Whether you know her best for floor-filling hits like ‘Murder On The Dancefloor’ or for her Covid Kitchen Disco concerts, phenomenal English singer and broadcaster Sophie Ellis-Bextor is also well known for loving Christmas. We sat down with Sophie to get into the festive spirit.
Interview: Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Hi Sophie, how’s life going at the moment?
Hi! Really good, actually. Busy, but nicely so and feeling really festive. I am in a very Christmassy frame of mind as I am prepping for my UK Christmas Tour.
You’re switching on Marylebone Village’s Christmas lights tonight (Thursday 9 November) – how are you feeling about it?
Really happy – what a lovely thing to be doing. I think Marylebone Village is so beautiful. It’s a very handsome part of London all year round, but I can’t wait to see how beautiful it looks wearing it’s new Christmas lights. I think it’s going to be gorgeous, and I am very honoured to be turning them on.
The event is held with the charity Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster Mind. What does this charity mean to you?
What a phenomenal job and such an important job that mental health charities do for society. I do think we have come on a long way with reducing the taboo that is around your mental health, but honestly the work that charities such as Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster Mind put into helping people and people who are going through issues related to their mental health is really is such vital, vital work. So I am absolutely thrilled that this is the selected charity associated with the switch on, and I think they are a brilliant charity. I wish them all the best with everything!
We know you love the festive season with your Christmassy editions of your BBC Sounds show Kitchen Disco, but is there anything else you’re specifically looking forward to this festive season?
It has to be the tour. I have never done a Christmas tour before, and it’s made me think about all my associations with the season. Obviously, I am preparing the soundtrack and the songs that I want to cover in the gig. I am doing some of my songs, some party tunes and lots of Christmas classics, and also the aesthetic that Christmas is to me. I kind of want people to feel like they enter a Christmas bauble and find themselves just having a lot of fun, and leave the outside world behind for a little minute. I think that is really fun!
How did it all come together?
We did our first Kitchen Disco Tour last year, which was the second half of a promise that my [husband] Richard and I made to ourselves during the lockdown Kitchen Discos, which was that, eventually, when we could, we wanted to do them in front of a live audience. It was incredibly special and one of my favourite tours I’ve ever done. So I thought, well, if there is any time of year that is ripe for discos and parties, it’s Christmas. It just set the wheels in motion – that I would love to bring a proper Christmas Kitchen Disco to the stage.
I love Christmas and the whole season. I love being with friends and family. And happily for me, I also tour with friends and family. If the bands aren’t my friends, then they’re my family. I’m married to the bass player, and I’m the sister of the drummer, so it’s definitely a friends and family type of affair. It’s lovely to have the get together, happy memories, a bit of a song and dance, and hopefully leave people feeling good after they come to visit us.
Which city are you most excited to visit?
All of them, really, which is the beauty of touring. I love it every day when I wake up off the tour bus in a new town. I’ll go and have a little wander around, usually exploring vintage shops and some old record shops. Wandering around, picking up on the vibe of where I am, getting a sense of things. Obviously it’s lovely to go to places I’m familiar with like Manchester or Birmingham or Liverpool, but there are other places I don’t go as often, so I will definitely be doing some exploring and I can’t wait. Then having the Christmas show in London will be particularly resonant, because that is where all my family will come, and the kids might join me on stage, too! In fact, they have basically told me they are going to whether I like it or not!
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What’s your favourite song to play at your Kitchen Disco shows?
Live, I really love doing a song of mine called ‘Heartbreak’ because it’s basically the song equivalent of putting on giant shoulder pads and it just makes you feel so empowered – like a superhero!
Any standout moments or funny stories from previous Kitchen Disco shows?
During lockdown, I impulse brought a massive, life-size white horse that I sit on for the beginning of the gig. So when we had our first reviews coming out from the last tour, the picture that accompanied the reviews was me sat on this horse, and we had quite a few people thinking I brought an actual live horse on stage with me. I mean, if they’d looked closely at the picture, they would have seen that this horse has a lightning bolt drawn on his face and disco ball hoofs, so goodness knows where they thought I found a taxidermy horse that just also happened to have disco balls – or a live one for that matter. Some people were a bit dismayed about me bringing a horse on tour, but don’t worry folks, it ain’t real!
What are your plans for Christmas day?
Everybody is here. We host Christmas and have done for over 15 years now. My mum, brother, sister and their other halves. Richard’s parents, his brother – they all come here. We take in anyone else that needs to find a home for Christmas, so also have some neighbours that come over, some of my brothers’ mates. We start off the day with stockings and we finish it with mulled wine martinis, and I absolutely love it. It’s a very happy day!
What is your top spot in London (other than beautiful Marylebone Village!) you’d recommend people visit in the festive season?
I think just go all throughout the centre of London and take in all the sights and delights. As I’ve said before, London looks so beautiful in Christmas lights – it really suits it. I mean, what city doesn’t benefit from a little bit of fairy lights and some pink neon? I think it just looks so beautiful, and it’s the time that London looks to me like something out of a movie. It looks romantic. It looks cosy. Just have a wander, do some window shopping, and enjoy all the beautiful aesthetics that people have put out there to make you feel happy!
Festive Quick Fire
My favourite Christmas film is… A Christmas Story
My favourite festive novel is… Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr
My favourite Christmas TV special ever is… The Office Christmas Special
The Christmas TV special I’m looking forward to this year is… The Story of Mog’s Christmas
My favourite Christmas song is… ‘Christmas Wrapping’ by The Waitresses
The best thing to do at Christmastime is… Relax, change gear, hunker down, see your friends and family, and take it easy!
My Christmassy guilty pleasure is… I don’t really agree with guilty pleasures as I try not to feel guilty about any of my pleasures. But I do quite enjoy leaving a couple of decorations up all year round in places where the family can’t see them, and seeing if Richard spots the odd erroneous bauble in July!
Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Christmas Kitchen Disco tour kicks off on 23 November 2023.
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