This time final 12 months, Mel C was bouncing across the UK’s soccer stadiums, bringing the Spice Women again to life for a celebratory run via their largest hits and craziest outfits.
Then, as quickly as she stepped off the stage with Geri, Emma and Mel B at Wembley, she jetted off on a worldwide tour of Satisfaction occasions with LGBTQ collective Sink The Pink.
And as soon as that wrapped up, she went straight into the studio to work on her eighth solo album, and saved going till lockdown hit.
“Should you evaluate my 2019 to my 2020, you could not get extra totally different,” she says.
“You realize, I used to be travelling everywhere in the world, I used to be enjoying stadiums with the Spice Women, and now I am barely ever out of my pyjamas.”
In the present day is not a type of days. The singer joins us from her dwelling in Hampstead, North London, surrounded by scatter cushions, hair scraped again to disclose her earbuds, and carrying an elegant, marble-effect t-shirt.
“It is one other day in Zoom-land,” she sighs. “Oh my God, I am so over it.”
Her Zoom ID, by the way, is not Sporty Spice or Mel C or Melanie Jayne Chisholm. It is not even Melanie C, as she types herself nowadays. As a substitute she’s caught with Scarlett, her 11-year-old daughter’s identify.
“Agh! I’ve to vary it again each time I do one thing,” she laughs. “I do not understand how you get it to stay.”
Like many households, they’ve struggled with dwelling faculty in the course of the quarantine. Chisholm confesses they’ve managed “the naked minimal”.
“I hate it,” she says. “My little lady’s fairly good however she simply cannot be bothered.
“And you already know, somebody mentioned fairly early on on this complete factor: ‘Take into consideration how tough it’s, as an grownup to encourage your self at dwelling – so think about being a child.’
“After that I assumed, ‘OK, that is good. So long as she’s doing one thing, it is higher than nothing.'”
It was solely when faculty resumed on a restricted foundation on the finish of June that Chisholm absolutely understood how lockdown had affected her daughter.
“She obtained so moody and uninspired. It was exhausting even to encourage her to go and have a stroll, which is so out of character,” she says.
“Once they had the chance to return… having a routine, socialising along with her buddies, I obtained my little lady again.”
‘Plain one on the again’
It’d appear to be a trite comparability, however rediscovering your self after a interval within the emotional wilderness is the theme of Chisholm’s new album.
The 46-year-old has at all times sung about her points with self-acceptance, from the title monitor of her 1999 solo debut Northern Star to her 2017 album Model Of Me. This time, although, there is a newfound energy and resolve.
“Once I look within the mirror, I lastly like who I see,” she declares on the opening monitor, Who I Am. Over the following 35 minutes, she sings about letting go of outdated hang-ups, having nothing left to cover and refusing to evolve to expectations. “I do not need to be your acceptable model of me,” goes the chorus of roller-disco jam Overload.
Her struggles with melancholy and consuming issues are well-documented. They started within the midst of the Spice Women’ mind-boggling run of chart and media dominance within the late 90s. The band bought 31 million information, scored 9 primary singles and upended music business conventions concerning the viability of lady bands.
Merseyside-born Chisholm was one of the best dancer and strongest singer, however she was caricatured within the tabloid press as “the plain one on the again, who does not actually do a lot”.
She did not recognise the one who was being portrayed within the media, amplifying her emotions of inadequacy.
“As a result of I had this tomboy picture and I liked my soccer, individuals thought I used to be a bit mouthy, a bit loud, a part of that ladette tradition.
“And, you already know, I am actually fairly quiet, and I am actually light. That was exhausting for me for just a few years. I discovered it actually complicated.”
Her street to restoration started with remedy for medical melancholy within the early 2000s. The arrival of her daughter in 2009 additionally marked a turning level.
“Being a mum was so liberating as a result of for the primary time in my grownup life, it wasn’t all about me,” she says. “It made me not solely realise I had an enormous accountability to her however I’ve an enormous accountability to myself. In being her trainer, I needed to deal with myself higher.”
However the care-free positivity of the brand new album can actually be attributed to re-connecting with the Spice Women final 12 months. Though the band had reunited earlier than, in 2007, Chisholm needed to be satisfied to do it. This time round, every thing felt totally different.
“Being on stage with the ladies made me really feel so buoyant and so constructive. We did not actually get the entire legacy and the influence till final 12 months.
