Multitalented pop superstar Sophie Ellis-Bextor has today returned with her seventh studio album HANA, described by The Line Of Best Fit as "a quirky and observant addition to the Ellis-Bextor discography, mixing dark and light themes to create one of her most intriguing works to date."
Sophie has kindly made time between spinning plates to answer Townsend Music's questions and we are very proud to offer a test pressing of HANA for one lucky winner, signed by Sophie and including one of her famous doodles!
Sophie Ellis-Bextor's studio follow-up to 2016’s Familia was preceded by lead track 'Breaking The Circle' and is, according to Sophie, “inspired by a 2020 trip to Japan, before the world tilted”. ‘The album, out now on Cooking Vinyl Records was made with long-time collaborator and friend Ed Harcourt. It is their third in a trilogy of records, with each stemming around the thematic frame of a location.
The folks at Retropop gave the record one of many glowing reviews, declaring: "25 years after she released her first album with theaudience, Sophie lets go of the past and steps into a bright future – exactly what we’d expect from one of British pop’s very best!"
"HANA means blossom; there are themes of optimism, new starts, adventures and reflections.” - Sophie Ellis-Bextor
TM: You have confided with NME that some of Hana is “psychedelic, proggy and synthy”, which excites us greatly; was there any particular art or artists whose work you drew on in the studio to inspire the psychedelic, proggy and synthy side of the recording?
Sophie Ellis-Bextor: Some of it was instinctive. My last album in the studio before Hana was an orchestral Greatest Hits, so I wanted something synthy and opposed to that. I found myself thinking about the Pink Floyd my dad used to play me - I can’t believe it finally found a way to influence me! - and a general feel to do something dreamy, particularly as it was written in and out of lockdowns. I wanted something optimistic and kind and open.
"It was nice to be generous with the songs and give them little journeys"
TM: Speaking of the studio, this is your third album with producer and songwriter Ed Harcourt. Ed's track record in production and songwriting speaks for itself, but what is it on a personal level that makes this partnership so prolific?
SEB: We think quite similarly and we have fun. We like to work quite fast and if it’s not right, we move on. Ed is a brilliant musician and draws stories in the lyrics. He makes me work hard... but it’s not hard work!
TM: Your Podcast Spinning Plates details the lives of busy, successful women and talks about the challenges and triumphs of juggling careers, family lives and vocations, which, as a podcaster, broadcaster, wife and mother of five, is a subject you can speak on with authority! Do you need a period of space and solitude when making an album or does it become another plate you manage to spin alongside your everyday family life?
SEB: Something in the middle, I have to schedule the writing or there’s always something else to do, but when I’m there I feel playful and I like the space that writing gives me. My kids are my world, but I need music to be selfish and do something just for me. I feel lucky I have that.
"I don’t know who I’d be If I didn’t have music and creating new songs."
TM: In a recent social media video you declared that "the bit I'm always excited about is seeing in on vinyl", professed your love for lyric sheets and explained how your oldest son, Sonny, had the idea of replicating a Japanese-style Obi-strip on the cover of HANA. All of these sentiments find great favour with the Townsend Music community! HANA is available on several colours of vinyl on your Official Store and another in indie shops. How important are physical formats and how do you listen to music yourself in 2023?
SEB: I get really into the whole process of the artwork and the vinyl and all the colours. It’s fun! I listen to vinyl at home and I also stream music, of course. Whatever I have time for! But our record collection is pretty big and it’s all in the kitchen so easy to grab.
TM: Finally, we just have to ask: Mail Online has recently speculated that "at the moment there is only one artist on the BBC's list for Eurovision 2024, and they don't intend to add to it." The artist in question is - reportedly - you! We're all here for it and we can keep a secret so we have to ask: are you up for it?!
SEB: I would love to write a Eurovision song but I’m not going to represent the UK. I love Eurovision so much, I don’t want to find out how I’d do! I will always support whoever is up there for the UK though...
Hana is available now on Ice Blue Vinyl, Pastel Pink Vinyl, Signed CD and exclusive Pink/Sage Cassette with a limited edition signed photo included in all bundles.
There's also a special Deluxe Digital Download edition, which includes five exclusive tracks. Plus, for a limited time, order Hana from this store to be in with a chance of winning 2 x tickets for Sophie's upcoming UK tour and meet her at the show!
Enter our exclusive giveaway to be in with a chance of winning a Signed Test Pressing of HANA.
The winner will be chosen on Monday 12th June 2023.
N.B: If the competition entry module is inaccessible, enter the giveaway directly via the button below.