Eliza Doolittle, Interview
Interview with Eliza Doolittle.
The Living Room at The Secret Garden Party had great foresight to book Eliza, pre-chart topping stardom. The Marquee of modest proportions was packed to the rafters with eager on lookers. Squeezed into a tent furnished with sofas, arm chairs and sideboards it was hot, very hot. The refreshments of tea and crumpets were possibly not what the crowd were expecting, or needed. Schedules were running late and the atmosphere was building for an eagerly anticipated show. I caught up with Eliza just before she was due on stage.
CM; So Eliza, your number 3 in the album chart and number 8 in the singles chart, how fabulous is it to be Eliza Doolittle at the moment?
Eliza; Well fabulous might not be the word because we're just trekking around everywhere at the moment but I'm incredibly excited about it all so I'm feeling great.
CM; I've read on your own website that you knew this is what you wanted to do since the age of 12, how certain were you at 12 that this is what you wanted to do?
Eliza; I was absolutely positive, I really just wanted to do it, I didn't really have anything else that I could do really. I'm not very good at anything else so I just focused straight away started writing, got straight into it really.
CM; You must have been quite driven and quite determined.
Eliza; Yeah, I started writing pretty much straight away and then I think I was already starting to put it down in the studio with my best friends brother, he had a studio and I really looked up to him at times. He was a few years older than me and he helped me with all the songs I was writing. So I initially just stepped right into it and went straight for it.
CM: You obviously come from quite a creative background, have your parents been supportive about the route you've taken with your career?
Eliza; Absolutely, I think the minute they saw that I had the passion for it they completely supported it and I mean obviously they would have preferred it to be a more stable profession for my career because you never know with this industry, but I think it's more about letting me do what I want, I mean life's too short, if it's not hurting anybody else why not, you know.
CM: The speed of your rise has been quite phenomenal after the release of your debut single and now 'Pack Up' is number 8, and your albums number 3, have you been surprised by the speed of your rise?
Eliza; I've been completely shocked by it, and for me it's not even the last couple of months it's the last couple of weeks because I played a gig in Liverpool a month ago and it wasn't full, it was just like alright and even now I think maybe I won't fill anywhere. I'm still very wary of it all and have to still work really hard. To be honest with you I haven't come to terms with it at all, it's absolutely shocking. Craziness.
CM; That's nice to hear. You've been on GMTV and Jo Whiley recently, that's like ticking 2 boxes that show just how popular and well known you are.
Eliza; Do you know what I think it is, I know I did those things, but you still don't know if people like it until they buy it, and that's why it's a shock. You can get someone who's got the highest profile ever and still they won't sell any records and the most important thing to me is the music, and it doesn't matter whether I'm seen here, there or everywhere I want my music to always do well and be successful. I don't want be doing all these things and being heard of but not doing what I'm supposed to be doing which is music, so I feel like I've still got to strive to get it to more ears I think. Get heard by more people.
CM;The song writing process, not wanting to belittle it, I've heard starts in the shower, and then you progress it from there.
Eliza; Literally the other day I wrote the beginning of a song in the shower. I mean that's not all the time but I do, if I get an idea I just put it on my phone, except when I was in the shower I didn't have my phone, I just ran out quickly and recorded it in my towel. It's really important to get these ideas down because you might forget them. Hopefully if it's really catchy you won't forget it but it's good to get everything down as you go along. Whatever inspires me I try to get it down and record it.
CM; The last year, you've been travelling extensively, have you managed to take anything in from where you been, you've been to Jamaica for instance.
Eliza; I went to Jamaica and I was only there for three days, I just kept my eyes wide open. I didn't have a band most of the time so it's not as amazing as it could have been but I did try and take in as much as possible. It's such a shame to go somewhere and not to see, or feel, more of the culture. I just tried to talk to everyone there and get a vibe for it, and I try to do that everywhere. I was in Edinburgh the other day and I was with the band and I said please can we go to the top of the castle because I really wanna see it, from up there. I try and squeeze in things as long as we have time, and I try and do as much as possible.
CM; Some of the influences you have on your web site are Lionel Ritchie, Hall & Oates and Mariah Carey, do you think that comes through much on your songs?
Eliza; Those are literally things I just put on my blog. Lionel Ritchie was pictured with Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon, but I am not a huge Lionel Ritchie fan, I'm not gonna pretend like I'm a huge fan, I mean I like Three Times A Lady. I love Stevie Wonder, he's probably the biggest idol I have, but I love a lot of different music. I love Steely Dan and the Beach Boys and The Kinks and I like Dayrl Hall & John Oates, I love that Rich Girl song. When I heard that song I downloaded it, but I don't know whether I've had chance to listen to it yet, once maybe. I like to take in as much as possible. I think my favourite music, as much as I love a lot of music, is probably more of the old Soul stuff, it just pulls at my heart strings more than anything.
CM; No more Craig David on your I-Pod?
Eliza; Do you know what's really bad, I would totally listen to the first album, the one with Fill Me In on it but I don't know where it is and it's not on my I-Pod. I love that album and I'd listen to it now if I could.
CM; You are about to appear in the Living Room tent which is billed as more of a Folky stage when maybe now you could appear on the main stage and fill that.
Eliza; Well it's funny you've said that, I don't think I could fill the main stage but....
CM; I think you probably could.
Eliza; That's very sweet of you, but I'm actually going to go on as a guest tonight for Gorillaz Sound System. (Smile from me as it leads nicely into another question) ... (Eliza tries to take a sneaky peek at my questions) Have you got that down there?
CM; No, no, but you have been working with Roll Deep and Gorillaz Sound System recently, how did that all come about?
Eliza; Well with Roll Deep they're on my label and I've worked with them before. I did a song with them years ago. We were in the studio, it was all a bit disorganised but nothing ever came of it. Yeah I just went in the studio the other day, who knows what's going to come out of it? It was just for a bit of a laugh really.
CM; What's next for you, after the next set of gigs and festivals? Do you get any down time?
Eliza; I'm gonna being going to Europe and trying to get my music out there and after that I'm supporting Paloma Faith in November, so really looking forward to that, and just keep on gigging around.
CM; Finally then, as you were set on this path from the age of 12, what would you say to the Eliza of then, would you tell her to do anything differently, any advice you would give her?
Eliza; I don't think so musically because I feel like I had to do what I did to get here now. I think you have to have your own journey no matter what. I'd probably say on a more personal level just don't take anything too seriously. You know like when you were younger? I used to feel intimidated by certain people, I'd think like I have to be cool or whatever but I've totally lost that now and I don't even see people as certain types of people I just see them as people and I wish I knew that back then. To realise that we've all got our own insecurities and that's why people are a bit mean sometimes. It's just insecurities and you can totally see through that and that everyone has good in them basically. That would be the advice I'd give myself, it's quite long, but that would be it.
CM; Thank you so much Eliza, have a great gig.
Eliza; Thank you.