This bank holiday weekend, Thorpe Park is set to open its door to Angry Birds Land, a park within the park that includes meet and greets with the iconic birds, fun rides for all the family, and a 4D cinema experience.
Pop star Sophie Ellis-Bextor is a big fan of the game, and spoke to HELLO! Online about the new park, bank holiday fun, and her change of musical direction.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor at Angry Birds Land
"Me and the family are genuinely big fans of theme parks and have spent many happy times in Thorpe Park. The boys are always happy to go on the rides and Angry Birds is something my kids love and it was great to see it. It’s funny how recognisable those characters are now and it all looks very cartoon-y and that’s always exciting, isn’t it?"
Do you have any fun bank holiday plans?
"I might take them out of London and visit some of the family in the countryside, and then a couple of little music workshops that I might take them along to. But essentially I’m hoping for lovely weather so I can chuck them in the garden with the paddling pool and the swing and enjoy the sunshine - that would be the perfect way!"
What's been your favourite family bank holiday trip ever?
"We've had lots of lovely times, we’ve done things like going to the Isle of Wight for the week which was lovely, and we’ve done some camping, and there’s festivals coming up - it's always great to take them to festivals. Nowadays, there are so many festivals, and some of them are so thoughtfully done and really clever, and really ingenious, and I suppose it’s because that generation that went to gigs when younger still want to go to gig and now have kids so they’re creating environments where they can see bands when they’ve got their children with them, so I think it makes total sense."
You've mentioned before the Strictly effect, that you're more recognisable now than ever before, have you learnt to deal with that?
"The lovely thing about Strictly Come Dancing, and I realised this at the beginning, in terms of the scale of the show it is bigger than the sum of its parts, and I really enjoyed it for that. And I’m a Londoner and it really made London feel more like a village, I’d get on the tube and people were going ‘I loved Saturday’! I like that that is how it works, it was lots of warm and lovely things and it will happen for whoever does it this year."
Sophie Ellis-Bextor at the launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2013
"She’ll be brilliant. But I’m very happy I had Bruce doing it when I was there because, like, when my Granny came and he spoke to her when she was in the crowd, and she thought it was amazing and is still talking about it now! But I think similarly Claudia is a brilliant presenter."
And what about partnering with Brendon, who has a known reputation for baiting the judges?
"I had no preconceptions about anything to do with the show and I found Brendon to be a great character and partner. I didn’t see anything to do with this supposed bad boy side, I heard about it afterwards!"
You released your fifth album earlier in 2014, and it was quite a departure from your previous pop. What inspired the change?
"A desire to shake things up and do something outside of my comfort zone, and also try a different style of song-writing and singing and I loved it. Sometimes it’s really good to push yourself in a different direction. I put a lot of work into it, and worked with some amazing musicians and it was a very happy thing making the album, and I’m really happy with how well it has done and for all the people concerned with it, because it really had a lot of people working really hard and giving their best and I’m thrilled. Once you take away writing a dance record, you can write a different style, you can tell more of a story, and be a bit more reflective. Dance records are very immediate, but telling more folky stories you can really let your imagination run free."
And you're going on tour later this year and playing the festival circuit, do you take the family along with you?
"The family are definitely coming out to some of the festivals in the summer, but with the touring because it's UK based I’m actually not away overnight so they probably won’t even notice I’m gone! But it will be the album and the same band line up that I recorded it with, so it’s basically a continuation of what we already started."
Sophie Ellis-Bextor performing in April 2014
Are you thinking about the next album yet?
"I’m thinking about it a little bit but I’m not quite ready, I need to have this moment and really enjoy the record, but it’s somewhere in the back of my head, there’s ideas bubbling away."