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At Home With: Corinne Bailey Rae

Go behind the scenes of life with the singer songwriter...

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The singer-songwriter shares her cooking tips, favourite places to go out in Leeds and her love of the Yorkshire Dales ahead of her performance at The Hampton Court Palace Festival…

Corinne Bailey Rae

Tell us about your house and where you live?

I live in Leeds, well just on the outskirts. I really love living here; it’s where I grew up. I enjoy having a lot of green space around me and I live really near the Yorkshire Dales. It’s a really peaceful area.

How does your home reflect you as a person?

I think my home is a peaceful place. Although I love to travel to places like New York and Los Angeles, be amongst the craziness and be busy, but when I’m at home, I kind of have the opposite life to that. I spent a lot of time in the garden, read and spend time at home. I also have a lot of old friends in the area because I grew up here, so I love spending time with them.

If we knocked on your door, how would we be greeted?

You would be greeted warmly – you’d probably come straight through to the kitchen. I really like to cook, and host, so that’s the main room in our home. There’s also lots of tea drinking – we always have various herbs and remedies and things on the go.  You might walk into a group of friends – we have people round quite often, or a lot of family – both my husband’s and my families are in Yorkshire. It’s often a full house here, but if not, then it would be quiet. I like my house to be really still.

What’s your favourite room in the house? Describe what’s in it and why it’s your favourite.

The kitchen probably. I’m in the kitchen a lot – I like to eat, cook and to be cooked for too. Or then I have another room I love where I keep all of my poetry books in. Everything that I find inspiring is in that room – the snug. It’s also the warmest place in the house, which is nice for the winter months.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought for your home?

My house was built in the 1860s, and the things that we [my husband and I] have bought haven’t really been items, it’s more restoration and work on the house.  A lot of the expenses are on taking up the floorboards to find two tiles from the original floor. So I think just that specialized labour – which I’m always really happy to pay when you have a house like ours.

And what’s the oldest thing in your home and how did you acquire it?

Probably the bricks of the actual house or the stained-glass windows. These are the things that made me like the house, it just had a lot of character and there are a lot of original bits and pieces that are still there. It’s nice to imagine the craftspeople who made them and think of the work that went into them – the precision.

If we snooped in your kitchen what would we find in your fridge?

If we’ve just got back from tour it’s always something like three bottles of champagne and an onion. But when we are home it would be loads of veggies, aubergine, tomatoes, red peppers and sweet potato. I like to make things from scratch and I like to just pop some things into roast. That’s my favourite kind of cooking – I’m not very attentive. And then I’d have all of my weird things like beetroot juice, potions, and try to find different things at the market. We eat a lot of fish too.

And if you invited us to dinner, who would be there and what would you cook?

Maybe just some of my old friends, some from my old band too. My sister, Rhea, my mum, we might have people working on music too. I like to hear what other people are doing, like other local musicians. I’d probably cook beforehand, make some nice soups. This time of year I’d make really nice salads with toasted seeds and asparagus. Then some elderflower fizzy water to drink and maybe some fish like mackerel. For pudding, something light – I really like those dairy free ice creams from Booja Booja, which I’ll have with roasted pineapple or some crushed nuts.

If we rifled through your wardrobe, what favourite items or things of significance would we find?

I love clothes and I really like my wardrobe. I really like Duro Olowu, who is a British Nigerian designer – he has these amazing kimonos and tailoring. His patterns are great. In my wardrobe, there’s a lot of Miu Miu and Prada, I love Miuccia Prada and her designs. They are so playful but have that mixture of high and low – like beautiful leather mixed with horrible plastic or fake fur. I also love the uniform inspired pieces that she has. I like how they are prim and sexy at the same time.

A lot of my outfits are for my job, my performances. I have some pieces made for me by this stylist called Aldene Johnson. She has made me all of these jumpsuits for my performances with her seamstress. Those things I’ll only wear on stage. But also what’s great about my job is that because I’m travelling so much, and all year round, all of the pieces work for summer or wherever it’s hot (which is often where I’m travelling to, like L.A.). I like that I always get a lot of sunshine and that I never have to put my summer clothes away I guess.

It’s Saturday night at home, what’s the plan for the evening?

I’m not actually in a lot of Saturday nights. I’m usually out and Leeds is a great place to go out. There’s a place called Outlaws Yacht Club where they have a lot of cool djs; or the Belgrave Music Hall; Hyde Park Cinema. Otherwise, maybe I’d have people round for dinner – I would want to see people to make the most of my time at home.

If you were in London what would you be doing?

I love going to London and getting to experience different things, especially events and things going on outside of the music industry, especially other types of art. Caroline Issa is a good friend of mine, and she always keeps me up to date on the best things to do and see. She’s such a well informed presence.

Read our interview with Caroline Issa here.

You’re performing at The Hampton Court Palace Festival. What made you decide to do that?

I really like that venue, and I’ve spent a little bit of time in that part of the world as my sister lives near there. But I just thought that if it’s a really glorious day it would be great, and I love playing outdoors and at festivals.

What are you reading at the moment?

I love fiction and I love reading all different types of books really. I’ve just finished the ‘Buried Giant’ by Kazuo Ishiguro and ‘The Sell Out’ by Paul Beatty on tour. Those two books have a lot in common, with the effects of power and history and long reaching influence.

See Corinne Bailey Rae at The Hampton Court Palace Festival on 20 June.

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