I used to have a recurring nightmare; these days I get melodies in my mind: Susan de Muth in bed with Tasmin Archer

Susan de Muth
Sunday 23 October 2011 02:39
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TASMIN ARCHER, 30, is a singer/songwriter. She was voted this year's 'Best Newcomer' at the Brit Awards. She lives near Leeds with a fellow band member, John Hughes. Her new EP, 'Shipbuilding', is released today on the EMI label.

When we were on the way up I was always dreaming about meeting stars - having cups of tea with David Bowie or supporting Elvis Costello. I was visualising what I wanted. Imagining and believing is a strong part of making things happen; dreams come true.

But when success came so suddenly, I was unprepared and didn't understand it. My life was taken over by record companies. I was confused and found the whole thing pointless. 'What else is there now?' I asked myself. 'We've got to No 1.' My dreams became voids - no images, just depressive notions.

I'm back to normal these days. I dream of stars still, but now I sometimes meet them, too. It's surprising how often I'm right - I dream that so-and-so is really big-headed and then find he actually is. I feel so much better because I've overcome all my hidden fears. I'm stubborn like that.

I used to be terrified of the dark until I forced myself to face it. For years I had a recurring nightmare that I woke up and it was pitch black; the light didn't work and when I tried to call for help no sound came out. Then a deep, horrible voice would say, 'Beware, beware]'. I'd pray like mad - that's my Catholic schooling - and light would return.

Until very recently, I couldn't sleep with the lights off if I was on my own. We live opposite a graveyard. I suppose I'm scared of ghosts: my mother's Jamaican and used to scare the living daylights out of me with her spooky stories. I weaned myself gradually. In the beginning I'd need to have the television on and all the lights, then I went down to a bedside light and now I'm happy if there's just a little chink in the curtains.

I don't think night itself is sinister. It's people that make it that way. When I was a kid I used to play out at night - I was always looking for fairies and the little people. I still like to wander around in the night, enjoying the colour of the sky and the stars.

I work best at night, and often stay up really late. I also get melodies in my mind when I'm sleeping, but I don't write them down. I let the subconscious store them; if they're good, they'll come out when the time is right. I've got a dictaphone now, so I do sometimes sit in bed and sing words or tunes that have come to me.

John and I work together on the music: we're writing material for the next album at the moment. We've been together for four years and there's something that's meant to be about our relationship. Like pieces of a jigsaw. We recently bought a little collie pup called Bess. She sometimes sneaks into our bed. It's as if we have a family.

I can find it quite hard to unwind at the end of the day. I do breathing exercises, drink Ovaltine and listen to music that's completely different to what we're working on. I used to like going to clubs, getting as much noise as possible, but it didn't make me happy. It was claustrophobic and I felt as if I wasn't learning anything. Now I'd rather go to the ballet or snotty places like that.

I'm going through what I call my 'Educating Rita' phase at the moment. I read myself to sleep nowadays but I used to be frightened of books when I was at school. I've just finished reading about Chaucer's life and now I'm going to start the Canterbury Tales. I'm always trying to find ways to improve myself so that I can do my very best.

But I'll stay down to earth. I think of myself as common, and what's wrong with that? I travel a lot and stay in grand hotels but what I like best is my own bed in my humble terraced house in our nice little village.

I talk to people the same way as I did before I became well known. I like the thought that people can see someone who's done well and who lives in their own community, rather than in some posh place with other celebs.

(Photograph omitted)

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