We recently got the chance to sit down and have a chat with Claire Richards about her upcoming album My Wildest Dreams, her love for music and how her confidence has grown over the years she’s been working in the music industry.
We began by asking about her first single On My Own, which has been really well received by the general public and is currently featured on Radio 2’s playlist. And her thoughts when she first the track.
When I listened to it I related it to me and my journey and my story.
“I really listen to lyrics to songs. When I first heard it I just thought yeah, this is a song I need on my album. Then with the production and everything and the gospel choir we added into it, it just gave it that extra lift as well.”
On My Own has gotten some very positive reactions from fans across social media all who have found their own way to relate to the powerful and uplifting track.
You can't rely on other people to make you happy you've got to be responsible for your own happiness ultimately.
“I don’t think I expected the fans to relate to it the way they have,” she says. ” It seems that everybody is connecting it to the story of their lives which is so nice to hear, as, as much as I didn’t intend for that it’s great because it’s exactly what I did when I heard it. So it makes sense that people are doing that and I love it and want more of it. I started out wanting songs that mean something to people, even if it’s a different meaning for every person that listens to it. I think we all go through something in life. It’s not necessarily about you doing something specific on your own, it’s almost like a personal thing, getting to a point in your life where you’re more confident and more happy with yourself.”
These days Claire is more confident than ever. She is happy and content in both her personal and professional lives. She is very happily married to Reece Hill who she has two children Charlie and Daisy.
They make me brave!
For her new album My Wildest Dreams she has co-written a song called Brave. “I was a bit nervous about the whole thing as I had written for a long time but Jez and Rachel who I wrote with were brilliant. So generous and so collaborative that it made it really easy. We kind of went in and I sat down and they went ‘ right what do you want to write about?’ Everything else is kind of a love song or an empowerment song. But I wanted to write something with my kids in mind. Either for them or about them, something I could say to them this is for you.”
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This week has been so incredibly exciting and I’m so happy you all like what you heard/seen so far!! Today is a family day so thought I’d have a little look back to our holiday last week and try to ignore the rain ?? ?? #Thankyou #love #Ibiza #family #kids #schoolholidays
“So that’s what we did. It’s basically about them not really knowing who I was before. They’ve only really ever known me as their Mum. I was always quite quiet I’m certainly not confrontational. And I’m still not but they make me have a voice. They make me brave. I want to do things for them and I want to show them you can be a strong person and a strong human being and still be nice and still do the things that you want.”
Claire’s journey to getting to where she is today is a long one, full of stops and starts as she played around with the idea. It wasn’t till a trip to India a couple of years ago where she played a song to her manager that with his help she was given the final boost of confidence and the push she needed to start really considering releasing solo material.
“I started working with Steve Anderson [producer and musical director] about four years ago and we started dabbling around with stuff recording and we kinda said look let’s try and make something happen. We recorded a few things and we both went our separate ways again and obviously, Steps got back together. But in that time, about three years ago he played me a song which was called End Before We Start which is on the album, and I did record it at the time but we just kind of kept it for ages and then I played it to Adam[Klein] my manager on a trip to India about two years ago now. After playing it to Adam the whole thing became a serious thing of let’s do this.”
I kind of surprised myself. Thinking god I can actually really do this!
Going back on tour with Steps helped to show Claire that she could do it on her own.
“A lot of it is to do with being on stage and singing completely live for two hours. Even on the last tour[ The Ultimate Tour], we did most of it live but not all of it. But on this tour [Party on The Dancefloor] I sang every bit of my bits completely live. I kind of surprised myself. Thinking god I can actually really do this! Every single night I did it and luckily (touch wood) I didn’t get ill or get a cold. It showed I could do it and I got through the whole thing and obviously, that makes your voice stronger anyway. and knowing I could do that for two hours pretty much every single night for a month or so definitely did give me a boost in confidence.”
The songs are quite vocally challenging.
It’s clear when speaking to Claire she has nothing but love for Steps and what they do together as a band. “I think for an act like us to come back with new material, which was something we wanted to do because the fans had been asking for it for so long. It was always a bit of worry for us because we were so of our time and the music was so specific that we were worried how that would translate in today’s market. So the fact we’ve managed to do that and it’s worked and the fans are still coming to see us on tour, it’s amazing.”
“On the last album [Tears on The Dance Floor] I really loved recording I will Love Again, as it’s a song you can really get your teeth in to.”
