At some point, English singer and songwriter Dido because almost as synonymous with “uncool” as Enya. And we can’t really put out finger on the reason. After all, she was a part of the awesome ‘90s British trip-hop scene, thanks in part to her brother Rollo being a member of Faithless. Her song “Thank You” was of course sampled by Eminem on “Stan.” But more important than her connections, her own albums are really beautiful. The debut No Angel, featuring the aforementioned “Thank You,” and the follow-up Life For Rent, are both packed with heartfelt, electro-roots tunes and, while the next two records didn’t get the same attention, this year’s Still on My Mind proves that she’s back on top of her game. Dido is super-cool, as far as we’re concerned. She plays the Wiltern on Tuesday so we chatted…
L.A. WEEKLY: It’s been six years since the Girl Who Got Away album — where the bloody hell have you been?
DIDO: I don’t really have a very good excuse. Pretty much just hanging out with my kids and just sort of making music, enjoying that really.
You also changed labels from RCA to BMG — was that part of it?
Yeah, I finished my record deal on the last album and then I just thought, ‘You know what? I’m not going to sign another one until I’m ready.’ I wanted to take it back to the beginning, because when I did No Angel, I waited until I’d done the album until I actually signed. Because for me, it’s all about the people around the project, the love for the music and not really anything else. I thought that I’d make a record and then see if I want to put it out and who I want to do it with, how I want to do it. The great thing about the world now is there’s a million ways you can do that. So I just thought I’d make an album by myself for now and see where it takes me.
Was there any fear that the fans wouldn’t come back if you went away for so long?
No. I’ve just never worried about anything like that. But for me, music’s never been that really. It’s such a personal thing. The songs have sort of dictated everything in my life. I write the songs and they turn into something, and that that turns into something that happens to your life in a way.
So are you pleased with the way Still On My Mind came out?
Yes, very, because it just felt really relaxed and fun to make. I was very clear-headed about what I wanted to do this time. In the past, maybe I wasn’t as clear at the beginning but I knew I wanted to keep it pretty simple, make it with my brother, we pretty much made it at home, and keep it easy. The fun we were having I think came off in the record.
How do you think you’ve evolved as a songwriter and singer? Did having your kids change things?
Massively. I think at the beginning, for a year or two, I struggled a little bit to write because I’m always looking for the conflict in a situation, looking for the light and dark in something. When I had my kid, I was just happy. It’s like, there wasn’t a conflict for me. It was very straightforward and it was a very pure feeling. But then it was funny, it sort of changed. I started to be able to see the light and dark in everything again. Having a kid makes you very productive with your time, with a small amount of time. It’s actually amazing, what it does to the brain. When my brain came back, it was great because it was like it was on fire and it had all this stuff waiting to come out. I could be super productive in a short space of time. And I think I’ve learned along the way with all the people I’ve worked with. I’ve worked with so many amazing people. Every time you write a song you learn something. Pretty much every time you sing a song you learn something. I think that’s what I love about music — it’s completely limitless. The learning will go on forever for me. That’s what I love about songs. They teach you a lot, while you’re writing them.
Do you enjoy coming to L.A.?
I love L.A. I lived there for quite a while, so I’m super-excited because for me it feels like coming back to a home of sorts. I love it there. It’s a really inspiring place. I lived up in the Hills, and then I lived just off Fairfax, the edge of West Hollywood, and I loved it. So many of the songs I sing every night were written in L.A. A huge portion of them. Life For Rent — I rented a house by the beach and pretty much wrote that whole album there. So it’s a really inspiring place for me.
What can we expect from this set?
It’s fun. It’s got a real variety of stuff. Come and have a dance, but there’s everything from quiet acoustic moments to full on dance music and everything in-between. A lot of singing along. The audiences here have just been fantastic, singing every word.
When this tour is over, what’s next?
I’m touring for the rest of the year. I’m off to South America, then I’m going around Europe again, then England again — basically touring until the end of the year. And I’m in the middle of writing more stuff as well. It’s funny — as soon as I got to America I started writing again. I have to say, I’m really enjoying myself this time round. It just feels like there’s zero pressure and it’s all just that love of playing.
Dido plays with Jack Savoretti at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25 at the Wiltern.