They just weren't as good songs. With "Dancing" for example, I arrived on a Sunday in Nashville and Monday I started work. And I was in with a writer, Steve McEwan, we had a week together, and then a week with Amy Wadge, we were co-writing with various producers. So (Steve and I) grabbed a coffee first, then he said, "come to the apartment, I've got my piano and guitar and stuff there." Then he played me the idea of "Dancing" on a guitar. It wasn't fully formed, but the songs I did with him that week, it was just about the song, knowing it could be produced any way. If you heard the demo vs. the produced version of "Dancing," that's where the dance came in. That's where the synths and electro dance elements were put in by Sky Adams, the producer.
So why didn't the others make it? Probably because they weren't as good. Being in Nashville is like being at the altar of song. Going to the Bluebird Café and the Listening Room, I didn't know who these writers and performers were, but they were great nights. You're there to hear someone tell their story and sing their song. That was all new to me and it was crazily inspiring.
It is a songwriters' Mecca – was your experience with Nashville writers different than with writers you've worked with before?
That is a difficult question to answer, because in some ways, not at all. You're still just a few people in a room trying to find a song, but I would say, it's the vibe there. Like, I clasped my hands together on the Sunday before I started writing on Monday, with a couple friends on a rooftop bar, talking about, "God I'm so excited to be here in Nashville, da da da," and I literally looked up to the heavens and said, "Please please just give me one song. Two or three would be really nice, but one is what I need. I need that song, and I want to get it from here." And that's what happened. I was very focused, I had no distractions there. And it was just incredible. Certain places give way to certain things, and one of them in Nashville is music.
Before I went I started asking around, and the response was so enthusiastic, more than saying you're going to L.A. or New York or London or whatever. A couple producers I worked with couldn't write the email fast enough saying "you're going to love it, this is where to get the coffee, go to these restaurants, go to these bars." It was an outpouring of desire for me to have a good time. Not only a successful songwriting time, but to enjoy the city.
I'm curious about "Raining Glitter." That song isn't exactly country, but it has an acoustic riff that links it to the other songs. How did that come about?
Interesting you picked that one. That was done back in London with three British writers and producers. I'd worked with this guy Eg White before and Eg said, "I really feel like something disco" and I said "whoa whoa, you know the brief, if it doesn't fit into the space we've created, it's a waste of our time, it's not going to make it." And because we got on that subject, I think I said, "That's party of my raison d'etre, my job or my being is spreading joy and emotions and the feelings that you hope a pop song can potentially do." And I said it made me think of that Jacksons video where they're sprinkling glitter, I think it's "Can You Feel It," and they're epic and huge and standing above a skyline and sprinkling glitter on everyone, and that's where that came from. But you hit the nail on the head because then we had to get the guitar element in there, which is what it starts with. That was a good hybrid because it's taking the main area of the album and linking it to more of my dance sound. Taking it to the disco, let's say.