David Nathan: Well, I am delighted to be here in London with a lady who has been part of the British music scene and British soul music scene for about two decades, and we haven’t seen each other in a long time. It’s really good, catching up with you. There’s a lot to catch up on, and of course this interview is for my website, soulmusic.com, so a lot of what we’re going to talk about is probably catching up for American visitors in particular, who probably don’t know what you’ve been doing, and only know that it’s been a long time since they heard a Mica Paris record, so we will be doing some catch-up about what you’ve been doing here in Britain. Well, let’s start at the most obvious place, which is your latest record, which I think came out only a month or so ago?
Mica Paris: Yes.
DN: Tell us about the concept behind it, and how it got created.
MP: Well, first of all, what really happened was that I had a 10-year absence. I just couldn’t get signed. No one wanted to sign me, and I ended up doing TV. I had a big TV show here for a couple of years, then radio, and I had all that going on. Even though inside it was killing me because I couldn’t make music, I just carried on with the TV and got immersed in it, but deep down there was this pain inside of “I really want to make a record”. Then, I was approached by some hedge fund people, and they said they wanted me to make a record, and they wanted me to make a record with Brian Rawlings, who is one of my dearest friends.
Brian Rawlings is a very respected producer. He does Lemar, Craig David, Cher, Tina Turner, and everybody. He and I had been friends for a long time, and we made a record together a while ago. It was all covers, and it was called Soul Classics. I did that just for the Radio 2 show that I had. I remember we sat there and went “It would be really good if we could make our own record.” It took 5 years for it to actually happen.
So anyway, the hedge fund people came, and they put Brian up, and Brian called me and said, “We can make this record now Mica”, and I said “Yes!” So, I left the set of what I was doing, with this What Not To Wear TV show, and then I went down to Guildford, this amazing estate down there on the countryside, and we started working on this album.
The wonderful thing about this hedge fund thing is that, we didn’t have that pressure that you’d normally get from record companies, which is “We want it by this date” or whatever, which you probably shouldn’t do with Mica Paris anyway, because it then turned into 2 ½ years of me trying to make it the best thing I could possibly make. I wrote many songs, and many songs got thrown away in the first year. I didn’t think they were right. I was coming out of quite a dark place personally, so a lot of the songs were very sad, but I had just gave birth at that time to my little girl, who is now 3 years old, and I split up with her German father, and that was a 7 year relationship, so it was very tough at that time. It was a hard time for me, and I didn’t like the fact that the songs were so dark. You know what, this is not cool! I’m just going to throw these out, because I want to make people feel good, and inspired. I don’t want to bring them down. I’ll leave that to Coldplay. (laughs)
The second year of making the album completely changed. All the songs started to come out. It was bizarre. Brian had gotten me ‘I Remember’, which is a Keyshia Cole song, and he said, “Listen to this Mica. This is just an amazing song.” He put it on, and I was like “Oh Yeah! I can really kill that” so I went in the studio and I did that song, and I swear it was 1 take. It was just butter. You know, when I hear those soft chords, my voice just knows what to do. I don’t need to tell it, it just goes right there, and it was a marriage. That was when the album changed, and all the songs after ‘I Remember’ started to come. Paul Barry wrote me this amazing song called ‘Born Again’, and there was Eric Benet’s ‘You’re The Only One’, and that one had come along because Eric sent me a message on Myspace, and I’m very bad at those Myspace things. It was my office that called me up and said “Do you know you just got a message from Eric Benet, saying he’s a real fan?” So I called Brian, and Brian found ‘You’re The Only One’ and said “You know what, do this”, and then I did that, and it was amazing as well. The album just started to take on a shape, and that’s really how the album came together. Every single song on the album is very much a depiction of the last 10 years emotionally, and how stuff has been so tough.
There’s another writer that I met, a girl called Ayak from Sudan, she’s 24, an amazing writer, and I think she’s going to be really big. She wrote this song called ‘Hold On’, and when I heard that song, I just jumped at that song, because to me, that’s what it’s all about; it’s about sticking at it, even when it looks really dire, and you think it’s the end, hold on. All of the songs are like that, they’re all sort of songs of hope. You’re going to be alright, don’t worry. This is what this album is for me: it’s me coming out of a really dark time musically, and not being able to make music, and having the confidence to make a new record, because it’s terrifying, going back in and doing a record after 10 years. You don’t know if you’ve still got it, but feeling at the end of it like you are reborn, and that’s why I called the album Born Again.
DN: There’s a lot you said there, so I’m going to pick up on some of the things you said. One thing that you said at the very beginning, is probably the thing that would be most mystifying to me, and I am sure to other people, which is that you said, “I couldn’t get a record deal”. It’s kind of hard to imagine why that would be. I guess part of what we have to put some context around is, because we’re here in Britain, and I don’t know how people have related to you here, I’ve got a couple of questions.
Were you at that time looking for a British record deal, or was that true of America, had American fans forgotten you? It seems hard for me to compute that someone who already had a track record, you’ve already made records, people knew your name, would have that problem, so could you elaborate a little bit about why that happened, or what happened?
MP: I think the British music scene is really a complex one. It’s not like in the States where they kind of appreciate you, the older you get, they love you more in America because they know that you’re good and they like what you do, and they just appreciate you the older you get. Britain is very much obsessed with the youth. It’s a very youth-obsessed market here, and the feeling I got was that Mica had her time, and it’s done now. She’s finished now. I kind of made it worse by becoming this TV celebrity. I think that they kind of just felt, well I don’t know what it was. They just didn’t think that I could make music again. I said, “This is what I got”, and I’m really funny like that. If you reject me, I just go “Okay, fine I’ll just go and do something else.” I’m one of them. I just don’t sit there and get depressed about it. At that moment I thought, “Well, they’re just not going to give me any love.”
It wasn’t a good time 10 years ago. I mean, Prince was an enigma in that way, in that he was doing everything himself, and U2 was doing that as well, but not many artists at that time, 11 or 12 years ago, were making their own records. If you didn’t get signed 12 years ago, you’d just say “You know what? There’s no point.” I couldn’t self-fund at that time, so as I said, the TV work came, and the Radio 2 show came along, and I kind of just stayed there.
DN: Did you actually actively pursue the television and radio stuff, or did it just come to you?
MP: It all came. It came through friends. It’s really bizarre how that work came. The Radio 2 show came because Lesley Douglas, who was the head of Radio 2 at the time, she had a show that was belonging to Dionne Warwick. Dionne had a show on there for a long time, and she left the show, so they called me up and said “Would you mind being a guest presenter for us while we find someone to take over the show?” I said, “Yeah, okay.”
