Monday, November 10, 2008

Meeting Leona

Leona Lewis - she's not my favourite artist in the world, but you have to admit she's got a pretty stunning set of pipes.

I had the opportunity to interview her last week and, to be honest, I wasn't overjoyed at the prospect. Leona only ever seems to say one thing to the press: "I just feel so lucky to be able to sing my music. It's like a dream come true, it's just incredible", and she says it over and over again in response to any question, even one like: "What's best, cats, dogs or piranhas or Hitler?" (it's cats, obviously).

Despite the fact that she actually said those very words, in that order, during our 15 minute interview, I was very pleasantly surprised by what I have decided to call "real Leona". She was gregarious, chatty and - yes - funny.

We bonded over our beloved Mini Coopers, chatted about The Bodyguard soundtrack, and the ridiculous clothes she's asked to wear for publicity shots. Alright, it wasn't an earth-shattering, stop-the-press revelation-a-thon but I found myself genuinely liking a pop star, even though she was taller than me in flat shoes.

You can read the full interview here, and I've transcribed the "deleted scenes" for you lovely Discopoppers below.

Why have you put out a second version of Spirit?
Basically, when I released my album in America there were extra tracks that weren’t on the British album - because it came out sooner and I had the chance to do more material. And I really wanted it to be available everywhere, those tracks, and not just America. And also I did a cover of the Snow Patrol song Run, which we really wanted people to be able to listen to and get their hands on, so I put that on there as well. And there’s lots of behind the scenes footage and things like that – a DVD and everything.

What should fans do with the copy they bought last year?
Keep it! [laughs] But you know, the new stuff will be available on iTunes on well if they just want the songs. But the CD is there, and it’s all different artwork and packaging, and there’s the DVD as well.

Run sticks to the patented Leona Lewis "formula" - where the song starts off all quiet and then goes batshit mental at the end. How do you stop yourself over-singing at the beginning?
That’s such a good question because when I perform it, sometimes I realty want to sing out – but you just have to really really reign it back and it’s hard to do that.

With my songs, especially if I’m doing a six-song set, each song starts and you have to pull it back because at the end it goes crazy [laughs]. You just have to control it.

Do you record your performances to see where you’ve gone wrong?
[Coyly] Sometimes I do but – ah – I don’t really like listening back because I get all weird. But it is good to listen to some of them and go 'okay, I could do that better', or 'that worked'.

Some people you worked with before X Factor are threatening to put out an album of your early recordings. How do you feel about that?
It’s stuff that I did ages ago when I was demo-ing and getting things together. It doesn’t really represent me and what I do now. I wrote the stuff that’s on the album, and obviously the producer wants it to come out, but I don’t think it’s really going anywhere.

Is it like those naked baby photos your mum shows to your boyfriend?

Yeah! Well, not embarrassing because it’s the first stuff I did and I’m proud of it. But I don’t think it’s relevant now.

Do you still have the Mini Cooper you bought with your first paycheque?
I love my mini cooper! It is just the best little car to get around in. It’s just a little black one... I drive it all the time. I've even taken it to Europe.

What album do you have in the car's CD player?
I’ve probably got Alicia Keys...

Me too! But you also have to have Bon Jovi's Livin' On A Prayer on standby at all times. No motorway journey is complete without playing that song and screaming along to the chorus at full volume.
That’s a proper road trip song! Do I have one? Me and my mum and her friend drove to Poland one time and we played Queen of the Night, Whitney Houston, about a million times.

Is it true that you've got a scar on your arm?
Yeah, I do. It was in a park and I fell on some glass and scarred my arm. It’s round the back so you don’t really see it. I don’t need any make-up to cover it.

Speaking of photo shoots, do you ever get annoyed with the big frocks and the big hair?
Yeah, I'm always thinking “get that out of my face!” But then, because I usually dress quite normally, it’s nice to get pampered and put on a nice dress and get your make-up done. And these dresses are just amazing. You don’t get to wear couture dresses that no-one else wears.

Do they let you bring them home?
No. Way.

Would you like to bring them home?
Yeah, I would! But I’d never wear them. You can’t wear those dresses out! But they are amazing.

I've always thought the more famous someone becomes, the higher their heels get. How many inches are you up to?
I’ve always worn a big massive heel. I don’t know why – I just love them.

I noticed you were taller than me when I came in. I was quite intimidated.
Was you? Oh no! I'm sorry. And I’ve only got flatties on today!

Here is Leona's new single. In the interests of journalistic integrity, I would like to point out that it is merely okay, and that my taste and judgment have not been impaired by a favourable encounter with the talented and gorgeous Leona Lewis.

Leona Lewis - Forgive Me

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