Some call her fashion outlook unique, others suggest she pays the ultimate tribute to some of the style icons of the past. But for Sophie Ellis-Bextor, her immaculate image comes naturally.
“I always wanted a big family when I was growing up,” she says. “I’ve always been tremendously close to my mum [former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis] and as the oldest child I always had that lovely feeling of responsibility and wanting to protect my siblings.”
That the singer has grasped that notion with her own children, whilst also managing to sustain a successful music career, as well as dabbling in fashion and philanthropy, is impressive. “There are plenty of other people out there who work just as hard as me,” says the singer, who is married to Richard Jones from the band The Feeling. “I don’t subscribe to this idea that having a lot of kids and a career in music is any more difficult than working full-time in an office, or a shop.
“These are the cards that were dealt and obviously I feel lucky, but I don’t believe I work harder than most other people.”
That humility to one side, it does say something for Sophie Ellis-Bextor that her presence has remained largely constant despite five concerted breaks from the music industry. Yet favouring motherhood to the microphone doesn’t seem to have diminished the singer, model and occasional DJ’s impact – thanks in no small part to the repeated airplay of timeless hits Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) and Murder On The Dancefloor.
As mum to Sonny (born 2006), Kit (2010), Ray (2014), Jesse (2016), and newest recruit Mickey, who celebrated his fourth birthday in January 2021, the singer uses style, passion, edginess and fun as buzzwords.
“Through my life I’ve always prioritised having fun. I think there’s so much necessity in looking for the happy route through things, and much of my music reflects that.
“There’s definitely a heavier edge to the industry these days and I think a lot of that is to do with digital music,” she says. “The margins are so much tighter now and record labels know they must maximise every opportunity, and that’s especially true with merchandising and touring.
“When I first started out there was so much cash swilling about in record labels. There was the freedom to let artists take their time and do what they wanted, because the risks were low. It’s strange how the whole landscape has changed so dramatically.”
The singer admits she does miss the carefree nature of the industry as it was then, though its evolution fitted in with her own.
“When you have children you realise the landscape changes, so in one respect you hold back a bit more – you’re not just doing it for yourself and your partner anymore… this is actually a project that involves little people who rely on you for everything.
“And yet, in another respect, the ability to enjoy yourself just opens up wider than you ever thought,” she says. “Not only can you reconnect with your carefree self, but being with kids actually gives you licence to do all of the slightly crazy, slightly wacky things you would be too embarrassed to normally!”
Throughout lockdown, she had to make do with streamed gigs from home, with most interrupted by her kids in what have become regarded as heart-warming if slightly chaotic live sessions.
“It’s never the same experience twice when you’re playing live and I love the thrill of really connecting with an audience. I missed that so much, and I’ll never take it for granted again!”