Best known for her work with the Noisettes, Bobbie Gordon is about to release her debut solo offering, Matters of the Heart, on the back of a sell-out tour with Adele. Here the Londoner talks about her song-writing, launching a solo career in the run up to Christmas and, erm… Craig David.
Where in London are you from?
South. I was brought up in Lewisham and lived there until I was 17. That’s definitely where my roots are but I’m living in North London now, so I guess I’m a bit of a traitor [laughs].
How did you get started in the music business?
My mum was a backing singer so it was always in my blood – everyone always says that but… I was always singing. I then started doing backing vocals for people like Adele, the Noisettes and Cee-Lo Green about a year and a half ago. Actually, I started with the Noisettes more like three years ago. But all this time I had been writing my own stuff – I just didn’t have the time to record it. So I made a conscious decision to do it now.
What was it like working with Adele?
It was amazing. I did backing vocals on her UK tour and the majority of the U.S. tour and it was just the best experience. And it’s nice to be able to say she’s a good mate now.
Was it hard deciding which 5 songs would make the final track-list of your very first solo release?
Yes and no. I mean, a lot of these songs I wrote about three years ago and I never got a chance to go into the studio and record them at the time, because I was busy touring. But now that I got that opportunity and, although I have written loads more songs since then, my decision was to get those that were first written out there on the first EP.
Are you worried about launching your solo career in the notoriously difficult Quarter 4, where the music world seems to be geared towards the Christmas market?
Not really. It’s just one of those things, isn’t it? I guess there’s always going to be competition and distractions all year round, not just Christmas. It’s the best time for me to do it now, with the release of this EP, and then being able to start afresh with more new stuff in the new year.
Do you write all your songs yourself or with your band?
I write everything myself on bass guitar. Then I take it to the band and we develop it from there. But I live with the majority of them so it’s really handy just to be in the kitchen – there’s no glamour whatsoever [laughs] – and being able to throw ideas around with them. It’s nice being so close and having a band who are also my best mates. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In some of your press shots you are channeling 1990s-era Janet Jackson. Are you a fan?
[laughs] YES! I’m a massive fan! I am so gutted that I missed her when she performed live in London earlier this year. I love the Velvet Rope album and also Design of a Decade which was a bit of a cheat album, a greatest hits set, but it was just the best. It was my childhood.
How are you finding the use of social media as a way of spreading the word about your music?
Oh I’m addicted to all that stuff. It’s really bad. My boyfriend hates it. But it’s great – especially with something like Twitter. You get people coming to see shows and finding you on Twitter and becoming fans. Especially being involved in Adele’s shows, people have been following me on Twitter on the back of that and it’s great that they are showing interest in how my music is doing. You hear horror stories but I have found everyone to be lovely to me. I’ve got an iPhone so I’m constantly on Twitter all the time [laughs].
What’s your favourite bit of London?
I’m going to say… [pauses] Lewisham Black Market. I used to go every Saturday. They sell amazing Caribbean food. It’s like stepping into Kingston in Jamaica and it just reminds me of my childhood a lot. I remember my mum taking me all the time and we have not done that ritual for a few years. But talking about it now, that’s going to be my mission. I’m going to go back!
If you could do a live gig anywhere in London, where would it be?
Definitely Somerset House. I would love to perform there in the summer weather. I love it there. I went to see Craig David there a few years ago [chuckles] and it was such an awesome gig.
You mentioned new music in the new year. What can we expect?
I’m going to do the festival run in the summer, like Glastonbury and V Festival, but before that there will be a couple of singles. And lots of gigs around London and hopefully in some university cities around the country.