As part of her first ever solo tour, Claire Richards will be heading to Birmingham’s Town Hall to perform songs from her debut solo album, My Wildest Dreams, this December. 

Interview by Evie Kissack 

Featuring the passionate singles On My Own and End Before We Start, My Wildest Dreams is the product of both a life-long dream and Claire’s discovery of her true sound – set to be released via Sony Music on 1 February 2019. As 1/5 of the hugely successful Brit dance-pop group Steps, and still soaring from the band’s most recent tour, Claire has used the last year to create something she has wholly connected with; an album the singer hopes others can personally respond to and identify with in a genre she has coined “grown-up pop”. Inspired partly by her own experiences, and motivated by a recent 40th birthday, Claire embraces the mindset of: if not now – then when? In a series of intimate performances, the live dates will see Claire share her moving tracks – both original and covers – with her fans, on an exciting solo journey of ‘firsts’. 

---

How is your day going so far?

It’s going all right thank you! I’ve been at Center Parcs with my family, but I’m actually now heading to an awards event, so I’ve kind of left them there. I’m on my way into town but I’m a little bit exhausted already.

[Laughs] That’s two very different extremes!

[Laughs] Yes, but it’s fun, it’s fun. Water slides this morning and spectacles this afternoon. 


The best of both! So, you’re coming to Birmingham this December as part of your first solo UK tour supporting your new album, My Wildest Dreams. Are you looking forward to the live shows?

Well, it’s a bit of a mix between nerves and excitement really. Obviously, it’s going to be very different to any Steps shows. My shows won’t be as big or as elaborate, but I’m excited because I just get to sing for an hour and a half, and do what I love doing the most. It’s a bit of a weird one – it is a bit of a mixture of feelings, and not having the back up of the other four is nerve-wracking. But, I’m looking forward to the shows now. I can’t wait to get out there and let everybody hear what I’ve been up to. 


The response to the lead single On My Own has been extremely positive, and End Before We Start is following suit! How has it been working on your solo album and these tracks?

Do you know what? It’s been great. I’ve had such a good time doing it. I only wrote one song on the album - I deliberately I didn’t want to insist on writing everything as I’m quite an impatient songwriter. I’ve done it in the past, and I’m happy with what I’ve come up with for the album. Sometimes it’s not that easy, and you really have to reach right down into the bottom of your gut and wrench out stuff, I guess. [Laughs] Sometimes it doesn’t always work. We spent a lot of time just searching for amazing songs and amazing songwriters to work with, as well as getting the right producers to work on the album. I think we’ve managed that. The singers that I love and grew up listening to are people like Karen Carpenter, Whitney and Celine Dion, and they didn’t write all of their own songs – Karen Carpenter definitely didn’t. I feel like I’ve spent a lifetime learning how to portray somebody else’s lyrics…how I feel they should be interpreted, and make an audience believe it, which is what I love about listening to music. 


On My Own is such a powerful ballad, telling the story of the ups and downs you’ve experienced throughout your life and career. The lyrics are certainly very empowering. Was the recording process a cathartic experience for you?

I think so, yeah. I turned 40 last year, and everything seemed to fall into place. It wasn’t so much that I knew what I wanted the album to be, more that I knew for certain what I didn’t want it to be. So, I followed that path. It really helped choosing the songs. I don’t think I entirely knew style-wise what it was going to end up being. But, I knew lyrically that the songs had to make sense to me, and they had to be relevant to me – as well as to the people who would listen to my music. I think, by doing it that way, we’ve come up with an album that everybody will be able to listen to, and one way or another people will be able to put themselves in that situation. It doesn’t always have to be the same situation – you can put yourself in the point of view of the person singing it (i.e. me) or the point of view of the person who is being sung about…I think it’s been quite interesting in getting that balance. 

The songs that you’ve chosen absolutely allow for different interpretations. 

I think that is something you should be able to do with music, really. I want songs to make me feel something. If I cry when I listen to a song, then that’s me sold. [Laughs] You know, I obviously don’t want to make anyone cry…but if I can move somebody then I’ve done my job and I love it. If people can make me do that then I’m sold for life. 


You mentioned becoming 40 was a huge turning point for you. Why now have you chosen to embark upon this solo path? 

It was a combination of a couple of things, really. Turning 40 was a massive deal for me, and as I was approaching it I thought if didn’t go solo soon, it was just never going to happen. For someone to start a solo career at 40 – or 41 as I am now – is quite unusual really! But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Also, obviously with the success of the Steps tour last year, we knew that we were going to have this year off, and next year we will be recording. So, I knew I had this gap, and rather than go off and do a load of nonsense stuff that I didn’t really want to do, or stay at home and not do anything, we all thought we could go off and do what we wanted to do for a change! We just thought - if we can’t do what we want now then we are never going to be able to. 


How do you love to spend your time when you’re not touring, recording or writing?

It’s like I am two different people – it’s a bit odd! [Laughs] Like today really. When I’m at home with the family - I’m at home with the family and that’s it. I am very much a family-orientated person. We spend all of our time together. When I’m not at work I pick the kids up from school…we just do normal stuff. I’m not very ‘showbizzy’ at all…[Laughs] Sometimes I wish I were! But most of the time, I’m not. 


You seem like you’ve conquered the home/work balance though!

I like to think so…most of the time I think so. Although, you still get the ‘parent guilt’ every time you have to leave your children. When the kids ask you, “What time do you have to leave?” it’s a little bit heart-wrenching. [Laughs] But, they get it and they understand I’ll be back when they wake up in the morning. They know exactly when I’m there and when I’m working – they can deal with it and they’re fine. We have got quite a good balance between my husband and me. 


I’m sure in a few years’ time they’ll no doubt be at the gigs themselves!

Well, yeah, they do come even now! They love it. They definitely love a Steps show, I’m hoping they won’t get bored at my solo shows. [Laughs] They have this thing in their heads that they want to come on stage all the time now because they did it at Wembley with us…


[Laughs] They may follow in your footsteps then! How would you describe the sound of your album as a whole?

Gosh, it’s really hard. It’s a lot more ‘pop-y’ than I first thought it would be. I’ve been through every single genre of music trying to figure out where I sit, I suppose, but I’ve got my roots in pop. So, I guess it made sense for the album to be ‘pop-y’. I suppose it’s what you’d call ‘grown-up pop’, if that’s such a thing? 


I love that. 

It’s got all of the elements of pop – it’s big, it’s bold…lyrically t’s got something for everybody, and hopefully something that will mean something to everybody. It’s go big or go home, as they say! 

 
---


And go big she has.

 

Catch Claire at Birmingham Town Hall on 3 December 2018 as part of her solo tour supporting her fantastic new album, My Wildest Dreams. 

Tickets available from www.thsh.co.uk. 

For more information or to pre-order the album, visit www.clairerichards.co.uk. 

Get In Touch

Drop us a line

Contact Info

We would love to hear from you and appreciate your feedback. Please get in touch with any queries or questions that you may have regarding the Cornfield Magazine.

Phone: 0121 796 6800

Email: info@cornfieldpublishing.co.uk

Website: www.cornfieldpublishing.co.uk

Address: Wythall Business Centre May Lane, Birmingham, B47 5PD