I had no idea about radio, and I remember going on the show, doing it for the first time, and I remember speaking, going on the show for the first time and I called up my sister and said, “What did you think?” She said, “You were rubbish!” I said, “What do you mean I was rubbish?” and she said, “You’re not speaking how you usually speak.”
In my mind, when I remember Radio 2 when I was younger, being a really mature station, and very intellectual, and Radio 2 has really changed. Radio 2 is like Radio 4 back in the day, and it was all about Radio 1 back then, so in my mind, they were all posh people, middle class and that kind of thing, so I was like, “I’m a girl from South London. There’s no way I can give it straight on this, they’re just not going to have it.” My sister said to me, “You’ve got to be yourself. Just be yourself.” So, I went back in and was just myself, and Radio 2 said, “We want you to stay.” So, I ended up staying there for 5 years. I had a listenership of 800,000 people a week, and it was wonderful!
Bobby Womack passed through, Mary J came so many times, Chaka, everybody. Lou Rawls, just everybody you can think of came through. I was really blessed with that, and I really enjoyed it. It was nice because I didn’t have to dress up, didn’t have to look great, I only dressed up when I knew I was having a guest, and other than that I would just have a baseball cap on or something, and just hang out. It taught me a lot about focusing on how you actually speak without being seen. You change your mentality; you think more about the words that you say, because no one can see your expression. It’s a very good discipline, and it really helped me a lot, so I learned a heck of a lot there.
DN: So, that came to you. Now, did the television come before that, or after?
MP: Television came after, through another friend of mine, who was an old girlfriend of mine for about 10 years, and she called me up one day and said, “Mica, I’ve put you forward for this show” and I’m like, “Why did you do that?” She said, “You know what you’re always like with clothes and make-up. You’re always telling me what to put on, and you’re always telling people what to wear, so I put you forward.” I was like “Oh, God.” I didn’t even have a chance to process what she said on the phone, because she then passed the phone to the producer. “She’s here! Have a word with her.” I couldn’t even say no. He was on the phone! “Hi!” He’s like, “Could you come for a casting tomorrow?” I’m 6 months pregnant at the time. I was not expecting to be working on a TV show, so anyway I went and did the casting, they went nuts and said, “Yes, we want you” and blah, blah. Next minute, I was doing the show called What Not To Wear. That went on for 2 years. We had 14 million people a week, watching in on BBC. That was the thing that re-launched everything. It’s a great show. I love helping people, especially women, and sorting them out. It wasn’t just about clothes. It was about mentality, loving themselves, and all that kind of stuff. I love all that.
After that I got asked to write for mags, and newspaper, and I thought, “I’ve never written for mags in my life!” All I kept doing was just keeping it real; speaking from what I saw, and it seemed to work. I became known as a semi-quasi-journalist (laughs). That’s what you are, David. Not me! I just visited that world for 5 minutes. I did my little thing there, and then I decided, because I found over the two years of doing this TV show, there were so many women in the UK who just don’t look after themselves at all, and when I say don’t look after themselves, it’s not like American women, they always look glamorous. In England, women don’t do it. They just don’t do it. Don’t ask what that’s about.
I’m from Caribbean decent. My parents are Jamaican. It’s all about looking good. We’re complete show-offs. They’re totally vain, and you know the deal. I was there, thinking, there’s so many women in the UK. I was getting letters from women asking, “Mica, how do you stay confident?” and I told them it wasn’t always that way, and I went through a rocky road in the industry. Sometimes I was too fat, sometimes I was too skinny; I couldn’t win. It was a nightmare! Being 5 foot 11, I’m zoned in on the drama of intimidating men, and all that stuff, so I wrote this little book called Beautiful Within, within Simon & Schuster. The women love it! It’s just a wonderful thing.
DN: So, what you did, which is something that very few artists get to do, is actually reinvent yourself in other parts of the entertainment world. People get to see all these different dimensions of your personality, like who you are, which a lot of times wouldn’t happen if you were just a recording artist. In fact essentially, I think it’s fair to say that all recording artists, all you get is the music, unless they are so Mega, that you become privy to every other aspect of their lives, but that’s very few people.
MP: Well, I kind of like that. To be honest with you, in my mind, David, I never really expected to be anything other than a singer. That’s what you have to know. In my mind, I always saw myself as a singer, but I will say this: I always wanted to have an adventure with the music. I always wanted to try different types of music, and I was terrified, especially on the first album. I made that album with Julian Palmer the way I wanted it to be made, I chose the writers, Peter Vale and Mick Leeson, because I wanted to make my first album a classic. I thought it was really important. I might have only been 17, but I knew that if I made a really good thing in the beginning, that people would never forget me. This is where my head was at as a 17-year-old.
When it came to the second album, I was like, “No, No, No. I want to do some more stuff now. I want to do this other stuff” because I was growing up. The industry in this country didn’t like that, and most record companies don’t like that, to be honest. It was very tough for me because I am not a conformist. They wanted to conform me, to push me in a box, and I refused to go in there! I said, “This could be good. I could do this. I’ve seen American artists do it. Even Janet. Look at Janet Jackson. She’ll have 5 different styles on one album. Why can’t I do it?” It was a fight I was having all that time.
Meanwhile, I was having the most incredible adventure in my life. I remember on the second album, I chose Camus and Andres, these guys from Berklee. I got them from Brooklyn, and brought them up to Manhattan. We were in my apartment, and we just started writing songs together. For me, the fact that you can do that, is just amazing, as an artist. I’ve never been one of those artists who has to have zillions of sales to feel good. I feel good when I know that the music touches people, and I’m able to reinvent myself, musically. That’s how I saw myself as reinventing myself, was musically, but I wasn’t allowed. So, I guess I’m saying to you that I got all these opportunities from friends, because I did. I didn’t actively have an agent or somebody. I’ve never had an agent that gets me things. Maybe I was reinvented without my permission, I guess.
DN: I think one of the ways you can look at it, and it’s the way I would in hearing you speak about it, I would say that how it appears to have happened, was organic, and obviously if you want to think about it in terms of destiny, which is a whole other subject, I guess you were meant to not just disappear, because all those things happened that kept you alive in the public consciousness, without even having a record out, which most people wouldn’t be able to do.
MP: I don’t know if you can plan that. To be honest with you, if I had sat down and tried to plan that, it would have gone tits up. (laughs)
DN: You’re right, you can’t because those opportunities only get presented to you because of who you are and because people knew you, but I think if you tried to plan that, it doesn’t work. You’re trying to strategize, and you go trying to persuade people that you are more than just a recording artist, but obviously people saw you that way, even though you weren’t trying to do that. I think it’s true that if you tried to do that, it doesn’t work, because people say, “Who does she think she is? What makes her think she can be on television?”
MP: David, straight up, I’m that kind of person. I love challenges, and people throw me into things. I’ll be honest, there are a few things that I have done, there are a lot of thing that I’ve done, where I go, “What were you thinking, Mica?” I’ve done some really silly things, but if I haven’t tried, well you know it’s better to have tried and screw it up then to never have tried. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Number one, when I got that TV show, these 2 girls who did it before were huge, and I’d never seen their show, which I think is a blessing. I don’t watch telly, you see I’m rubbish with telly.
Basically, when they told me about the TV show, they said, “Don’t you know Trinny and Susannah?” and I said, “I’ve seen them in the newspapers, but I don’t know what their show is” and they said, “Oh perfect, we love you even more now” and I said, “I’m not going to do clothes though” but I think in a way, it’s the same when I did the U2 song ‘One’, when I covered Bono’s song. I hadn’t heard his version. Mike Peden had come across it for me. I was so stupid! I didn’t know. I know U2’s Joshua Tree and all that, but I didn’t know that song. It wasn’t a big hit for them, and if it was, I wasn’t around. So, he played me the backing tape, and then he played me Bono’s version, and I was like, “Oh, that sounds really good, but you know what? Let me do it my way” because when he sent me the demo of it, I had a way that I was going to sing it.
I think you must always, I believe, that it’s very important to have a sense of self, of what you’re bringing to the table with any project. You must never, ever emulate someone else. It’s really something you don’t want to do, because they did it great their way, and why would you come in and try to steal what they did? So, I think that’s been a real help for me in all the things I’ve done, is that I’ve never tried to copy. To me, if I screw it up, I’ve screwed it up Mica’s way! (laughs)
DN: Right, right. With all the experiences you’ve had with radio, television, and then having to accept at some point, that you didn’t have a record deal, when it did come time to do this album, did you feel any pressure?
MP: Of course! Tons. It was really funny, because when Brian called me up and said, “Mica, we’re going to do the album” I was like, “Oh My God!” I was jumping off the bed. I was losing it. “After 10 years I’m going to do this! This is fantastic! I’m really excited!” Then, I got down to the studio, and I was like, “Oh my gosh. What kind of record am I going to make?” Brian sat me down in his office, and we were talking and it was really hard. The first year was tough, because Brian was trying to find out what kind of record I wanted to make, too. He’d play me things and I’d go, “Hmmmm. Naaah.” It was that kind of thing, and I could see that there were times when Brian would look at me, and it’s a good thing that Brian and I are friends, because that man has the patience of a saint, because we really went through it, and at one point, I just had to sit there and say, “You know, everybody in this business is expecting me to make a predictable record. I can’t do that. There’s no way I can go out there and look like I’m dying for a hit. The best thing to do is for me to make a record that’s really organic, we take our time, and let’s stick to really great lyrics. Make that the focal point, lyrics first and foremost, and then everything else will follow. Let’s do that first.”
That’s when we went back to the drawing board and just started working, and working, and working, and the songs just got better. Some songs got thrown out, but that was very tedious. That first year was tedious because I could see that Brian is a very busy man. He’s doing the biggest artists in the world, like James Morrison and all that stuff, and here I am, little old Paris phoning him saying, “I don’t like that, and I’m not feeling that” or whatever. He stuck with me, and that’s why I love him so much, because he really understands me. I am a nightmare for most record companies, and I’m not going to make a record that’s predictable. I would prefer to build up my fan-base and get it right, because I came from a time where I made records where they allowed me to do what I wanted on the first album, and it was after that, they saw that I did Contribution, and they said, “That’s it. We want you to do things our way” and then Rod Templeton came, and all that stuff, and it became very much what they wanted.
It’s been a very turbulent music career I’ve had. Very hard. I think it went pear-shaped, to be honest, after the first album, because when Julian, who was my partner in crime at Island Records, and we made the first record together, he and I sat down and decided what kind of record we wanted to make, very much like how Brian and I are. Julian kind of went off the rails, and I’m not going to tell you what happened with him, but after the first album, the sales went off, and he had his issues. I kind of lost him. I lost my partner, and that’s why I rebelled, and went off and made Contribution. Even though I love Contribution, maybe there would have been continuity to Mica Paris, had my partner not left.
DN: That’s really interesting, and why it’s interesting to me to hear you say it, is because that’s how I felt about it. I was like, “this is a little left from where that was.”
MP: It was really hard, not having him there anymore, and I couldn’t get him back, then Bruce Garfield came along to manage me, and he was managing Will (Downing) at the time. I was like a lost puppy. I was 19 and I lost my boy. Me and Jules, we did everything together. I would sit down and say, “You see that song, ‘Breathe Life Into Me’? That song is a killer! I’m telling you” and he was like “Yes”. I would bounce off of him, you know?
DN: It was kind of interesting, because you know, and I’m not sure if anyone has ever said this, I’m sure that someone probably did, but particularly, ‘My One Temptation’, it’s not that it sounded like this, but it reminded me in a funny way of Dionne, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, like some kind of partnership.
MP: Sure, or like Steely Dan meets Burt Bacharach. For sure, you’re spot on. You know, Dionne, who has become a really good friend as well, she’s a wonderful woman, just a diamond, and very supportive in the beginning of my career, because everyone would compare me to her, and I was like, “I’m only a teenager” but it reminded people of Dionne, and I chose those writers because of a demo that was ‘Breathe Life Into Me’. When Julian put all the tapes on the table, 10 tapes, and I listened to the songs from all of the writers, none of them moved me, except for ‘Breathe Life Into Me’. When I heard ‘Breathe Life Into Me’, this demo, I collapsed on the floor. I said, “Oh My God! Who brought that? We need those guys.” We went into the studio, and My One Temptation came at the end. After 9 months in the studio, ‘My One Temptation’ was the last song to be written, and the biggest hit.
DN: Now, let’s talk about the new record. What was the last song that made it to this?
MP: The last song on this album was, I think, ooh I need to look to remind myself. It’s tough, that one. The last song is ‘Baby Come Back Now’.
DN: Which is the first single.
