"My life is not to be taken seriously. Everything I do I just do it because it's fun and if I stop enjoying it I stop doing it. You've just got to enjoy each day."
If only every celebrity had some of Joss Stone's common sense! In the public eye since the age of 16, the singer and 'Tudors' star gives fame a good name - honest, funny and so down to earth that she'll spend time talking about the beach ball at the Sunderland-Liverpool match when she should be talking about her excellent new album, 'Colour Me Free'.
It's the best thing Stone has done since her 2003 debut 'The Soul Sessions' and was mostly recorded at her mother's music venue in the space of, a week. But it looked for a while there as if it would never reach the shops...
HG: Congratulations on the new album. I think it's the best thing you've done since 'The Soul Sessions'. You got the vibe very close to that album.
Joss Stone: Thank you very much! I would hope so - 'The Soul Sessions' was definitely real raw. We made it really quickly, but it was all covers. This time [only] two of them [the songs] are covers. I definitely jammed it in a very similar way.
HG: And you recorded it in a week.
JS: Well, not all of it - we added some things afterwards - but pretty much. I really wanted to make an album and I just wanted to make it right there and then. So that's exactly what we did. I just got my band in - by luck they were all available to come over. I had the idea one day and the next day I made the album!
HG: When people don't get hung up on things and don't drag them out for months they often get better results.
JS: The quicker definitely is better. I think when I did [2007 album] 'Introducing Joss Stone'... I really liked the outcome of it but, I don't know, it worried me - the process, the pressure and all that. I invited the pressure into my life. I was like, 'Ok, well I've got to make this right. I want everyone to like it. I want it to be this. I want it to be that. How do I get it like this?' There's too much thought, too much stress. I'd rather just make something. Just breathe and let it come out because then it's whatever [it is]. It's like, 'Ok, well, maybe people will like it. And if they don't then I'll just make another one and it'll be cool'.
HG: How do you feel about your albums looking back?
JS: I don't really listen to my own music that often, unless while I'm making it. And then once it's out I don't listen to it. I really liked 'Introducing...', I really enjoyed that because it was, y'know, my little baby. I don't really like listening to 'The Soul Sessions' because my voice was so young and wasn't confident at all. If you compare the voice... For me to listen to it it's not fun. And I think [2004 album] 'Mind, Body & Soul' was like, okayish, I was figuring things out, but it was like, meh. I have my opinion on each of these albums and I'm sure I'll have my opinion on this one soon as well. But it will change, because I change. It's like a diary, really.
HG: You've been around in music for quite a while now - I have to keep reminding myself that you are only 22.
JS: That's true. I am kind of young. I suppose you're right. I've just been really busy!
HG: And you've had to do a lot of growing up in public as well.
JS: I know, God. That is silly, isn't it? I mean, what is wrong with the world? Why do they care? I'm a singer for goodness sake! What's the big deal?!
HG: But you've handled it very well. It comes across that you don't take a lot of it very seriously.
JS: Yeah, well, you shouldn't. Music is not to be taken seriously: it's to be felt. And to be honest, my life is not to be taken seriously. Everything I do I just do it because it's fun and if I stop enjoying it I stop doing it. You've just got to enjoy each day. And God, when you make things serious it's your fault, you're doing it.
HG: You have an all-star cast helping you out on this album - Jeff Beck, Sheila E, David Sanborn, Raphael Saadiq and Nas.
JS: God, I get lucky, don't I?
HG: How hard is it to co-ordinate those guest appearances?
JS: That part of it is a bit difficult usually with the schedules. But I added all that stuff after the week of recording. So I would just kind of give them a call and say, 'Are you available? This is the deadline'. And to be honest we didn't have a deadline for a really long time because the label didn't want the album.
HG: Which is nuts.
JS: They said it wasn't very good. So, you know, there you go [laughs]. And I was like, 'Well, you know, what can I do?' I think there are some songs on there that can be commercial.
HG: Well, listening to the song like 'Stalemate', that could be a huge hit.
JS: That's actually Jamie Hartman's [singer-songwriter who performs as Ben's Brother and duets on the song] song that I put onto my album because EMI wouldn't let me put it out as a single. They said no. And then he recorded it with Anastasia and put it out as a single which broke my heart. I love Anastacia, I think she's great, but it was kind of like my baby as well as his, so that kind of gutted me. So I put it onto my album so then maybe I can convince them to put it out as a single in America. He's a brilliant writer.
HG: It's a great song.
JS: I'm glad you like it. There so much stuff on there that could work... I don't think it was truly about the sound [of the album], it was more about the fact that I didn't invite them [EMI] to have any say. And that's kind of like an ego thing. But it is what it is. I understand that, at the end of the day, I'm a product to them, I'm not an artist. And if they have completely lost control of their product they get freaked out. But there you go, then, fire me! [laughs] And I gave them that option.
