Interview: Dido

Simon Button

The singer chats to us about her new album, working with her brother and writing a song for her son

RD: Your new album Still On My Mind is a big hit but were you worried how it would be received after a six-year break?

No, because I’m not a big worrier and I’ve never really worried about the reaction to my music if I feel good about it. I make music in such a personal way that I’m never thinking about people’s reactions to it. I get excited and go “I wonder what they’ll think about it” but I always just put music out that I feel good about having made. The rest of it is whatever really.

 

RD: Having sold more than 40 million albums must help ease the pressure?

Completely. I feel so lucky. I feel I can make exactly the music I want to make. However it’s all panned out well up to now which has enabled me to do the thing that’s most important to me, which is to go into a studio and record from the heart. I still love it. The biggest high is when you write a song you’re proud of. In the morning that song didn’t exist, then by the evening it’s written. That feeling never gets old.

 

RD: The song “Have to Stay” is about your son Stanley. How did that come about?

At first I thought, I don’t want to write a song about having a kid. I was quite adamant about that because it felt separate from everything else, but I sat there one day and it just poured out. It's a very simple song about unconditional love and how I felt about Stanley from the moment he was born.

 

RD: The album has a very personal, confessional feel to it…

Yes, it does. It’s all I know how to do, in a way. I put all my emotions in there, although I don’t always include specifics about my life because I prefer people to hear their own thing, if that makes sense. But I can’t help but write what I feel and what I know, and my brother writes some of the lyrics so it all gets mixed up with that perspective as well.

 

RD: You and your brother Rollo work together a lot. How would you describe the bond you share?

It’s really tight. We’ve always been really close and he was a good older brother when I was growing up. We’re six years apart so we’ve never had to compete or tread on each other’s toes and we’ve always enjoyed each other’s company.

 

RD: You’re going back on tour in May. What can fans expect to hear?

It’ll be a mixture of stuff. All the albums will be represented as well as the new music. I’m just going to have fun.

 

RD: Do you have any rituals when you’re on the road?

When I get to a new place I like to go for a really long walk because I like knowing where I am. Sometimes on a tour in the past if I didn’t do that it could get really confusing. It’s important to me to either get out on a bicycle or go for a really long walk and just feel the city I’m in. And I always like to take a good pillow and earplugs with me when I’m touring. So long as I can sleep then I’m all good.

 

RD: And what do you do just before a show?

I usually end up just getting nervous and running to the bathroom. I’m normally pretty quiet before a show, just getting into the headspace of it. When I’m singing I’m sort of in the headspace of each song so it’s a bit of a journey. 

 

RD: So you still get nervous after all these years?

I do, yes, but once I start singing I’m good. I’m back where I feel comfortable but sometimes the build-up can be nerve-wracking, especially if someone is telling me how big the audience is. I’m like, “Oh God, shut up! I don’t need to know that.”

 


RD: It took three years for the No Angel album to take off. Did that prepare you for success?

Absolutely. It had been a long time coming and I was on, like, my eighth tour of America when it really kicked off. That was great because if it had happened as immediately as people perceived it to have done I don’t think I’d have been prepared for it. 

But I’d been touring for a few years and it was a like a gradual and natural progression. It didn’t hit me in a weird way but I’d not have been ready had it happened right away. It was great that I had those years in America, going round in a van, doing a show every day, playing not even in the radio station but in the lobby. Those were really happy times. I felt like I was living in the dream.

 

RD: Social media didn’t exist when you started out. How do you feel about it?

I quite like it. I sort of dip in and out of it but what I do like is being able to communicate with fans on the other side of the world in a way you never could have done before. When I used to meet people and hear their stories it was always after a show. Now it’s much more instant. Since the record came out I’ve had all these incredible comments about what it means to them or the songs they like or what they think should be the next single. That’s really cool and I like having that input.

 

RD: The public perception of you is that you are very serious. Is that the real you?

[Laughs] It so isn’t. It’s funny to me and all my friends that people think that, but I don’t mind if they do.


Dido’s new album Still On My Mind is out now and she tours the UK from May 26. For more information visit didomusic.com.