Q&A: Dido Puts Family Before Her New Album

Dido had been planning a relatively quick return to the spotlight after 2008’s “Safe Trip Home.” She holed up in Los Angeles and London studios to record a set of electronic-tinged songs.

“I was busy telling everyone there was an album on the way,” Dido said. “And then I found out there was a baby on the way instead.”

She and husband Rohan Gavin welcomed their first child, a son named Stanley, in July 2011. Dido packed up the recordings to focus on family.

But then late last year, the 41-year-old English singer reached out to her brother, producer Rollo Armstrong, to finally put the finishing touches on her fourth album, Girl Who Got Away, released Tuesday.

Quick to laugh and full of self-deprecating asides, Dido recently sat down with The Associated Press to discuss her new songs, her son’s musical tastes and her tendency to retreat from fame.

Photo: RCA, Chris Lopez/AP
Performing in London in 2013.

AP: The album has some electronica and dubstep influence. What were you feeling and listening to as you edged in that direction?

Dido: All the music you listen to in your life is all in like this big melting pot in your head and you can’t help it. All the things you love just come out – whether it’s dance music, hip-hop, folk. And I just love so many different types of music. … It’s similar to ‘No Angel’ in that way in it’s sort of unashamedly doing what I want. But the thing that’s holding it together is the songs and the same voice.

The album title seems to evoke a desire to escape and be away from the spotlight. Is that right?

It’s a slightly almost joking comment on me, I guess. Everyone else spotted that aspect of the title. … They’re like, ‘Well, it’s sort of perfect because you do keep disappearing.’ And it’s like, ‘Really? Sorry!’ I’ve never felt a need to sort of keep being in the public eye. I don’t have that burning need. I do have a burning need to make music. I can’t stop doing that and I don’t want to stop doing that. Music is my thing and it’s the way I see the world. And I love writing songs and I will always keep doing that.

Your husband wrote and is set to release a book that focuses on a father-son relationship. Has being a mother changed you creatively?

Obviously when you first have a kid, you’re so focused on them and your brain slightly disintegrates. I don’t know if anyone else has that, but it’s just like, ‘Wow, where did my brain go?’ Then it sort of comes back. … Now I really see the world through his eyes and it gives this real freshness to everything. It’s like if you thought you were going to run out of things to ever write about, you have a kid, then you’re never going to run out because suddenly everything is sort of limitless again and fresh and new and it’s like this amazing new start.

Can you see yourself making children’s music?

I doubt it. I sing joke songs to Stanley all the time, but I’m not going to be making an album of them for public consumption. No, probably not. I think I’ll stick to what I do best. … It’s quite tempting sometimes when I’m writing joke songs about spinach.

Is Stanley a big critic or does he love everything you do?

The things he loves, he just goes into a complete trance and he just smiles and just listens. And he’s amazing when he loves something. When he doesn’t love something, he just waves at it really vigorously like, ‘Turn it off!’ So it’s quite nerve-racking.

Even when you’re singing?

Not when I’m actually singing to him right then and there. But there’s certain records that I play where if he doesn’t like it, he’s waving at it. Partly because all he wants to listen to at the moment is (first single) ‘No Freedom.’ It’s quite strange. Again and again and again.

You became famous in the U.S. at least in part for your collaboration with Eminem on “Stan.” You named your son Stanley and some people have said that coincidence seems odd.

Well, Stanley was actually our favorite name, coincidentally both of our favorite names. He could never have been called anything else to be honest, because it was such a coincidence that it was both of our favorite names. … I’m so stupid; I didn’t think anyone would make the connection. … But it’s fine. I was named after a crazy queen who threw herself on a fire. So I mean, you know, it’s fine.

Has your son heard the “Stan” song yet?

Um. Has he even heard it? I don’t know that he’s even heard it. No. But I’m sure he’ll hear it later.