MP: Yeah. ‘Baby Come Back Now’ was the last song, and that was written by James Morrison. No, it wasn’t the first single actually, but that was the last song that was written for me, and that was James Morrison. I think he’s an exceptional talent. It’s just amazing. That guy has got so much soul.
DN: Was it after that, that you guys said “Okay, that’s it. The album’s finished” because honestly, after an absence like that, you explained what you did. You were kind of walking through things, and trying things out. I mean, this could have taken 5 years to make. So at what point did you say, “That’s it, we’re done. We’re finished. We got it”?
MP: It was really on ‘Born Again’. ‘Born Again’, was the second-to-last track to be done. Paul Barry, who wrote ‘I’m Your Hero’ for Enrique Iglesias, Cher’s ‘Do You Believe’, is just a prolific songwriter. The guy’s won Grammy’s and all that, too. He’s one of them. The most humble man you’ll ever meet. Paul and I had been hanging around for nearly 2 years, working on different songs, and things like that. When I heard ‘Born Again’, that song just felt like the whole movie of my life in one song. I just knew that that song depicted me in every way, and that’s when I knew the album was done, but then Brian came in and played me ‘Baby Come Back Now’, and I was like “Oh, I gotta do that! That’s wicked!” but it was ‘Born Again’ when Brian and I sort of realized, we got it. There’s like 7 great hits on that album. Another song that’s really incredible as well is a song called ‘Nothing But The Truth’. If you ever get a chance, just sit down and listen to that record. It’s another song like ‘Born Again’, and it wasn’t written by Paul Barry, it was written by somebody else. My engineer in fact, who engineered the whole album, a fantastic guy, he played me this song, and I swear to you, when I heard the lyrics from this song, I completely just broke down and cried, because it’s the journey of the music business; the journey of the music industry. One of the lyrics is ‘It’s hard to tell a hero from a fool’.
DN: I did listen to it before, and that line, as I listened to that song, that was exactly the line that jumped out at me, and I was like “Woah”, I think I might understand what that means.
MP: Yeah, it’s the journey, and this album is not something I did lightly. I focused on lyrical content, as I said before, because I think an intelligent person wants good lyrics, and I think that music now has become so disposable. Even if my album doesn’t blow up straight away, I know in time it will, because when you have great lyrics, people just suck onto that like you wouldn’t believe. Great melody, great lyrics, you’ve got it. I think that album is a grower. I don’t know if it’s going to be something that’s very instant and quick, but I think that over time, people will come to realize it’s a great record.
DN: One thing that I was struck by, and I was quite shocked when I looked at the credits, because I just assumed, from listening to the lyrics, and in fact that was one of the songs that I said “Oh, she must have written this, and she must have written ‘Born Again’. She wrote ‘Nothing But The Truth’. I was convinced, because they sounded so authentic and real. But why are there no Mica Paris songs on that record?
MP: The songs that I wrote in the first year, I didn’t feel it. For me, to be honest with you, I’m not a money-head. For me, it’s all about the art. There’s plenty of time for me to write a song that makes me go, “Yeah, I want to put that on the record”. I’ve written loads of songs, in my past work and stuff. For me, with this album, it wasn’t important that I was going to gain materially. It was more about the content. I really went there with it. It’s not like I’m minted or anything. I’m not a rich girl. I haven’t got a Rolls Royce outside. I wouldn’t have one anyway, even if I had the money, because I wouldn’t waste it on that, but never mind.
I went for the music. I just wanted great songs, and I’m a writer, I write nice songs sometimes, but when you’re in the presence of great writers, you have to sit down. The fact is, the writers can’t sing the songs the way I sing them. I’m here to interpret what they do. It’s a marriage. He does what he does incredibly, and I do what I do really well. In the future, David, there will be songs that I write, but right now, that’s not what I want. What was important was that I made an album that people just lost their minds over, and I think I did it.
DN: Let me ask you, one of the things that I think would be particularly of interest, as I said, to American visitors of soulmusic.com, who may not know much about the British music scene, and certainly about the British soul music scene, and you are one of a very few people who have survived to have a 2-decade long career. I could probably count on one hand, the people who have been able to do that in Britain. There are very few people who have had any length of career, particularly, for lack of a better term, using soul music as their foundation. I don’t want to categorize, and say that’s the only thing you do, but I’m just saying…
MP: I’m a soul singer. You can’t change that. I’ll always be a soul singer.
DN: Can you tell me why?
MP: I needed to go in there, you’re absolutely right.
DN: But why is it that soul music doesn’t thrive here?
MP: Let me tell you what it is. In England, the problem we have in this country is, number one, that’s why the industry is all afraid of me, because when Paris talks, she tells you what it is, and most artist would never say those things. Well, I always keep it real, because it’s true, if we had more black infrastructures in the record companies here, our music would get serviced properly.
What you have in England is, you have a lot of black artists in this country making music that is sounding more white than black, because that’s what they understand. You have to understand, the industry here is mostly white. So, of course the black artists that are going to do well are the ones that sound white, and that is because there is no black infrastructure. That’s the reason why, whereas in America, you have a lot of black infrastructure within the record labels. You have black divisions in all of them. They’ve been there for a long time, and they’ve managed to create very successful R&B, or gospel, or jazz, you know in America every single music genre has its place.
You can sell a million or 2 million records as a gospel artist, and you can sell 2 million records as an R&B artist. In England, it’s just not possible. The only way you can do it here is if you sound a little bit more mainstream, because we have only white record executives working in the industry. I’m not a racist at all. Look, I was with a German for 7 years. My first husband, I’ve only been married once, was Irish. My children are mixed race. I have no colour. I don’t see it, but unless you have people in an infrastructure who represent that race, you can’t be represented.
DN: That’s deep. I’ve never heard anyone express it quite like that, because I hadn’t really thought about it that much. Most of my life I’ve lived there.
MP: In America, these guys have so much luxury there, that that could never happen in the States. I’ve lived in America so many times, and I know it. For you guys, you can’t even understand that concept if it happened over there. It would be sacrilege if it happened over there. You’d be in court every second like, “Why don’t we have black divisions? We’re gonna sue you!” (laughs) It’s not like that here. This country is a fantastic country for creativity. It’s amazing here. The music that comes from England is so fresh. It’s so edgy. It’s always interesting. It’s always innovative. It’s always new. Maybe not so slickly produced, and so polished, but even in that rawness, there’s beauty, and freshness. I love that about Britain, but the industry here isn’t that set up for all those kinds of music genres, and styles and ethnic stuff. It’s just not catered to it, because there’s no one representative of it in the record labels that cater to that music. What happens is, they suffer, and it’s worse now, because we have X-Factor, and now that’s made it even worse. It’s very hard, so you’ve got, under the radar in Britain, you have these incredible new sounds happening.
