With over 25 years in the business, Julia Fordham is one of music’s most established female artists. To celebrate a quarter of a century in the industry, she has released her new album, Under The Rainbow, which sees her revisiting her classic songs. George R Vaughan caught up with her to find out more…
When I first heard the single Happy Ever After I was immediately bewitched by the voice of Julia Fordham and have been ever since.
Enjoying a professional career that has seen her work with the likes of Mari Wilson and Kim Wilde in the early days, to the more recent if an initially unlikely partnership with comedian Paul Reiser, she remains an artist who refuses to compromise her work.
Critically acclaimed and after a quarter of the century in the music business, still sounding (and looking) as gorgeous as ever, she is back with a retrospective release of some of the best-known tracks on her new album Under The Rainbow.
With a tour planned for the end of 2013, I caught up with the iconic singer as she returns to the UK to promote her new album.
So how did it feel being back in the UK again?
“It’s always lovely to come home. I know the US is where I live and California is a beautiful place to bring up my daughter but this is the country I grew up in and where I started my career so there’s a special connection with the UK for me.
“I wanted to come back here to begin touring again and with the new album [Under The Rainbow] now out, it gives me the opportunity to reconnect with my fans and perhaps meet a few new ones along the way.
“It always amazes me how many young people – and by young I mean people that were not around when my career first took off – who are now fans. I recently did a gig at the Bush Hall in London and was expecting the audience to be made up of people mostly my age but was surprised at how many I could have passed off as sons and daughters!”
So what was it that drew her back to the studio and touring?
“The concept behind Under The Rainbow was to take my music and re-record it within a simpler environment, to get a cleaner, less cluttered sound. I was revisiting old songs and the experience was a little like stripping back a lovely piece of furniture and exposing its natural beauty again.
“The live shows are going to be a similar thing, with pretty much just me and a couple of musicians.
“It is all really about reconnecting visually and emotionally with both my own compositions and also my fans. Being in the studio recording and then coming out on stage are two very different experiences. In the studio I am “pulling in” and when I am live it’s all about “pushing out” if that makes sense. I enjoy the engagement in both senses.”
So how does her life differ in the US to the UK?
“Well, I could say the obvious things like the weather to start with. The climate is a big plus. The way of life also seems very relaxed – at least in comparison to London. Apart from that, it is very much the same. I still miss England and when I return here I see the good things that make it so unique. My being in the US happened by accident, to be honest. I was working in and around California and just ended up staying. “
And has motherhood changed her as a person and as an artist?
“Well for a while I was just a mother – no mean feat I’d have to say – and I put the whole career thing on hold. I’m not very good at multi-tasking you see. I fell in love and had a baby at the age of 43 and after that, I just enjoyed the experience and forgot about being an artist. Besides, being a mum is a much more rounded and rewarding experience and my little girl has to be the best thing I’ve ever collaborated on in my life!”
She did release an EP entitled Baby Love, which was made up of songs all about her baby but for the majority of those years, she was a stay-at-home mum and loved every minute of it.
“Well, she is 8 years old now and beginning to understand a little bit more about me. I would sing at certain school events and that kind of sparked her interest a little more. She looked me up on YouTube and I remember her one day asking me if I was “Like Taylor Swift” so we have talked about it a little after that.
“I’m fortunate that I have a wonderful husband and we spend a lot of time focusing on our daughter – both together and individually – which works really well for all three of us.”
And after 25 years, how does she think she has changed?
“Aside from moving abroad, getting married and having a baby,” she laughs. “I suppose age has made me a more philosophical person. I’ve come to accept certain inevitabilities in life – that everything changes and we are all going to eventually die – and I’d like to think that I have a more balanced approach to my music these days.
“My health is also important to me and I watch what I eat and make sure I take regular exercise. I sometimes think these are things many people miss when they are younger but as you move towards middle age, they become more relevant I suppose. Generally, I’m very happy about where I am as a person now.”
So does think the industry has changed much and does she make use of the new social mediums like Facebook and Twitter to communicate with the world?
“The industry is always changing. That’s one of the things that defines it. I don’t think I can ever remember it being quite as diverse as it is now and I think there are a lot of good young artists coming through.
“I do use Facebook – Twitter not so much (perhaps that’s because I need a lot more than 140 characters to express what I’m saying!) – but engaging with my fans is important to me. These are people who know me through my music and have an obvious connection with what I am saying so they will always be important to me. They have supported me as an artist and it is something I will be eternally grateful for.”
Under The Rainbow is out now on CD and digital download and if you would like to learn more about Julia Fordham’s forthcoming tour then visit her website at http://juliafordham.com