Alex Green catches up with the Torn singer.
Natalie Imbruglia has been through a lot over the last decade.
The Australia-born Oxfordshire-based singer, 46, was dropped by her record label, split from her husband, Daniel Johns of Aussie rockers Silverchair, and developed a serious case of writer’s block.
But as she appears on Zoom from her new record label’s offices in west London, things are different.
“I spent 10 years trying to be normal, trying to overcome a divorce and fix myself,” she explains. “It is quite refreshing to realise there was never anything wrong. And also to discover through age and wisdom that you can be a road less travelled person.”
After the painful release of Come To Life in 2009, Imbruglia went back to Australia, starred in its version of The X Factor as a judge, returned to acting (pleasing those fans who had followed her since her early days in Neighbours) and became a mother.
And, as the title of her new album Firebird suggests, she rediscovered her creativity.
“Busting through all of that and coming out of it feeling like I am really comfortable with who I am… I’m super happy and the most creative I have been in my life.”
Imbruglia was 16 when in 1992 she was cast as Beth Brennan on the internationally successful soap Neighbours. That role made her a household name in Australia but it was Torn, her cover of Ednaswap’s 1995 song, that made her a household name across Europe.
“I would say this,” she begins with a knowing laugh. “The Nineties were fantastic. I have such happy memories, and I do think it seems to be trending at the moment. It’s really wonderful to think what I lived through and the music that was around at the time, or my music, might have an affect on younger generations.”
She adds with a cheeky laugh: “Does that mean I’m vintage?”
Imbruglia made headlines in October 2019 when she announced she had given birth to a boy named Max Valentine at the age of 44 with the help of IVF and a sperm donor.
“It is hands down the best thing that has ever happened to me,” she says, addressing how becoming a mother has changed her. “The feeling of unconditional love is very hard to put into words, especially if it’s something you have yearned for for a very long time.
“I am content, and I feel very calm and very peaceful.
“I also think, separate to being a mum, I am 46 – and at this point you should have chilled out a bit, take yourself less seriously, enjoy life a bit more. Surely that is the goal? I definitely think I am more easy about things.”
Imbruglia tells me she feels guilty the pandemic, which affected others in such awful ways, allowed her to spend more quality time with her son.
“I got all the benefits of extra cuddles and was able to nip next door and record a vocal,” she says.
Her statement announcing her pregnancy and revealing her decision to embark on motherhood solo helped spark an important conversation.
“I received so much love and support after I released my statement, and so many women reaching out to me saying: ‘Oh gosh, I feel more comfortable in trying to do that, I have wanted to do that but I didn’t.’
“So there was definitely something going on there. I never intended to be that. I was actually trying to avoid further press intrusion by stating it and then, ‘Let me have my private life’. But there is a lot to be gained from this conversation being out there.
“I don’t think women should feel they can’t talk about, or are alone in it. And if I can play a small part in that, then so be it.”
Firebird by Natalie Imbruglia is out now on BMG.