Singer Gabrielle Aplin ready to light up Belfast and Dublin

Gabrielle Aplin had a number one single with her Power of Love cover in 2012 and now she's touring her hit second album Light Up The Dark. Ahead of two Irish gigs, she talks to Brian Campbell about Nigella Lawson, Ed Sheeran and her love of Dublin

Gabrielle Aplin plays Belfast on February 19

WHEN singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin appeared on The Graham Norton Show on BBC One last year, she joked that “It feels like I won a competition to be here!”

This is because the Wiltshire-born singer was appearing alongside some rather well-known talents - Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Nicole Kidman and Nigella Lawson.

Gabrielle was on the show to perform her single Sweet Nothing, taken from her second album Light Up The Dark (the follow-up to 2013’s English Rain).

She is no stranger to the limelight, having had a number one single in December 2012 with her cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood song The Power of Love (which was the soundtrack song for the John Lewis Christmas TV ad that year).

Now based in Brighton, Gabrielle is in the middle of a headline tour that ends next weekend in Belfast and Dublin.

Are you enjoying life in Brighton?

I am; it’s such a creative place and it’s a cool spot. I just wanted to leave London - it was getting a bit much for me. When I’m not gigging, there’s so much stuff to do. It’s great for arts and crafts and all sorts of wonderful things. And there’s a beach. I get to see gigs and go to jazz nights too.

So is jazz going to be your next direction then?!

No, probably not. I don’t like to sit and listen to jazz at home; I just like to sit when people are playing it live and be in that environment and have a drink of wine and do it that way.

Now that you’re on the road again, are you a big fan of touring?

There’s good and bad sides to it, definitely. It’s good because I get to see my friends when I tour all around the UK. It’s like a glorified camping holiday – we all get into a bus and off we go. And play music. You go from album mode to tour mode, so it goes in cycles. My band are my mates, so we meet up and drink wine and play songs, so touring isn’t that different to recording. The only bad thing is all of us having to share the bus. But then the plus side is you get to wake up in the city you’re playing in.

Are you looking forward to your Belfast and Dublin gigs?

I am. Dublin is a bit of a second home for me and I’ve been to loads of gigs at the Olympia, so it’s amazing to have a gig there. We had to upgrade it from Whelan’s; I couldn’t believe it. I have family there and my boyfriend’s from there, so I spend a lot of time in Dublin and Wicklow. And I played the Mandela Hall in Belfast three years ago and that’s a beautiful venue, so it’s great to end the tour with those two shows, to end it on a high.

You started the tour in Manchester, so is that a city you enjoy playing?

I do. My first ever headline show I did was in Manchester. It sold out in one day and I’d never been there before. That’s when I thought, `I should be touring. I have to do more of this’.

Do you tend to perform The Power of Love most nights live?

Sometimes people don’t want to hear it and sometimes they do. I don’t want to get bored of it, so I still play it but I change it up a bit. I’m really grateful for that song and it’s a classic. I was lucky when that came out [and went to number one] because I had already been signed and was doing my own thing and touring, but it did open me to a mainstream audience that I wouldn’t have been able to tap into otherwise. It did really help me.

You’ve also done covers of songs by the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Sam Smith, so will you be doing any live?

I’m planning to, yeah. I’ve been working on a few David Bowie songs, so I might slip one of those in.

You’ve supported Ed Sheeran on tour before. Are you still in touch with him?

Yeah, we stay in touch. He took me on tour to Australia with him and he’s really championed me. He’s always been great. I don’t hear from him every day, but when the album came out he texted to say he really liked it.

On the Graham Norton Show last year, you had a whole host of drummers on stage, so how many have you taken on tour?

I asked for 40 drummers but they said no. No, I have one drummer. There’s seven of us in the band in total.

How did you enjoy being on that show with such illustrious fellow guests?

It was very surreal. I got told I was going to be on the show and I just thought, `Great’. Then I found out it would be with Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Carey Mulligan and Nigella Lawson, so it was a real `girl power’ couch. And then Nigella accidentally kissed me on the lips. It was all really relaxed and Graham is such a good interviewer. It was a lot of fun to do. And it was on my birthday as well, so it was great.

Are you still touch with them all?!

Yeah, me and Meryl are best pals (laughs). We’re out all the time.

:: Gabrielle Aplin plays the Mandela Hall in Belfast on Friday February 19 from 7pm (Over 14s gig). Tickets £16. She also plays the Olympia in Dublin on February 20. Light Up The Dark is out now


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