Nadine Coyle Is Back to Work Again, But She Just Wants to Have Fun (Interview)
At long last, Nadine Coyle is ready to bare her soul.
Err, just kidding: she doesn’t want to talk. She just wants to dance.
She’s been doing this gig for well over a decade ever since her winning run on Popstars: The Rivals in 2002 — longer if you count that ill-fated, passport-misplacing Irish Popstars stint.
Nadine’s also had a taste of solo pop stardom in the past, having released her debut record Insatiable during an extended Aloud hiatus in 2010. The record, coupled with a Tesco exclusive distribution deal, didn’t go over quite as hoped.
Things are different these days. And at the same time, very much the same.
After inking a deal with Virgin EMI around Christmas of last year (thus bringing her back into the Universal fold again as with her Aloud days), Nadine is ready for a second — third, if we’re counting one-off 2011 club cut “Sweetest High” billed as Nadine 2.0 —shot at a post-girl group pop career.
As opposed to working with a slew of new writers and producers, Nadine’s opted to reunite with the man responsible for shaping her sound since her teenage days: Xenomania‘s Brian Higgins, the pop architect behind everything from Cher‘s “Believe” to the entire Aloud discography over a decade.
“Go To Work” is the first taste of Nadine reloaded; an immediate burst of Aloud-style nostalgia with madcap Xenomania melodies and a disco flair. It’s fun, it’s free, it’s fierce, and it “just makes you feel good,” as Nadine explained to me.
“I don’t want to change the world. There’s no major statements. It’s not a ‘This Is Me’ moment laying everything out about who I am and what I want to say. What I want to say is that I want people to have fun. I want people to hear the song, let loose and I hope that, really – for the 3 minutes and 30 seconds – it makes your day or night a lot better.”
Nadine and I have a whole lotta history-ah, from the time she headlined a U.S. showcase I co-hosted called GUMBOPOP to a lengthy chat on a balcony before her legendary Splash performance – don’t worry, I’ve got the signed Aloud singles box set (and our photo shoot) to prove it – to hanging backstage alongside the other Alouds (minus an ill Cheryl) at the O2 in London during the run of the Ten Tour in 2013.
She is, truly, a delight in heels.
Last week, I had the opportunity to catch up with my dear Derry diva on the phone to chat about her new single, plans for new music (with a second, third and fourth single already in place), a potential tour, Girls Aloud memories and The State of Things in 2017.
It went something like this…
Nadine Coyle: Well, hello!
How are you doing, stranger?
It is so good to hear your voice again. It has been far too long.
Far too long. I just have to watch and see you’re doing on the Internet. “Oh, what’s Bradley up to?”
I think we must have last spoken about 2013, at the very end of the Ten Tour. I flew over just for that tour. That was the first time I ever went to London. It was for you!
Aw, well we really, really – well, I really, really appreciated – that you were there. Did you like the tour?
Oh my God, I loved the tour. I thought it was so glam and fabulous. It was such a great way to tie things together.
Good, happy days. I still have those wings. I have them up in my house.
Do you just practice strutting all the time?
Well, they’re kind of stuck up on the wall. It was a joke a few years ago that when the single comes out, I’ll have to put the wings on again. You know, just for a laugh. And now the single’s coming out next week, so it’s like ‘Oh my God!’
Well, you have to do it!
I know! What’s going on in New York? What am I missing?
It’s a beautiful day today, actually. It’s gorgeous. Are you coming back any time soon?
I will, I’ll probably be back before the end of the year.
Very exciting. There’s a lot to catch up on.
Yeah! Talk to me.
So, this whole label deal thing. Such unexpected news – in the best way. All of a sudden, there was an announcement and there was a single on the way. Have you always been working with Brian [Higgins]? Or somebody reached out to somebody and was like ‘Hey, let’s do this again’?
Brian and I, we’ve always been close. And then a couple years ago, maybe two years ago, I was working on music in London at the time and I was like ‘None of these songs are amazing.’ I wanted, like, really good songs. Who does really good songs? Brian Higgins! But because I didn’t have a U.S. number anymore – it was a U.K. number – I texted Brian and he texted back straight away, and he said ‘I’ve been trying to get a hold of you!’ We met up like the next night and we started working a couple weeks later on stuff. That was it. So many different parts. So many different types of songs. We just kept working, and we said ‘Okay, we like this, but let’s try to get something better. Try to get something better.’ We’re always trying to better the last thing that we’ve done. So then, Brian and I were working together, and then he came into Universal about something – this was at Christmas time – and he’d played the song randomly for Ted Cockle [Virgin EMI President], and he loved it. He said let’s sign her, let’s tell her she should come here, let’s tell her we’re the best. It would be great to have her back in the Universal family. And I was like ‘Yes, yes! I wanna do it!’ This was like two weeks before Christmas.
