If Polly-Rae is a reworking of the showgirl through a redressing of burlesque, where do you think Elouise (myspace) is coming from?
I think the classic torch song diva always hints at tragedy but brushes it aside with lipstick and eyeliner - the show must go on. Every great torch song is heartbreaking but that makes you invest even more in the performer, but it takes something really special to make the vocal delivery believable to the listener and thats something Elouise excels at.
You’ve been producing & working a lot with Elouise recently. What are you both trying to achieve with the Elouise sound?
We aspire to make a record that we both love and hope everyone else loves it too which is why we are unashamedly referencing classic songs and records as the music should be timeless in the end.
Your 2009 and 2010 might be defined as a year in which your examining, through your collaborative and production work, the narrative of the showgirl & diva. You’ve got an interesting trinity there-the next Kylie album, Polly Rae and Elouise. The material you create seems to closely explore the women singing….would you agree and if so can you expand on this thought?
I have always preferred the female voice to the male for some reason, saying that there are one or two exceptions in particular Mark Feehily from Westlife who has an incredible voice full of emotion which is why I was so thrilled my production of “Talk Me Down” is on the new Westlife album as it really showcases this. In general I’m drawn to believability over technique always, especially when I am producing vocals. I find a lot of male singers are all about showing off whereas even when someone like Alicia Keys is being technical the passion and emotion is still very much there. I believe the best purveyors of true believability as singers are Kylie, Karen Carpenter, Julie London and Barbra Streisand.
So how do you go about deconstructing/reinventing a Kylie track? For instance how on earth did you come up with the reworked version of I Believe In You?
The orchestral version of “I Believe In You” was originally arranged for “The Kylie Show” and I knew the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra were going to be part of it. Also William had a beautiful black and white treatment with mirrors so again the visuals really inspired the reworking. I never change arrangements for the sake of it - there is always a reason and on occasion the best thing to do is take them right back to the original version.
With the new Kylie album what can fans expect for her 11th studio outing?
I anticipate it will be her strongest album to date judging by what I have heard and the people she is working with.
And with Elouise? She taps into a stream of singers and music where we’ve witnessed and head the performer convey their tears, and heartbreak, under the spotlight. Is this what you’re trying to achieve?
I grew up listening to the most incredible palette of music so its not really any surprise that I have turned out like this. My dad would be playing Otis Redding, Dusty Springfield and Julie London and my mum would be taking me to see musicals so I have always been quite eclectic and have a tendency to adore big sounding records and will forever be in love with the sound of an orchestra and lucky enough to work with them a lot.
A few weeks ago I ‘chatted' with Kylie about doing an intimate show that would include some rarities (Like That’s why they write Love Songs and Flower), and reworked classics. I recently saw the Spanish singer Monica Naranjo in Madrid with just her, a full chorus, orchestra and the all important composer. This was a total change from her massive showgirl-like concerts. She simply stripped it all away but with that massive orchestra…she brought out all that emotion and drama contained in the originals….and perhaps increased the drama. Would you consider doing this with Kylie and how’d ya go about it?
Of course - we talk about this a lot but its about finding exactly the right time and place to do things like this whether it be stripped down and acoustic or a night with an orchestra. All these things get discussed along with the West End musical project - its all about the timing.
There’s something intimate in your work with all three women. You see and hear that quite amazingly in Kylie (Bittersweet Goodbye, Impossible Princess, Flower, I Believe In You) and Elouise (Another Day). Where do you think this comes from?
I think its just a great connection with the artists that spill over into a friendship and basic trust in each other. Also every song you mention is one that we have loved making and have stayed true from the moment of creating to the final record which means we will never tire of them.
How did Another Day come about and whats it about?
This is more a question for Terry Ronald as its his lyric but basically he and I realised we hadn’t written anything for ages so decided to go in one day and do something , again, that we just loved. Most times you are asked to pitch songs for an artist but we thought lets write a song for an incredible voice in case one happens to cross our paths in the future, lucky for us she did. Its quite common when writing songs for artists that you have to keep the range down as not many people can sing that well.
Other than dramatic torch songs with Elouise, your exploring a rather poptastic sound too. A certain called The Fireman of My Dreams. You’ve described this on Twitter as perhaps the campest thing you’ve ever done. Care to expand?
I said it was definitely up there, remember we did “Copacabana”. I don’t think I really need to expand, its about a fireman.
I remember hearing the original and thinking - “Oh My Elouise!" And then hearing the E.P version in your studio…which is essentially a totally brand new song. You took the song to a brand new level of fabulousness! How’d it all come to be?
I heard the original idea for the song at Stratford Circus and always thought it could be turned into more than just a cabaret skit so Elouise and I got together and created the final version in a very fun studio day.
Where can fans hear this ode to the fireman and his pole?
Well as you know Elouise will be supporting Miss Polly Rae at the Leicester Square Theatre 23-28th February so come along and hear it for yourselves.
And are you planning release it?
There is a very limited edition “Stardust EP” which will be available at the shows containing “Another Day”, “Pretender” and “Fireman Of My Dreams”.
So whats the low down on the other song Pretender? There’s a bit at the end would make Shirley Bassey seethe with jealousy. Elouise truly does reach those mega notes. Whats it like to hear a track like Pretender back and record with Elouise?
I remember with “Another Day” there was already a key change and she asked if we could make it a bigger jump which is unheard of for a singer. I knew we were going to get on famously after that so we added another huge note in “Pretender”. I don’t think anything would make Shirley seethe and her current album with David Arnold is superb but I would love for her to hear the songs to see what she thought.
When do you, Steve Anderson, finish a song…and think-yes, that’s it. Its arrived. Its ready to fly.
I finish something when I can’t hear anything wrong with it anymore, then its done to a point. This of course can change when situations change and all of a sudden there is a budget for an orchestra and choir or I get a great idea to do it in another style.
Whats next for you?
Our commitment to Polly goes way beyond the London shows as we are in it for the long haul so there will be a tour of the UK and then hopefully America, Australia and Europe, We also hope to secure a London residency too. I am also Musical Director for Christophe Willem’s “Cafeine” tour which opens early May in France. I have put together a UK band headed up by Sarah deCourcy and Christophe is such a visionary and a superb pop star so it promises to be a cross between a Kylie and a Madonna show - he is really pulling out the stops and I’m looking forward to doing something very electronic after all the big band. Variety is the spice of life and more so the way to make sure ideas stay fresh. Aside from that there will be more Elouise of course and a few other things I am not allowed to mention including a reason to head back into the West End sooner rather than later......
It seems like very exciting time at Steve Anderson Productions. Do you ever go “ahh-I need to go off to Rio for a bit”.
I am very lucky that everything I say yes to I genuinely love so apart from the odd occasion I prefer to be working as there is so much left to learn.....