“After which doing Satisfaction everywhere in the world, it was such a joyous 12 months of discovering the self-acceptance I might at all times been looking for.
“I spent a few years having a lot remorse concerning the private points I had with melancholy and consuming issues and I simply thought, have you learnt what? Slightly than being ashamed of that point and seeing it as a failure, I believe it is time say: ‘I used to be there and I obtained myself via it and right here I’m to inform the story’.”
Chisholm’s new-found confidence additionally rekindled her ambition. She says she’s been impressed to “go larger” with this album, embracing the pop sensibility that she’d been “a bit of bit embarrassed” about in her 20s and 30s.
“Working with the ladies final 12 months jogged my memory of this complete world,” she says. “We had been so lucky to have this worldwide enchantment and I might like to tour all these locations once more.”
She’s chosen her collaborators fastidiously, working predominantly with feminine artists on the cool, credible fringes of British pop – the likes of Shura, Rae Morris and dirt star Nadia Rose.
All of them are younger sufficient to have been first-wave Spice Women followers, which brought about just a few awkward moments within the studio.
“There was various, ‘Let me simply get my fangirling out of the way in which after which we will get right down to enterprise,'” the singer smiles, stressing that she will get “nervous on a regular basis,” too.
Working with Rose was a spotlight. They attached after considered one of Chisholm’s DJ units and got here up with the idea for his or her duet, Fearless, on a automobile journey.
“We began speaking about being a lady within the music business, pursuing your desires, and the way petrifying so many issues are, whether or not it is turning as much as anyone’s home you’ve got by no means met to do a writing session, or going out on stage in entrance of 1000’s of individuals.
“And I mentioned, ‘You realize, it’s a must to be fearless,’ and we simply felt like that was such a phenomenal factor – to try to empower [our fans] to do, as a result of we might each discovered the energy to be fearless at occasions.”
For her half, Rose cannot fairly consider the track exists.
“As an enormous Spice Women fan, like a big Spice Women fan, that can by no means really register as actual to me,” she says, “as a lot because it has occurred, and it’s actual.”
“However it was an unbelievable expertise and he or she is so cool.”
One other Spice Women tour?
Launch plans for the album had been thrown off-course by the lockdown – however Chisholm introduced the report’s completion final week with the discharge of In And Out Of Love, a lightwave beam of pure disco.
The video was shot in a abandoned Alexandra Palace three weeks in the past, with the star sharing a socially-distanced dancefloor with a few of the crew from the Spice Women tour.
It was a reduction, she says, to be doing one thing exterior the home.
“I hate movies generally. They’re so bloody boring and exhausting. However this one was fairly magical, I believe perhaps as a result of it wasn’t in my front room on Zoom.”
Attentive listeners will hear nods to Rozalla’s 90s dance basic All people’s Free (To Really feel Good) in addition to Dua Lipa’s retro-pop anthem Do not Begin Now – however Chisholm is aware of it will be exhausting to compete within the present pop panorama.
“Clearly, I am making a pop-dance report and I am a mature artist, so I’ve to simply accept that some radio stations are usually not going to be enjoying me anymore. That is one thing to beat.
“However I would like individuals to take pleasure in this album, I would like individuals to bounce to it, I would like individuals to be empowered by it. And when coronavirus has lastly finished one, I need to get on the market and carry out it dwell.”
She’s additionally open to a different Spice Women tour, saying the band are “speaking about it continually”, though followers should not maintain their breath.
“Belief me, it is a miracle we ever do something, as a result of we’re not possible,” she says, “however once we do, it is like the celebs align and magic occurs”.
There are good causes to place the band again collectively, too. Not least as a result of 5 turned 4 for final 12 months’s exhibits.
“Not having Victoria on stage final 12 months, you already know, it was bittersweet,” she says. “The exhibits had been phenomenal however there was somebody lacking.”
Moreover, the band realised too late they need to have filmed the 2019 tour for posterity.
“We shied away from having a DVD, as a result of individuals got here from everywhere in the world they usually saved they usually spent all this cash to see us, so there’s a part of you that desires it to be a singular expertise, this magical second in time.
“However so many individuals have been upset about it – and we’re too, really, as a result of it would be pretty simply to look again and luxuriate in it over again.
“So hopefully, if we get our act collectively, we’ll make one other time to rise up there and get it recorded correctly.”
Melanie C’s self-titled album is out on 2 October.