Beth Ditto - All the Gossip that's fit to print

Her life's as non-stop as her conversation – but Beth Ditto loves it. Only one thing's bothering her, the electro-punk star tells Gillian Orr: can she and her girlfriend pull off a dream wedding?

As is often the case when you're sent to interview a pop star, this one's running late. Hanging around backstage before Gossip's show at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire, I'm repeatedly told that Beth Ditto, their formidable frontwoman, won't be long. But this particular delay can't be blamed on the usual interviewee excuses (tantrums, hangovers, a quick nap).

Ditto is actually entertaining some German competition winners in her dressing room. The tour manager tells me that they were just supposed to have a quick photo together. "But Beth obviously insisted they come in and say 'hello'," he sighs, fondly. Earlier I'd spied the large, voluptuous star, who has proudly posed naked on the covers of both NME and Love magazine, further establishing herself as a cult icon on the music scene, arriving at the venue. Despite coming in through a side door, Ditto, clad in a typically eye-catching frock paired with outrageous make-up, was besieged by fans, whom she duly chatted with, hugged, and had more photos with. For someone in her position to be so generous with her time, it's a wonder Gossip ever make it onto the stage at all.

Now, finally shacked up in her dressing room while everyone else parties in the space next door, it's my turn to have the undivided attention of the 31-year-old Arkansas-born singer. "Ask me anything! What have you got?" she blithely exhorts. It feels exhausting just to watch her. "But it's really easy for me to be 'on' all of the time," she insists. "I'm a pretty genuinely happy person. I feel lucky to have my disposition. You know, people will say to me, 'oh, you don't need to do that thing or you don't have to do that interview,' but I'm like: 'What? Talk about myself? Great!' That's all I ever do anyway. Do I have a booger in my nose? You'd tell me, right?"

Gossip – guitarist Brace Paine and drummer Hannah Blilie complete the line-up – are currently on tour throughout Europe, having released their fifth album, A Joyful Noise, back in May. Produced by Brian Higgins of Xenomania fame, it was noted for its move away from electro-punk towards a more house-inflected disco sound. Ditto proudly stated that Abba were one of their biggest influences on the record. To team up with the mastermind behind Girls Aloud and The Saturdays seems a somewhat odd move for a band that have proudly identified with the punk movement, even if the success of their 2006 album Standing in the Way of Control, which announced their arrival to the mainstream, mean that their days of being subversive are probably gone.

Still, they try to cause a bit of trouble where they can. Anyone familiar with A Joyful Noise's cover art, a curious portrait of Ditto with luminous green eyes and a giant hand, will know this. "The label were freaking out about that hand," she howls. "I'm like a child who gets told they can't do something. I just want to do it more."

Their summer schedule also includes playing a ton of festivals dates and they'll be back in the UK next month for V Festival. "Festivals are really hard because you never know what you're going to get; it's a grab bag of people," she says.

In all honesty, Ditto is most excited about getting home to Portland, where she now lives with her girlfriend, Kristen Ogata. The pair plan to marry next June. "There is so much crazy shit to organise for a wedding," she says, eyes wide open. "Oh my god, I just never even thought about it. Like, the weirdest little details. I was told that I need to get pictures made for the announcement, and I was like, 'but I already called everybody'. Then you have to worry about who sits next to who and what napkins you want. It's so much work; I think it's the most adult thing I've ever done."

Being one of the most prominent openly gay performers in music, I wonder what she made of R&B singer-songwriter Frank Ocean's sensitive coming out last week that many heralded as a turning point for the notoriously homophobic world of urban music? "Who's that? Is he related to Billy Ocean?" she jokes. I fill her in and for a quiet moment, she's serious. "Well, obviously that is a really big deal. That's really beautiful."

The conversation quickly turns to gay rights in America. "It's certainly a hot topic. We have Obama who is a really progressive person. But even though I'm someone who really wants to see change, I understand that you have to be really patient," she nods. "You have to pacify this side of people who are afraid of change, not make them feel isolated, not make them feel afraid… The difference between radicals or leftists and Republicans is that the things that Republicans are doing affect my daily life. Whether it be marriage or healthcare; those affect my life. And those things don't affect their daily life at all, it only affects their pocket-book. I always think that's interesting and that makes me sad about the human condition; like, how important money can be."

Last year Ditto took time out from Gossip to team up with Simian Mobile Disco for an acclaimed EP; is her future as a solo star? "That's been the question. I don't know," she shrugs. "Right now I'm so concerned with Gossip, it's such a family mentality. I loved working with Simian, but I think what I really would like to do is just song-write and see what happens. All I really hope for is that I can maintain my living. I hope that I have enough money left over to go to beauty school. That's how I approach the future and then if things don't work out I won't be too upset."

Besides, she's a lot more secure since she turned 30 last year. "There's this sense of yourself that you get that is just crazy," she enthuses. "OK, how can I describe it? So, you know that Hole do a song called 'Credit in the Straight World'? But you know that Young Marble Giants wrote it first? So as a 22-year-punk kid who wants to prove something, you tell people that you heard the Young Marble Giants version first, but as a 30-year-old you admit that you heard the Hole version first. You don't care anymore. You don't have to impress anyone. That's the difference." There's a knock at the door. It's the tour manager and, surprise surprise, we've gone over our time slot. "Oh don't you worry about him," she says. "You got everything you need?"

Gossip play the V Festival, 17-19 August (www.gossipyouth.com)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering