Contactmusic spoke to Shelly Poole half of the former band Alisha's Attic as she launches her solo career.
So how is your day going?
Good thanks! I'm just doing the washing thing though. I came home from Spain yesterday, I got delayed in the airport for seven hours so I got back really late so now I'm running behind because I'm going away to France again tomorrow. So yeah, it's not the most glamorous way for me to spend my day!
What's going on in France?
Yeah! I'm going over to do a bit of a tweak on a mix for a friend of mine and then I am going to spend another night over there because I didn't really see the point of coming straight home and getting really tired.
How old were you when you got started in music?
I was about 9. I learnt to read and write music. We started the band when we were about 14. We built the studio when I was 16 and the first record came out when I was 22. It took us a long time to get a record deal!! I don't think we were writing the best type of music for the time really. I remember going and watching top of the pops and thinking our songs were better than that but now looking back …. They weren't at all. But after we found our sound we got a deal very quickly, I just look back at my teenage years as a bit of an apprenticeship.
It sounds like music was always something that came as second nature to you?
Yeah, it always was. When I was at school, I did well at school but music was what I excelled at. I play the guitar, piano… ha very bad piano and I also learnt the flute and clarinet at school which I was equally as bad at!! I get by; I can play most instruments really. I like to play percussion too. If you want to do everything yourself like I do then you learn to get by. I play guitar live but I leave all the solo bits to my band.
Was music always a big part in your household whilst you were growing up?
Yeah! It was a huge part of our lives. My dad was in a band in the 60's and my mum was a ballet dancer when she was young so we had a real mixture of music. My dad always used to play really loud music, he always used to tell Karen and I to turn our music up because we weren't listening to it loud enough! It was quite unorthodox upbringing.
What made you embark on a solo career and put Alisha's attic to rest?
Well, our last album. It was hard to make. I think it was actually our best work but it was like pulling teeth!! After we had finished making it and promoting it neither of us knew exactly what we wanted to do next. We didn't really know which way to develop our sound so we kind of decided it was coming to an end. Karen didn't want to be on tour anymore. It's so hard being on the road all the time; both our lives were on hold. You can't make proper friends because you're always away from them and you have a total different lifestyle. Now Karen is signed to 19 and she writes for all the pop artists, she's done some for Kylie & Will Young so she is doing really well!! After the last album I missed being on the road so much. I went to San Francisco to stay with a friend and I worked in a jazz bar for three months. It was really cool but I just felt I needed to get back into writing music. So I started writing for other people, I signed a publishing deal and it was good because I felt I had an actual day job where I could go home at night or go out with friends. I still wasn't getting what I wanted out of music though, it just didn't feel right. So I went away and thought about what I really wanted and my own record seemed to be the answer all my questions.
Why didn't you enjoy writing for other people?
Occasionally I did. For example, Jack, who I did 2 duets with on the album, his manager called me up and asked me to work with jack for a while to develop him I was so happy because he was so good. I would have actually gone to buy his music whereas most of the other people you get to work with I wouldn't have wanted to buy their stuff. I think music has to be your soul food and a lot of the stuff I was doing wasn't my soul food. I think I have found a nice compromise now. I'm really enjoying music again. I done what I need to do with my solo album but I think it shows in the songs I write for other people too.
Do you have a favorite place to write?
Night time in the bedroom, well my back bedroom. It's set away from the rest of the house and it sounds like a vintage dusty Springfield echo chamber. I have fairy lights set up in it and there's a really nice big old fireplace. I really like the solitude when I write. I usually write at might too, when I don't feel like you're missing out on speaking to people and when you feel you can really have some time to yourself.
Did you write when you were over in America?
I did! I wrote loads of material when I was over there. I wrote a really nice song when I was on the beach. I believe it's now going to be called Jemaple Rachael now. Oh actually I wrote that in Paris!
Tell me about 'Hard Time for the dreamer'
Well, it's all my little stories. It's really personal but it is one of those where if you knew me well; actually I think if you listened through the album you would know me pretty well by the end. As much as I tried to be general I couldn't really.
So who is Jack that features on the album?
Jack is managed by Natalie Imbruglia old manager. She called me up asking if I would work with him because she thought he was great and we working on 'him' for about 2 weeks in the studio and we were singing together and we found out that we both enjoyed the same kind of music. When our time was almost up I asked him if he would sing on my album and he said he would if we could co write the tracks. We ended up writing 2 songs, one of which is called 'Hope', it's such a pretty story, and I love it! We had an argument about if I was going to be the 'bad guy' or if he was. Ha, in the end I was the good guy!!!
Which of your songs sums up your present mood and why?
Well, it's still quite an early time for me! It's been quite frantic. It's not how I feel but it's what I want to play just to unwind. It's called 'any day now'. It's a really nice song.
You have already had a successful career with Alisha's attic, wrote songs for many people and now you're embarking on your solo career. What has been the highlight so far?
This is the time i'm going to enjoy the most. I don't think I will particularly see any fruits from it but I get to go and perform what I like and sing what I like to sing. My highlight so far was a gig I did a few months ago at the borderline. That was brilliant. It was baking hot but I really enjoyed the gig because it was such a nice vibe.
Which was the first band that really moved your soul?
Well it wasn't a band but Neil Diamond really made me kind of go funny!! When I heard him sing 'girl you're going to be a woman soon' it made me go all weird!! Prince was the first real personn though. He totally rocked my world!! I loved suzanne vega too, I used to get really excited to hear her new stuff.
You're obviously a very good musician, what aren't you so good at?
I'm really rubbish at typing and dancing!! I like to give it a go but it doesn't seem to work for me!! I'm no good at being tactful; I always just say what I'm thinking.
You're adoration for music is obviously huge! What else are you really passionate about?
I was talking to my boyfriend about this the other day to be honest! He thinks music is the only thing I'm my life, I think he is probably right actually. I do love photography, taking pictures and I really love all the old movies. Travel is a big passion but I guess on the whole it's creative art. I like looking at something and thinking about the thought behind it. Those kinds of thoughts always fascinate me!