Featured Artist: Laura Critchley

Laura Critchley is a 23 year old Liverpool, UK singer/songwriter, of pop, country and soul music. She has myspace to thank for a large part of her success. She went into banking to please her father but continued to write songs and melodies and spend weekends and evenings sending her demos to record companies. She used her holiday time to visit the companies and convince the secretaries to let her see the top A & R. After several encouraging meetings, she quit the banking business and moved to London.

Shortly after setting up her myspace page she was approached by Andrew Gemmell, head of Big Print Music, to play at their 10th anniversary party. At the celebration was Jeremy Marsh, the man behind the careers of Take That and Annie Lennox, to name a couple. He convinced Andrew to sign her immediately.

Myspace continues to be a big help to her career, she used to exchange tips with Mika before he hit it big and Steve Power, Robbie Williams' producer, agreed to produce her cd after listening to the four tracks on her profile.Not only can Laura count Robbie Williams as a fan. “I love Sometimes I!”but also Jamie Foxx, "‘She’s the most natural talent I’ve heard since getting Natalie Imbruglia’s demo of ‘Torn’,Jeremy Marsh "I really like Laura, and I know she'll end up doing really well...she's got a fabulous voice, writes great songs, and she's totally gorgeous. Oh and great fun...bloody annoying eh??!!"And Ronan Keating, "What do we do is a huge song!"(abridged and paraphrased from Laura Critchley’s myspace profile.)

I initially contacted Laura’s manager via her website and on a whim asked for an interview. When I saw he was logged on to Pure Robbie I sent a pm and asked again, including a few more details about myself and the site. He pmed me back and said “Do you want to do a phone interview my number is -------“Yes”, I said and waited for him to get back to me. I waited about three or four hours and decided to call, as I am not very patient, Andrew said they were on their way to a radio interview why don’t I call back in about an hour. An hour, I had nothing prepared! I quickly reread her myspace and listened to her music and wrote down some quick questions. Then he calls back and said the interview ended early could I call back in 20 minutes. Yes the panic set in as I told him I have never interviewed anyone and he assured me she was easy to talk to and would lead me along. Andrew was right she is lovely and very easy to talk to. When the phones weren’t cutting out due to bad reception we had a nice conversation, less an interview, more a chat.

Laura’s influences include Karen Carpenter, who her parents played a lot when she was younger. Laura said, “Karen had the same low voice and the songs are easy to sing along with”. Laura has written the song “Superstar” about Karen. Other influences are Carole King and Leanne Rimes. She also likes early Mariah Carey. We thought it was interesting most of her influences were American and most of my favorites are British.Laura writes her own songs but often works with a co-writer. She has worked with David Whitmey a fellow song writer and keyboard player for the “Sugababes”. Laura toured with the Sugababes from April to May of this year. Laura plays some guitar as well.She has meetings with some US record labels including Sony/BMG and Azoff Management. “Azoff want to put me forward to a Nashville record for my American signing as my music has a country edge.” Her debut cd will be released on October 29th. Unfortunately only in the UK at this time, but itunes will have it as well. My favorite song on her myspace is “What Do We Do”. Laura says, “I love “What Do We Do”, it is my favorite track I just love it. It starts small and builds and builds just like Angels. Steve Power actually said that it’s my Angels.

Laura met Robbie through her manager Andrew Gemmell who knows Simon Niblett, Robbie’s tour photographer. Simon was taking her pictures and asked if she would like to meet Robbie. Andrew, Simon, Laura and Robbie had dinner in LA last year and hung out for hours talking. She and Robbie hit it off and exchanged emails and have been in contact since. When she was recently in LA she used Rob’s photographer and Rob invited her to have pictures taken at his home. I asked what he was like and she said, “Very approachable, normal but with a bigger house.” She said he was a “typical northern lad, watched football.” “He is not very show biz.” I told her I had “met” Robbie in Iowa and she asked what I thought of him. Who’s interviewing who? I said he seemed very approachable and ‘normal’ considering his status.Laura says, “Rob and I are very similar. We both have the same humour. Probably because we’re both northerners?”

I asked if she saw any LA Vale games, “Yes, he’s had 21 games won 19 and drew twice this season!”

I asked how she has managed not to be linked with Rob in the press and Laura said there was a big article about them in one of the British tabloids. I wanted to know if it scares you at all that this may happen to you as you become more famous. “Yes it does. I think fame is sometimes millions of people thinking they know who you are and most of the time they don’t as most people have a different persona for stage and real life. Trouble with fame is it kinda makes you public property?”

