At LA Lights Java Soulnation Festival in Jakarta. JP/Wendra AjistyatamaBritish disco queen Sophie Ellis-Bextor, 32, returned to Jakarta after her first visit to the capital in 2002, taking music lovers through a full gamut of dance tunes.
A big smile flashes on Sophie’s face as she sends a friendly hello to journalists who have been waiting for an interview with her at a five-star hotel in Central Jakarta.
Her towering, slim figure was clad in a printed, loose maxi dress with a tiny belt around her waist. She wore her shoulder-length hair in a high ponytail, pretty much showing her jaw line and high cheek bones.
Her face was fresh with a rosy blush, while her oh-so-perfect pouty lips looked stunning in a pinkish shade, softening her porcelain skin. At a glance, she looked more like one of the full-time supermodels usually seen on glossy fashion magazine covers rather than a professional singer.
Sophie entered the music scene when she became the lead singer of indie band Theaudience in the late 1990s before going solo in early 2000s.
She achieved worldwide success with her debut album, Read My Lips, and was quickly recognized for her music — a blend of pop, disco and typical 1980s electronic tunes.
Some singles on the record, such as “Murder on the Dance Floor”, “Take Me Home”, “Get Over You” and “Music Gets the Best of Me”, became hits in the UK and abroad.
Her second album, Shoot From the Hip, was launched in 2003, followed by the release of Trip the Light Fantastic four years later, which included singles like “Catch You” and “Me & My Imagination”.
The songstress couldn’t be happier, as this year she celebrates her 10-year anniversary in the business, which she dubbed her biggest achievement and marked with the release of album number four, Make a Scene.
“You are fortunate when people still have trust in you. I’m here now after 10 years. I’m a lucky girl and I’m fortunate to still be able to do it,” Sophie says.
After some delays, Sophie expressed her relief when the album was finally out this year. “Yeah, it feels really good. I mean, it took a little while. I spent a lot of time making it. I had my second child in that time, so I kept busy,” she said.
For her most recent record, she decided to produce it independently, and it turned out to put far less pressure on her. “There’s more spontaneity and control,” she said.
Sophie was heavily involved in the album and worked hand-in-hand with the writers and producers, including the Freemasons, Greg Kurstin, Calvin Harris and Cathy Dennis.
For future projects, she says she is keen to working with a female singer, something she has never done before.
“I think it would be quite fun working with someone who is totally different. It would be quite cool. Let’s wait and see,” she adds, smiling.
With the launch of Make a Scene, she is busy with a string of world tours, including dropping in to Jakarta for the second time after her first trip nine years ago.
Music buffs in the city still have a crush on her, flocking Istora Senayan sports hall in South Jakarta’s Senayan to catch a glimpse of her on the third day of the 2011 Java Soulnation Festival recently.
By the time Sophie appeared, Istora was packed with people — mostly teenagers and adults — who were in the party mood. Sophie did justice to a series of pop and disco sounds, getting the crowd to join in with her.
Strutting her long legs around the stage in a lovely peach sleeveless mini dress, which reveals her family heart tattoo and a striking pair of gold high heels, Sophie started the night with “Dial My Number” and “Bittersweet”.
“Everybody, terima kasih [thank you]! I haven’t been here for 10 years. In fact, you look great. So nice to be back. I’m sure my band agrees with me that we should come here more often,” Sophie greeted the crowd, followed with the cheers of her fans.
“When I first got here, I had my first album, and now I come back with my fourth album,” she added before performing one of the singles from her debut album that shot her to fame, titled “Take Me Home”.
After crooning “Me & My Imagination”, “Today the Sun’s on us”, and “What Have We Started”, Sophie stopped for a while, saying “You have to forgive me, I have a wardrobe malfunction here.”
She looked down at her right shoe, and without hesitation, she bent and tied the shoe string, evoking more deafening hails among fans who were standing right in front of the stage.
Sophie continued rocking the floor with “Catch You” and “Starlight” before bringing in her top single, “Murder on the Dance Floor”, and other tracks such as “Revolution”, “Can’t Fight”, and “Not Giving Up” which would get your sweat on.
Wearing ultra-high shoes never seemed to limit Sophie’s energetic moves, as she tirelessly jumped, danced and shook her body.
Having been in the music industry for 10 years with four albums to her credit, Sophie proved that she hadn’t lost her touch over the years.
She was quite talkative that night, repeatedly hailing her fans and inviting them to dance and sing along while cracking jokes to the thousands of audience members smiling.
The show got hotter when she began to sing the familiar intro of “Get Over You”: “Eye-eye-eye-ah/Eye-eye-eye-ah/Eye-eye-eye-ah“, followed with a cut taken from Modjo’s dance tune, “Lady”, before wrapping up the gig with “Groovejet” (If This Ain’t Love) and “Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer)”.
“You have been magnificent. Terima kasih,” she said at the end of the show, bowing her head to the crowd.
Sophie is a big busy bee right now, juggling her time between taking care of her two little boys, recording albums, traveling on international tours and being a part-time DJ.
How does she manage to keep balance in her life? “It’s not always easy, but I do love what I do and I usually make my schedule as compact as possible so I can jump straight back home, take them [the children] to school and do the stuff that moms always do,” she said.
“I just make the most of my time, I suppose. I won’t give up work. It is what it is.”
In between her music career, Sophie Ellis-Bextor is a style icon, famously known for her flawless skin and dramatic bright lips, she was chosen along with Kate Moss, Georgia May Jagger and Zooey Deschannel as the face of Rimmel cosmetics.
Sophie is also happy to share stories on her beauty and fitness. “It’s quite hard [maintaining good skin] because you have been traveling a lot, but I got the same skin as my granny, actually.”
“I’ve never been able to [tan my body], I can’t. I tried when I was a teenager because all my friends had amazing tans, but I can’t. I accepted my face,” she adds, chuckling.
Even though she has been busy doing side-jobs, Sophie says that music is her heart and soul, adding that that she is currently working on her fifth record.
“I keep on coming away and working, trying to get it all finished by spring next year. That’s my goal. I want to finish the right thing.”