JS: Yeah, absolutely. For years I've been giving them that option.
HG: Well, they didn't.
JS: No, they didn't! But it's ok, you know what, I don't mind because it's all been sorted. And the album is the way that it was [originally] so it doesn't matter. All that other stuff, all the arguments and miscommunications and stuff it doesn't make a difference because today we're fine and the album is coming out, so Hallelujah.
HG: Have you ever thought of doing more rock-sounding stuff?
JS: I'd like to do some rock stuff. I mean, when I'm working with my band they're not really a rock band - they're more of a soul, kind of funk, reggae, R&B, hip-hop kind of thing! And so I'd have to have a whole new set-up if I wanted to do a rock album.
HG: But you cover stuff like gospel, blues and hip-hop on this album, so you should give rock a go.
JS: I should do, shouldn't I? I'd love to do rock. Like kind of Janis Joplin rock, that kind of rock would work.
HG: Or you singing something like Led Zeppelin's 'Custard Pie'.
JS: Ok, I'll give it a go! I really would like to do something like that. I don't like to stick to one genre. I'm not that kind of artist. I just do whatever feels good. I don't want to get bored. I want to do a reggae record one day. I really love reggae. It'd be fun to do.
HG: The problem with a lot of artists is that they keep putting out the same album.
JS: I know, it's so disappointing, isn't it? There was this woman that I loved and listened to a lot when I was younger and it was kind of like neo soul and she made this album and I listened to it constantly. I was so excited for the next one and it was the same album! It was the same thing, just with different lyrics. And I was like, 'Aw, I thought you were going to do something different and surprise me'' So I made a kind of vow to myself that I would never make the same album twice. And that means some people will like some albums more than the others. And y'know, no-one's going to love every single one of them. But so? I have to just make different stuff. And that's so exciting to have a meeting with a new vibe and also new musicians and stuff like that. It's fun.
HG: It's great to set yourself challenges. And one that would interest Irish readers is how you came to Ireland to star in 'The Tudors'. How did that happen?
JS: Well, they just asked me. I don't how it happened at the very beginning. I had this agent and he would get me to audition for a bunch of stuff. I was like, 'You know, I might try acting'. And this guy called me and wanted to be my agent so I said, 'Alright mate, if you get me something I'll pay you and if you don't, I won't. It is what it is!' And he said, 'Oh 'The Tudors' are looking for a Jane Seymour, so why don't you audition for that?' And I was like, 'Alright then. I'll give it a bash.' So I did.
I did the audition and they said, 'Yes, we'd love to have you', which by the way shocked me because I didn't think I was really a good actress then at all and I still don't really know - I'm kind of working on it. I was like, 'Wow, what a cool role'. And then when I found that they couldn't work around my tour I was really gutted. They ended up getting a wonderful actress who's really funny and brilliant.
But at the end of the day I did go to them and say, 'Look, I'm so sorry. I can't cancel my tour. I can't do it. But call me. I'll keep those months free for the next year and if you do another season let me know and I'll be any part you want me to be.' Because I just think it's a great environment for me to learn in. Like when I did 'The Soul Sessions' - I was literally thrown in head first in front of the world with brilliant musicians, legendary people. And it scared me, but I had to do it. I had to perform. I had to come up with something. And that's how I learn.
So I figured if I approached the acting in a similar way it might work. And it did work. I think! I think! I hope! So that's how I got [to play] Anne of Cleves and Anne of Cleves is much more fun because she's so different because she was definitely not the most stunning and I don't know if I could've played such an English Rose as the other actress did. She did a much better job than I would've. So it all panned out perfectly.
HG: And anything coming up on the acting front?
JS: Nothing at the moment. There's lots of rumblings about all sorts of different things, but in the movie world nothing's done 'til it's' done - it's not like an album. They say, 'Oh we'll do this, well do that', then it changes and the budget goes. So I just sit back and wait for something serious to come along.
HG: You should think about doing 'The Bill'. I was just looking at your video for 'Baby Baby Baby' and you look great in the police outfit.
JS: Thank you very much! [laughs]
HG: Finally, I know you're a Liverpool fan, so which would you choose: Liverpool win the League, the Champions League and the FA Cup or you win an Oscar for Best Song?
JS: I think Liverpool would be more likely! Liverpool winning, without a second thought. Liverpool I find are a really stressful team to support! My dad travels around the world to see them, he loves them, and if they really do mess up badly, which does happen every now and then, he can be in a bad mood for a week!
'Colour Me Free' is out on EMI from Friday, 30 October.