“Anybody who listens to the album will feel a connection to these songs…” - hmv.com talks to Steps’ Claire Richards about her solo album My Wildest Dreams
22 years after she first arrived as part of Day-Glo pop fivesome Steps, Claire Richards is stepping out on her own.
Her debut solo album My Wildest Dreams arrives this week and we spoke to Richards about why she’s decided 2019 is the year to go solo and what the future holds for Steps...
Has a solo album always been something you wanted? Or is it quite a recent idea?
“It is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but, for one reason or another, I haven’t. A lot of that has been bad timing or just a lack of confidence. I’m glad it is now because I feel ready, like I’ve got all the tools and all the experience I need. I feel like I can give it everything.”
When did you start putting the songs together?
“It’s been about three years in all. That’s when we started to find songs and collect them for the album. I’ve had the Steps album and tour inbetween, so it’s not been constant, but I was working and recording a year ago.”
Did you have a goal at the start for what you wanted the album to sound like?
“Not entirely. I always thought I’d be quite difficult for me to find my niche. Steps make a very specific type of pop music and I knew the expectation would be that I would do something very similar or something completely different. I didn’t know what direction to go in."
"In the end, I decided that I didn’t need to stray too far away from Steps. This is very much a pop record, but it’s more grown up. That was important to me, I’m married, I’ve got two kids, I’m over 40 and the album had to make sense for a woman who has all those things. I couldn’t just sing throwaway lyrics.”
How did you find the freedom of making this album? Was it strange making decisions without there being five voices in the discussion?
“It wasn’t strange. I would find I doubted myself a bit more when I was by myself. When I feel something in Steps, I really stick to my guns and tend not to waver, you have to. It’s nice not to have to wait for five people to make a decision.”
How did you decide which writers you wanted to work with?
“Steve Anderson, who I’ve known a long time, he wrote and produced a lot of the tracks. We get on really well and we want the same things from a record.”
Did you try out many songs before you settled on the 12 for the album?
“I listened to hundreds and hundreds of songs. I didn’t record much that I didn’t use. But we listened to so many demos before we picked the ones we chose.”
What kind of album is this in lyrical terms?
“Each song has its own little lane. Most songs are about love and heartbreak and there’s plenty of that. There’s one which I wrote about my children. I think anybody who listens to the album will feel a connection to these songs. There’s a universality to all of them.”
When did you decide that My Wildest Dreams was the right title for the album?
“As soon as I heard the song. That one was written just for me and it was just perfect. I’ve thought about this for such a long time and I’d given up hope. This whole thing has been a wild dream. The song captured that perfectly.”
Are you going to get a chance to take the album out on tour?
“Hopefully. I did four shows before Christmas to give people a taste of the album and they went well. I want to get out this summer. Nothing’s confirmed though.”
How are things with Steps? Are you all enjoying time apart?
“Faye’s about to do the Strictly tour, Lisa’s running her business in Dubai, Lee is very into his fitness and H is up to his eyeballs in twins. We’re all busy. We’re enjoying time away from Steps, but we start recording again this summer. There’s a plan and we’ve got no plans to jack it in again.”
Have you played any of your solo songs to the rest of the band?
“On tour last summer. I played them three or four tracks in the back of the car. That was quite scary, but they all said they liked them. I hope they were telling the truth…”
Claire Richards’ debut solo album My Wildest Dreams is out now.