By Carron Stacey
WHERE?: Southsea Common (press ticket)
WHEN?: 23 – 25/8/19
Republica’s singer, Saffron Sprackling (pictured left), is bouncing with energy post-set at the recent Portsmouth Victorious Festival, on Southsea seafront. With her trademark black bob and red stripes, in a summery “pill” jumpsuit, she has just smashed out Ready to Go amongst other hits, including older tracks, Drop Dead Gorgeous, as well as new ones, New York and Hallelujah.
- Read on for reasons including A Humdrum Mum’s insight into the world of Saffron Republica
Saffron talks effusively about all the projects she’s worked on since the 90s, before the band was built back up over the last seven years.
She describes herself as “so lucky” to have sung a duet with The Cure. Giggling, she tells me how, when Robert Smith phoned her, she thought it was her ex boyfriend.
She treated him with, “What the f### do you want?” only to hear back, “It’s Robert Smith from The Cure!”
When he asked if she would duet with him, after initially “going all Mariah Carey on him”, she said the fear hit her. She had the lyrics, she had the track but he never told her until she got there that she’d be in the vocal booth with him. “I don’t get nervous, I just get butterflies, adrenaline… but somebody like Robert Smith?”
Of The Cure she says, “It’s some part of my being, my soul, of who I am and my band. The songs mean so much and (he’s) an inspirational figure and a genius songwriter.” The duet, Just Say Yes, features on their Greatest Hits album and she performed live with him, which she describes as an honour, “a moment in my life, a precious moment.” Her contagious giggling returns when she tells how she asked him whilst performing if her lipstick looked OK. “Are you taking the piss?” he asked her.
Coming across as a genuine person and deeply spiritual to boot, she is a taoist and studies Shaolin Kung Fu (which she describes as a life force), as well as giving empowerment masterclasses at colleges.
For all her energy and positivity, she appears humble, almost shy, discussing the people she’s collaborated with, either solo or with the band: The Prodigy, Jeff Beck, John Malkovich (an interesting project on worth, value and beauty in the arts), Marco Pirroni, Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) and The Cure, but bursts alive when she talks of female empowerment in the creative arts.
Ready To Go was recently used as the official music for the trailer of Captain Marvel. “It has always been an empowerment song. Some (fans) think I wrote it for her! It just means such a lot that something you wrote 26 years ago can still empower.” Saffron is rightly proud of her song heading the first movie with “the most powerful of all superheroes”.
Republica were performing on Saturday at Victorious as part of a nostalgic 90s afternoon, along with with All Saints, Badly Drawn Boy, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Ocean Colour Scene. In fact, during our interview, Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ frontman Huey Morgan greets Saffron with a “Hey girl” en route to the stage, and his band member, Brian Leiser, embraces her fondly, the two having dated some time ago.
I ask her what it’s like in the industry now compared to the 90s. “For us, it’s actually been wonderful. On the 80s circuit, a lot of the 80s bands are doing far far better than they ever did in the 80s and it’s now become the 90s.” But for women? She credits singer songwriters Chrissie Hynde, Siouxsie Sioux, Toyah, Kate Bush and Annie Lennox, for paving the way for “women- fronted bands who wrote their own music” whom radio would not play. “We’re not going to listen to someone with a suitcase and a tie that went to Cambridge or Oxford. What the f### do you know about (music)? ‘I think we should change the chorus.’ I think we won’t! We have smashed those doors, I enjoyed smashing them down. Eventually I found an open door.”
One open door as such is her new deal for songwriting in films and TV that she has just signed with Mojo Music & Media. To paraphrase her, all of this is “not bad at 51 for a female singer songwriter”. It appears that Robert Smith’s lyrics in their duet fit Saffron’s attitude perfectly: “Just say yes, do it now, let yourself go, just leap, don’t look or you’ll never know.” I do know that “it’s a crack”, she’s back, and she’s probably still able to shout it from those rooftops, although I don’t know how that jumpsuit would hold out.
Catch Republica on 2 November in Chelmsford and keep up to date with their new releases @officialrepublica. Facebook
- Read more from Carron at her blog A Humdrum Mum. Carron’s take on Victorious 2019. Picture by Carron Stacey. Tickets