Hot off the end of the wildly successful Spice Girls reunion, Melanie Chisholm is leaving “Sporty Spice” behind and hitting the road for a full cross-Canada tour in support of her fourth solo album This Time. The tour comes to Edmonton May 14th and Calgary May 15th.
“My album just came out in Canada recently and I was offered the opportunity and I said yes please. I love being out on the road. I love this album but haven’t had the chance to tour it properly before the Spice tour, so it seemed like a good thing to do,” Chisholm told GayCalgary and Edmonton magazine in an exclusive interview. “What I love the most about being on the road with a new album is really getting to know the songs and get more out of them. The more you perform a song, you just explore the depth of the lyric and the vocal and I find that really exciting. It is also a challenge because when you are in the studio writing and recording it, you haven’t really mastered it and sometimes songs are really tough to do live. That is a little challenge I set for myself, it is like this wild horse and you have to tame it. That is how I see these songs.”
The tour is subdued compared to the spectacle of Spice earlier this year. Chisholm is trading in private jets for a bus and sold out arenas for smaller, more intimate venues.
“They both have their plus points but I’d say I prefer to go to clubs and theatres. Arenas are so big and the audience is so far away that I don’t think you have the same rapport as in a smaller venue. I actually like being on the bus. Don’t get me wrong it was very nice having a private jet but to be honest with you, touring on a small scale is nice because you can quietly go around the country and really get to see the places instead of being in this prison which can be the Spice Girls. The convoy of cars with the police escorts and the paparazzi chasing, it is fun when you are 25 but it soon becomes tiresome.”
It also gives fans in cities that were skipped on the Spice tour a chance to see her.
“I don’t think that this is enough for people that want to see the Spice Girls. But I love touring and playing live, and I really love being in Canada, it is a country I really enjoy being in and working in. I want to travel around and get to see places I haven’t seen before. And I like Canadians.”
The smaller tour also means that Chisholm gets to, at times, meet fans which is an opportunity she relishes.
“I do get to meet a lot of fans whether it is outside the venue before the gig or sometimes at the hotel. I get to know people and recognize faces. You kind of have a welcoming committee wherever you go in the world, and you always feel like you have a nice warm welcome.”
For those unfamiliar with Chisholm’s solo work, it is vastly different from the pop world of Spice. Chisholm has released three prior albums – 1999’s Northern Star, Reason in 2003 and Beautiful Intentions in 2005. The albums feature strong vocals and a more rock feel, and offer a great deal of depth and beauty within.
“It is so completely and utterly different. Everything I did with the Spice Girls was fantastic, but my solo work is a little more thoughtful and introspective, and played around with different musical styles. I wanted something really beautiful and more of a singer-songwriter feel. I have worked with some great songwriters on this album, and there are some beautiful songs. I call the Spice Girls concert a show, a big production, but if you come to see me it is more about the music, more engaged.”
Her solo career kicked off with a Canadian twist as well. A chance meeting with Bryan Adams lead to her duet on the 1998 hit When You’re Gone.
“We had met briefly at Top of the Pops, and a few months later I met Bryan in 1998 in LA when we were touring. He got on the [elevator] and I realized who he was. My Mum was there with me, and she is one of his biggest fans ever, and I asked if he would come over and say hi to her. He was so sweet and came over and spent a lovely evening with us and absolutely made my Mum’s day. We exchanged numbers and when I got back to London he called me. He had just finished recording the album and said ‘There is a song on the album I would love you to sing on.’ I jumped on the chance before I’d even heard it. It is such an incredible song and we had a lot of fun and he really gave me the confidence to move forward and become a solo artist - the faith he put into me as a singer. I have a lot to thank Bryan for, I have learned a lot from him as well.”
Chisholm is one of the most successful female recording artists in the UK, tying Madonna for most #1 singles by a female co-writer. The success and fame achieved is something that Chisholm said she didn’t expect when she first started.
“When you are young you don’t really look into the future that much, we didn’t. We were so determined to do what we did with the Spice Girls. We wanted to be the most successful pop band and beat all the boy bands out there, and we did that which is pretty incredible. I was really excited and ambitious at the time [of my first solo effort] and really felt like I could make a great album. My first album I am very proud of and I definitely felt I had made one that could be successful. It’s not until after the event, that you stop and think and go ‘wow that is pretty insane.’ I am really proud of everything we achieved together. The music industry is tough and changing all the time and I feel really lucky that I can still do what I love.”
Much of Chisholms appeal lies in her down to earth, approachable attitude. She has been open and honest about past battles with depression and bulmeia, sports several tattoos, and is a role model to her fans for many reasons.
“It is a weird thing to get your head around, but you have to take responsibility because it is true, you see that when you meet fans and read letters. People are looking to you for advice or direction, that is something we became aware of when I was with the girls. We have such a young fan base that we didn’t want to take that lightly. We always tried to be good role models. It was hard because we all make mistakes, and we were very young ourselves. I’d like to think that I am a good person, I work hard, and I have had difficult times. I hope that people can get something from that.”
Those fans can sometimes make the 34-year-old feel older. “I remember somebody stopped me in the street and said “I loved you when I was little’ and I am not that old. But a lot of the fans that came to the Spice shows that we did recently, they are teenagers now and were 6 years old the first time around. A lot of time has passed, and I do feel quite proud to have been around for that length of time and still be making music.”
While the Spice Girls primarily had a preteen and teen female audience, the gay community embraced them as well. When songs like Wannabe and Spice Up Your Life came on, club floors would be packed. While the glitz, fashion and glamour was a big part of the appeal, we also mentioned to Melanie that their message of empowerment and being true to yourself, dubbed “Girl Power” also had meaning to the gay community.
“I have never thought of it like that, but it really makes sense doesn’t it? We always knew that [the gay community] was a strong market of ours. Even though we harped on Girl Power, it really was about people power. We enjoyed people’s reactions, if they were inspired by what we were doing and it gave them the strength to achieve things and break down barriers, which we had to do to get where we did,” she said before adding a final message of thanks.
“I want to say thank you very much. I hope they continue to enjoy what I am doing. I really welcome any support, but the Gay and Lesbian community have been big followers and loyal supporters as well. Hopefully I deliver.”
Melanie C on tour
May 14th - Starlight Room – Edmonton, AB.
May 15th – Macewan Hall Ballroom – Calgary, AB.
Tickets at Ticketmaster
This Time is now available in stores