Heather Small Interview

Heather Small Interview

Heather Small is lead singer and front for the band M People, the group enjoyed major success in the 1990’s with globally recognised hits such as Search for the Hero and One Night in Heaven.

 

Heather has since had successes with two solo albums – the title track of her 'Proud' album has gone on to become the soundtrack to a whole host of very special events including London's successful 2012 Olympic bid, the 60th anniversary of VE Day in Trafalgar Square, the launch of Queen Mary 2, the Tsunami Relief Concert, England's victory at the Rugby World Cup celebrations, and the official ceremony marking the handover of the Olympic Games from Beijing to London.

 

20 Years on and the band are back together - performing at some of the biggest shows on the planet. I spoke to Heather last week after one of her daily gym session…

I do work out quite a lot, she tells me.

Monday to Friday for about an hour and a half each day. Being Asthmatic - I had quite a sickly childhood so my health has had to be a priority, nothing comes without good health. I’ve worked out for years.

I’m also a vegetarian and I don’t eat dairy products so overall I would say my lifestyle’s quite healthy.

 

Do you struggle to fill your free time with positive things?

Having time in this day and age can be very useful, when I was younger it’s true I was working all the time and building a career, these days I have more time and I like to fill positively.

I’m involved with a very special project called ‘Blue Sky Village’. They are an organisation which aims to build self-sustaining villages across the world, their ethos is to offer a hand up rather than a hand out. I went to Rwanda recently to help out, and oh my goodness, what a beautiful place it is.

I visited Kigali, this place was completely devastated by war 20 years ago, today it’s a beautiful city set on rolling hills. We could learn a lot from their communities shared attitude towards litter, their streets are spotlessly clean, mostly because on the last Saturday of the month the city’s residents take to the streets to clean. Maybe I’m idealistic but they have a lovely sense of community when we are mostly feeling disconnected.

I’m lucky, I have a loving family, my son and good friends, if you don’t have these things the world can seem a very singular and cold place.

 

Sadly the closest we’ve come to feeling like a community was when we were cleaning up together after the riots.

The irony is that perhaps the riots happened because people are feeling disconnected and singular. And it’s not just young people feeling dissatisfied, when there’s graduates unable to find work - what chance do those with no qualifications have…

 

 

PLAYING LIVE @ V

You’re on the bill for V-festival this year, have you done this one before? Is it a good festival to be a part of?

Well I just love singing live, any opportunity to be on stage singing live and I’m there, Is V festival a good festival? yes of course, we will make it good!

I always want to put on a good show, if people are willing to come out and pay their money to watch live music then they deserve the best you can give them.

One thing I love about the festival scene is the diversity of people it attracts, that makes for good fun.

 

Usually I’m terrified before a gig, it’s awful really. All my pre gig rituals are there mostly to calm my nerves.

 

Would you say M People are a ‘festival band’?

I think we are a festival band in the sense that we do have material that’s known, we do have a big sound and we are entertaining. Having songs that people can sing along too creates a real camaraderie of joyfulness.  But having said that - I draw the line at camping!

 

Do you any pre gig rituals?

Usually I’m terrified before a gig, it’s awful really.

I do have regular vocal lessons, I try to always keep my voice in tip-top condition, and it’s my instrument after all.

I drink lemon and ginger tea with manuka honey.

All my pre gig rituals are there mostly to calm my nerves. I do meditation and breathing exercises.

 

If you suffer from nerves you must have been a state prior to your gig at the London Olympics?

Yes, I did quite a lot of gigs in the run up to the Olympic ceremony, they had a festival feel, looking down Pall Mall at a sea of people was stunning. The whole event exceeded everyone’s expectation and that took some doing. I do like the big global events.

 

In that case, did you watch/enjoy the world cup?

I like all sports that are played at the highest level, I like to see the best. I only watched the highlights of the final because I knew Brazil would struggle to win against the Germans. It wasn’t pretty.

 

One night it could be Proud, the next Search for the Hero, Movin’ on up or One night in Heaven… They all get their time in the sun.

 

Have you ever come off stage and thought – eek that was horrible? (ala Brazil)

No Never… I won’t allow that to happen.

 

I spoke to Fatboy Slim recently, he said he still gets a thrill when he hears his music on the big stage, he mentioned hearing ‘Right Here, Right Now’ at Old Trafford… do you have a favourite M People track that still gives you goose bumps when you hear it/perform it?

So hard to answer that, it’s a ‘who’s your favourite child kind of question… It all depends on the crowd… One night it could be Proud, the next Search for the Hero, Movin’ on up or One night in Heaven… They all get their time in the sun.

 

Now I’m not a great singer but I’m feeling the urge to belt out a line from ‘How can I Love you more?’… May I?

Err, please stem that urge Craig… ha-ha

 

We laughed but she really meant it - Reluctantly I move on… So, the killers, Paulo Nutini, JT, Nile Rogers, Lilly Allen and lots more talent on show at V festival this year, are you guys all pals?

I don’t know them personally, of course Nile Rogers is an icon and I do have a soft spot for Paulo Nutini - my niece just adores his face and his music. Lilly Allen I saw live with Jools Holland at a hootenanny gig, she is a very special talent indeed, and she has charisma and presence.

It’s a great line-up, I’m sincerely delighted to be a part of it. I am in a blessed position, I do something that I love and that I continue to love. I’m not gonna lie – it’s a dream come true.

 

You can see Heather and M People performing live at this Summer's V Festival, for a chance to win tickets see our competition article Win Tickets to VFestival 2014

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