Right now there’s a cool sound called Afrobeat. I know you’ve heard it. It’s killer! I got into it in December. They sent me the stuff over because they wanted me to do a tune with them, and I’d love to do something with them. Really cool, new dance music. Amazing Afrobeat. England is always brimming with these new things, but they never go above the surface, because there’s no industry to support that.
DN: Well, thank you, first for sharing that, and making it a little more clear for people, because they wouldn’t know. I think it’s also true to say that only a tiny, tiny handful of British black artists have ever made any impact in America.
MP: That’s not true. You’ve got Sade, you’ve got Soul II Soul, me, Gabriel? No, not Gabriel.
DN: Omar, kind of a little bit.
MP: It’s a very underground thing. When I came back to England from the States, and I had this hit called ‘Temptation’ on adult contemporary, and I remember I got asked to go on David Letterman, I remember I went on there, and I came from being huge in England, I was on Wogan every week, I was on Top of The Pops, I was huge over there. I came to America, and no one really knew who the hell I was, but everyone knew the song ‘Temptation’, and they were singing along to it. They got this amazing publicist called Susan Blond, Jewish lady, and she was amazing. I don’t know if she’s still alive though.
MP: She was great. She worked it for me, man. She loved me so much. Bless her. She got me on David Letterman, and I got on there, I sat on the chair, and he turned round and said to me “Are there more people like you in England?” I remember looking at him and thinking, “You bloody racist little twat,” I thought to myself. I said, “Of course there are. Are you crazy? There’s a huge Caribbean ethnic community in Britain. They’ve been there for 50 years, blah blah blah whatever” and he’s like “Oh, wow.” Bless him though. He wasn’t being racist, he just had no friggin’ idea, and we’re talking 22 years ago.
America had no idea that there were black people here. They thought England was Sherlock Holmes. You have to remember, back then, Americans went on holiday to Florida. They didn’t go anywhere other than the United States, even on holiday. It was a different time then. So, it was all those things, and after I was in America, doing all those shows and everything else, I suddenly heard of Soul II Soul. They came out a year, or 2 years after me, and I was so overjoyed. I hadn’t been to Britain for a year. I was on tour with Ashlee Simpson and everybody else, so I was so pleased that someone had broken through as well. It’s not just me. Here is Soul II Soul, and Soul II Soul were bigger than me! They came through and just overtook me. They just cleaned up! It was amazing, walking through New York, and seeing all these American black people trying to be ethnic all of a sudden. They were all wearing turbans and things. It was amazing! Do you remember that scene with Eddie Murphy in Coming To America, where he suddenly became an African? That shit was hilarious. That’s what happened when Soul II Soul came out. They suddenly became incredibly African. (laughs)
DN: Obviously you’ve had the benefit of being part of a particular generation. Do you see young people coming up now here, that can maybe break through this problem that obviously exists in the British black music scene? Do you see any artists that are able to do this? Can you identify anyone that you see is going to be able to break the ice, or are we kind of stuck with this?
MP: I don’t think we’re stuck at all. I’m one of those people, I’m an optimist, and I always see the glass half-full, as opposed to half-empty. I’m an idealist as well. That’s why I’m an artist. I think people like myself are pivotal in changing the future, and for me, as much as my hardship has been, I know that I’ve been opening the door every step of the way for the new people to come through and make it easier for them. By me sticking to my guns, and always making sure that the music is quality, my music for me is universal, but you can still hear the Britishness in my music. My vocals are very much gospel, and soulful, but the package of Mica Paris musically, is very much British, and I think once we keep that thing where we keep our sound, we stay true to who we are, in terms of style, vocally, then we’re going to win, but the problem will be when we try to become American. I think that’s always a no-no.
Also, what I think is wrong with a lot of black artists in this country, is that they’re too fickle. They change their style too many times, because they listen to what the record companies tell them. “That’s hip right now, so be that.”
It’s very important that you keep your integrity, musically. You must never allow anybody to come and tell you to be something other than what you are, and I think once you have enough artists like that, who are of ethnic descent here, championing that mentality, it will change. Presently, I’m the only one that’s kind of like that.
DN: That’s kind of deep.
MP: It’s annoying.
DN: Well, I’m sure it’s annoying. It’s probably lonely too.
MP: Oh yeah, Mica, she’s difficult.
DN: Well, there are two things I want to ask you about. Firstly, having a record out now.
MP: I’m going to re-trace that. Sorry. For me, Sade is very much that mentality. We said there aren’t others who have broken through, but Sade definitely carved her own style and kicked it. I love her, because she’s very true to herself, but in terms of younger artists, I hate to say it, but I haven’t really seen anyone yet that’s made me go, “Yeah.”
DN: Two things I wanted to ask you, out of what you just said, do you think doing radio, and being on television is going to help with this record coming out? In other words, more people probably know who Mica Paris is, than knew before. Is that what you’re experiencing, and how do you feel it’s going to happen now?
MP: Yeah, well I’ve been on the road now for about 3 months, and it’s nuts, what’s going on. I mean, I’m getting these young girls coming to the shows. Some of them are like 18, and saying, “Oh, I love What Not To Wear. Didn’t know you could sing! I can’t believe it! You can sing like that?” I get the older lot coming and saying, “Oh, Mica I remember when you sang that song 20 years ago, girl.” I’m getting all that, all the different sides, so it’s interesting. I’ve had these really, really amazing experiences. I found it amazing that people can’t believe that I can sing. That’s all I’ve ever known myself to be!
You’re absolutely right. I’m getting all that stuff there, and it’s new. It’s all new for me. You never forget how to ride a bike, but I feel like I’m riding it for the first time.
DN: So it feels like you’re ‘Born Again’?
MP: (laughs) It does feel like the very first time. You know the nervousness that I had with ‘So Good’? I’m right there, saying, “I hope people like it.” That whole thing, it’s terrifying. When you make a record yeah, it’s like I don’t know where you do your shopping, but if you go to the supermarket and do your shopping at 6 in the evening, it’s filled with people, isn’t it? Can you imagine walking into that supermarket naked?
DN: Uh, no.
MP: That’s what it feels like when you release an album. You feel totally exposed in front of millions of people. It’s scary, and you don’t know if you’re going to be liked, or jeered at.
DN: There are albums in between Contradiction and Born Again.
