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Sarah Brightman: the Rhythm Divine - Sarah Brightman talks to us

2006-03-29 10:55

M-WEB: Calling your album "Harem" how important was it to retain an "authentic" Middle Eastern feel?
SARAH: Well we had lots of names for the album. This one is taken from the Arabic - which translated into English actually just means forbidden place. Nothing more than that. And I had always been inspired by reading "Arabian Nights" - you know all those kind of A.S. Nesbitt tales of fantasy? It's appealing, it's folklore. It's something that I always wanted to do. I've always been addicted to it.

M-WEB: So, it was just fortuitous timing what with the whole Middle East crisis?
SARAH: Totally. I mean I started working on this album about three years ago. And when the whole political situation happened I was actually meant to release this album much earlier. And of course there was no way. I mean, it was terrible because you know, you've been creating it for so long and because of the world situation you're unable to do anything about it. So I had in the end to let it go. Regardless of what people may think. But when you go through the album you'll hear it's really based on fantasy and there's not really anything to do with the world climate.

M-WEB: With the trance-house rhythms in "Harem" are you trying to appeal to a younger audience?
SARAH: I don't know really, what we found on this album - and with hindsight of course, it was an obvious thing that would happen was that because the original music from all of these areas has a huge amount of percussive feel. So what we found was that when we wanted to mix it down in production it automatically went into the dance area. We weren't expecting it - but I suppose that's why the reason why so many Turkish producers are coming out from there.

M-WEB: What were you listening to for inspiration when you made the album?
SARAH: Um, let's see what am I listening to on my CD player - Coldplay. This album is such a great album. The other one I've got is Goldfrapp "Black Cherry". The other one I've got is Arvo Part, he's an Estonian composer... So that's what I'm listening to at the moment. In the last few years I've listened to a lot of chill out music - a lot of Buddha Bar stuff. I'm on one of the Buddha Bars anyway. Which completely like took me by surprise. So if anybody says to me "oh, you're un-cool" well I can say: "well, actually I'm on Buddha Bar!" (giggles)

M-WEB: Do people really think you're un-cool?
SARAH: Well, it's very interesting you know. I've actually been looking at my computer at the press and in America they do. Sometimes they're downright rude, sometimes they're very nice. You can imagine all the things you get. It's quite interesting You get a fair amount of "well, it's classical, it's not cool enough" or whatever. It's very interesting how people within media kind of categorise you. But I dunno, I never really know what the word "cool" actually means anyway.

On her new album Harem ex-Broadway diva Sarah Brightman ditches her showtime roots for an exotic musical potpourri that plunders everything from Bollywood to Middle Eastern musical rhythms with its colour-by-numbers dance tip. We caught up with the diva on her recent pit stop in Jozi for a promotional tour and quizzed her on the politics of being uncool.
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