When I turn the corner into Sophie Ellis-Bextor's green street in West London, where trees and flowers seem to grow as abundantly as her family, I remember that the singer may not be talking about her children in an interview would like to. Yes, she recently gave birth to her fifth son, which is quite remarkable, but she also has a new album and tour to discuss, and not every working woman wants to be determined by her private life. But then Sophie opens the front door with her newborn Mickey, who is literally attached to her chest in the middle of a lining, and it's clear that – at least for the moment – personal and professional can't be separated.
Dress, Marchesa Notte. Cape, Suzannah. Jewelry, Vickisarge. Shoes, Malone Souliers
It is also clear that Sophie herself is completely unimpressed for the fifth time when she quickly greets me in her colorful family house and sits on one of the three bright velvet sofas in her living room to talk – before the baby vomits down her jeans overalls . "Oh, was he sick of me?" She asks and registers my slightly alarmed look, but doesn't even flinch. "Thank you, Mickey," she sways before asking if I want to hold him as she heads to find a kitchen roll and a cup of tea for me. Of course I do. He is barely four months old, the image of his father, and has the most incredible steel look that his mother admits: “The subway was a little embarrassing recently – he just didn't stop staring at people. & # 39;
I can't help but ask all sorts of curious questions about the five-person soccer team of red-haired kids that she and her husband Richard Jones – bassist in their band and also in The Feeling – accidentally created (the rest of them aged She goes to school today for three to 15 years, and Sophie insists that she understands the fascination: "Because it is an anomaly to have five children, I also have questions." And I know that sounds strange, but I find it sometimes easier to have four or five than three. It sounds like hard work on paper, but in fact they kind of match up because there are other people who can ask for help, more hands on deck Holidays are always a partner for our elders – so this summer it will be Richard and I and six children, so you should ask me again after the summer if I can tell you it did was a nightmare. "
Dress, Preen, by Fenwick. Headgear, Lock & Co. earrings, Vickisarge
Sophie speaks lively and bright and has a real personality who is good at war. Still, I wonder how, given their large age range, they even get all the kids out of the house to do any activities – isn't there much groaning and groaning?
"There is, but we're used to it." And there are a couple of kids who are always excited. Jesse, who is three, and Ray, who has just turned seven, are both ready for anything and it is not their age, it is their character. While Kit, who is ten years old, has always been rather reserved. And Sonny is a teenager, so it is really important that he has his own room, but I just tell him: "Look, we have to get you out of the house once a day and we still love to see you. You are always still part of the family so you have to keep going for a few more years. "But he's pretty reasonable and he's very cute with the little ones, pretty helpful."
You mean he helps with things like changing diapers? "Ooooh," she says, taking a sharp breath through her teeth and looking down at the baby who is now sitting so calmly on her knee. "I don't know if I would risk diapers. Somewhat unpredictable at this point."
Dress, ghost. Shoes, Jimmy Choo. In June Sophie will support Kylie Minogue at Blenheim Palace for the Nocturne Live series
They recently celebrated Sonny's 15th birthday in a restaurant after watching the latest Avengers movie (Sophie doesn't want teenage parties in her house if some children bring alcohol and other parents get upset) and a child in an Ant-Man- Mask came swinging into the room through a hanging chain curtain. "I watched him and thought:" Oh well, there is a child who does this in public. "I looked around for the other family and then I said," Oh no, that's actually my child. "It was Kit. Whenever we're on the road, I feel like I'm the person who says," Wow, did a child really climb that? Oh, that's one of me! Can you get down there please? ""
The family has lived in this house for a decade and it is visibly rich in their lives: walls full of framed poster art, sofas with Mexican pillows, homework opened on the piano for children's music and shelves with kitschy memorabilia Sophie buys on Ebay. "I really love it here," says Sophie, who swears that she will never leave London, even if her husband sometimes makes noises when he brings her back to his hometown of Sussex. “Especially at this time of year, because you look out of the window and can only see green. I don't know if it's because we're near the river (Thames), but everything is growing so well. "We look out of their windows into the garden, surrounded by a high tree roof." I'm always impressed by how smart nature is, "she says." When you come out of the long winter and everything starts to bud with new leaves. And I like to go to the Chelsea Flower Show. ”
Dress, Luisa Beccaria. Shoes, nofa. At her 40th birthday: "I'm all for it," she says. "I love a big birthday and I'm not afraid of getting older."
