Your fans were under the impression that you'd withdrawn from the Scene. Where have you been hiding all this time?
After last year's sell-out tour I've been concentrating on songwriting. With Steve Byrd, my guitarist, and my brother, Ricky. It was quite hard work and took a long time. Recording demos, trying out songs, writing dozens of new ones. I just threw myself into the work.
You're not with your old sax player, Gary Barnacle, any more. Is that the reason for your sudden flurry of activity?
Yes, it's over with Gary, It happened almost exactly a year ago.
I decided... well, finito, to put it simply. The end. There are lots of personal reasons that I wouldn't dream of talking about. This kind of thing always happens.
That sounds very sad.
Yes, of course. When you've been together with someone for a long time and then things start to go wrong, it's sad for both people. It always hurts very deeply.
What did you do in the studio to try to overcome your 'lover's grief'?
I've got a different guy for each day of the week... no, no, that's not true! I'm really happy on my own. It's who I am. I've worked hard but I've also really enjoyed myself and spent lots of time with my friends. They're friends I've known for years: girls from school. They've helped me so much. From time to time we'd go to the cinema or go for a meal together, or we'd go to each other's houses to cook and drink wine together. Sometimes I go to discos, but not very often, and I don't go especially mad getting ready. My favourite colour is still black, but recently green, too, since I discovered the 'PX' boutique in Covent Garden. But best of all I like going out with my friends and just talking. Good conversations give me the greatest pleasure.
I spite of that, aren't you very lonely?
I've got my own 12-track demo studio, drum machine, keyboards all in my London flat. I only get ideas for lyrics like that. Steve plays along on guitar and I have a lot to do and say. So, I can get along fine with my business. And I have a very loving and supportive family who are right behind me. I've just not found the right guy yet.
How would you imagine him to be, then?
Christopher Lambert, who played Tarzan, would be in with a chance! I'd totally go for him!
Can you imagine yourself having a new boyfriend again in the near future?
No, I don't think so. I'm not the kind of person who's always on the lookout for the next boyfriend. Naturally, if a nice guy comes along and we click, I wouldn't hesitate for a second.
Do you spend your time alone in your London flat or do you spend most of the time with your parents, now?
No, I don't see my parents every day, but quite often. We're good friends. My little sister, who I wrote my new single, 'Schoolgirl' for, has just turned 7, and Marty, our youngest, is 5. It's fun playing with them both. In July last year my brother, Ricky, got married, and he's become quite the family man with the baby. Mandy, his wife, has a hairdressing shop in Herfordshire, but she stopped work to have the baby.
Do you sometimes wish you had your own family?
I believe fate has already prescribed it for me: career first, then family. It's not easy to manage both. You have to listen to your inner voice. Mine tells me that when I have children I mustn't remain in the public eye. That's the point when I'll start writing film music and scores and things like that, just like Vangelis, and I can create it in my studio at home, so that my family wouldn't suffer because of it. At the moment I want to continue, have success and remain on stage. It's fun being a pop star!
When is your new album going to be released?
In September. Some songs I've written myself, some with Ricky or with Steve Byrd, and Reinhold Heil of Spliff has produced some with me.
How did you meet Reinhold Heil?
Through Ricky. Ricky wanted to work with Nena. Unfortunately it didn't work out at that time but something else will certainly come from it. So Ricky flew over to Berlin and Reinhold was very impressed with him. Later reinhold come over to us in our Big-M Productions studio in Hertfordshire and it was great working together for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately he couldn't stay until my album was finished as he had to work with Rosa again. Oh well, next time!
If you know Reinhold you must already have known Nena.
Yes. At New Year she recorded a TV show for Japan, where we really got to know each other. Previously we'd met quite often, but only in passing. A few months ago she came over to us in Hertfordshire and looked round our studio. We went for a meal together. It was very nice. I like her because she's fun and sensitive. Not so different from me. Besides...
Can you imagine singing together with her?
I don't know. If we can find a suitable song, then yes. I think Nena's very talented, more than people think. We've been talking for some time about the kind of rubbish that gets written about us. We must be rivals, and so on! Completely mad!
As you've got such a grasp of studio techniques, have you ever tried producing an artist yourself?
Yes, I tried it with Samantha, a friend from Hertfordshire. She's a singer who also writes and she asked for my help. But I found out that it's a difficult exercise. I find it difficult to tell another singer what she should do because I always imagine how I'd do it myself. I'd sooner arrange the sound and puzzle out the technical side.
Do sound engineers really take you seriously, when a sexy-looking girl like yourself gets behind the mixing desk instead of behind the mic?
Normally that would be quite difficult, except that the studio does belong to us. In fact I wrote the song "That's The Mood I'm In" exactly about this subject. A very aggressive song. About me. About feelings. About how it is that people don't listen to you and don't take you seriously. In the last four years of my job it's happened often enough. Some people think you're stupid just because your a woman. They think they know better than you. But I don't look back any more. Now I can say in my songs exactly what I want.
What do you listen to at home?
The new Janet Jackson LP, 'Control' and Prince. I met him in LA backstage at a Shelia E concert. He stood there looking nice and charming, but I didn't speak to him. Though I found him very sweet. Later he went back on stage with a couple of his own songs.
What did you do in Los Angeles?
I was there for three weeks recording three tracks for my album. It was really great to go for a walk along Sunset Strip with lots of other musicians. But I really could live in that smog!
Have travelled around anywhere else?
Just skiing in Genf, where I go with friends every year. I'm not really a holiday freak because I miss my home too much. But I'd love to go to India, to see the Taj Mahal, to South America, in the Amazon jungle...
Do you still drive a white BMW?
No. I've had a dark green one for more than a year now.
Do you ever do your own sewing with your old clothes?
No, only if they need mending!
Or do you take advantage of the fact that you earn lots of money and buy up the whole shop?
No. I could if I wanted to, but I don't want to. Anyway, I only buy clothes for TV or photo-shoots. Otherwise I'll go around in the same things for months on end! I much prefer hunting for knick-knacks for my flat. I don't spend money extravagantly. I do hold on to one thing though: I try to spoil myself with something at least once a day. Everyone should do that. I don't mean with expensive presents but simply creating a little joy for myself.
How's it going with dieting and smoking?
The best diet is to stop drinking alcohol. You really have to listen to your body. I'll have an occasional cigarette, mostly when I'm nervous. But it doesn't give me any pleasure.
When are your touring here?
Probably in November, with the same musicians, but with lots of new surprises.