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Sarah Joyce's Rumer mill just continues to grind on


LESSONS LEARNED: Rumer has vowed to keep schtum about her personal family life from now on

LESSONS LEARNED: Rumer has vowed to keep schtum about her personal family life from now on

LESSONS LEARNED: Rumer has vowed to keep schtum about her personal family life from now on

Regrets? Sarah Joyce has them by the bucketful. She's sorry that, by way of introducing herself as a pop star, she spoke so frankly about her colourful family life. She wishes she hadn't fallen apart in public on her first major tour. She laments not taking things slower - proceeding more calmly into the maw of the fame monster.

Joyce goes by the stage name 'Rumer' and if you are one of the two million or so who bought her debut album maybe you've been wondering whatever happened to her.

In 2010, the English singer materialised in a thunderclap of hype. She was hailed on the one hand as a smokey-voiced blues singer in the tradition of Amy Winehouse while, in the same breath, acclaimed as heir to Karen Carpenter's tortured easy listening. If that seemed a vast contradiction, it was resolved by Joyce's aching croon - a voice at once accessible and stacked high with heartache.

Looking back it's ironic people were so quick to impose an imagined persona on Joyce (who has just released her third album, Into Colour). Shoved into the spotlight, she suffered a drastic lose of identity. Under the glare, all the certainties she'd clung to through her life melted away. What was left resembled a gibbering mess, she confesses.

"I can't remember any of that time," she says. "I was running around at one hundred miles an hour. I was just a waitress - that's all I'd ever had to deal with.

"The authority figures in my life were landlords and chefs. I didn't know about executives, about accountants or lawyers. It wasn't my world. I went from doing odd-jobs to playing music. You have to remember the music industry is completely unregulated."

Worse yet, Rumer's highly unusual family circumstances soon made their way into public sphere. Aged 11, Joyce had learned the man she had believed to be her father was actually a cuckold. Her real dad was a Pakistani chef with whom her mother had conducted an affair while the family lived in Pakistan (ultimately prompting the end of the marriage).

"You get information like that and your safety net vanishes," she told me around the release of her debut LP four years ago. "You are not secure…. It makes you feel like an outsider and that forces you to be creative in how you relate to other people."

In hindsight Rumor wishes she had not be as forthcoming. She has siblings and, in her rush to overshare with the media, neglected to factor in their feelings. To have so many skeletons dragged from the family closet was deeply humiliating - not to say disrespectful towards her late father and mother, she believes now.

"I've said so many things that are embarrassing. My mum was actually a really interesting woman. The impression may have been given that she was mad. Actually she was wonderful and loved by a lot of people. That was unfair - I feel guilty about it. After I sobered up emotionally speaking, I couldn't believe how forthcoming I'd been.

"I wasn't thinking of my family and it affected them. It's their story too. They've all got jobs and what have you. And they were saying, 'oh my sister is a singer'. And then the other person would look me up and they'd read all this really dark stuff. It was really a bit silly."

With her album a huge hit, she was booked on an exhaustive international tour. It was then that the meltdown truly kicked in. Faced with adoring crowds night after night, Joyce found it hard to hold onto her sanity. Having chased success for years, now it was finally here, it felt as if her walls were falling in. Could she claw free of the rubble?

"I would get on stage and have these panic attacks. I couldn't remember anything - not even what song I was supposed to be singing. I'd be like 'oh my god, what's music?' I'd find myself standing in front of thousands of people, trying not to faint."

Her unhappiness reached crisis point during the recording of her second album in 2012. There was a bitter - and unresolved - falling out with her mentor and producer Steve Brown. Shortly afterwards she fled the UK for America.

"I didn't know if I could do it again," she says. "I knew I WANTED to. I didn't know if new songs were going to happen. I thought, 'actually, I've got f*** all to say to anybody about anything."

Out of the spotlight, her confidence slowly returned. She fell in love and married. Being based in the United States made it easier for her to reach out to kindred songwriters, such as Burt Bacharach collaborator Stephen Bishop, who wrote several songs on her new LP (and also Phil Collins' Separate Lives - try not to hold it against him).

"On my first album, as a female artist, I was very defensive," she says. "I wanted to avoid that whole thing of being the woman who has a man writing for her. People see a female singer and think 'oh, who's she working with?' I needed to prove myself.

"Now  I'm more relaxed. I'm happy to work with other people to see what they can bring. It was a long process - I think the results are worthwhile. After all that's happened, I'm really proud of myself."

Indo Review