The house is also full of golden party decorations as she and Richard both turned 40 in early April. "And I got lots of flowers that felt so special. I wish I could have staggered because we were like a florist for a while – every vase in the house was in use. “The celebrations included 120 guests, a DJ, a bartender, a Mexican food truck and a Mariachi band. "We did it right – we have never had a party like this here." And we had this amazing kind of drag act – Diane Chorley – that did some songs. It was brilliant. Oh, it was so much fun. "
As for the act of 40 years of age: "I'm all for it," she says. "I love a big birthday and I'm not afraid of getting older." I think 40 beautiful – I can apologize a little less. I think that's what this decade is about for me, because I've spent a lot of time pleasing people and thinking about what others think. It's a shame you don't learn this feeling earlier, but it's nice when you get there. "
Under what circumstances was she philanthropic? She exhales loudly as if she has been watching her all her life. "All along the line – that's probably why I'm doing what I'm doing." There must be something that makes you go on stage and perform for people. It's not that normal, is it? It's a pretty strange choice. “Although she hastily adds that it will always be important to her that the people who come to her shows have a really good time. Her tour is just around the corner and although it only lasts two weeks it's a big deal because she will be performing her new album The Song Diaries with the greatest hits, on which all her great pieces have been rearranged to be sung with an orchestra to become.
"It's a pretty intense performance for me, this one," she admits, looking serious. “The first half of the concert is a pure orchestra with me alone, and then the band comes out to join me and we go to the disco – Studio 54, strings, layers and layers of Philadelphia – which is really fun because They have 30 musicians playing live. But the first half is so delicate between me and the orchestra that I feel like I really have to concentrate. So I don't know if you're coming, sorry buddy, "she looks down at Mickey, who grimaces and bursts into tears." Oh, he seems really sad about that! "She says with an evil laugh and pulls him for another feed.
In June she will support Kylie Minogue at Blenheim Palace for the Nocturne Live series (which also included Elton John, Noel Gallagher and Jamie Cullum). She says she met Kylie a few times, but was never her opening act. & # 39; So this is going to be exciting. I can not wait any longer. "
Sophie with mother Janet Ellis, who picks up her MBE (left); With husband Richard (right)
Not that she's an endless perfectionist for recordings. "I didn't want to release an album with the biggest hits with the same recordings – these songs are already out there." So these are new arrangements and there are no overdubs, no autotune. I wanted my voice to be recorded in a take. With the orchestral materials in particular, I wanted it to sound as if I had just walked into the room. I'm not afraid of things that are a bit fragile or flawed. I don't understand why it is so fashionable to iron it all out. When there is something real, people react much better to it. I think we see that on people's Instagram accounts too. In general, they are reports in which people have something that is fairly authentic, that people really like. “Then she bursts out laughing after thinking about it. "Of course I say that, but then there are probably some really neat ones that have a lot more followers. But at least in my head the authentic ones work. "
As for her own parents, Sophie currently feels very inspired by her mother, former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis, whose second novel, a dark family story called How It Was, was published in August after Sophie told her to stick with writing. "I said it quite loudly," she says, "because she probably started writing a book 12, maybe 15 years ago, and stopped." And I said if you can find a way to get the discipline to continue, I think this is a real thing for you. It is now in the 60s, but the wonderful thing about writing a book is that your 60s can be just the right time for it. And I can see that it really helped with their morals – because life is all about finding meaning, right? "
Janet and her husband have just bought a vacation home in Sicily, while Sophie's father, TV producer Robin Bextor, recently announced that he would be on an anti-Brexit platform for Change UK as a potential MEP. Sophie also voted for Remain, but emphasizes: "People don't vote for change if they're happy with the way things are. So that's still valid, and you have to listen to it." Right after the referendum, I went on a regional radio tour that wasn't glamorous, and it turned out that there aren't opportunities everywhere. "
Her husband Richard enters the room just as I admire the stuffed mice sitting in bell glasses on their mantelpiece – it turns out that the couple did them in a taxiderm course. "You're pretty bizarre," he nods, "it was a lot cruder than we expected."