Another big fan of Laura’s is Jeff Arch the screen writer for “Sleepless in Seattle”. He had found her music on myspace. He contacted her and flew to London and took her and Andrew to dinner. He changed his travel plans and extended his stay in London so he could see her perform live. Laura was opening for the group Decan Blue. Jeff has written a new screenplay “The Chelsea Story” which will star John Cusack and Naomi Watts, he has included a part for Laura and hopes to incorporate some of her music. She stayed in Santa Barbara with Jeff on her recent trip to the US. He lives in a house on stilts, on the beach. While they were walking on the beach he was talking to a dark haired woman, very casually and when they got back to the house he showed Laura a DVD with her picture on it. It was Julia Louis-Dryfus of “Sienfeld” fame.

On her most recent trip she was shopping in Santa Barbara with her friends when Robbie called and asked if she would like to do backing vocals on his cd. Of course she said yes but just then the battery died on her phone. She thought Robbie would think she had hung up on him. I said what girl would do that. Laura agreed. She had trouble finding a battery for her UK phone but did finally find one, plugged in and called him back. He asked her if she hadn’t gotten any of her texts and she said no, none. Funny thing when she landed at Heathrow, in London she got them all at once. Her text messaging doesn’t work in the US. Laura asked Rob if he would be in her video for the song “And What Do We Do”. She said “she would have LA Vale tattooed on her arse if he said yes.” He would have played her love interest that she was breaking up with; he would walk around miserable and gloomy in the background. Unfortunately he was busy and was unable to do it. She hopes he can do one in the future.I asked how it was to record with Rob, I have read he hates to rehearse and pictured him unfocused, so did Laura but he was the opposite. He sat in a chair as she sang her backing vocals and when she had finished the bridge he said to take out his voice and let her sing it alone.

Laura’s vocals will be included on the second cd due to be released by Robbie, the next being a cd of covers. “I am not 100% certain but I think EMI want him to do another Covers album and it could be swing. She wasn’t sure if they will be released around the same time or not.

Another funny story Laura told me was “the laugh she and Rob had over the fact she was touring with a Rob look a like, Ray Quinn the runner on the tv show “X-Factor.”Laura’s favorite Robbie Williams songs are “Sexed Up” and “Better Man” which she sang a small bit of it to me over the phone.

She has an incredible voice even over the ocean and two cell phones. Laura also likes “Heaven From Here” and “Make Me Pure.” She has been a fan since his “Take That” days. She has seen him perform in “Take That” and as a solo artist. She thinks he is an amazing entertainer, and doesn’t think he know the effect he has on people, and just sees a wall of people. I asked Laura if she had any future plans with Robbie, a duet perhaps. “I would love to duet with Robbie if he’d have me share the stage with him. I’m gonna have to keep my fingers crossed for that one though because that would be unbelievable! I can’t even imagine it!”You were telling me that you don’t think Rob realizes the effect he has on the audiences, can you explain, that he just sees a wall of people. I just don’t see how he can’t see the effect he has on people. Laura says, “As a performer, you go out there and sing, it’s not until you come off the stage and think…wow…what went on there? It may be different for Rob, but I know for me I’m in the zone.”

We briefly discussed “Rudebox”. She liked the songs “The 80’s” and “The 90’s” and described them as a “diary of his times.” She preferred to hear songs with him singing. She hadn’t heard “Lola” yet and was looking forward to hearing it, “I’m on the road and have trouble downloading.” I assured she would love it and showed another side of Robbie’s versatile singing ability. I wanted to know how amazing it was working with artists that recorded “Angels” with Robbie. Where they band members or studio artists? “These were all studio artists. It was amazing. But not all of them had actually met Rob so I was telling them about him! Mad!?”Laura is a lovely woman with an amazing career ahead of her. She has the support of some high profile people in music and film which she well deserves.

I enjoyed talking to her and she was very gracious and helpful, considering it was my first interview. She made me feel part of a conversation not just an interview. I thought it was funny when she asked where I was “based”, in my home of course, but for someone in her field that travels a lot and moves for their careers, I am sure it is a normal question. She was talking to a fan, a mom, a wife not a reporter. I said I have one more question, strictly a fan question. I told her I was asked this repeatedly when I got back from the celebrity match in Iowa, “how does Robbie smell?” She repeated the question back to me and she the guys in the van were having a laugh. She said “he is very clean, and always in the shower. Playing footie so often he is straight to the showers after the practices and games.” So she said he smells “like after a shower-clean, not that I am sniffing him” she said. Of course we had to know how Andrew and Laura discovered Pure Robbie, Laura has google alerts and Pure Robbie popped and “intrigued me!”I thanked her for taking the time to talk to me and being patient with me. I for one look forward to hearing her new cd, “Sometimes I” and her collaborations’ with Robbie.Laura has generously offered a signed cd for use as a prize on Pure Robbie. Thanks again to Laura and Andrew.

Be sure to preorder Laura's cd "Sometimes I" on Amazon.co.uk and play.comLet's help her enter in the top 10!!

Interview by Pure Robbie Staff Member, Nicetolookat.

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