CELEBRATING THE RELEASE OF HIS 'VERY BEST' ALBUM
The '80s chart topper joins budding pop Diva Imogen Heap at the Notting Hill Brassiere
With a career spanning 22 years and record sales topping eight million, Nik Kershaw had no trouble sorting out 19 tracks for his greatest hits album Then and Now. No final selection would have been complete without Nik's biggest tunes form the '80's, I wont let the sun go down on me and Wouldn't it be Good, but he's also written and recorded four brand-new tracks, including one produced by Imogen Heap, What it is.
It is the first time Nik, 47, has ever trusted someone to produce a track for him as in the past he's always insisted on being hands-on with his own songs. "The way Imogen works is a big mystery to me," says Nik. "It's unusual to find a female producer in the record business but she records every part and then engineers the whole thing in her studio. At the moment not many people know about her but as she has a fantastic voice as well, I'm convinced she's going to be a star".
OK! joined Nik and Imogen at he Notting Hill Brassiere where head chef Mark Jankel's modern French menu draws a huge celebrity crowd. Mark might be only 30 but already he's one of our top chefs, and his A-list regulars include Sir Mick Jagger, Dawn French, Sienna Miller (with Jude Law before the spilt) and Melanie Blatt. Nik loved Mark's food and despite living outside London vowed he'd soon be back. As he says: "Any good food cooked with a bit of love in it really does the trick for me."
Nik, when did you first meet Imogen?
Imogen was introduced to me ten years ago by my management in my capacity as a mentor. She was only 17 but while they knew she was talented they didn't know what they'd got. I spent three days listening to her demos and recording with her and it was very obvious that her sound was unique. I get sent people all the time and I always pray something good will turn up. In Imogen's case it did.
Is it hard for young artists to break through?
It's a frustrating business. There are lots of talented people out there who might record nine or ten songs for an album, the A&R man leaves and the record company drops them so the project lies around collecting dust. I think the Pop Idol- type shows should offer counselling before they start so contestants know what they're letting themselves in for.
Do you think it was easier when you started out?
It's difficult to say. I never had any doubt I was going to make it but I did get incredibly lucky when I wrote Wouldn't it be Good and people bought it. I think the industry is probably harder now but I can't really judge as at the beginning the only experience I had was of success.
At the start of the '90s you dropped out of the pop scene- why was that?
I looked at what I'd achieved and realised that fulfilling my teenage dream had brought unexpected pressures which I was ill-equipped to deal with. I thought I'd love being a pop star but I just felt insecure. By the end of the '80s my records weren't selling and that was hard to deal with. I knew I was the same bloke I'd been to years before and I couldn't understand why everybody was suddenly deserting me. Also, being a celebrity is talent all of its own and I never had it.
How did you manage to resolve your career crisis?
My second son, Ryan, was about to be born (Nik who is separated from his wife, has three son's Rudi 17, Ryan 15, and Dylan 12), so I decided I'd chuck it all in, stay at home, be a dad and write songs. I wrote for Lulu, Ronan Keating, Cliff Richard, Elton John and The one and only for Chesney Hawkes but after nine years I wanted to get back in the recording studio. I had all these songs in my head and I knew the only person who was going to sing them was me. I'd been saying no to the Here & Now tour for seven years as I was worried about losing my cred but it suddenly dawned on I no longer had any cred. I was also bored - once you've walked on stage and strutted your stuff in front of thousands of people you can't say you don't miss it.
Do you enjoy eating out?
I like going to good restaurants but I have to watch myself as when you get in to your forties it's very easy to grow sideways. Now I'm single again I have to feed myself at home but I've always cooked a bit an I'm very good at getting a roast together.
Do you think your sons will follow you into the business?
I don't think so, although Dylan has started playing bass. Rudi plays the drums but as now he's discovered girls I suspect he'll lose interest before long! What's nice is that none of them are music snobs and they'll listen to anything from Foo Fighters to Elvis to a song from a musical. I think tastes in music these days have become blurred across the generations as you have bands like Coldplay who are hugely successful but appeal to both young and old kids like me.