Her first love is singing. She freely admits she would love to just stand and sing if she could. “Yes, exactly.” she laughs when we say this to her. ‘There a few songs on the album that are more up-tempo but most are quite vocally challenging so I don’t think I would be able to be prancing around.”
She recently released an acoustic version of On My Own and previously has recorded acoustic versions of the Steps classics One for Sorrow and Deeper Shade of Blue.
Claire is no stranger to pushing herself vocally. And admits that in the early days of Steps she didn’t really appreciate that she had to look after her voice.
“As you get older the more you learn. I’m not going to lie back when I was 20 I just opened my mouth and it all came out. It was easy! There was a period in my late 20’s where I kind of couldn’t do what I did back in the day for a while and it freaked me out a little bit.”
She then began to look after her voice. “Someone explained to me that ‘ok you have a natural talent’ but you have to work on it to keep it that way. It’s a muscle at the end of the day. It’s just like an athlete you have to exercise it, you’ve got to look after it. And I never really realised or did that up until that point.”
It made me really really fall in love with singing again
She appeared on the ITV show Popstar to Opera star. “It was that other kind of puzzle piece if you like. It proved to me that there is still room to grow. There is still more you can discover that you can do. The stamina and the longevity are key. I absolutely loved doing it, it was brilliant. The week where I was comfortable and thought yes I can do this, was the week I got kicked out. She laughs.
” It definitely made me gain a hell of a lot of respect for Opera singers. Knowing what they do. They go through years and years of training. The commitment….. Compared to them I’m a fly by night!”
Talk turns to Claire’s upcoming tour in December. It’s going to be a small and intimate tour. The focus will be on the songs. “I’m going to have a live band” she explains. “So that will be different in itself and they are much smaller venues. We haven’t discussed the set list yet so I cannot confirm or deny it, but there will probably be some Steps covers but I don’t know what, but they definitely will be different as with a live band there is more scope to play with it. It’s going to be more focused on the vocals and the music rather than the bells and whistles, as much as I’d love some bells and whistles.”
I love the fact that at 40 I'm doing and being able to experience things I never thought I would.
For Claire releasing a solo album and going it alone is hugely exciting and equally terrifying. “I was 18 when I signed my first record deal. So I’ve been in the industry on and off for 23 years.”
“I’m used to having that support and that protection and I’m comfortable with that.” She says of having the support of her Steps bandmates. “Up until the point of everyone hearing the song, I sort of forgot I was actually going to have to perform it by myself. She laughs. “So now I’m thinking Oh okay!!!!”
I did a showcase a couple of weeks ago. Even though I’ve got the band there, when we rehearsed, we rehearsed in sort of semi-circle facing each other. But for the showcase, they were behind me and I thought Oh god who am I going to copy of I go wrong? But there are no dance routines so we are fine”
We talk about being her first band TSD and Steps have all helped to build her confidence to get to the point where she feels ready to be on her own. ” I feel like that.” she agrees. “I’ve said it before I don’t think up until now I’d have been ready to do this and I don’t think I’d have been able to give it my all musically, vocally. I think all of that is in the best shape it’s ever really been.
It is a dream come true for me
Claire away from her own songs likes to listen to songs that have meaning and likes artists like Carrie Underwood and Lea Michelle, who produce albums she likes to listen to full albums from start to finish.
“Every single song on this album has been chosen for a reason, be it that I love it, to the point where I’ll listen to it over and over again or lyrically they make sense. Every single one of them lyrically means something or makes sense to me. There is nothing on there where you’re going to think my god why is a 41-year-old married mother of two singing about that? Hopefully, they are all songs people will listen to and take something from it.
“I do believe everything happens for a reason. All these years of why as it never happened? or Oh I wish I’d done that….. when actually everything happens for a reason! And it wasn’t meant to happen before now. I’m fine with that I’m glad that it has taken this long.” “It’s a dream come true for me which is why the album is called My Wildest Dreams. I never thought for one second I would be here, signed to Sony and putting out my first solo album at age 41. It’s all a bit weird. But I think Steps fans are pretty amazing and they’ve been so supportive and I’m hoping along the way we will encourage some new fans as well, some people who don’t necessarily like Steps but like this kind of music. It’s different enough. The album is reflective and empowering. I hope that you will put it on and listen to it from start to finish and want to listen to it from start to finish and not skip a track.”
My Wildest Dreams is released on November 2nd. You can preorder here.
Tickets for Claire’s UK tour in December are available here.
Are you excited for Claire’s album? Are you going to see her on tour, let us know @CelebMix!