DN: Contribution, yes, not Contradiction! (laughs)
MP: Wow, that was a Freudian slip, right there. Right on the money, baby.
DN: Wow, where did that come from?
MP: I just thought of it. Lauren Hill was doing BG’s on it, and she was just a kid then. Amazing.
DN: So, you’ve had albums in between, some of which people may know about, and some of which they may not. Could you tell us a little bit about the ones that are in between?
MP: Well, Contribution, I told you about that one already. I was rebelling with that album. I felt really stressed because I lost Julian, my partner in crime, I was kind of in the wilderness, and I stayed in New York a year or two and I worked on that album. Then, I worked with Prince on an album. He wrote that song ‘Love You Tonight’. Then after that, I made this album called ‘Whisper a Prayer’, and that’s when the record company kind of pulled me in and said, “We want you to make a record like that, because Contribution didn’t do as well, and we want to take you back to LA”
I ended up working with Michael Walden, and I walked into the studio and Narada said to me, “What kind of record do you want to make, Sweetie?” and I said, “Can you get me a song like that Shanice Wilson song you did for her, ‘I Love Your Smile’? I really like that song you did for her. Can you do something like that for me?” He did, and he came up with ‘I Never Felt Like This Before’, which was a big hit for me. He did that. Narada did that for me.
After I worked with Narada, who is just the craziest guy in the world, I left him, I left San Francisco and went down to LA and ended up working with Rod Temperton. He and I, immediately we just clicked, because he’s an Englishman. He’s a Grimsby boy, it’s just perfect, and at the time I was in LA, there were the riots, and I remember being in a hotel room, and I was unpacking my stuff because I had just arrived, and Rod called me up, because he lives on Mulholland, up in the hills, and he called me and said, “Mica, are you alright?” and I said, “Yeah babes, I’m good. I’m looking forward to seeing you later on, or maybe tomorrow or whatever.” He said, “Cool” and within an hour of me talking to Rod, I had the news on, and at the time, I could see there was a little fight with a white guy and his truck outside a shop, a little fight, but I wasn’t really listening to it.
Suddenly, it got escalated. I was watching it, and then more people came, and more people, and then suddenly, the building next door to mine was on fire. Actually, that thing I was watching was right next to my hotel room. (laughs) So, I said, “Rod, you’ll never guess what. The building next to me is on fire. This thing that’s happening on the telly with the news, it’s literally next door to me” and he’s like, “Alright babe, we’re going to get a car down to you.” He sent his driver down. By the time the driver came, full riot going off, burning stuff in the streets. This driver, ducking and diving, drives me up to Mulholland, babe. It was like a war zone. I remember when we got to the top of the hill, I looked down and saw all these men in these white things, the national guard or something. Rod and I, and Kathy, his wife, we were all looking out the window. You know that view at Mulholland is amazing, and we just saw fire coming out of these little houses. Insane!
After that madness, Rod and I sat down, and you know it’s London. We all come together. It’s just great. Such a comradery, it’s just great. He said, “What song do you want to do with me?” and I said, “See that song you wrote called ‘Always and Forever’? Can you get me a song like that?” He said, “Yeah, I’ll try” and I said, “That’s the one baby, that’s the one.” He went off, and I stayed at his house for about a week or so, because it was crazy out there, and he came back after about a week-and-a-half, and he played me on the piano, ‘You put a move on me. I got a real thing’, and that’s how that song came about. I wrote the vocal on that, and my god, that man works you on a vocal, let me tell you. He worked my butt, and it was wicked. Quincy heard that song, and gave it to Tamia.
Do you know, to this day, I saw Rod last week, and Rod’s a real, dear friend of mine, he’s still really annoyed that I haven’t had my moment. He gets very frustrated. He’s like, “My god’s sake, this should have been the big hit for you, Mica, because you sang that that long ago. He really gets annoyed about it, but you know what, you play a song to Quincy, and what do you think Quincy’s going to do? (laughs)
So, Rod and I have maintained our friendship since then. He’s a wonderful guy. He wrote me ‘Two In A Million’, and that was a hit for me. That album was a great album for me, it did really well, and ‘Whisper A Prayer’ was written by Jon Lind, another guy who I reached out to, because he did that song ‘Save The Best For Last’ with Vanessa…
MP: There you go. Vanessa Williams. I love that song, so I asked him to write me a song, so he wrote me ‘Whisper A Prayer’. ‘Whisper A Prayer’ did quite well, and after that, my relationship with Island started to get a bit rocky. They came in and said, “I don’t think it’s working” so I said, “Okay, cool. Let’s just skidaddle.” I did a little deal to get out of the contract with my boys, Russell Roberts, my lawyers who have been with me for 20 years. Good people. Then I signed with EMI, and the EMI court that was held, David, I went through hell with those guys. The reason why I went through hell with that is because I signed with Trevor Nelson at the time, and Trevor had just got his first job in a record company, and I thought, “Yeah, my boy is in there, I’m going to be fine” but to be honest, Trevor was more focused on Lynden David Hall. He was really focused on him. David’s a nice guy, didn’t get it. I didn’t get it. Never got it, but he was obsessed with him. I said, “Cool. No worries” but my feeling was, “Hello!” Didn’t get it.
Trevor got taken out, then they had another boss come in, he got taken out, and every time they got sacked, a new guy would come in and say, “Mica, I’m not really feeling that record”. You know what I did in the end? 3 years of my career is gone now. I did a song with Mike Peden called ‘One’. They released that song, bit of a hit on MTV, they started playing it, and my album kept being put on hold. So, people only knew this one song as being a hit for me, but they didn’t get an album to go with it. A real nightmare for me, that time.
Suddenly, after 4 sackings from different heads of the label, Clive Black came along. “Yes! My boy!” I’ve known Clive forever. The Black family, they are like my dearest, dearest friends. Good people. He championed me, Clive Black. He loves me, and I love him, and he gave me more money to continue making the same album that I’d been making for 3 years. I flew to LA, called up Raphael Saadiq, and Julian, can’t remember his last name, and I called up Raphael Saadiq and asked him to help me on some of the stuff. He gave me his guy Jerry as well, and I ended up finishing this album called Black Angel.
I made the album over there, did a duet with James Ingram, who I had known before. He’s a good friend of mine. James is good people as well. I ended up making this album called Black Angel, because the title song was written by Boy George, who is also an old friend of mine and has always wanted to work with me, but that album, Black Angel, took me 5 years to make! I’ve just been unlucky, you know? I’ve just been unlucky with music. Don’t ask me what it’s about, but I never intended to produce an album by myself, and Black Angel, I produced, wrote, and did everything myself, and I absolutely hated doing it. I love the album. It’s a nice album, but I don’t like producing myself. I like producing other people, but not me, because I can’t focus on what I do, which is sing.