So this has been in the works for a long time, really.
Yeah! Before Christmas. I had to just keep it all quiet so I could work away and work quietly.
So sneaky. Tell me how working with Brian has been in a post-Aloud world. Is the chemistry the same? Not to make a reference, but…
[Laughs at terrible Aloud pun]
What’s it like in 2017?
It’s exactly the same. It is. We work in the same way that we have always worked since I was 17, where there’s just so many different parts of songs and so many different ideas. You go everywhere from rapping to really, really singing at the top of your voice, to melodies that are all over the place. It’s such a challenge to do as a singer. I just lock myself in the studio and I’m like ‘Okay, I’m not leaving until we have all of these done. Until I’ve sang everything that’s in this entire building.’ We’ll just keep working and working. Brian’s the same way. ‘Let’s do more, let’s do more.’ So we always worked like that, and we still work like that. I just find it so challenging – it’s just a great feeling. As soon as I got back and started working with Brian, that all came back to me. That’s right, I love it! Brilliant! And Brian was like ‘That’s right, we can do all sorts of stuff together!’ We were back together again. It was if we hadn’t never left each other.
I’m glad to hear that, because you’re an amazing duo. You’ve settled on “Go To Work” as the first taste of the music. That must mean something because it’s difficult to choose a first single. Tell me about that decision.
It is one of those songs that’s just really fun. It’s kind of like a laid-back vocal on a really big track. It just makes you feel good. And really, that’s all I want to do – I don’t want to change the world. There’s no major statements. It’s not a ‘This Is Me’ moment laying everything out about who I am and what I want to say. What I want to say is that I want people to have fun. I want people to hear the song, let loose and I hope that, really – for the 3 minutes and 30 seconds – it makes your day or night a lot better. That’s really what I wanted, and I think that song really achieves that. I hope everybody else loves it as well! Have you heard it?
No, I haven’t! Of course I will by the time that this goes live.
Oh my god. I hope you love it.
Is it safe to say that there’s an album on the way as well?
At the moment, we’re working with a four-song package. We have a second single that’s ready to go. A third single’s ready to go. Fourth single’s ready to go.
Oh, very exciting!
It’s just a matter of when we can do it. Hopefully once “Go To Work” goes out, we’re going to start on the next one straight away. We’ve already got the song, so it’s just getting the creative and doing all that. Hopefully that happens as well, and we just continue to keep putting out great songs. If it’s an album, then that will be a decision to make. Everything’s so different now, isn’t it? It’s like this whole crazy and weird and wonderful world of songs and streaming.
It’s a bit of the Wild, Wild West now, where you don’t just do first single, second single, album. Now you can get away with EPs or singles along the way and never actually have an album in place. Everyone’s kind of winging it at this point. It’s very different.
Brian could probably, if he had to, pull an album together within a few weeks if that was the decision. I just don’t know if that’ll be the decision. We’ll have to sit down and talk about it and see what everybody says. But an album’s great for if you’re doing a tour, so you can have the whole story put together.
You do have a whole solo album, Insatiable. I spoke to you around when that was coming out. Taking that experience into mind, what’s different about these sessions, and what did you take away from that?
That experience was great because – what was I, 24? – so, I had just started doing songwriting as an outlet. And then it just kind of came about. It was just one of things where one minute I was writing and meeting these people in sessions, and the next minute, it seemed like a good idea to do this deal, and the next minute I’m shooting the video – it’s like a runaway train. And you’re like ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, what’s going on? What’s happening? What’s happened?’ And it was really, really stressful. Whereas with this, things have been really relaxed. Brian and I have been working together for a few years. We have loads of material. There’s an amazing team of people in place. That’s how I like to work best: when I’m part of a team. Everybody kind of has their roles. Everybody does it together. I still very much like that. With Brian, it’s not just me, it’s not just him. You bring in Universal, you bring in all of these amazing people that are working on it, and it’s like ‘Okay, we’re all doing it together. Fingers crossed.
Is it safe to say that this is solely a Brian project or are you working with anybody else along the way?
It’s just a Xenomania project. Just Xenomania and me.
Mollie King from The Saturdays just dropped her song, which is Xenomania as well. It’s sort of like a resurgence of the Xeno team. Have you talked to her at all? Do you talk to The Sats and the Aloud girls at all?
