'I hadn't sung a note in 6 years': Natalie Imbruglia

'I hadn't sung a note in 6 years': Natalie Imbruglia
PHOTO: Sony Music

It doesn't bother Australian pop singer Natalie Imbruglia the slightest that she still gets asked about her breakout single from 1997, Torn.

"Everyone always asks if it'll be difficult to top the success of Torn," she told M last week over the phone from London, where she is currently based.

"But Torn isn't a burden. It's the best thing that ever happened to me, and I still love singing it."

The 40-year-old doe-eyed beauty was only 19 when she released the angsty pop-rock tune. It sold over four million copies worldwide and catapulted Imbruglia to international fame. She had previously only been known for her role in Australian TV soap Neighbours.

Imbruglia seemingly disappeared from the music scene after her last release Come To Life (2009), but is now back with her fifth studio album Male, which was released in July.

"I needed a break from music, so I took some time off. I spent two years studying acting in Los Angeles, was a guest judge on (reality TV singing show) The X Factor Australia and did a play in London, Things We Do For Love."

Having "not sung a note" in the last six years ("except when I was in the shower!"), Imbruglia was understandably nervous about recording her comeback album.

"I was worried about whether it would be received well, but I got such a warm response from fans," she said.

"I had genuinely missed music during my break. It's more fun now that I'm older and wiser. And with social media, I'm also enjoying the experience more as I can talk to my fans more easily."

Male is a collection of cover songs originally sung by male artists, like Damien Rice's Cannonball, Neil Young's Only Love Can Break Your Heart and Death Cab For Cutie's I Will Follow You Into the Dark.

"I decided to cover male artists because I could immediately bring a different interpretation to them," she said.

Acoustic

"I chose the songs based on whether they would lend themselves to an acoustic vibe, which is the sound we wanted for this album.

"I haven't heard any feedback from the artists I've covered yet, but (Australian singer) Josh Pyke (whose song The Summer is covered on Male) and I have talked about writing a song together in future."

Imbruglia's first single off Male is a rendition of Daft Punk's Instant Crush. Stripped of the original's electronic layers, it remains a strong tune that lends itself well to Imbruglia's earnest vocals.

In the music video, she plays a Stepford Wife character frustrated by a restrictive marriage.

"I've never been in that situation personally. It was just a fun character to play," said Imbruglia, who divorced Australian rock band Silverchair's frontman Daniel Johns in 2008 after five years of marriage.

Imbruglia is known to be cagey about revealing details about her personal life during interviews, and has angrily shut down journalists asking about her love life.

After all, she has dated actor David Schwimmer and singer Lenny Kravitz, and been romantically linked to Prince Harry and singers Harry Styles and Robbie Williams.

So we were pleasantly surprised when she breezily answered our question on whether she still thinks about love and marriage.

"Well, I'm single now, but it would be nice to be in love again. It's not something I think about much, since I'm so busy with work. It certainly doesn't keep me up at night."

Dog lover

In fact, the current love of Imbruglia's life is her Maltese terrier Mr Wilson, whom she loves to walk with in her neighbourhood parks.

While she has not performed in Singapore, she is very familiar with our country as she passes through regularly when flying to Australia, she said.

"I love your zoo; it's so beautiful, open and green. And I'm addicted to your dim sum. It's the best dim sum in the world, I'm positive. Yes, it's even better than Hong Kong's!

"I would love to perform there some day, though it's not on my tour schedule this year."

And lest critics think Imbruglia is coasting on her fame by producing a covers album, she is already working on her next offering that will feature original music.

"I can't really reveal much about it at this stage, but it's got some electronic sounds, and it will be very organic and earthy.

"I'm eight tracks into the new album already. I know it's happening very fast after producing Male, but I hate to give myself too much time - I just want to finish it as fast as I can."


This article was first published on September 2, 2015.
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