Tell us about your new album!
It's the first album where I've written all the songs; I’ve never done that before. Well, I think I tried once before but it never got released so we don't talk about that! I co-wrote everything with my brother, who’s been a songwriter for a long time. We've written big hits for Tina Turner, we wrote songs for Wynonna Judd, we almost got a song on Bonnie Raitt's album and a song on a Cher album. It was suggested I do a blues album, a couple of publishers said that, and I really thought I was never going to make another album - I wasn't interested in making another album. It's a young people thing, the music business, why would I do it, who cares? But when it was put to me I thought I might enjoy it.
I guess doing music your whole life it’s only right that you’d end up getting better at it as you go on.
That's a good way of looking at it! It's got to be good, and I actually talk about writing and why did it take so long to start writing because I first got master classes in songwriting when I was married to Maurice - I used to sit and watch The Bee Gees write at home.
People would kill for that experience.
So that's where I learned. I never wrote with Maurice, my brother did. I was slow, but I finally got there.
So who do you listen to?
Right now? Bruno Mars, Pharrell, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran. I love Sia and I love that's she now an artist - she always was an artist but she was writing songs for other people and I always loved her writing. I'm thrilled that she's getting big, and Meghan Trainor... love love love, because they're great songwriters as well as great singers. And Taylor Swift. Great songwriter and I've always admired her. And when I said to my brother 'Oh I can't write', he said 'There's no way you can't write, look at all the songs you've chose, look at the ones you like, what you to tell them to do with that song'.
It’s funny you mention Sia because she’s now becoming her own artist, and she’s almost 40 – in much the same way you’re starting your writing at this stage in your career.
That's the amazing thing about the music business really. There's a lot of things I don't like about the music business but I suppose I've been lucky - well I have
been lucky, I've got a lot to be grateful for, but one of the amazing things is that those kinds of things can happen. I remember with The Bee Gees, they were dead three times, they said 'We'll never be seen again'. The talent overcame. So that's exciting, because a lot of people do become successful. It’s not an attractive quality, but I can be very judgemental, and not in a good way. It's OK to judge in a good way, but to judge in a negative way, is not productive I think. For a long time I used to complain that Jessie J should be the biggest star and no one would listen to me. She stuck at it long enough and people got her.
You like her?
Love her. So many young people I love. I listen to a lot of James Blake. I don't listen to a lot of old stuff, I listen to it for reference, there's a lot of people I have great admiration for. I love Sigma and I love Calvin, and Rudimental. Lots of good people.
You were singing Sam Smith on the Bake Off!
And getting the words wrong! Haha. And probably not singing it very well.
Now that you’ve done Bake Off, you've done Strictly, what would you try your hand at next?
Never again. Reality television, I don't want to do reality television – well you should never say never because you’ll bloody have to eat your words. The thing about Bake Off
was, first off, it was for charity, and secondly I was lucky to be in that group, I had known them all for years.
There was some good banter.
Could you tell that we complemented each other? And what about Barry (Dame Edna
)? He's a genius. Everyone goes on there and they want to be good, but he doesn't give a damn. Very smart. Extremely cerebral, you know.
You must have been asked to do talent shows?
Yeah, a lot of things I've been asked to do that I thank God, I've had the wisdom to say no to.
You don't think you'd like it? X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, The Voice, that sort of thing?
Oh, I don't know. Maybe there was a time where I thought I would have. I did a little bit of it American Idol
and I really enjoyed mentoring the girls. That was quite a few years ago now. I loved working with the girls and saying 'I know what you've got. I can tell you what to do'. As a singer I've got so much experience. Of course I would love to. I mean my name has been bandied about so much as a judge, 'Oh Lulu should do this'. In fact Jessie J was very sweet, she said ‘Lulu should do The Voice'.
But I think they've all turned into a bit of a circus.
Are you going to get a part in the Ab Fab movie?
They haven't offered me anything yet, I'm sitting here seething! They haven't offered me yet. Maybe they'll come to their senses.
I hope they do, it wouldn't be complete without you.
Even just a walk-on part, I come in and say 'Champagne for Lulu!'
It's a box she has to tick, surely?
I had to tell Jennifer, she’d forgotten. I did an Ab Fab
with her two years ago, and I reminded her of that phrase. I can never forget it wherever I go. It's ridiculous. New York, LA, wherever I am in the world: 'Champagne for Lulu!' So I said, 'You've forgotten, that's one of your famous phrases!' and she said 'Oh I must remember that'.
Recently, Sheridan Smith played Cilla Black on ITV...
I heard it was very good.
It got me wondering, who would play you in a film of your life?
Oh, I'll tell you who should play me: I would like Jennifer Lawrence. I think she's fabulous!
Go right for the top.
I think she could kill. I think she can do anything, that girl. She's ballsy, that's why I like her.
Can she sing?
Who cares? She's ballsy. I bet she can. She's got those chipmunk cheeks too.
You've never fallen over at an awards ceremony, have you?
I have fallen over, yes. Hasn't anyone who's worth anything fallen over? That was a good line. Don't mention no names. Anyone who's worth anything has fallen over on stage.
Speaking of which, we have to mention Madonna falling at the BRIT Awards.
I felt really bad. Because if you’re a female, and you’re a performer, an artist, you can see yourself in that situation, and I have had that happen to me. Not at the BRITs, but she is Madonna, she could only do it at the BRITs – I just did it on a stage somewhere. But she recovered, bless her heart.
She’s been getting a lot of grief at the moment about how she sound be making age appropriate music, or dressing age appropriate. How do you feel about that?
I think it’s a very, very fine line. I have been through it.
But women tend to get it, and not men.
It’s so true. Men don’t get it. Well, they don’t generally strip off though do they? Some of them do! It’s really unfair, but it’s a hard adjustment to make when you’ve been a young performer, and you’re still young in your mind and in your ways. Especially for someone who’s been so aware of her body. You know someone suggested something to me and I said ‘I can’t do that, it’s way too late for me to be doing that’, whatever it was they were suggesting, I’m not going to tell you, ‘I’m too old for that’ I said, and they said ‘Oh but people don’t think of you as old’ and I said, ‘Fine, but I know the reality’. There comes a point when you have to really address it. I don’t show anything anymore. I’m wearing hats now! I’ll be wearing a mask next time, I’ll speak to you from behind a curtain! No I think there comes a time when it has to be addressed, and it’s a tough one. I think it’s unfair that age is always measured on women, they don’t say, Paul McCartney or Tom Jones is such and such an age – but there’s always a fuss made about a woman’s age and how she looks. Because really, I suppose it’s a male dominated world – it is really – and for a long time in my life I was told what to do in my recording life and my work by men and I’d be very frustrated, and I would want to pummel somebody, but really I couldn’t. You see when a woman is forthright, she’s called a bitch, but when a man is forthright, he’s a ‘tough negotiator’.
Have you met a few tough negotiators?
I’ve met a few tough negotiators! And I’ve had a lot of struggle, a lot of pain, but I have to watch it.
Making Life Rhyme is released on 30th March. There’s more Lulu in the May issue of Attitude, out 1st April.