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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Q&A: Andrea McEwan

On David Bowie and writing with Melua

Published 29/05/2009 | 00:00

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On David Bowie and writing with Melua

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Congratulations -- apparently you're the new Katie Melua. Her mentor, Mike Batt, seems to think so anyway.

Both Katie and I are signed to Mike's management company. He first signed me as a songwriter -- one of my earliest assignments was to write with Katie on her third album.

You've also gone on the road supporting her. It must be intimidating playing before an audience who didn't necessarily come to hear you. Ever had any boos or rotten fruit chucked your way?

I was quite blessed. A lot of the venues were seated -- they couldn't run away and get a drink. But it was quite challenging to play six new songs to somebody.

Did you come down with stage fright?

They were arena-sized audiences and I spent the first couple of weeks wanting to climb out of the dressing room window and run away.

We can take that as a 'yes' then...

I had these voices in my head. I'd be singing and I'd hear someone say, 'You sound really crap -- what are you doing on stage?'

There's a well-worn trail of Australian singers moving to London to pursue their show-biz dreams -- however, you've ended up in Berlin, which is associated with starving artists and indie rock weirdoes. What's a nice girl doing in a place like that?

There are lots of reasons. I came to Berlin before I came to London. So I've always had a connection. Plus, my husband is from Berlin. And you can have the most amazing lifestyle for relatively little money -- we could fit our London flat into our current apartment three or four times over. The music scene is really vibrant, too. There's an awful lot going on.

Plus, there's the Bowie factor. I'm a real Bowie fan but I only found out after I had come here that he spent such a long time in Berlin. Actually, he used to live about five minutes away from where my flat is. We both had good taste in neighbourhoods.

Has Australia enacted a law requiring every show-business hopeful to serve a stint on Neighbours?

It's a rite of passage. I started off as an actress -- and if you act in Australia then you will end up being on Neighbours. It's a small industry and there are relatively few programmes. You see all of these famous people who have been in Neighbours, but, if you grow up in Australia, it's not a big deal.

Then you went on to have a small role in Coronation Street, where you played a femme fatale. Overnight fame ensued, we presume?

Not really. It was only about four episodes. You remember when Sally was having an affair with the guy who owned the car dealership?

I don't watch Coronation Street (turns red and looks around nervously)!

Well, he was also having an affair with my character. Sally wasn't too impressed when she found out.

I bet she wasn't. Incidentally, from your press shots, I couldn't help but notice you're a red head. Do you have the classic red- head temperament?

A little bit, yeah. My family always say I'm the drama queen. They say, 'Even if weren't an actress you'd always be a drama queen to us.'

Some of your songs are a bit personal, aren't they? Your husband can't be too impressed.

A lot of the lyrics on my album are about ex-boyfriends, experiences that weren't so positive. It's funny -- Mike [Batt] is always saying to me, 'Why are you writing all these negative songs?'

What's Mike like as a manager?

Really blunt, actually. In the beginning, there would be tears. I'd come back with a song that really was a piece of my soul and he'd say, 'I don't understand it -- go away and write something else.' What I learned was that the simplest songs are the best.

Andrea McEwan's debut album Rental Property is out now

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