had It Takes Two. Oh lose the sofa! Ohhhh such a disappointment, nobody wants that one… [Laughter] I had an event to do hosting, and yesterday I was on Loose Women and I also had some stuff to do for Polydor, busy, busy… and then I had a costume fitting for Blackpool! We grow you know!


So, you’ve had an extremely busy week!

Oh yeah. 


Firstly, a few congratulations are in order - I’ve been listening to the new album From The Top - I think it’s fantastic.

Oh thank you! I love you for that. 


And another big congratulations to you and your wife for your new arrivals! It’s such wonderful news to hear about the twins.

Aw - thank you. 


So things are going brilliantly in both your career and personal life at the minute?

[Laughter] Well, I never like to say that out loud. 


How have you managed balancing Strictly, making the new album, welcoming the twins…and everything else?

Well, that’s easy - I’ve got an incredible wife, Hannah, who is remarkable. She keeps everything bubbling along perfectly, and she just loves - as I do - having the twins. She’s really enjoying being a mum and nothing would be possible if it weren’t for her. She’s amazing.


That’s so lovely! Now I know you’ve dedicated From the Top to a couple of very important people in your life – the first being your wife Hannah.  You’ve spoken about the song ‘More’ having particular significance?

Absolutely. It’s a song that I played to her early on in our relationship, and it’s such a great track. It’s just a beautiful, special song. It’s actually the song I played when she was having the babies. [Laughter] I had it on in the background. So it just – it’s one of those songs, you know – it has such a huge significance. 


I know the other special person you dedicated the album to, was the late, great Sir Bruce Forsyth. 


Absolutely, the late and incredibly great Bruce Forsyth. We did a song together a few years ago; it’s called Me And My Shadow. We sung it on Strictly Come Dancing, which is an immense highlight for me, for both my life and career. He was just a great man, and I loved him dearly. I was privileged enough to be able to call him my friend. They say you never meet your hero, but it was completely the opposite for me really. He was the loveliest, most generous, fabulous and inspirational man I’ve ever met. We played a lot of golf together and chatted all the time…he was amazing. 


What an incredible tribute to his life, and how wonderful to be able to say that From The Top is dedicated to him. 

Well it just seemed fitting really, because we both loved the same sort of music and he was just a great guy. He was a great performer and if you love showbiz he was the ultimate showman. He was exactly as you’d want an entertainer to be. Do you know what I mean? He always looked great, he always looked sharp, he always had a line - whether it was for 5, 000 people at the Albert Hall or three people on the golf course. He was always entertaining. It was amazing. 


You’ve spoken about your shared love for swing, and the new album features some absolute swing classics. Moondance and Beyond the Sea are my personal favourites, I’ve grown up listening to these songs - it’s a brilliant album.

Oh I love you - you are my favourite person, by the way. 


[Laughter] 

Moondance was made with The Overtones, who are brilliant. They are just great fellas with great voices. Like you, I grew up with all of these songs, and I listened to them, and I loved them and I danced to them…the problem I had with the album was what to leave out. I had a list as long as my arm! I’m hoping the album is so successful that they let me do another one! It’s just great tracks. We’ve done them in such a way – I mean we haven’t reinvented the wheel with them but we’ve made new arrangements. We had a wonderful orchestra, a 36-piece orchestra, which has an incredible sound, I mean, it sounds just remarkable.

 

“I was privileged enough to be able to call him my friend. They say you never meet your hero, but it was completely the opposite for me really.”

I must talk about the Arctic Monkeys cover! I’m from Yorkshire (as you can possibly tell from my accent…)

I had no idea…


[Laughter] I love the cover of I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor. It’s so unexpected!

[Laughter] Well, it’s hilarious because it was Polydor’s idea really. They wanted to throw in a couple of things – we have a brand new song in there called Nothing but Love, which is brilliant! It was written for me by Ed Drewett - who is a tremendous songwriter, I mean, he’s written for everybody. Amazing. I always wanted something a bit different as well, so we have the Arctic Monkeys cover in there. I had to try to make it work because it has such a great title, so again we put together a great vocal arrangement and swing arrangement and we had a go. And it just turned out super – I love it! 


It definitely did. I was listening to the album again this morning and I suddenly thought, “Hang on a minute, I know this song from somewhere…” It just fits so wonderfully with the swing classics. 

I will have to tell them [Polydor] that you love it, because they will be delighted. When they [Polydor] say these things, and throw ideas at you, you sometimes think,  “Oh, I’m not really sure – Arctic Monkeys and Fly Me To The Moon, I’m not sure those two things are going to go well together…” And then we did the arrangement and its just great. Just great. 


It works perfectly.

I mean I’d like to do more of that stuff, recreating songs alongside classics. I think it’s a brilliant version, so yeah; I’d like to do more. It was a lot of fun. 


The whole album has a really upbeat, positive feel to it. Swing music does make you want to get up and dance. What message did you want the album to give to listeners?

