Manchester’s Finest meets… Lisa Stansfield

80s popstar Lisa Stansfield is celebrating the 30th anniversary of her debut album Affection by heading out on tour from 21st October, playing all the hits which soared her to stardom.

The Rochdale singer has sold 20 million albums throughout her career with world-wide success. Now she’s taking a trip down memory lane which will surely delight her fans as they flock to see the songstress on stage.

Manchester’s Finest caught up with Lisa in rehearsals for the tour to find out what she had in store and reflect on her amazing back catalogue.

MF: Can you believe it has been 30 years since Affection was released? Does it feel that long ago to you?

LS: I suppose it does feel like 30 years when you really think about it but when you don’t think about it, it just seems like yesterday. When you think about the punctuation marks in those 30 years and the marks of time it is quite amazing really.

MF: It wasn’t just the album songs that were iconic but also the cover of Affection (a headshot of Lisa in black and white wearing a hat) – how did that strong image come about?

LS: Well, it’s a lovely story actually. We used to have to do massive conferences and events for the sales force of places like Woolworths and do gigs for them and stuff, so I did one and I had a pair of jeans on and I’d just bought that jacket with a cross on and Tracey (who used to work for our management company Big Life) was wearing the black hat and she had a cross around her neck.

So I was saying to her, what can we do to make this (the outfit) more interesting and then I said ‘here wait a minute give me your hat’…and I put her hat on back to front and then I said ‘oh you’ve got that cross’ and she said ‘oh put my cross on your neck’ and I said ‘no I’ll put it on the hat that will look really nice and it will go with the cross on the jacket’.

At the time we just thought it was a look we created for Woolworths for that one night but it ended up with it being the look for the album cover. Half the girls in the world ended up looking like that at one point which was funny really. It was just a completely last-minute thing as if ‘OMG I look rubbish’, quick what can we do so I can jazz myself up a bit!

MF: Now we know that ‘All Around the World’ was a massive hit for you Lisa but when you were coming up with song with Ian your husband and writing partner-didn’t you just say the ‘I, I, I’ bit by chance?

LS: Yes, well it all seemed a bit of a joke at the time when I came up with the lyric ‘I,I, I (can’t find my baby)’ and we kept laughing about it. Then we all realised that we kept on singing it and Ian said ‘well we can all bloody remember it can’t we’ and I said ‘what, shall we just keep it-it’s a bit silly isn’t it?’. But everyone else said it was good, so we kept it in.

MF: You must be asked to sing that song all the time, do you still like performing All Around the World or do you ever get sick of it?

LS: I wouldn’t be talking to you now, 30 years after the event, if it wasn’t for that song. At the end of the day that song came out of my head and Ian’s head and we are very very proud of it. I do get sick of it now and again but it’s like an old friend so sometimes I really like singing it and sometimes I don’t. It’s like how you are with people…one day you fall out and the next you make up, it’s a relationship with a song.

MF: Have you got a favourite track – I know that might be like asking you to choose a favourite one of your pets?

LS: Yes, I suppose it is, because they are like that in the way that they are all different and have completely different stories behind them and personalities. Stories of what happened in the studio or the reason why we wrote them-so they all mean different things to me. In that respect, you can’t have a favourite.

MF: You may be celebrating an anniversary of your Affection album, but it’s been almost 40 years since you started in showbiz Lisa, when you won talent contest Search for a Star at the age of 13.  Did you ever think this would have happened to ‘little Lisa from Rochdale’?

LS: I really wanted to be a successful singer from as early as I can remember – I just thought that it was something that was going to happen to me. I never knew it would happen to me to the extent that it did. I believed I would have a career in music and that it would be a good career, but nothing prepares you for it when it’s on that scale, you have to live life on your wits really.

MF: Now, we’ve had the Freddie Mercury story ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Elton John’s ‘Rocketman’ released-what about a Lisa Stansfield movie? Are you tempted?

LS: God, I don’t know. It would be nice but I don’t think anyone would want to watch it, my story is too happy and too boring.

MF: What about acting in general then, you’ve had parts over the years in a number of TV shows and films, such as Agatha Christie and Northern Soul. Would you like to do more?…

LS: I’d love to do more acting, I love it. It’s a really beautiful way to learn things and work with inspiring people. It teaches you to look at yourself in ways you wouldn’t do normally. I don’t regard myself as an actress, I’m just a singer who occasionally does acting. I know I’m good at it, but I would, at some point, like to be considered as a professional actress. I think it could be something I could do for a long time and I’d really enjoy doing it because I’m interested in it.

MF: Going back to the tour, is it great to be able to share going out on the road with your husband Ian? You’ve been together for a long time and even met at school. Is it the dream that you get to work together?

LS: We’ve always shared everything really and it’s just lovely to be able to do it all together. Don’t get me wrong we are not like sitting holding hands all day long but there’s a lot of passion between us about what we do and we like it that way.

MF: Finally, if you were able to go back in time to the Lisa of 30 years ago when you had just finished your iconic album Affection, what do you think you would say to her?

LS: I’d give her a really big cuddle and a kiss and say, ‘It’s not that big a deal darling so stop f***ing worrying about it’. Stop worrying about it and enjoy it more because everybody else is enjoying it and because you are so busy you don’t get a chance to enjoy it when it’s really massive. You see all your friends and family celebrating and you can’t do it because you are working all the time.

But I’m definitely having a good time now.

Lisa Stansfield plays The Lowry, Salford on October 26th

For more Affection 30th Anniversary UK tour dates go to https://lisa-stansfield.com/

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