New mum Katie Melua sings praises about her newborn Sandro, finding new love and how her life experiences have made her the woman she is today.
There are few candidates more deserving of celebration on International Women’s Day than new mum Katie Melua. The Nine Million Bicycles singer, 38, is preparing to take four-month-old baby son Sandro on tour later this year — a feat women the world over will marvel at given the endless demands of parenting a newborn.
Katie is by no means blasé about these demands. "It blows my mind how tough motherhood is," she says in a wide-ranging chat with HELLO! in which she discusses her experience as a woman in the music industry and reveals feeling "paranoid" and nervous during her pregnancy after worries about fertility.
The British-Georgian musician is equally open when discussing her partner, whom she calls an "adorable" dad. Whereas becoming parents can sometimes place strains on a relationship, Katie says the experience has made theirs "even better".
Katie is loving being a mum to baby Sandro
Copyright: Mariam Sitchinava
Did you have any worries about having a baby and how did you overcome them?
I'm still figuring it out. Sandro is not even four months old yet. My worries were there for a long long time before he was born. I wanted to have a baby from about the age of 26 and I had him when I was 38, so that's a good 12 years of worrying. There was a period of trying and that didn't work out. I thought fertility was maybe an issue. My main worry was whether I would be able to do the job of both mum and musician. But I realised I really wanted to be a mum and thought: 'I just need to get on with it because there are plenty of women that have done it.'
What was it like recording your latest album while pregnant with your son Sandro?
Yeah, it was different to before. I didn't really experience sickness too much but I was quite paranoid during the pregnancy and kept thinking something was going to go wrong. Being in the studio, making songs, and coming up with melodies and ideas is where I am in my element, and that was my strength. It was a sacred time, having fun during those days and recordings.
Motherhood has completely changed Katie's life
What are the things you have enjoyed about motherhood?
It's astonishing. What blows my mind is how tough it is but how much it doesn't matter because of the love you feel. This morning I was feeding him and he was giggling at me and smiling. It's just too cute and he's pulling things towards him very slowly. Every single time I just look at him, it blows my mind.
Sandro is the biggest sunshine in our lives. But we also had Valentine's Day and my partner gave me the sweetest message in the card which said: 'I thank my lucky stars every single day that I met you and we have little Sandro.' It is the best thing in the world.
Katie shares a rare snapshoof her son on Instagram
How was finding love again after your divorce and why did you write about it in your new album?
I was definitely very jaded in 2019 and early 2020. When I met my partner I was a bit resistant at first and thought monogamy is probably not for everyone. But then I slid into the best years and times of my life. He’s an incredible person, super down-to-earth and super relaxed and chilled. It's been amazing. It's difficult to talk about it because you can sound really cringe but it has been magical and every day gets better and better. I wanted to capture the moment. First my uncertainty and then how very natural our love feels. It was really easy. ‘Will we stay together forever?’ is not even a question anymore. I wanted all of those feelings to be in the music.
How has it been watching your partner become a dad?
He's a great dad. They do say that mums become mums when they're pregnant and dads become dads when the baby is born. There was definitely a bit of that. I was getting everything ready and he was a bit too chilled! But he's been incredible and does all the nappy changes and is just adorable. He tried to give Sandro the bottle yesterday, which didn't go so well, but he didn't lose his patience which was good.
She says she was ready to become a mother from the age of 26
Has parenthood transformed your relationship in a positive way?
The relationship was always good but I'm to shocked to say becoming parents has actually made it even better. We're definitely helped by the fact that my mum lives close by and she can give us a little bit of time out. I've a different level of motivation being a mum because I've become a lot more aware of how quickly time goes. I've already had to pack away Sandro's newborn clothes and I'm left thinking where has all the time gone?
How do you plan to juggle your music while being a mum?
This year it is going to be a little bit easier because we have shared parental leave. When I go on the road this spring, we are visiting a lot of countries but my partner is coming with me because he's able to take the time off work. I'm breastfeeding so I'm just trying to get Sandro to start being able to take the breast milk by bottle. My mum will also be able to help out.
Music is a lifelong passion for Katie
Why did you decide to go on tour with a newborn and your partner?
When babies are super young it's an easier time to do it. I think it is going to be a lot more difficult when he goes to primary school. I want to go on the road, I feel very much like myself when I sing and when I'm on stage. I want to make money and I want to be a powerful role model for my son, although of course he probably won't remember this.
Having said that, I did see a beautiful post the other day where someone said people say little kids don't remember the travelling but they do. It becomes part of their soul and personality. I'd love Sandro to witness as much of it as possible. Last summer our phenomenal front-of-house engineer Bryony October came on the road with her little boy, so we’ve got experience of touring with kids. I think it’s important. There’s lots of talk about various jobs supporting women but in our industry it is quite unique. I want to give an example of what's possible.
What has been your experience as a woman in the music industry?
Sexism does exist but I didn't feel it that much when I was young. Now that I'm in my mid-thirties, nearly in my late-thirties, I am clocking it a lot more. It is tougher for women. Bryony is often assumed to be the makeup artist or my assistant when we show up at gigs. It can take other engineers a while to realise she is the one who is going to be looking after the sound of the show.
Katie says she feels herself when on stage singing
What do you feel have been your biggest successes?
Making nine records and surviving the music industry — which I still love. The other big success is the success with my family. This isn’t just about me starting a family. It's about being able to look after my parents which means means a huge deal to me.
Who is the woman who inspires you the most and why?
I really want to say my mum because first of all she was always an incredible mum but now I've become a mum I realise this even more. 'Now I say, 'Is there anything you need mum? Let me just do anything you want.' My mum and mothers everywhere are inspiring because the sacrifice you make as a mum is mind blowing.
How important do you think it is to have female friendships and support?
It is essential. My female friends mean everything to me. One of my best friends fromm childhood lives in Vienna (Austria) and we're still always in touch. She's been through some tough times, I've been through some tough times. But just being there for each other, being able to talk and to know each other's language, means everything.
Katie dreams of creating more music
What would you like to achieve next?
I want to continue making really great music but also being a really great mum and creating a really great culture in my family. We love surfing, going outdoors, collecting seaweed and wild food, and doing really creative interesting things together!
MORE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY:
Michelle Obama's 10 most powerful quotes
Kate Moss reveals her life lessons and special way she uplifts women
Elizabeth Hurley reveals how motherhood transformed her life
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