Well, exactly that! I want people to get up and dance. I want to give people songs to dance to. I want you to take hold of your wife, or your husband, or whoever, in the kitchen, and have a little dance around to the music. Because that’s exactly what it makes me want to do. The album songs are ones that I’ve grown up listening to and dancing to, and I want people to feel the same way. I’m so delighted the album has an uplifting vibe to it as well because when you’re creating music and you’re thinking, “This is great, I’m loving this!”, just because you like it doesn’t necessarily mean other people are going to like it as well. So, the fact that people have had a positive reaction – I’m just thrilled, thank you. 


Now you’ve created your debut album, what are your hopes for the future? Is this just the start of your musical career?

Well I’d like to create more music because I’ve enjoyed it so much. There are so many great songs that I wasn’t able to record, so I’d like to do that. I mean I’m in such a privileged position, because I’m working on Strictly Come Dancing (the best show on TV), and I get to go on tour and do my own thing, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with Polydor who are an incredible record label and company – I just really want to ask if I can do more, if that’s alright with everyone else? Thank you very much. [Laughter]


You’ve mentioned being inspired by the old stars – when was it that you first entered the world of music and dance?

Well, I started when I was about three or four. I was inspired by Fred Astaire and I’ve always been inspired by Brucey as an entertainer as well. I saw him on Sunday Night at the London Palladium - it was genius. I loved that he was able to come out on stage and talk instantly to people and make a connection with them. I’ve always felt that has always been a big thing for me as a dancer, I wanted to be able to go out and dance and have a connection with people who are watching. It’s easier and much more instant when you literally do speak to them, which has always been the part of entertaining that’s drawn me to it. I’ve always watched singers get great reactions from audiences because its vocal and you can speak directly to the audience. When you’re moving and dancing, you’re sort of asking people to watch you move around and invest in what you’re doing emotionally. That’s one of the harder bridges to create when dancing really, a bridge from you to them. When it works it’s incredibly humbling, even if it’s a sort of moment like the time when Ruth and I performed the Paso Doble on Strictly and we fell over at the end. 

  


[Laughter]

I know it’s ridiculous! But it was an immense reaction from the audience and it was just tremendous and people will talk about that for years. That’s always been something about entertaining that I’ve loved when growing up, and wanted to be part of. 


You’ve been quite open about struggling financially in your earlier years, but you kept holding onto your dream. It must feel wonderful to look back upon those humbler times and see how far your career has come? 

Well I think we’re always struggling financially. [Laughter] If the taxman has anything to do with it! It’s one of those situations where you never sit back and say, “Thank you very much, I’ve made it.” Unless, of course you have about 400 noughts after your name, and so few of us do. But, I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for an audience, so I’ve never been motivated financially by what I do. It might work to my detriment, I don’t know. But if you promise me an audience and a standing ovation, I’ll turn up for free. Don’t tell my agent – because she’ll be furious!

 

[Laughter] I think that it’s amazing that you do what you do for the love of it. So, sadly Strictly ended for you and your partner Ruth in week 7 this year. As a Strictly fan, I have to ask - what are your thoughts on this year’s show? 

Again, great! Every year, it’s such a massive show and goes from strength to strength. It’s just fantastic. I mean, how do you beat last year? This is always the question you end up having to ask yourself. The beginning of the following year we think, “How do we top last year?” because every year seems to be remarkable. It is just a wonderful show. I think the thing about it is that you don’t have to try and reinvent the wheel, but instead evolve as you go along. I think some of the numbers that Ruth and I put together were really, really great. I was really delighted with them - even that fall at the end of the Paso Doble, it was just brilliant! People will talk about that for years, and that’s really what Strictly Come Dancing is all about for me. And I mean the show itself, as a whole is HUGE. The producers do a great job of keeping the whole thing chugging along and being relative. I think it definitely remains relevant in today’s world of television. It’s the only time, nowadays, that a whole family, and different generations, speak the same language. I mean, when you’re growing up you’d speak to your mum in a language she wouldn’t understand, and she’d be like, “What are you talking about?” and your mum would say something like, “Groovy” and you’d think, “Oh god that’s so uncool.” So all that sort of stuff, it’s a generational thing, and you’ll be the same with your children! You’ll say something and think it’s cool and current and suddenly your children will be speaking and you won’t know what they’re talking about, and you’ll be trying to set your iPhone up and have to ask your six year old daughter or niece to do it for you! So Strictly for me is the only time we all speak the same language, at the same time - all the generations. And that’s the remarkable joy of Strictly Come Dancing, is that we are all in it together. 


That’s so true! 

If you’re sitting there with your parents, or granny, and watching Strictly, you all have your favourites and you have different reasons for loving it - probably me being your personal favourite, naturally. 


Well, of course. 

So, that’s the joy of Strictly really. 


I would say the album does a very similar thing – combining contemporary music from the Arctic Monkeys and swing classics, it brings the generations together also. 

Well that’s lovely for you to say, and I hope that that’s the case because it makes me really, really happy. I don’t want it to be specific to one generation; I want everybody to like it, of course. I think they’re great tunes, and I think that the album has an uplifting vibe, and hopefully everyone’s dancing around the kitchen to the music! That’d be great! 


[Laughter] What more could you want from an album?

What more could you want, exactly. Merry Christmas mum! [Laughter]

 

Anton’s debut album From The Top is out now. Buy your dancing-around-the-kitchen tracks online at www.antondubeke.tv

@TheAntonDuBeke

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