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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Soul singer Gabrielle loves her kids, awards, Drake and earrings - in that order  

The British musician opens about some of her favourite things

British artist Gabrielle
British artist Gabrielle

The British musician, who rose to fame in the 1990s with anthems such as Dreams and Rise, has launched Under My Skin, her first album in 11 years. Gabrielle lives in London with her two children.

What’s your favourite city in the world?

It has got to be London. I was born and raised in London and although I’ve travelled to lots of places and had amazing experiences, there’s nothing like coming home. It’s the diversity of the city, I think.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’ve started a book called Trunk Music by a guy called Michael Connelly. I’m not into girly books.

What’s your most treasured possession?

My kids, even though they’ll say: “You don’t own us” – so they are not exactly a possession. After my kids, maybe my awards, because they are accolades I never thought I would get. When I feel insecure, I look at them and am like: “OK, you haven’t done bad, kiddo.”

The best journey you’ve ever taken?

Any skiing trip. When I was growing up, people like me didn’t ski. But I learnt to and I love going to Zermatt in Switzerland, even if I’m alone and I’m not the best skier. I’m never on time for anything, but when it comes to meeting my ski instructor, even if I’ve only had two hours’ sleep, I’m dressed and downstairs. It’s the only thing in my life, apart from music and my kids, that I’ll be on time for.

What’s your favourite item in your wardrobe at the moment?

I’ve had this Ted Baker feather cape for a few years, and every time I wear it, people go crazy about it and always comment on it, as if I’ve got on the most expensive thing in the room. And quite often it’s the least expensive part of my outfit, but it doesn’t matter.

What's your go-to beauty product?

I don’t really have one. Actually, water. And I use lots of L'Oréal products. Everyone else is using expensive things like Crème de la Mer, but I’m like: “Honey, I don’t have those wrinkles yet," The one thing I will say is moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.

What’s the best part of your day?

When I first get up, because it’s quiet, and I like to put on the radio and listen to some music. It’s before the whole hustle and bustle of the day begins and I get to see my kids and have my coffee. It’s my time.

Who’s your favourite artist at the moment?

That’s a difficult one, but I’d say Drake because of that album, Scorpion. When it first came out, I didn’t really pay too much attention, but now I’m obsessed.

Are you a collector?

I love books and music, but I’m not really a collector. I love jewellery – if there’s a fabulous pair of earrings, I have to put them on. So I have lots of earrings.

What’s life’s greatest luxury?

Just having the life that I’ve had. And I don’t mean that in a vain way. I get to do a job I love. My son says: “Mum, I wish I had a job like you, where you only have to work for three months of the year.” So that’s a luxury. Now I have an album out, I’m having to work more than that, but before, if I included my touring, in a year, I’d only really have to work for three months, and then I’d have time to enjoy my kids and my life. I don’t want to sound pretentious, but not many people get to just enjoy their lives like that.

If you could wake up anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you be?

The Maldives, because my son thinks we should go there as a family, and I haven’t been.

The best piece of advice you’ve received?

When it comes to music, be true to you and everything will come. If you are not doing what you love and doing it the way you want to, you’ll never be truly happy. It has to be your way or the highway, when it comes to your craft.

How would you describe your style?

Classic. And that’s musically and fashion-wise. Mind you, I say that, but my hairstyle is a bit funky. So maybe funky, with a little bit of classic thrown in.

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Read more:

Gabrielle on her new album and rising again

'I would love to dress Queen Rania': a chat with Egyptian designer Marwa Sayed

The books, music and luxuries that author Alexander McCall Smith can't live without