Former Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle on the highs and lows of being in the band – and why she’s still keen for a reunion
From the minute Nadine Coyle walks into our East End studio with her unmistakable broad Derry accent, she’s bubbly, chatty and has an infectious
energy that you can’t help but want a big, fat slice of.
Over the years, headlines have sometimes been less than complimentary, suggesting she’s cold, touchy and ever so slightly aloof, but all of that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Nadine is bubbly, chatty and clearly takes life in her stride[/caption]
And when she barely bats an eyelid at the power cut midway through our shoot, it’s clear Nadine, 34, is a woman who takes life in her stride.
“I know what the people I care for think and that’s enough for me,” she says with a shrug.
Rewind to 2002 when, at just 17, Nadine became one-fifth of pop group Girls Aloud on ITV’s talent show Popstars: The Rivals, joining Cheryl Tweedy, Nicola Roberts, Kimberley Walsh and Sarah Harding.
Five albums, four No.1 singles and collective earnings of around £30million later, they’ve all firmly claimed their places in British pop history.
Since the band’s split in 2013 – a decision Nadine has previously admitted was not what she wanted – she’s signed a solo record deal with Virgin EMI Records and released a string of singles as well as an EP and a full album, although she’s yet to smash the charts as a solo artist.
She continues to tour the UK and Ireland with live shows, including next weekend’s LGBTQ+ event Sink The Pink in London’s Finsbury Park.
“Music is still where my heart is,” says Nadine. “It’s the best job in the world.”
We grab a tea (she takes it very strong) and a millionaire’s shortbread to find out more about life post-Girls-Aloud, motherhood and why she’ll always have regrets.
Hi, Nadine! Have you found it frustrating that you’ve not emulated the success of Girls Aloud in your solo career yet?
How I feel is always changing. Even though we were such a great band, there were ups and downs there, too. The overall memory that everyone has is that we got to do all of these amazing things, but there were struggles and hard times to get to those places. I think the difference is now I enjoy it a lot more. Ultimately, I’m self-employed and I get to pick and choose what I do. I’m in a comfortable place that I’ve been trying to get to for a while. I’m there now and it feels good.
Do you have any regrets?
I have loads. Around the time that Girls Aloud was at its biggest, I was offered some huge acting roles in America. I decided to stay loyal to the band rather than take those other opportunities. Sometimes I wonder whether I should have just taken them. But I can’t get mad thinking about it – I just have to believe it wasn’t meant to be. I’m definitely not the type of person who can say I don’t regret anything, though, because I do.
The 34-year-old singer still tours the UK and Ireland but is yet to smash the charts as a solo artist[/caption]
Where’s home for you these days?
I’ve always had a base in both London and Northern Ireland. I’m either here or there or I’m working somewhere. This summer I’ve had live shows all over, but I always come back home to London.
What’s everyday life like for you?
It’s totally normal – and it always has been. Even at the busiest times when I was in Girls Aloud, my house was my sanctuary. When I come home, I switch off and there’s no work involved. I love to cook and hang out with my husband Jason [Bell, 41, a former American football star and NFL pundit] and our daughter Anaiya, five. We’re a very close family.
Nadine and Jason have a five-year-old daughter together, Anaiya[/caption]
So you’ve never allowed fame to intrude on your privacy?
No. I made that conscious decision from the beginning. In the Girls Aloud days, we would have meetings where we would sit with a PR and make up stories [to feed to the press]. I was always really uncomfortable with it – it felt like we were building a glass house. I don’t want to be in the newspapers or to feel like I have to manipulate things to make my life seem a way it’s not. I’m happy with how things are. My focus has always been on being a singer. It’s easy enough to keep it private.
Cheryl has really struggled with life in the public eye. Do you think she could have had more privacy if she’d wanted to from the start?
I think it’s best not to talk about that. Everybody has their own path and everybody does what they want. I’m all for the way I do it, but I can only say that from my view.
Girls Aloud had five albums, four No1 singles and collective earnings of around £30million[/caption]
Anaiya has just finished her first year at school – how has she found it?
It’s just flown by. At the end of term she won an award for Most Improved, and we went to the prize-giving ceremony as a family. I was a full-on hooligan, I really was. I stood on a chair and shouted and screamed at my sister to get the camera out.
Is she a little performer, too?
She is. She’s hilarious. She makes up songs and sings all the time. It’s funny because she’s developed this undetectable accent. She’s got a mix of Irish, Jason’s American accent and also bits from her English school.
Nadine has always been conscious of keeping her life private[/caption]
Do you think you want to have any more kids?
I come from a big Irish Catholic family, which is really full on, so another one would fit in perfectly. I probably wouldn’t even notice another one – there’s so many of us! I enjoyed the whole experience the first time round so if it were to happen I would be happy, but I’m not thinking about another one right now.
How has motherhood changed you?
I’ve actually always been the “mum” friend in my girl groups. I think that’s something people don’t really know about me – I like to make sure that everyone is all right. Plus, I was always the local babysitter at home in Derry and I grew up with my older sister Charmaine having kids, so I saw that being a mum was hard from a young age. I didn’t have a rose-tinted view of what it would be like, which I think is the reason it hasn’t changed me drastically. I do get a lot of Catholic guilt about leaving Anaiya to go on tour, though.
Nadine admits she no longer sees the other members of Girls Aloud[/caption]
Sarah Harding recently said that you’d been texting – when was the last time you spoke to the others?
I haven’t seen Sarah since Anaiya was a baby. We used to text or FaceTime occasionally, but I haven’t seen any of the rest of them. We don’t have any mutual friends or crossovers, so I haven’t come across them at all. We don’t really work with any of the same people any more.
Could we get a Spice-Girls-style Girls Aloud reunion at some point?
I would really like to. I reckon so – there’s no law against it. Never say never on that one!
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What can the crowd look forward to seeing during your Sink The Pink performance next weekend?
We’ve got some exciting surprises in store. We’ve been throwing ideas around of getting a choir, drag queens and all sorts on stage with me. Let’s just say we’re going to throw everything at it.
Are you expecting to see Girls Aloud fans there?
We had a big gay following from the beginning so it’s just been a part of my life for so long. Each year I see these events getting bigger and bigger and it brings a tear to my eye. The people that come out are there to have fun, and I love them for it.
- Nadine will play at Sink The Pink’s Street Party on August 17 (Sinkthepink.co.uk)
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