I haven’t, but I’m sure that I will. I heard the song, a sneaky-peek of it a few weeks ago. Really, really, really great. Really brilliant. I’m really happy for Brian that he’s coming back and putting stuff out. It’s really an exciting time. Both of us have been in girl bands, and now we’re doing solo stuff. It’s a very good time for pop.
Everybody’s kind of doing their solo thing. Do you have a favorite release from the Aloud girls, not counting your own obviously?
Oh! That’s a good question. I bought Cheryl’s first one because I was supporting the cause. I liked – she had a song, and Selena Gomez sang it as well – “Parachute”? That was my favorite one off of the solo.
That’s a great one.
And then you’ve got Sarah, who just won Celebrity Big Brother – not without some controversy. Did you catch any of that?
I did! I caught most of it.
She did “Sound of the Underground” with a broom.
Oh my God, wasn’t that hilarious? She couldn’t remember the routine! Sarah!
Were you so mad at her?
No, of course not! Of course not. It was late at night. I’m so happy she won. I’m so, so, so happy she won.
She even did “The Promise” with Amelia Lily, which was a throwback.
Yep, yep. Saw that. Really, really good.
You brought this up before: you suggested an album could be the vehicle for a tour. Are you thinking at all of live shows or performances yet?
Yes, well, there has been chat. We had a meeting the other day and I was talking about me doing a tour relatively soon. That’s new to my ears! I’m like ‘What?!” There’s a whole back catalog with Girls Aloud that Brian and I have. So it’s like, what do you do? Do you include that? How would that read to you?
I mean, I think you have to do a giant megamix.
Definitely. All the best moments.
On the tour?
Mmm. That’s a discussion for the afternoon. I would love to do it. It’s just, you know…I hope it all goes really well and everyone loves the song. I hope we just continue on to do this.
When you mentioned possibly doing some back catalog songs, looking back, is there anything that you personally felt you wish you could have released as a single?
I love “Rolling Back the Rivers.” Love that one. “Graffiti My Soul.”
That should have been a single, for sure.
Shouldn’t it? That I really, really like. I’m sure there’s more. “Blackjacks” is another one that I really like.
That whole album [Tangled Up] could have been a single.
I know, it was really good. Really, really good. Loads of them.
Are any of the sessions you’ve done for this record from moments you started in Girls Aloud? Or are they brand new?
They’re all brand new. Actually, there’s one song: it’s the same vocal that I sang around the time we were doing a new album for Girls Aloud. Those vocals, Brian doesn’t want to lose. I was in good singing form that day! So yes, that might make an appearance, but that’s the only one that may make an appearance on anything new. But the music will all change, but the 2013 vocal will remain.
Is the idea of a feature appealing to you at all?
I don’t mind! I’m really up for it. We didn’t do much collaborating when we were in Girls Aloud. We did with the Sugababes for one song. But we didn’t really do anything – features or collaborations at all. I would be really interested in doing that. Whatever comes along, I’m very up for it.
Obviously, you’re going to be inundated with questions about a reunion.
It’s interesting that we’ve seen some regroups like Steps, who totally smashed their comeback, and –
I know! It’s amazing.
Even a return coming from the original Bananarama line-up twenty nine years later. Is that something in the back of your mind? Do you think ultimately you want the girls to reunite? Or do you think that was a moment, and that’s that?
I think it was a great decade. It was a great decade in time. I would always be up for that if there was talk of it in the future, I would be all for it. I’m still working with Brian, we’re still with Universal, so…it’s very exciting to think about.
There’s a scarcity of girl groups in the West, barring Fifth Harmony and Little Mix. What do you think about the state of girl group pop? Do you have any advice for the girls in the game right now?
I think Little Mix are doing amazing. They certainly don’t need any advice from me. They’re doing amazingly, and I’m a huge fan. I went to see them at the O2. I think they’re amazing. Fifth Harmony, I have to say I’m not too familiar with, to be honest. As you say, it’s really, really scarce. [Pauses] There’s not many, when you put it like that! I think somebody needs to put together a new girl band. And then I’ll advise that band!
You do need to come back to America very soon and do a performance or something.
That would be great. I love New York. I had such a good time. Ever since I lived there in 2011, I just love coming back. Are they still doing Le Bain?
Oh yes, still doing Le Bain. Many parties.
The next time I’m in New York, I’m going to message you and be like “I’m here!”
Yes, please. I’ll bring you right up.
Let’s do it! Bradley, thanks a million and thanks for all your support. You’re so, so brilliant.
Thank you so much! It was so great talking to you.
Speak to you soon – lots of love!
— Nadine Coyle (@NadineCoyleNow) September 7, 2017