Exclusive Interview With:
December 8, 2017.
Today, SClubility opens its doors to welcome S Club’s long-time writer and producer: Simon Ellis who penned some of S Club 7’s biggest hits like Two In A Million, Never Had a Dream Come True and Don’t Stop Movin’. But not only that, he was also the musical director of all of their Tours. On the occasion of SC3's new release “Family”, he kindly agreed to have this interview with me and I couldn’t feel more grateful.
- Hello Simon, first of all, how are you?
SIMON ELLIS: I’m very well thank you!
- Thank you very much for this interview, I have been thinking about making an interview with you for over a year but I never really found the right moment to ask you, but now that SC3 is about to release a new “S Club” song composed by you, It seems like the perfect time. Can you tell me anything about how this idea came about? Is it true what we read in The Sun, that the song was originally planned as an S Club 7 release in 2015?
SE: The song wasn't written with anyone specifically in mind. It was one of a bunch of songs that I wrote with my wife Johanne in 2015. I sent it to my publisher, Simon Fuller, who loved it and suggested we play it to S Club 7 with the possibility that if they liked it they would release it as a single after the 2015 reunion tour. They all loved it but for one reason or another it didn't happen. I think most were too busy to commit to the amount of time it would have taken to promote the song.
by SC3 is
OUT NOW! Buy it here.
- I know that you co-wrote this song with your wife, Johanne. Is it the first time that you work together? How was the creative process?
SE: Johanne and I have written a lot together. She is an amazing melody and lyric writer. We always write around a piano in my studio. I will normally start making something up on the piano and we will both la la some melodies until we find something we like. Then Jo goes away and writes the lyrics, or sometimes she sits there and writes them in front of me, which amazes me because to me lyric writing is a science. I am officially the worlds worst lyric writer! But I know when something is good so it’s a democratic process. She suggests a line, I sometimes say ‘No’ and she says ‘Yeah, what do you know’ and it stays in! We never argue, we’re married!
- The title of the song is “Family” and all three members of S Club 3 have formed a family, Bradley and Tina very recently. Was this fact a source of inspiration?
SE: No, as I said, the song wasn't written with anyone in mind but the title and sentiment of the song are perfect for them. It was Jo O’Meara who called me and said they were thinking of releasing a single as S Club 3 and asked if the song was still available. I said yes so the wheels were put in motion to record and produce it. That call was ages ago but because they have been so busy touring and gigging as a 3 piece we have only just got around to it now.
- The song sounds very different to any other S Club song ever released, was this something done intentionally? Or did it come naturally?
SE: I think it’s more to do with me developing as a writer and producer and also the way the sound of pop music has changed over the last 20 years. Modern pop music production now is much edgier. The sound has changed. For the better. When I went back to reproduce the song for SC3 I was aware that it needed to sound modern, up to date but still keep the essence of what S Club sounded like back in the day, so people would still recognise it as a S Club song. Hopefully I have done that.
- How were the recording sessions for the song?
SE: Pretty easy. We recorded the vocals over 2 days. Jo came to me to record the lead vocal at my studio and once she had warmed her voice up she nailed it within 4 or 5 takes. In my opinion she has one of the best pop voices this country has ever produced, she really is an amazing talent, full of soul and power. I think she is singing better than ever right now. Her vocal on Family is incredible. Tina and Brad recorded their parts, lead and BVs, with me at another studio. Again, that was painless, they both sound great on the track. I have recorded them since 1998 so
know them really well and how to record them.
- And how was working with the guys when the seven members of the group got together in 2015?
SE: It was great. Just like old times. Obviously I have known them all for years so it didn't take long for us all to be comfortable with each other again and have fun. They are all really professional and took rehearsals and the tour very seriously. They worked so hard to make sure it was the best show possible.
- It really felt like the best S Club show ever for many fans! How different was working on an S Club Tour “nowadays” compared to working on the ones during the group’s heyday?
SE: There are lots of differences. I know they are busy now but during the production and rehearsal times on their early tours their schedules were insane! We had to rehearse with them when we could, when they were in the country. It was a crazy time for them and me. They would be flying all around the world promoting this and that so we rehearsed when we could. They were tired but always looked forward to rehearsals. I remember, and I swear this is true, they were going through a dance routine together one evening after they had just got back from the US and Bradley wasn't moving. He was fast asleep. Standing up! Hilarious!
With the 2015 tour, everything was organised so that all seven were able to take a month off from what they were doing and be in one room together to rehearse. It was much easier. The other differences for me are the advances on the tech side. The equipment available now to programme and produce the music for a tour is unrecognisable from what was available back then, making it much easier and quicker to programme and make changes to arrangements etc… But you don’t want to know about that…
- Fans have always loved the S Club Carnival or the S Club Party Live. What can you tell us about those days?
SE: Not much without getting into trouble! We had fun, put it that way! Hey, we worked hard and played hard. What can I say.
- Fans were so outspoken about their desire to get a DVD for their Bring It All Back Tour 2015, why was this idea never taken into consideration?
SE: No Idea. It would have made a great DVD.
- All S Club tours have had a different theme, how is the process to decide the creative direction of an S Club tour?
SE: That is a process I am not involved in. That decision lies with the band, the tour director and management. I am involved only when the decision has been made and make the music based on that decision.
- And speaking about music, there is no denying that many of the songs that you wrote for the group were very successful pop songs that were not only hits for S Club 7 back in the day but also timeless anthems that radios keep on playing nowadays. Don’t Stop Movin’ was S Club 7’s biggest selling single, number one on the Uk Top 40 twice and the song won Record of The Year in 2002 and even a Brit Award. Is this song your favourite S Club songs from the ones that you wrote?
SE: I guess so although I am very proud of ‘Never Had A Dream’. My other favourites are ‘All In Love Is Fair’, ‘Two In A Million’ and ‘Love Ain’t Gonna Wait For You’. ‘Two In A Million’ because it was the first song I wrote for them and was my first ever chart success.
- From the other S Club songs that were not written by you, which one is your favourite?
SE: It’s gotta be ’S Club Party’ really. I think that is such a cool pop song. Also I have to mention ‘Reach’ because if I don’t then my mate Toddy who co wrote it won’t speak to me again.
- I would like to say thank you, Simon, for such a great interview; I am sure all the fans are going to love 'Family', Congratulations for such a great track! I want to end the interview by recalling that apart from S Club, you have also worked with big international names like Britney Spears. So, what’s next for Simon Ellis? What are some of your plans for 2018?
SE: I am working with Simon Fuller on his new global project called ‘Now United’.
That should keep me pretty busy next year.
* To know more about Simon Ellis you can visit his official website here.