Sophie Ellis-Bextor on heading for the Top 10 with new album HANA: "It feels a lot sweeter now"

The Kitchen Disco queen has just dropped her seventh studio album and is preparing to slay Glastonbury

Sophie Ellis-Bextor isn't just UK pop royalty. After she raised our flagging spirits during lockdown with her Kitchen Disco livestreams – an endearingly chaotic mix of her own hits and classic cover versions – she has pretty much attained national treasure status.

This week, she releases her seventh studio album HANA, an infectiously-optimistic yet slightly off-kilter pop album inspired by a trip to Japan. It's on course to debut inside the Official Albums Chart Top 10, possibly becoming her highest-charting album since Wanderlust peaked at Number 4 in 2014.

Of course, Sophie is no stranger to Official Charts success. Back in August 2000, she won one of the most notorious chart battles of all time when Groovejet (If This Ain't Love), her Ibiza-flavoured collab with DJ Spiller, pipped Out of Your Mind by True Steppers, Dane Bowers and Victoria Beckham to Number 1.

As she prepares for a busy summer including a set on Glastonbury's iconic Pyramid Stage, we called Sophie for a catch-up.

MORE: Where every Sophie Ellis-Bextor song and album has charted in the UK

Sophie, HANA is on course to become your highest-charting album in nine years. How are you feeling?

My expectations are always very, very low in terms of charting, because it's very busy and there are lots of new releases. That being said, when things do better than you'd expected, it's actually a lot sweeter now because you're more appreciative of the relationship between making music and the person at the other end. The person who's actually receiving it and giving you feedback.

I think when you're a younger artist, you're sort of encouraged not to think too much about individuals [listening to your music]. But now, I feel like it's much more of an individual exchange.

What are your favourite tracks from the record?

I've kind of got two because one is much more quirky, and then one is much more personal.

There's one called Until the Wheels Fall Off, which is inspired by a letter that my lovely stepdad left after he died. [The letter] was about getting the most out of life – embracing the adventures, not waiting for the perfect moment, just taking it for today.

Then the other one is We've Been Watching You, which is a track that I wrote about aliens. [The idea is that] they've been watching our planet and can see we're all floundering a little bit, so they come [to Earth] just to take a few people and start again somewhere. I just quite enjoyed the bonkers take of that.

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Can you believe it's been 23 years since Groovejet (If This Ain't Love) hit Number 1?

I mean, it doesn't really feel that long ago. That's kind of barking.

But I still have a really good relationship with all the songs from the early part of my solo career. I still feel quite connected with all of it, really. I suppose that's the clever thing about music: certain things get crystallised with a memory or a feeling. I'm sure you've got songs you listen to that you loved when you were little, and now they kind of take you back to that feeling. And I suppose with life as a musician, you're kind of always trying to get back to that bit of you that's filled with wonder about what you do. I think that keeps you in that moment, too.

At the time, did you ever think you'd still be releasing music - and looking at another Top 10 album - in 2023?

I think if I'd thought about it, it would have freaked me out. I don't really like thinking about the future in that way. Some people are really good at it – they can do five-year plans and stuff, but it's just not my thing.

I think, from my point of view, what I do is a real privilege – I spend my time doing a job I love. And so I kind of want to get the most fun out of everything that's happening right now. Everything can change on a dime anyway. Like, I could make plans till the cows come home, [but then] something could switch and everything I thought was gonna happen doesn't happen.

I'm also a creature that likes momentum. So as long as I've got some things in the diary that I'm looking forward to – and believe me, there have been times when my diary has been really quiet – I can put one foot in front of the other and get excited about that. So that's the way I've handled it, really.

LISTEN to Sophie Ellis-Bextor's We've Been Watching You below:

You've ruled yourself out of representing the UK at Eurovision next year, but would you consider writing a Eurovision bop for another artist?

I think that would be the most fun thing ever. I think Eurovision is really special – I'm a massive Eurovision fan. So I don't want anyone to think that when I say I'm not going to be the representative [that] it's in any way snooty.

I just don't think it's the right thing for me, you know? But I will 100% support whoever's doing it, and I would love to have a go at writing a Eurovision song. Yes please!

You're playing Glastonbury's Pyramid Stage on the Sunday of the festival. That's going to be incredible, right?

Oh, I really hope so. I just keep picturing [myself] walking out and seeing the crowd. And also, we've got such a nice slot – it's Sunday lunchtime, so let's have a nice time and wake everyone up! 

It'd be nice if the sun shines, but no matter what, it's just a very special thing. That stage has been walked on by some of the absolute greats, so I can't wait to get out there and share it with my fans. We're all really excited about it.

And what can we expect from your Kitchen Christmas Disco Tour at the end of the year?

Well, at the end of last year, we did a Kitchen Disco tour which was really special. So I kind of thought, 'okay, why don't we do a Christmas one now?' I want to kind of provide a really good Christmas party for people.

So we'll be doing some [Christmas] covers as well as my own songs and there will probably be some tinsel involved. It'll all make sense when you get there, and it'll definitely be a really great night.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor's HANA is out now via Cooking Vinyl Limited.

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You deserve Sophie to keep having success with your music!!! Love u❤