The Deeper Humour of Lisa Stansfield

Lisa Stansfield Interview with Northern Transmissions
Lisa Stansfield by Ian Devaney

Whether it’s been R&B, pop or dance music, Lisa Stansfield has always kept her voice clear in her music. From “All Around The World” right to her new album Deeper Stansfield keeps a lively spirit and a unique personality that makes all of her pop feel distinct. Though this personality has always made her music shine, she’s just as likely to make jokes with a crowd on her latest tour as she is to blow them away with her singing. We caught up with Stansfield ahead of her upcoming European tour to talk about her new music, how she’s chronicling her career and how her sense of humour has been a double-edged sword at times.

Northern Transmissions: How has your creative partnership evolved with Ian Devaney over the years and what did you two want to explore on Deeper?
Lisa Stanfield: I mean we’ve worked together for so long, and we’ve been together for 30 years so far. We don’t have a master plan because we just slip into these things after doing them over so many years. It’s just the way it is, so whatever comes out comes out. It felt like a little piece of magic this time, it was wonderful.

NT: What inspired you to write ‘Billionaire’ and what did you want to say?
LS: I think especially now that the focus is just on the material, and people are becoming greedier, everything that really matters takes a backseat. The song is really saying “Be careful what you wish for.” Because if you don’t have anyone to enjoy this with, you’ll be like Charles Kane in this castle with all your treasures but there’s not much point in having it. You won’t have anyone to enjoy it with and it can be a really lonely place in a rich life.

NT: What led to your Billionaire remix EP and how did Until Dawn, Rob Hardy and E11even get involved?
LS: I don’t get involved in remixes too much because it’s not my territory and I leave that to those creative people to get a different point of view and a different set of ears. People have always been pretty interested in remixing my stuff, so you can play a lot more easily with my material.

NT: You’ve talked about Deeper feeling closer to your first albums, why was that?
LS: With the first two albums it really felt like there was nothing to lose, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I’m not doing it for other people, I’m doing it firstly for myself. I always think if this is the last project I ever do, I need to be able to sit at home and be very proud of it. I had nothing to lose on this one, so I was going to try and make, hopefully, the best album I’ve ever made. If I don’t, I’ve still done it and done what I set out to do. I also think that it comes from the same gene pool as the first two albums. It’s grown up from these first two, and has a different personality.

NT: What’s led you to take more control on the production side of things in recent years, and what’s held you back from it before?
LS: I always have been in a way, but with this one I was just around for more of it. If something stood out I was there to say something. I was also there to say what I was very adamant about keeping. I’ve always been fairly shy about producing though, it is what it is.

NT: What about jumping at opportunities led you to write “Everything”?
LS: I think “Everything” is my take on a pop song. That’s what I feel about this album, there’s a natural bouncy energy. The object when we first started was to capture that feeling of hopefulness.

NT: How has it been finding time to act and make a go of that while furthering your music these days?
LS: It’s so weird because I just go through my life and cross my fingers. There’s no secret, and if there was I’d write it down because I want to know what it is. [Laughs]

NT: I heard you’re also working on an autobiography?
LS: I’ve been writing down stories because we all have these little stories you want to remember. There will be so many vignettes in this book, and I’ve written nearly all of it now. It’s an insight into where my world is now, which is quite strange. [Laughs] There is a very humorous side because that’s where my life is, and I attract that kind of thing. I’m always the person on the train that the bipolar person sits next to, and they have a really bad time.

NT: How did your peculiar humour get you banned from Ipswich?
LS: I said it was the worst crowd I’d ever seen. I did apologize though. We did this gig, and every other show was this ridiculous storming energy, people jumping up and down. Ipswich was literally like going to a funeral, I was thinking “What can I do?” Should I do strip-tease, gymnastics, perform a play. Nothing was going to work that night. Then they all came back and said it was the best show they’d ever seen.

Words by Owen Maxwell