Emma Bunton: The Q interview

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The Independent Culture

The former Baby Spice grew up in Finchley, north London, daughter of a milkman and a fitness instructor. After Sylvia Young Theatre School and roles in television commercials, she answered an advert in The Stage and joined the Spice Girls, the most successful female group in history. She is now building a solo career, and had a Number One with her song "What Took You So Long?" Her latest single, "Maybe" is currently in the Top Ten. There are no plans for a cover of "Don't Call Me Baby".

What are you up to today?

I've got a little tea party I'm going to. It's my nephew's birthday - the terrible twos. We've bought him like a little train that you sit on that's electric so it moves. Me and my mum chose it.

Will you be singing for the kids at the tea party?

No, I think they would rather I shut up. I'll be playing. Lots of games and on the train!

It sounds like it's quite hard letting go of your Baby image.

It was my trademark for a long time and she'll always be part of me, 'cos it was me. But now I'm a 27-year-old woman, I'm a lot more confident about things. I was walking in the street and a mum said, "Look, there's Baby Spice," and her little girl said, "No it's not. It's Emma Bunton." But if people still want to call me Baby that's fine. It's like Bros - I don't know their names; I know them as Bros.

Your new look is rather Brigitte Bardot - especially the video.

Yes, I came up with all kinds of ideas for the video - I generally do come up with ideas and that - and I was very influenced by a lot of Sixties movies, like Sweet Charity. For me the Sixties have always been in how I've dressed, down to little short dresses and knee-high boots. I'm always in heels, 'cos I'm only five foot one.

Are you in love at the moment?

I've been single for a while now. I'm really peed off actually - we need some good-looking guys out there! But if you're in love it drives you a bit crazy. You can't sleep, you know? We love it.

Do you seduce or are you seduced?

I'm not untouchable: people feel comfortable talking to me, which is great. I like boys that come over and make a good stand. Or when I go out with my mates we do the whole "my friend fancies you". Then all of us girls go home together and laugh about it.

Do you have happy memories of being in the Spice Girls?

Absolutely! All of 'em. I had the best time. If I see things on telly I'm still kind of wow. It was amazing and doing it with friends was even better.

Is there a sense of competition that wasn't there before?

Not at all. The girls are all so supportive. I had a phone call this week from Victoria - she was like "I love the video". We all do very different styles of music, so there's never been competition with us.

What are you currently reading?

Ok, erm, Out of the Dark. It's about a woman who goes through depression and goes back into her past life to work out why. It's amazing. I haven't got through the whole thing, but I'll let you know how it goes.

What do you think you were in a previous life?

I haven't got a clue! I definitely like to believe that we do come back. I was baptised, brought up a Catholic, but I'm a very open person to all religions. My mum does healing and reflexology and I'm hoping to pick that up from her when the time's right.

You were a successful baby model. Didn't you win a beauty competition when you were three years old?

My holidays were, like, caravan. We used to go to Clacton or Southend and the competitions were just a nice thing. I'd go with these little friends and when they were disqualified I'd leave with them. Or sometimes you'd get up there and be princess of Clacton. It was great.

In your flat in Hampstead, what's your favourite object?

I'm a big fan of my kitchen table and chairs. They're just very comfortable and that's where we sit when my friends come round.

Have you ever stolen anything?

Actually, this is terrible... When I was 15 it took me half an hour to steal a can of Coke. I just couldn't do it. They probably saw me walking up and down the same aisle, going "oh my God". They probably thought, bless her, it's taking her so long...

Are you ambitious?

Yes, but not horribly. I wouldn't want to step on anyone.

Do you think people underestimate you?

I hope not but there's only so many times you can say "I write the songs". But everyone's got their own opinions. Although people know me as Baby I'm also very adamant and I know exactly where I want to be and I've got all my ideas. I've got this book where I just write things down, to remind me what I want to write songs about. Or I get it down on dictaphone - anything to help me remember 'cos I've got quite a bad memory.

What makes you angry?

When people aren't loyal, because I'm a very loyal person. And when drivers are really slow at the lights and you've got three cars to get through - come on!

Do you shout?

Sometimes yes, when I'm on my own. Come ON!

Do you make rude hand gestures?

No. I try to keep it pleasant. It would be a bit of a shock to a driver if they saw it was me doing it, bless 'em.