Best-of albums can be simple victory laps, but they’re also a great time for personal reflection. For British adult-pop singer Dido, her upcoming “Greatest Hits” compilation has provided a perfect opportunity to reminisce on the fourteen years since releasing her deubt album, “No Angel.” That album produced the Top 5 hit “Thank You,” which peaked at No. 3 and was famously sampled on Eminem’s tour de force single “Stan.”
Speaking to Billboard on an afternoon she spent digging through old photographs, Dido answered questions regarding the career that produced “Thank You,” performing with Marshall Mathers, and the remix collection included on the deluxe edition of “Greatest Hits,” due out Nov. 25 on RCA Records.
Billboard: So with digging through all these old pictures and videos, it sounds like there’s been a lot of reminiscing going on.
Dido: Yeah! i think November is looking-back month for me. It’s been fun, though. I haven’t really looked back that much until now, and it was actually amazing listening to the “Greatest Hits” album as a whole. It’s kind of a crazy diary of my last fifteen years compressed into an hour. The thing for me about music is it really does being back a true memory and a true emotion, when sometimes memories can get muddled with other things. But something about writing a song — you remember where you were, what you were wearing, what you were doing, who was there. You remember everything. Listening to these songs again, I really remember things clearly. It’s pretty crazy.
Did you ever think you would have a greatest hits album?
No! (Laughs) It was a bit of a surprise. I was in the middle of making a record and my friend came and said, “Do you want to do a greatest hits?” And I was like, “Really?” It probably always seems crazy to do a greatest hits. I had so much fun putting it together… it’s like a proper celebration of the last 15 years. It’s not something you think will happen.
How did you go about selecting the tracks to go on the album?
It wasn’t a struggle. I struggled more with the remix album, because there were so many remixes that I loved. It was hard to fit them all on. And I wanted to include some that people had never heard. There were some Timbaland remixes that no one had ever heard before and then there were some new remixes, like a Mantronix mix of “Go Dreaming,” a mix of “Blackbird” by Moguai. I wanted go get all that on. On the main album, I kept it simple. I basically picked singles and songs I love and kept it in chronological order. Then I added a few collaborations to really represent the whole era.
Do you ever wonder how your son Stanley will be introduced to your music?
He sees me singing and I think he just thinks that’s what mommies do (laughs). They all do it! He’s only two so he’s not going to grasp it yet. I sing to him every night — I’ve always sung him to sleep. Then a few nights ago, he just turned around and said, “Turn it off!” I was like, “Oh dear.” My singing career might be over with Stanley.
This summer, you performed “Stan” onstage with Eminem at Leeds Fest. What’s it like performing that with him after all these years?
It was brilliant, a lot of fun. The crowd reaction was amazing. A real buzz. It was a really fun thing to do.
I read that Eminem considered working with you again for “The Marshall Mathers LP 2,” but decided against it. Was there any dialogue there?
Someone just told me about that. No, never mentioned.
A lot of your lyrics are very personal — revisiting these songs for “Greatest Hits,” are there any songs you look at in a different way? Any “What was I thinking?” moments?
I always know where I was and what I was thinking when I was writing the songs. Things will become more or less relevant to your life… Just remembering how strongly I felt when I wrote “White Flag.” Sometimes it still stirs up a bit of the old emotion. There’s a song called “Everything To Lose” that I did for a film and I wrote it before Stanley came along. When I listened to it after he was born, it was really relevant. I definitely get transported back to the moment I was in when I wrote the song.
What about the compilation’s never-before-heard track, “NYC”? When did you compose that one?
I wrote that with Greg Kurstin the same time I wrote (2013’s) “End of Night,” “Happy New Year, and “Let’s Runaway,” and saved it because I didn’t finish it. And I actually thought this was the perfect album for it to go on, because it references lyrically when I first started and first came to America. I came over to New York with a point to prove to my brother (producer Rollo Armstrong) who basically said, “You can’t do this.” I was walking the streets of New York thinking, “I’m not going home until something happens, and I won’t go home until I’ve walked every street in this town.” I thought this was the perfect album to put it on, as opposed to the next record.
What were your impressions of New York the first time you were there?
It was so overwhelming the first time. I’m a city girl — I live in London and always have. I’m totally fine being in the city, but I remember being there — it was near Christmas — and I had a slightly dodgy cab experience. The cab driver stopped in Times Square and started hitting another driver with a crowbar. I don’t know what they were fighting about. It was Christmas, and I waited an hour and a half for this cab. I wasn’t going to let it go! I tried to stop them from fighting, like, “Maybe don’t kill the guy.” Then he got back in the cab and we got to where we were going. He didn’t charge me, which was good!
I love New York. My band is all from New York, and we’ve played together for over 10 years, so it all started there. All my big moments happened in New York. I first heard about “Stan” when I was in a hotel in New York. I remember getting the letter, getting the CD, and putting it on my little CD player, and just being completely blown away.
So you got a letter asking for your permission to use “Thank You”?
Yeah, I just got a letter saying, “We heard your track. We love it. We’d like to use it for this track ‘Stan.’ Can you take a listen? I hope you like it and can we use your song?” It was completely out of the blue. I put it on like, “I wonder what he could have done.” You just don’t know. And I was a big Eminem fan, so it was pretty cool. And then I heard it. I remember because I had some friends staying in the same hotel. They were literally running down the hall, like “You gotta listen to this; it’s just brilliant!”
Here’s the tracklist from “Greatest Hits,” due Nov. 25 via RCA:
1. Here With Me
2. Thank You
4. White Flag
5. Life For Rent
6. Don’t Leave Home
7. Sand In My Shoes
8. Don’t Believe In Love
9. Quiet Times
10. Grafton Street
11. Everything To Lose
12. Let Us Move On Feat. Kendrick Lamar
13. No Freedom
14. End Of Night
15. One Step Too Far (Radio Edit) – Faithless Featuring Dido
16. Stan – Eminem Featuring Dido
17. If I Rise – Dido and A. R. Rahman
18. NYC *
“Greatest Hits: Deluxe Edition” features a second disc with the following remixes:
1. Here With Me (Chillin’ With The Family Mix)
2. Thank You (Deep Dish Radio Edit)
3. Hunter (M J Cole Remix)
4. White Flag (Timbaland Remix) *
5. Life For Rent (Skinny 4 Rent Mix)
6. Sand In My Shoes (Above & Beyond Radio Edit)
7. Don’t Leave Home (Gabriel & Dresden Radio Mix)
8. Don’t Believe In Love (Dennis Ferrer’s Objektivity Radio Mix)
9. No Freedom (DJ Cobra Mix)
10. End Of Night (Cedric Gervais Remix)
11. Go Dreaming (Mantronix Remix)
12. Blackbird (Moguai Remix)
13. Northern Skies (Rollo Remix)
* previously unreleased