Friday 20 April 2018

Skye Edwards: Reach for the Skye

She was Morcheeba’s golden girl, so after a bitter split and solo success, Skye Edwards tells Catriona Gray why she’s back on tour with the band

Catriona Gray

It's 9pm on a Friday night and Skye Edwards has just finished a yoga class. Not very rock 'n' roll for the frontwoman of Morcheeba -- the band that epitomised the trip-hop sound of the 1990s -- but the 38-year-old singer is readying herself for the release of her upcoming third album.

"I'm trying to get in shape. I've been doing yoga and circuit training, but only for about two weeks so far."

If she's worrying about her appearance, her fears are certainly unfounded; Edwards looks stunning in the video to her new solo single Featherlight.

The idea for the video came from the album artwork, a close-up of Edwards' face covered in glitter, which emphasises the singer's luminous complexion.

"I look half my age, which is brilliant, although a lot of people have said that it was all done with special effects.

"Trust me, it was real; it took a lot of time to get all that glitter out of my hair!"

This is Edwards' third album as a solo artist, a trajectory that was kick-started after the Godfrey brothers asked her to leave Morcheeba, back in 2003.

Although they have subsequently reunited, the split was not an amicable one, but it did result in Edwards finding her feet as a songwriter.

Back To Now, with its dance and electronica influences, certainly marks a new departure for the singer: "I wanted to make some music that had a real energy so rather than writing songs on a guitar or piano, I decided to work on the computer.

"I had just bought a new laptop, so I experimented -- starting with a beat, rather than with chords -- and built it up that way. It's resulted in something really different."

Edwards wrote a lot of her new album while she was on the Blood Like Lemonade tour that followed her return to Morcheeba.

Although Morcheeba are currently working on their next album, Edwards still seems surprised at her reconciliation with brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey. "I was adamant that I was never going to go back. I had a lot of arguments with my husband [bass player Steve Gordon] about it, but he eventually persuaded me to meet with them. We all went for a meal and got drunk, and it ended up being a laugh -- it had been seven years since I had spoken to Paul."

The following day, Morcheeba's manager called Edwards to tell her that the Godfreys wanted her back in the band.

"My immediate reaction was 'no way, why would I want to do that?' But it's worked out really well." According to Edwards, the reason is simple: "Paul doesn't tour anymore, so we're in a much healthier place."

Although Morcheeba is technically reunited with its initial line-up, the reality is that the band is still split, with Ross and Edwards doing the live performances, and Paul producing the albums from his home in rural France.

It seems to be a solution that suits everyone, according to Edwards: "Paul was never happy on the road. He hated how uncomfortable the tour buses were and he didn't like the lifestyle.

"When you are on stage, you're really high and then you go off stage and either plummet or try to keep yourself high. His personality just didn't suit that, and if he was unhappy, then everyone would be unhappy."

Now that Paul has made the decision not to tour, the only involvement that he has with Morcheeba's live performances is as an occassional spectator.

Although he lives in the French countryside with his family, he did bring his children along to watch Morcheeba's last show in France.

It's an unconventional solution, but Edwards seems relieved that the tensions within the band have finally been resolved.

"We all email each other as we're working on the new Morcheeba record at the moment. Now, we're communicating more that we ever have done. It's brilliant."

Balancing her work with Morcheeba, a solo career and her family life requires a considerable amount of organisation.

Edwards has three children; the eldest is 16, while the youngest is four years old.

From the outside, it sounds virtually impossible to combine bringing up young children with a career in the music industry, but Edwards disagrees: "It's always hard being a parent and having a job, but I'm lucky because there are long periods of being at home and doing nothing, so I'm able to drop them off at school and pick them up each day.

"I've brought all three of my children on tour with me; it's great being able to take your kids to work."

Even so, it's not easy. Touring with children can be a terrifying experience, as Edwards reveals. A dramatic episode during her Morcheeba heyday still resonates with her.

"When my eldest son was about a year and a half, he was wobbling around on the tour bus, looking like a little drunken man.

"Everyone was slightly hungover and we all thought it was really funny. And then I picked him up and his breath smelt of vodka.

"I couldn't believe it. I saw that there was still milk in his bottle -- that was strange, as usually he'd finish it.

"I tasted it; it was pure vodka that had been mixed with the powdered formula milk. Someone had put vodka in a water bottle for a joke and the nanny didn't know that it was alcohol, so she made up his bottle as usual, gave it to my son and put him to bed. In the morning, he was still sipping on this bottle."

Edwards still remembers how scared she was: "I was crying and going 'oh my God. I've poisoned my son.'

"We got to the hotel, he went to sleep and when he woke up, he was totally fine. But to this day, nobody has admitted to putting vodka in that water bottle."

For someone who has spent much of her life on the road, it's clear that Edwards now enjoys her home comforts. "When I first started out, I was living in a one bedroom flat in Stratford and I though that it was really cool to travel across America on a tour bus and be away from home for three months at a time.

"The television on the tour bus was bigger than the one I had at home -- in fact the entire bus was fancier than my flat.

"I still enjoy touring and checking into hotels, but now that I'm older, I like my own bed a bit more than a hotel bed."

She also has the opportunity to make more clothes -- Edwards studied fashion design at the London College of Fashion and dressmaking is an ongoing hobby of hers.

Although she favoured a low-key style throughout her teens and 20s, she has started to embrace a more glamorous look -- most of the time.

"Right now, I'm wearing a one-piece tracksuit -- it's like a hoodie, but with legs," she admits.

Still, when the occasion demands it, she's more than capable of rising to the challenge. When Morcheeba reunited for the Blood Like Lemonade tour, Edwards made all her stage outfits herself, including a eye-catching red chiffon dress that features in the video for single Even Though.

It's clear that the singer is passionate about fashion.

"Now, I dress up more than I ever did. It's great fun to step into a different world," she says.

Even so, you get the impression that she's managed to keep it all in perspective, perhaps through the years spent balancing between being a musician and a mother.

When asked how she manages it, Edwards shrugs: "I'm pretty grounded. Maybe it's because I'm a Gemini."

Back to Now is released on October 26

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