Republica in Dubai

Saffron Republica tells us why the band is back together and in Dubai

Have you been to Dubai before?
No, I’m really quite excited about our visit. I’ve heard it’s all new and really hot. I had friends that were involved in the interior design of a few of the city’s hotels, and they loved it.

Republica re-formed last April, after an 11-year hiatus. How did that come about?
Johnny, our guitarist, bought a house just down the road from where I live. He’d been coming to see me for a couple of years, writing songs and doing other projects, then he asked me to do a benefit gig at Windsor in the UK. When we played live, we really got that vibe and wanted to do some more shows.

Is it the same line-up?
It’s myself, Tim and Johnny. Unfortunately our drummer, Pete, is recovering from cancer, so we’re coming to Dubai as a threesome. The music will be exactly the same, just a bit more on the electronic side.

You’ve been busy since the band broke up, including singing with The Cure…
Robert Smith is one of our biggest idols. He phoned me one day and asked me to do a duet with The Cure. I was overwhelmed – I couldn’t have wished for a better experience. I also got to do a world tour with Carl Cox, and record a track with Dutch DJ Junkie XL.

And The Prodigy?
I sang with them on the final track of their 1997 album, The Fat of The Land.

And didn’t you star in a Chesney Hawkes video?
I did, yes. I went along to the audition for ‘The One and Only’ video because they said Roger Daltrey from The Who would be there, and that was it – I had to do it! It was brilliant and Chesney was a very sweet kid.

You were also in West End rollerskating musical Starlight Express. How difficult is it to do a show on skates?
It was extraordinary. I wanted to be a rock star, so I went to London and saw the audition for Starlight Express in the paper. They put me in rollerskate boot camp for four months.

Yeah, it was hardcore but brilliant. I went on tour with the show to Japan and Australia.

You’re of Portuguese, Chinese and English decent. Which heritage is closest to you?
My mum’s from Hong Kong, but her ancestors are from Macau, a small Portuguese colony off the coast of Hong Kong. I feel a calling to the East. I study Wing Chun, a more feminine version of kung fu. I get my Eurasian look from my mum, who is like a China doll. I’d love to go to China; I’ve never been.

Finally, what are Republica’s plans for 2011?
Try our new songs live in Dubai, then hopefully record them properly for an album.
Republica play The Music Room on January 13. Tickets available at

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