INTERVIEW: Spice Girls member Melanie C on her new single and balancing her role as a mum

Reta Lee
Editor-in-Chief, Lifestyle
Melanie C kicks off solo career with "High Heels." (PHOTO: Philip Sinden)

Anyone in the ‘90s would’ve chanced upon one of the biggest girl bands, Spice Girls, and their repertoire of hit songs like “Wannabe”, “Viva Forever”, “2 Become 1” and more. Filled by members Mel C (full name Melanie Chisholm), Mel B, Victoria, Emma and Geri, the girls raked global fame and played sell-out stadiums, bringing their ‘girl power’ movement everywhere they go. Even I must admit, Mel C is my favourite Spice Girl, who’s still exuding the cool cat confidence and carrying that wispy voice, as we got on a long-distance call. It felt like nostalgia, and you can tell from her slight excitement in her voice when we talk about the pop band, and how they too, continue to shower her with support all these years.

At 46 this year, Mel C says while it was a “magical time” with the Spice Girls, she stresses it wasn’t a sustainable lifestyle, and she’s come to terms with balancing her needs and roles as a singer and a mum to Scarlett Starr. In 1999, Mel C kept herself busy by releasing her first solo album Northern Star, a sassy techno-guitar album, to working with artists like Little Boots and Shura. Having finished the Spice Girls 2019 tour, Mel C took time off to concentrate on her solo career once again, and has since released the single “High Heels”, a dance-y track she wrote for queer drag collective Sink the Pink.

Yahoo Lifestyle SEA caught up with Mel C about her new single, what the rest of the Spice Girls think of it and her plans to visit Asia. Watch the video for “High Heels” below.

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So, we got to ask, what is your favourite high heels brand?

Good, beautiful shoes over the years. I always think comfort is important. And so I love Giuseppe Zanotti; I have some really high boots I’ve worn on stage. I also have these incredible Mulberry heels, that I wore the last time I was on tour and they were really chunky and high platforms. I love my heels but I prefer them to be quite sturdy. 

Can you share with us how many heels and sneakers you have in your collection right now?

Oh goodness. Well, I probably have (pauses) more heels than sneakers these days.

We love it already. Your song “High Heels” features a line ‘you gotta love yourself.’ Is that your way of promoting a positive mental health message?

You know, I wanted to have a very positive, empowering message. I've been doing lots of shows with my beautiful drag queens. The LGBTQ plus community is a really wonderful community. I think I've learned so much from working with these people. And one of the big things I learned was about self-acceptance; because we're all so different, we should really celebrate that. It's an ethos that the Spice Girls have always really celebrated as well. It's an important message to have - I think we could all do with a little bit more of self-love - I do think we're too hard on ourselves.

Have you been hard on yourself lately?

Yeah, I think it's human nature. And I think very much for winning as well. Sometimes our internal dialogue is very clued and we’ve been composed quite a lot. It's hard to break out of that cycle, but I think even by just acknowledging it can help you. We sometimes speak to ourselves internally in such a cruel way but, we would never do that to another person. We should be looking after ourselves, because no one else is going to take as much care of us than ourselves. So it's very important to have some positive feedback from within.

I totally second that. Do you think the other Spice Girls have heard your song and what do they think about it?

I've got lovely messages from the girls. They've been really positive; they love the video and love the song. And you know, we're all very proud of each other's achievements. So we're always supporting each other.

Melanie C kicks off solo career with "High Heels." (PHOTO: Philip Sinden)

What's the best thing about headlining the pride festivals around the world?

It’s been the diversity; I've learned so much from being very close to this community which is supported by myself and the Spice Girls for many years. It's enabled me to travel all over the place, from Brazil, New York and across Europe, and we hope you’ll get a feel next year. So it's just been a wonderful opportunity to perform on stage in quite a different way, with new experiences and people.

We are guessing you're a fan of RuPaul drag race show?

It's so big here in the UK, both the US and the UK version. I adore RuPaul, and we were lucky enough to work with him. 

You’ve mentioned traveling to New York and Brazil, which clubs would you recommend us to go to have a good time?

Shanghai! I DJ-ed in Le Baron, which is a really fun club. And here in London, we have a wonderful group called Fabric, which has been around for a long time, and a really respected club. But I don't really, you know, hit the clubs in many towns lately. I’ve been playing in outdoor festivals, parades and different venues.

What would you do to have a good time now?

What would I be doing? Well, hanging out with my drag queens and the Spice Girls is always fun. You know, for me most of my partying happens on stage. And so when I'm home, I like to chill out, meet friends, go to dinner, maybe go for a few drinks. But I think my favourite thing to do is hang out with my little girl. She's the best company.

Oh, what does she think about your song?

Yeah, she's got quite a strong taste in music. And getting the seal of approval is quite a big deal.

Does she like trying on your costumes or even your shoes?

My clothes, all the time. When I’m away, and I FaceTime with her, I’ll be like, aren’t those mine! (laughs)

I went back to really listen to some of your tracks like, “Never Be The Same Again.” And there was a comment on YouTube where a fan said, hands down, you've got the best voice of all the Spice Girls. So what do you say to that?

Isn't it? I think, with singing, everyone has different taste (pauses) it’s a nice compliment, I am flattered.

That’s why your songs are universally loved by fans.

Obviously, when I started my career with the girls, we were so lucky to have such an impact globally. Our music has always been really empowering and it was really fun. We’ve got great songs. I've been lucky to work with some great songwriters and producers over the years. 

Your career now spans over 20 years; how do you keep yourself grounded and sane?

As I'm older, I have more life experiences and I'm a mum. The crazy days were really in the ‘90s when we were never home, and our feet didn't touch the ground but it was a magical time.

However, it was also very unsustainable. Now I enjoy family life; just hanging out with my little girl and taking her to school. I also have the opportunity to play big shows and travel. So I think it's about balancing and really understanding what your life is and embracing all parts of it.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 24: Mel B, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell and Melanie C of The Spice Girls perform on the first night of the bands tour at Croke Park on May 24, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Tell us, which is harder: being a singer or a mum?

Mum, one hundred per cent. It’s the hardest job in the world; it's such an important responsibility. I also think it's the most rewarding and the most difficult.

Are you a fan of resolutions? Do you make and keep them?

I used to, but I think it's just always important to have goals throughout the year. We should always be achieving things but not be too hard on yourself. 

Totally. So, Mel, when can we really expect you to come to Asia? Because you've got massive fans here.

Yeah, I hope to be back in Asia this year, and that’s my plan we're working on right now. I'm very grateful to all the wonderful fans and I've been lucky enough to travel to Asia many times. There are lots of other places I've never got to go, and I have to change that.

On the career span of singers, a lot of artists have diversified their career paths. Recently I interviewed Mumford and Sons and the members told me they are opening brand new spaces, selling banjo instruments. Do you see yourself as a businesswoman?

Having banjos and stuff is very relevant in who they are and what they do. So I think, if it made sense, I look forward to, I suppose, maybe doing something a bit more in that area. But music takes up so much time. I like to really focus on one thing at a time.

Do you have any last words for your fans in Asia?

I do! Thank you so much for your incredible support over all these years, especially where territories that I've never stepped foot on. And like I said earlier, I hope to change and I hope to meet the fans more.

For more information, log on to: https://melaniec.net/high-heels/