Great LezBritain: Interview with Sharleen Spiteri

“Great LezBritian” is a fortnightly stroll through the very best of British lesbo-centric entertainment and culture. Plus there will be some jolly good interviews with the top ladies who are waving the flag for gay UK.

Never has Great LezBritain seen so many of their own kind in one place than at a Texas gig. The simple reason for this is androgynous lead singer Sharleen Spiteri. While not gay herself, the Glaswegian born chanteuse is very much a British lesbian icon. She relishes playing with people’s perceptions of women in music and as a result she has never looked like a stereotypical pop-siren. Over the years she has delighted her lesbian fans with her outspoken ways and stage attire such as an Elvis outfit and a sailor suit.

With Texas, Spiteri has spent over two decades selling platinum albums but recently went it alone and is on the verge of releasing her second solo album, The Movie Songbook. Great LezBritian had a quick chat in her ear about the new album, her fondness for Shane from The L Word’s barnet and the respect she has for the lesbian community.

Sharleen Spiteri Hello Sharleen Spiteri, how are you?
Sharleen Spiteri: 
I am very well thank you and you?

AE: We are just dandy. Tell us a bit about your new album, The Movie Songbook — it’s an album of songs you’ve covered from movies. Was this an album you just wanted to do for the fun of covering some of your favorite tunes?
 Yes. I kind of feel that making music is all about having fun and I’ve got to a certain place that has allowed me to do things that some people wouldn’t expect of me. This album actually happened by accident I had sung on the 25th anniversary of Saturday Night Fever and I did the Bee Gees song  “If I Can’t Have You” and then I was asked to sing the theme tune to The Godfather.

So all of this led me to thinking about making a full album and it kind of snowballed from there. I thought it would be fun and interesting and, to be honest, I thought it was going to be something a lot easier than it was.

We did the whole recording in eight days and getting every song ready and making sure that they didn’t sound like karaoke was actually quite difficult, because you didn’t want to remove it too far from the original so that it was unrecognizable.

AE: The film Paris, Texas inspired your band name and I read that Play Misty for Me inspired your daughter’s name – so why do movies play such a prominent part in your life?
I don’t know, maybe I am just living in Cuckoo Land in my head? (Both laugh) I have always loved movies since the days of sitting on my bedroom windowsill playing my dad’s acoustic guitar singing “Moon River.”  I love movies and I love music and for me they’re very much a marriage.  I know they are two different things but when I hear a piece of music it stimulates me visually and when I see a movie it stimulates me musically.

AE:  A lot of your music has been used in film and television, so what does it feel like knowing your songs are being used in settings and for contexts that you didn’t actually write them for?
  I kind of think that’s what music is for. I’m sure when I listen to certain songs that I see a picture of something that is relevant to my life that is not what the picture that the songwriter had and that’s what I love about songs so many stories can be written into them that are not yours.