"I didn't mind that," says Sophie. "Did you think it would be less cruel? You take a dead mouse and dig it out! "He sets off to get coffee from the local shop and says that it will only be 20 minutes." Is it even possible to go anywhere and be back in 20 minutes? " when he leaves with the ironic grin of someone who knows the difference between what her husband says and what he means.
She has to be an extremely energetic person, but Sophie insists that she is “inherently lazy, so I wrote a lot of things in (the diary) to prevent me from being in my natural state, not much at all do. "But she agrees that she may be busy. “I like the constant dynamics of family life at work. When family life feels pretty full, it's a nice catharsis to be able to go on stage and sing and write songs, and when everything is pretty intense and pretty … self-centered at work, I like coming home and go outside. I like that my kids won't ask what my performance was like, instead they'll tell me what's going on in their lives. And that's the right way. "
But don't you want the kids to sometimes notice that you're on the cover of a magazine or on TV? & # 39; Oh god no! I don't think it's really really tasty. I love it when they come to the gigs because it's nice for me to look out and see their faces in the crowd – but they don't always want to and that's fine. At the end of the day, I'm her mother. I don't want the kids to think about what I'm doing. "
Sophie's album The Song Diaries is available now. More information about visit their tour bit.ly/2GThw4C
The story behind Sophie's floral show stopper
To celebrate this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which starts on Tuesday, YOU partnered with London's top florists JamJar Flowers and the Milliners from Lock & Co – the world's oldest hat store – to create Sophie's fabulous headpiece (see below how we made it).
JamJar, specializing in seasonal flowers, was also selected by the RHS to transform the London Gate of the Flower Show. Founder Melissa Richardson and florist Talena Rolfe have created a pair of "living curtains" made from English garden flowers and herbs that reflect one thing that is dear to them: saving bees. "They are so important," says Melissa. "If we didn't have them, we wouldn't have pollination." All plants used in our installation, including thimbles and peonies, are excellent pollinators. A healthy bee population is an indication of a thriving ecosystem. "
To celebrate this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which starts on Tuesday, YOU worked with London's top florists JamJar Flowers and the Milliners from Lock & Co – the world's oldest hat shop – to create Sophie's fabulous headpiece
So how can we make our contribution? "Have a lot of plants!" She says. "Bees love variety, fragrance and color – that's why lavender is always enthusiastic about them."
rhs.org.uk; jamjarflowers.co.uk; lockhatters.co.uk
1 Sophie first met Lock & Co to measure her head and see which shape would fit. Not difficult, says YOU drama director Siân Parry, because "she looks good in every single hat shape".
2nd The idea for a “modern romantic” floral headpiece came from a meeting at Lock & Co with JamJar, Siân and YOU’s creative director, Natasha Tomalin-Hall. It was decided that the headpiece would contain many of the same flowers that will be featured in JamJar's installation of living curtains at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Sophie first met Lock & Co to measure her head and see which shape would fit. Not difficult, says YOU drama director Siân Parry, because "she looks good in every single hat shape"
It was decided that the headpiece would contain many of the same flowers that will be featured in JamJar's installation of living curtains at the Chelsea Flower Show
During the meeting, the milliner outlined the rough shape of the headpiece – “something linear to frame the face” – and discussed with JamJar about his technique and how many flowers it could hold. Hats have to be balanced like flower arrangements
On the day of the shoot, the milliner and the florists, including JamJars Talena Rolfe (left), spent two hours building the final structure. They improvised with tulle and boxes of fresh flowers, including roses, peas, and begonias, each hooked through the head and hand-wired to the base
3rd During the meeting, the milliner outlined the rough shape of the headpiece – "something linear to frame the face" – and discussed with JamJar about his technique and how many flowers it could hold. Hats have to be balanced like flower arrangements.
4th The milliner took two days to make the base of the headpiece and the ornamental bees (made from seed beads) that buzz around it. She first covered a head shape with fabric before using wire to create the structure, and then blocked it with a Parisian mesh, a holey material to hold the wired flowers. She also added some rubber band to hold the headpiece in place.
5 On the day of the shoot, the milliner and florists, including JamJar's Talena Rolfe, spent two hours building the final structure. They improvised with tulle and boxes of fresh flowers, including roses, peas, and begonias, each hooked by head and hand. wired to the base.
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