The UK singer-songwriter debuts her first solo album this year and performs at Dubai’s Chinawhite on Thursday September 18. Chanelle Tourish meets her
Can you describe your music in a tweet?
It’s pop, dance and fun, energetic house music.
What did you listen to growing up?
As a kid I was really influenced by soul and dance music. My mum loved reggae and my dad loved Irish music, country and rock ’n’ roll. From the age of nine years old I was in Les Misérables in London. I have had a very varied career, I used to sing backup for Bryan Ferry and a lot of rock artists.
You took part in a UNICEF singing competition as a child and met Audrey Hepburn. What was that like?
I was representing England in Europe to become a child ambassador for UNICEF, I was only 12 years old. She was such a beautiful person. She was so warm with me. I lost my voice on the day of the competition so I croaked my way through the song and after the show I was crying because I thought I’d let my country down, but I actually won. Audrey Hepburn just kept cuddling me, she was really sweet and humble. She was everything that you’d want her to be from her movies.
You sang vocals for Armand Van Helden’s track, ‘My My My’, which was released in 2006. How do you feel looking back on that?
It was a re-release and my main concern was that people wouldn’t accept it, but it’s actually become a bit of a classic. I’m really proud that I did it and it’s still played today. I love performing it – it has a great vibe.
You’ve worked with Axwell, Laidback Luke and David Guetta. Do you have a favourite collaboration so far?
The biggest connection was really with David Guetta. He was the first DJ/producer that I worked with that put me in his music video, and we toured a lot together when he was doing the Pop Life album. It was a very simple time because he wasn’t as famous in the UK back then. He has so much energy – he’s like a big kid, I’ve so many nice memories working with him.
You’re releasing your first solo album this year. What can people expect?
The album should be out before the end of the year. I’ve just finished a single called ‘Vay-K’, which features Snoop Dog. It’s a real mix of pop, dance and an urban touch. It’s a really fun, summer vibe record. It’s quite rebellious and cheeky and it should be released in October.
What can we expect from your gig at Chinawhite in Dubai?
I’m going to do a lot of mash-ups and some big dance numbers and I think I’ll premiere ‘Vay-K’ there. I just want people to go nuts and have fun.
Tara McDonald Live. Free (reservations recommended). Thursday September 18, 11pm-3am. Chinawhite, Grand Hyatt Dubai, Oud Metha (04 282 5377).