This is an exciting time for Louise Redknapp, as she gears up to release her first solo album in 20 years.
But going back to music hasn’t been without its challenges, because during the time 45-year-old Louise decided to return to life as a pop star, her marriage to ex-footballer Jamie, 46, broke down.
Even though neither one of them have ever revealed the real reason for their split – which saw her move out of the family home they shared with sons Charley, 15, and 11-year-old Beau – the singer has confessed that the marriage made her feel like a Stepford Wife.
When our sister publication Woman catches up with Louise she excitedly fills them in on preparing for her album release, how her children deal with negative stories in the press and what she really wants for Christmas this year…
Hello, Louise! What are your plans for the holidays this year?
We’re going to go out for Christmas dinner – we’ve made a family decision. I think it’s because my cooking is so bad! No, to be honest, my mum cooks so it will be nice to be out and give her a break.
Do you go all out with the decorations?
I’m very minimal when it comes to that. I have two trees, one in the kitchen and eating area and one in the lounge. I’ll maybe have a few lights outside this year just to make it nice for the kids.
What would you like under your tree?
A handsome young man! No, I’m past presents and all I want is to be happy. I know that sounds really clichéd but I just want to go into the new year feeling content. That would be the best present.
What’s the one tradition you stick to?
When the boys were young I had these massive sacks made with their names on, so I always put them out. But as they get older the presents get more expensive but smaller! When they were younger it was Lego and things but now they want iPhones so they have to get right into the bottom of the sack. I still have them hung on the fireplace each year.
What were your boys’ reactions to your return to music?
When Stretch came out, they were like, ‘Whoa, that’s my mum!’ Charley said, ‘Are all the videos going to be you in a leotard dancing with a male model?’ I was like, ‘Hopefully!’ But now we’re a few songs in and they’ve been to gigs, it’s normal to them. Even though I wasn’t out there working when the boys were growing up, music was always a big part of my life at home, I never stopped singing or writing. They take it in their stride – they’re kids. They don’t overthink anything.
What do you find hard about being in the public eye?
The only time things get tough is when the kids read things that are not true or are a little bit hurtful. But nothing gets taken seriously and they understand the nature of the business. I had a very frank conversation with them where I said, ‘This is the deal now, moving forward, you’re old enough and if you read something and wonder if it’s true or not, just talk to me and I’ll tell you honestly. If it’s true I’ll tell you, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear.’ I never lie to them. They know everything. I’m with my boys all the time, so they know if I’ve been somewhere or done something. Me and Charley even share an Uber account so he knows where I’ve been!
You’re so busy these days, how do you keep a good work/life balance?
It is hard – I’m a mum. But I feel that I’m actually really lucky, as I know that a lot of my friends who are working mums don’t have the same privileges that I do. I get to do three months in the West End and then have three months off. Or I have a month where I’m doing record promo, but I’m always home in time for dinner at 6pm. You have to make it work. My children are not toddlers, they get it and they understand. I believe I’m setting really good standards for my boys and showing them it’s really important that we all work and we enjoy what we do the best we can.
Tell us about your work with BT on its new Halo campaign?
It was a real help for BT to come round to my house and ask me, ‘What do you need?’ So I said, ‘Wi-Fi in every room, I’d like to be able to have everything working but as simple as possible.’ It’s about making it work for you. It’s simplifying everything which I think a lot of people are in need of. With Halo, you don’t have to do anything – it’s all installed for you and that’s it.
✱ BT’s new broadband proposition, Halo is out now.