The artist formerly known as Scary Spice, Melanie Brown, is now known for her outspoken views as a judge on TV talent shows, including last season’s The X Factor Australia and currently America’s Got Talent. But Mel B has gone back to her roots, releasing her first single in eight years – For Once in My Life. I caught up with her to chat about the new single, the pressure to release a hit song and whether she will return to Australian TV.
Tell me about your new single.
I wanted to bring out something that was empowering. I’ve been in the studio on and off for eight years but I wanted it to be a good representation of me so it took me a long time to find the passion within me to do it, and to find the right type of people to feel free in the studio. Then it literally happened overnight. I did a taping of America’s Got Talent and that finished at 11pm and I was like “I want to get into the studio now” and the song was written and mastered in three hours and a week later I did the video and a week later I scarily pressed “send” and put it out on the internet [via YouTube].
What inspired you to get back into the studio?
I think with Australia’s X Factor and America’s Got Talent I spent a good few years being a judge and seeing people performing and I was watching people work at their art and perfect their voice and their performance, and by the third year it just made me think “I want to do this”.
You’ve had so much success in your career, do you feel the pressure to release a No. 1 hit?
No, because it was such a big scale with the Spice Girls and now I’m just doing it by myself; I’m not signed with anybody, I’m funding it all by myself. I did it completely back to front. When I pressed “send” I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if people would know it was me or if people would love it or hate it. I hadn’t told anyone, except my producer, my co-writer, my husband and my kids. Literally, that was it.
Were you nervous to put it out there?
Yes, but you know what, because I hadn’t hyped it up, I hadn’t done the usual eight weeks of promotion that you do on radio and TV, I had nothing to lose. Well, kind of nothing to lose … it could’ve gone tits-up [laughs].
You must be thrilled with the response.
I’m humbled to say the least, because I know a lot of celebrities and I didn’t ask for any support from anyone and everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to Kim Kardashian were tweeting about it. To get that type of response without having to go “please like it, please tweet about it” was really nice.
Out of your whole career, what is the song you’re proudest of?
We wrote all Spice Girls songs and I wrote my first and second album, so it’s really hard to choose one but I guess the first song that we wrote, Wannabe. I was listening to that song the other day because my two-year-old was jiggling her butt to it and 20 years on it’s still a good catchy song. I call it catchy/annoying because once you start playing it, it gets in your head.
Do you ever get sick of talking about the Spice Girls?
No, we put ourselves together, we wrote our own music and we created our own girl power. It wasn’t about being overly sexy, it wasn’t about hating boys, it was all about empowering women. And 20 years on we’re still supportive of each other.
Which of the Spice Girls do you see most now?
I hang out with all of them equally. It’s nice and we all have kids so it’s not like we’re sitting there going “remember the good old days”. We have stuff we’re doing ourselves and we spend time together with our families.
What are you doing while you’re in Australia?
I’m doing press for my single and I’m heading to the Lavazza marquee at the Melbourne Cup carnival. I’m shooting my third Jenny Craig commercial and I’ll catch up with Geri [Halliwell, who is filming Australia’s Got Talent].
Will we see you back on Australian TV?
Next year I’m not signed with anybody, so who knows? I’m really open. I like Sydney so I’d be open to that and definitely coming back here is one option. I’m having a few meetings down here with a few networks.
Would you go back to The X Factor Australia?
That’s something I would never rule out. I enjoyed my two years of doing it. You become part of the family. I’m still friends with Nat [Bassingthwaighte] and Guy [Sebastian].
WE WENT TO Gowings Bar and Grill, Sydney CBD.
WE ATE salt-baked baby beetroot salad; grated detox organic vegetable salad; organic herbed chicken served with Paris mash, steamed black cabbage.
WE DRANK sparkling water and Veuve Clicquot.
I WORE an ELLERY dress.
MEL WORE Stella McCartney dress and Gucci shoes.
Photo: Danielle Smith