DN: One of the things which you said, actually there were 2 things, we’ve covered one of them, but the other thing was about integrity. You talked about the integrity of the music, and that’s kind of a good jumping off point for me to mention that as I was preparing to do the interview today, I was looking through your press pack, and I found this very interesting article in the Guardian newspaper in England, which is somewhat high-brow for those of you who don’t know what the Guardian is, ‘Mica Paris on Nina Simone’.
As I made reference to, before we actually started recording, my relationship with Nina Simone goes back to my teenage years, and actually I love the title. It’s called ‘The Voice That Pierced My Soul’, and you mention how your father played you ‘Aint Got No… I Got Life’ when you were 7, but one of the things that’s interesting, as I was hearing you talk about your music, and the importance of the art and integrity in it, is that that’s something that was absolutely at the foundation of everything she did, and it could be said that one of the reasons she didn’t enjoy the kind of popularity while she was alive, was because she refused to kowtow or give in to the music industry politics, and she would do whatever music she felt like doing. It didn’t matter where it came from. It could have been something written by Jacques Brel, it could be an Israeli folk song, it could be a gospel song, it could be ‘I Put A Spell On You’, which apparently, I didn’t know was a song you also recorded.
MP: With David Gilmour from Pink Floyd. Yes.
DN: So, apparently you and Nina may have a little more in common than I would have thought.
MP: I never saw it like that, but that’s because you knew her more than I did, so you can make that comparison.
DN: The thing that I’m struck by is what you said about the importance of the integrity of the music. Yes, of course you want to earn a living like everybody else in the music industry, and it is important to have a certain number of sales I guess, but what sounds more important to you, or as important to you, is that the music is something that resonates for you and it represents you. That sounds like it’s as important, if not more important.
MP: It’s more important. I’ll tell you why, David. It’s because I’ve been schooled in the church. I’m not into religion. You know I grew up in it for 16 years of my life. My parents were ministers. We were the first family of the church, so it was hardcore. We always had to be properly dressed, and everything, behavior on-point, a lot was expected of us. In the church, what you do learn is that, in my church anyway, there’s just no way you’d be allowed to sing lead. If you do, cut it. If you didn’t move the people and destroy them by your voice, and I mean destroy them in a good way, where they’ve lost it and went into the spirit, you aren’t called up to sing. That’s the kind of church I came from. I was only put there when I was 10 years old, because everyone said I had this exceptional voice. There was no way I would have been there otherwise. I come from that school. You have to understand.
When I choose a song, it doesn’t matter if I wrote it, or somebody else wrote it. It’s all about what did it do to you when you heard it. You have to be transported, and it’s the same thing now that I’m going to make a live album, because the live aspect of Mica Paris is a completely different movie. I can’t even tell you. It’s so spiritual, you have lift-off! Now, I remember when I was a kid, and my Dad took me to see Nina. Now, Nina you see, what I love about her is that she didn’t give a monkey’s… about that. It’s so hard, being this kind of mentality, as an artist in this world. The music, it’s that they make you feel like a failure because you have the right intent.
For me, it’s just not possible to make music that doesn’t affect people. I don’t know how to do that. It’s like a sin, you know?
DN: I just wanted to elaborate on that for a moment. Is what’s most important to you, that you reach people, and you touch people? Is that the essence of what makes you sing?
DN: More than the glory of your own voice, or…
MP: No, I’m not even in it. The thing is, when I’m onstage, and David I’ve got to get you to a show.
DN: Actually, I have a confession. I saw you at the Jazz Café.
MP: When? Which one?
DN: It was a few months ago, or a couple of months ago.
MP: Yeah, that was with Pete and all the guys. That was a good show, but you need to come to the next one. You know what I’m like though, you saw.
MP: You know what I’m like, and so the thing is, I think that’s a leftover thing from the church, that when I go onstage and I sing, I think I’m there for the first 2 lines of the song, and after that I’m gone. I’m not there anymore! It’s not about me. What I mean, and I’m not even saying this from a place of, I don’t know how to explain it. You’re a channel. It’s just like, I don’t know if it’s gonna be there half the time, I shit myself all the time. I’m there going, “Please God, make it work this time” and I just stand there. Music comes in, and I’m transported. It’s all about that.
Being an artist, it’s all about feel. You can go up on the stage, and you can sense and feel what the audience wants. You can actually feel that they want to be moved. You can feel it, and that feeling that I get from the audience is what makes me push harder with the energy from the voice, if you know what I mean, and then it’s a whole thing like that.
DN: So it is like a religious experience.
MP: Proper. Proper, proper, proper. When I hit that stage, it takes me ages to come down again. I’m gone. It’s just an amazing feeling, and that’s why so many artists struggle outside of it, because what you get on that stage, you can’t even put it into words.
DN: That’s a great place to kind of wind down, because I have to ask you, how do you, or how have you been able to deal with that? I understand what you’re talking about. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen many people do that, and I’m seeing now, the inability to come back down to earth, so to speak, and deal with the dramatic change in energy.
MP: Horrible. It is like a death.
DN: It becomes like, the reason why they go wanting drugs, or they have to have something to keep that high going. So, how have you been able to deal with that in your own life? How have you been able to still remain grounded, and not get completely wacky?
MP: Well, one of the few things is, it might be the first time when I told my grandparents that I was going to do music that wasn’t necessarily gospel, they absolutely had a panic attack, and told me this business is full of harlots and sinners, and you’re gonna end up as a drug addict. I already made a mental note that that would never happen. Secondly, the upbringing was so strong, and I mean very, very, very strong, like strong values, real sense of family, no ego, that it’s not my gift, it’s not mine to own. It’s a spiritual thing, and I don’t own it. Respect it, you know, that whole thing, you know I was brought up with that, so I can’t go against that. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t! But the reason why it hasn’t happened to me, why I haven’t gone like that, is because I don’t want to be a statistic.
For God’s sake, there’s got to be somebody out there who’s not getting smashed and trashed up, and who’s doing it because they love it. I accept the fact that I can’t be high all the time. I accept the fact that there’s going to be times when I’m going to be depressed, but I’m not going to run from it. It’s not nice, it’s horrible, it’s crap. I mean, when you come off the stage, you are going through a death. It’s a horrible, horrible feeling, and life just does not measure up. It don’t even come close. I would say the only thing that measures up to the music is my children. That’s it, but everything else sucks.
