She’s best known to TV viewers these days for her outrageous outfits on ‘The X Factor’ (banana leaves anyone?), but back in the 80s Sinitta had a string of hit singles including ‘Toy Boy’, ‘Cross My Broken Heart’ and ‘Right Back Where We Started From’. We caught up with her ahead of next month’s Hit Factory Live, a one-off pop extravaganza featuring Sinitta alongside the likes of Kylie, Jason and Sonia…
How does it feel to be playing Hyde Park?
When did you find out Hit Factory Live was going to happen?
I found out when I received an email telling me that Pete Waterman was celebrating the Silver Jubilee of his record label and that they were thinking about uniting some of his old artists for a get together. Then it turned out that the get together was actually going to be a massive concert. I honestly thought we were just going to have a big dinner party!
Oh gosh, incredible. Because in the 80s we didn’t play anywhere that size. The closest we had to it was the Radio One Roadshow. I’m really excited to perform there as I’ve gone to various concerts including Stevie Wonder, so it’s going to be great to be one of the performers. It’s going to be great to get together with everyone. There’s a few people I haven’t seen in years. I’ve seen Kylie a few times but most of the others I haven’t seen at all.
Who are you most looking forward to catching up with?
Pepsi from Pepsi and Shirley, Sonia, the Big Fun boys. In a way everyone because, even though at the time you got on with some people better than others, over the years I’ve been close to different people for different reasons. I mean in the 80s Kylie and I would go clubbing every week so I really got on with her. But then in the later years Sonia and I did a tour of the musical ‘What A Feeling’ and Pepsi and I did ‘Hair’ together so we got really close during that. It will be nice having everyone there at the same time - all older, some with children. All grown up but still singing our hits.
Legend has it that on the original Hitman Roadshow in the 80s, your tour bus was the place to be. Is that true?
Yes, I did have the party bus I must admit. And no one was supposed to be allowed on my bus because it was the party bus. I was considered the naughty girl. But little did they know that everyone would get onto their own bus, stash their clothes in their bunks and then creep out and get on my bus. Even little Sonia made her way to the party bus!
So what was going on on your party bus then?
We’d have the music on, we’d sit up all night - talking, partying, just being crazy. Whereas I think the tour organisers would have quite liked to think that we’d finish the show, get on our bus and go to sleep while we were being driven to the next venue. We probably should have done as it’s tiring being on tour but it was like having a massive sleepover every night.
What can you tell us about your setlist for Hit Factory Live?
We’re still working it out. Obviously ‘Toyboy’ has got to be done and I need dancers, I need something to wear. It’s all a bit of a panic now. I’m having a big audition for dancers as all the toyboys and the macho men who used to work with me have scattered now. I need new boys, I need new men!
What was it like being part of PWL back in the 80s?
It was so much fun. Making records was very fast and painless.
Was there a lot of rivalry about who would get which song?
Not really because they tended to write for us specifically, but I remember being very jealous of ‘Better The Devil You Know’. I really wanted that song.
Is it true that they wrote songs based on your life? So ‘Toyboy’ was based on what was happening to you at the time?
Yes, we wrote it together. We sat down in the studio and they had the chorus but they didn’t have the rest of it so they ‘d ask ‘what’s been going on? Who have you been seeing?’ and I told them about this guy that I’d met and the press were calling him my toyboy because he was younger than David Essex who I’d been dating before. At the time Pete said that ‘Toyboy’ was the fastest record they’d ever made because from me arriving at the studio, recording the song and leaving it was 20 minutes. I was used to spending hours and hours doing track after track. It was short and sweet.
What about ‘GTO’? What’s the story behind that?
I have no idea. I think it was written because Pete was obsessed with cars. But that wasn’t based on my life. I didn’t even know what a GTO was at the time!
You didn’t have a man with a GTO then?
Didn’t have a man with a GTO, didn’t know what a GTO was and then when I did find out I was a bit stroppy about it. ‘Why am I singing a song about a stupid car?’ and they explained that it happens to be about the coolest, most expensive car in the world. And Pete said, ‘anyway I have one and you can use it in the video’.
You’re lucky he didn’t make you sing about trains…
Exactly. Well, Kylie got that one!
Do you think the influence of PWL is still felt today? What do you think PWL's legacy is?
I think they were the age that remembered that music was about fun. It was the soundtrack to a lot of people’s childhoods. Afterwards everything went techno, even the clothes went techno. In the 80s nobody had any money and you had to be as creative as possible to make yourself look good and stand out. You’d chop up your school uniform and try and make something cool out of it. Even though we looked ridiculous we had fun, we had our own style. I think a lot of people lost their identity in the 90s. I love the fact that Rihanna is running around now in the type of clothes that I was wearing in the 80s. Having been slagged off for three decades, someone is doing it again and everyone is now saying how cool it is!
What’s next for you? More live dates?
I hope so as we’re doing a lot of preparation for this. If we do more shows then we’re definitely starting with a bang. I’m also developing my own young talent with my website www.attinis.com - there’s five bands that I’m managing and hoping to launch this year so I do have a day job as well just in case!
Hit Factory Live, featuring Sinitta alongside the likes of Kylie, Jason, Rick Astley, Bananarama, Steps and Sonia is on 11 July in London’s Hyde Park. A triple CD, ‘Pete Waterman Presents The Hit Factory’, is released on 9 July.