Nadine Coyle reveals why she's decided to go it alone
Ahead of the release of her debut single, Nadine Coyle tells Andy Welch what made her go it alone and about the chance of Girls Aloud recording together again
You'd think stepping out from the security of one of the most successful girl bands would fill you with dread. Not if you're Nadine Coyle.
The Girls Aloud star is releasing her debut solo single, Insatiable, on November 1, followed by an album a week later, and she simply can't wait.
"There are obviously some nerves in there, but it's just such an exciting time," she says.
Today, from the comfort of the armchair in her hotel room, her voluminous hair and floral maxi dress are set off by a gargantuan coffee cup. As she speaks 19 to the dozen, at times sentences seem to get lost in her thick, transatlantic-tinged Irish accent.
It's a flying visit from her permanent Los Angeles base where, at the same time as topping charts around the world with Girls Aloud, she's established a busy bar, Nadine's Irish Mist, on Sunset Beach.
"Living in LA and working here can be hard," she admits, "late-night or early morning phone calls, that kind of thing. But I've been there four years now, so I'm used to it."
Insatiable, her forthcoming album, sees her break away from Girls Aloud for the first time. It's been a long time coming - her solo career was rumoured to be kicking off two years ago, but back then Coyle was happy just to be writing songs, potentially for other artists.
"It's mad. I didn't intend to do a solo album, but I had a publishing deal with EMI and I really enjoyed the sessions with other writers and using the loops and samples on GarageBand (industry-standard music software on the Mac).
"Then someone heard them and now I'm here promoting the solo record."
That someone was William Orbit, who's worked with Madonna among others, suggesting it wasn't as much a case of happy coincidence as Coyle would have us believe.
The pair worked on one of the album's songs, Unbroken, together, while other collaborators include Robbie Williams's old musical director Guy Chambers, and German producer Toby Gad, the brains behind Fergie's Big Girls Don't Cry and Beyonce's If I Were A Boy.
Rather than signing to a conventional record label, Coyle's Insatiable will be released by Tesco, with the supermarket being the only stockist of the physical CD.
Of course it will be available from digital stores like iTunes, but it represents something of a brave move.
"It's where I buy my CDs," she reasons. "Especially before Christmas, it's where everyone gets their records from."
With the release of Insatiable, Coyle is immediately putting herself under a lot of scrutiny.
Ever since Girls Aloud announced they were taking a year-long hiatus - which quickly turned into a break of indeterminable length - Coyle was quickly turned into the villain of the band by the press.
She was the one holding off the reunion, or the one who wanted the band to split up permanently, according to whichever paper or glossy magazine you read.
Her album's lyrics will of course be picked at and pored over, while anything she says in interviews will be analysed and decoded for barbed hidden messages directed at the rest of the quintet.
There's also the matter of Cheryl Cole's ascension to status of Britain's National Sweetheart, and the success of the X Factor judge's own solo album 3 Words, and single Fight For This Love (the UK's fastest-selling single last year) to consider.
"I don't feel there's any competition," says Coyle when the C-word is mentioned.
"I'm not doing this because of Cheryl. It depends who I'm up against in the charts that week. It's more about working. I'm not going to work in my bar, I can't do that, and I can't really do anything else. I'm a singer. This is what I do," she adds.
After the success of Girls Aloud - 20 consecutive Top 10 singles (a chart record for a female group), four No 1s, two No 1 albums, Coyle also feels she can afford not to worry too much about criticism.
"I think it just takes time, doesn't it," ponders Coyle. "Look at Girls Aloud. When we first started off, Sound Of The Underground was an amazing song, but as a band, we weren't really that good.
"We had to learn the trade, learn our stuff. Four years in we'd cracked it, and then after eight years we were really very good.
"My solo work is completely different, and I don't feel like I have anything to prove, to myself or anyone else. I wouldn't put myself under that sort of pressure, it would be too much. I definitely don't want that."
What Coyle does want, however, is to live out her girlhood fantasies of performing her solo material with a live band and backing singers.
"When I was little, I dreamed of being a singer. I did imagine videos with big sweeping camera angles, big lights, dresses, the whole works, and now I can live that out a bit.
"I'm going to be auditioning a whole load of good-looking, buff eye candy dancers as well. You know, it's just me being thorough," she says with a mischievous cackle.
As if on cue, her fiance Jason Bell, former cornerback for the New York Giants, walks through from the next room. "Would you like me to go to Starbucks for you?" he asks, diligently, while at the same time looking like a man who could crush rocks with his bare hands.
Coyle shoots him a winning smile, off he goes, and we get back to more pressing subjects: are Girls Aloud going to get back together or not?
"Yes," says Coyle, reluctant to comment any further. "I would imagine so."
If media reports of the band's status are to be believed, however, that isn't the answer we're all expecting.
"Apparently I called the other girls this morning for 'clear the air' talks," she says, amused. "The press likes to do it with girl bands, to create cat fights. But then I understand how hard it might be to fill a paper each and every day.
"I don't read them, to be honest. I'd rather live in ignorant bliss of thinking that I looked fine and that everyone loves me. I don't want to read that's not the case or see those unflattering pictures of myself."
Coyle's weight was bound to come up eventually. She's certainly a slim girl, but she looks healthy enough today. Certainly not as frail as she did in paparazzi shots of her over the summer.
"Do you know where that came from?" she asks. "I was on my way to Guy Chambers's studio, and walked right out of my shoe in front of photographers. My feet have shrunk, I think they were always swollen from dancing in heels in Girls Aloud, but now all my shoes are too big. And there it was, I had an eating disorder.
"You can't dwell on it though. I just ignore it, and focus on all the positives."