DN: (laughs) So, I’m glad you’ve got children.
MP: They really give you that. I can’t explain it. They are the 2 most beautiful things in my life, is my children and the music. You know, I can’t disrespect the gift. If I go out and mash up my body, and screw up myself, the gift will be destroyed, and then people won’t be touched. I really respect it. It’s that simple. You’ve got to respect the gift, and you have to accept that you can’t always be in a state of highness all the time. If you’re always up there, what are you gonna friggin sing about? You need that crap. You need it. It’s like, it hurts, life is crap, relationship’s gone tits up, everything goes pear-shaped, but what are you gonna sing about if it’s always great? I think that being a singer, especially a singer, because I see myself as a singer-musician more than anything else, I’m really a singer, and the singer is like a minister, you know as a minister of song. You have to be respectful of the gift.
I always remember Marvin Gaye saying, “What’s the point of making music if it doesn’t move people?” It’s so true. What’s the point? I can’t marry the commercial I suspect, that’s my belief system. Haven’t quite cracked it yet. I’ll be straight with you, and if I could, I’d be a multi-millionaire, but I know that I haven’t cracked it yet. When I’m dead, or something, they’ll say, “She was really great!” (laughs)
DN: I hope you won’t have to wait until then! But there are some people who, singing is about the technique of it, and not about the emotion. Usually they’re not singers I particularly care for, because that doesn’t do anything for me. My personal meter for when something is great, is “Does it touch me?” If it doesn’t touch me, I don’t get any joy, but everything’s not going to touch me. It’s like, I enjoy, but it may not stay with me forever. If it stays with me forever, it’s about “does it touch me”, so it’s very emotional.
MP: It’s like Al Green, when my Dad took me to see Al Green with George Benson, like when I was 13. Big moments for me. Being at the Apollo, and just going, “Oh My”. It was a religious experience, period. Al would come down from the stage, and he would walk by you, stand there, and sing next to you, and you would just go, “ohhhhhh” and you know I interviewed him for this British TV show that I did a while ago, Gospel of Gospel or something, it was called, and I interviewed him for Channel 4.
You know, I’ve interviewed a lot of stars, and I have to tell you, I interviewed BB King, Ray Charles, but when I interviewed Al, I was a mess, because he’s kind of not here, you know? He’s gone to the fairies a little bit. Bless him. He’s just too creative. He’s in creativity, period. He don’t come back here, and that’s all. But when you try to get conversation out of him, it’s hilarious. I was going, “So, how did you know you could sing?” “Well, you know,” and he’s not looking at me, “I don’t know. You want to sing a little bit?” and he’s not looking at me at all! He’s just up there, and you know sometimes the music is really good, and he’ll just go off on some other stuff, and then he came back and he said, “Just sing a little bit. Laaaaalaaaa!” and he just goes off into this song! I was just like, “Whoooaaahhh!” I thought the interview was really bad.
After he left, they came back and said, “Mica, that was fantastic!” and I sat down and was like, “Was it?” (laughs) But I realized, here’s a guy that never saw himself as a singer. It didn’t matter that technically, he wasn’t a great singer, because he had the passion. It’s the same with Nina. Nina had a style. She wasn’t like a beautiful singer, like a beautiful voice, but she had that presence and that voice, that were just like that. A lot of artists, to me, that are great, are not technically brilliant singers, but it’s what they bring out, so you know I was brought up with the best, in that way. George Benson would sing, he would sing with his guitar, and it would just mess you up, man. (laughs)
DN: One last question for you, I noticed that one of the tracks on this album is an acoustic version of ‘My One Temptation’.
MP: Yeah, yeah.
DN: So I was curious, what was your thinking, or why would you do that?
MP: I had no intention of doing it. This was Brian’s whole idea. Brian said to me, “You know, Mica, did you ever think of doing ‘My One Temptation’ acoustically?” and I was like, “No” because even when I do it onstage, I do it with a band. I’ve never, ever thought of stripping it down, and he goes, “Would you just try it for me?” You know I’m always open to trying something new, and I went in there and I did it, and it was literally one take, with Adam on guitar, and Brian said, “Don’t sing it again. That’s perfect.”
DN: I’m curious about one thing, because when I listen to it, of course I was aware of the lyrics the first time I heard it in the original version, but did you, as you were singing it acoustically, did you discover anything in the song that you hadn’t heard before?
MP: No, and I’m going to tell you what the song is about.
DN: Okay, well I’m listening. This is a great way to end the interview.
MP: ‘My One Temptation’, the whole of the album that I was making, So Good, was therapy. Just coming out of 17, turning 18, and obviously a big record deal, making my first album and everything else, I was destroyed. I was in love with a guy, it was my first boyfriend, and you know when the first one hurts the most, and when I got my deal, he completely changed on me. He had an affair with a girl who I knew, so I was going through this terrible time, and what I would do in the studio was just sit there and tell my producers everything, and they were like my therapists, because they were all married, and much, much older than me. It was Pete Vale, the nicest guy you could ever meet, it was lovely, he was like my daddy, so I would tell him about all the stuff that was going on with this guy, and I’d been there for 8 months, so when I look back, that poor man must be traumatized. But he was always so kind and helpful, and that’s why, that song ‘My One Temptation, that’s what it’s about. ‘My One Temptation’ was about my first boyfriend. He was my one temptation.
DN: So, you didn’t discover some new meaning in the song when you did it acoustically?
MP: It was always about him, and I did write one song on that album called ‘Don’t Give Me Up’, because that’s what the song was about. That whole album was about this guy.
MP: Heavy. And do you know what, after that album went Platinum, who did I give the disc to?
DN: (laughs) What did he say?
MP: He nearly choked.
DN: (laughs) Did he ask you to come back with him?
MP: Oh yeah.
DN: And you said, No.
MP: The success was so sweet! Listen. He thought it was bizarre.
DN: That’s kind of how it goes.
MP: That’s kind of how it goes, yeah.
DN: Well, this has been a really great interview.
MP: Sorry, I hope I didn’t go on too long. I do go on, you know.
DN: That’s fine.
MP: I’ll talk for Britain, honey. (laughs)
DN: Well, actually, that’s the perfect way to end this. That was Mica Paris, talking for Britain.
MP: That’s right.
DN: Thank you very much.
Transcription by Nathan Stafford - You can e-mail Nathan here for transcription service info
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.