Beth Ditto on going solo and her new album

Picture: Mary McCartney
Picture: Mary McCartney

Charlotte Harding gets the gossip on Beth Ditto’s new solo venture.

If you were to think of a word to describe singer Beth Ditto confident would probably be one of the first, she has posed naked on the front of both Love magazine and NME.

After a two year break it seems musically she’s got that confidence once again.

“I realised doing this album how influential I was in Gossip,” the 37-year-old reveals.

“When I showed people the album some songs they said ‘that is like Gossip’ and I was like ‘well I was one third of the band’ but I realise now what an integral part I was.

“I have always been confident but doing this album has shown me what I can do.”

Fake Sugar, which is out on June 16, isn’t Beth’s first solo work she had previously released an EP in 2011 while still in the band, but the process this time around she says was different.

“I had worked with James Ford and Jas Shaw of Simian Mobile Disco before so there was an ease as we knew how to work with one another and went with a more electro vibe,” she adds.

“With this album I felt more vulnerable and it was more intimate. I call it speed dating to find the people I would work with.

“We would do some songs and just see how we worked with one another. There were some people that I just said ‘I think we would totally be friends but this isn’t working’.

“There is a level of trust when you work with someone. You have to gel and have something, for example if I said I loved ABBA and you said you hated everything about them there would be certain things we wouldn’t agree on.”

They also hired session players to sound out her ideas too.

“I’m used to sitting there forever in a band trying to get it right,” says Beth.

“With them, it was like performing miracles.”

Beth grew up in the small Arkansas town of Judsonia, raised as one of seven by her mum.

“People ask me where I get my confidence,” she smiles.

“Talk to my mother. She’ll tell ya she hasn’t done anything alone since she had her first child at 15.’”

Gossip was formed in 1999 in Olympia, Washington after she left Arkansas at the age of 18.

But it was in 2006 that Gossip went from the punk to the mainstream when their single Standing in the Way of Control was used in promotion material for E4 teen drama Skins.

The band split in 2016.

“When Nathan (Howdeshell co-founder of the band) decided to leave the band he went back to Arkansas,” she recalls.

“I felt like the future of the band fell to me, I felt like if we fail it’s my fault and if we succeed it is my fault, so the decision was made for me really.

“I knew from that moment that there was no way I was going back to Arkansas so I left.

“It took a while for me to decide to do my own album but once I did it was all done in six months.

However, going from the band to solo was more of learning curve than she expected.

“I had to be more technical than I had before,” she explains.

“I didn’t know about pitch or notes really.

“In Gossip we couldn’t read music so we just knew how to communicate and had our own language but this was different I had to know what I was talking about.”

Fake Sugar is about love, lost, looking back and moving forward and has been described as a ‘mash-up of driving blues, malt-shop pop, swooning rock and countrified soul’.

But she is quick to admit it wasn’t a conscious thing to move away from Gossip’s dancy garage-punk it just happened organically.

So was she nervous about people hearing her new material.

“No,” she laughs.

“That sounds bad doesn’t it? I think coming from a punk background songs are just songs. They aren’t a commodity or a product, it doesn’t reflect who you are as a person so I just think if people are going to like it they will like it.

“Some people like Pink, some like Lady Gaga everyone is different so you can’t please everyone. I just wanted to feel that I had done my best and put the best out there and I think I have.”

As with the name Fake Sugar it seems there is no hidden meaning.

“I just like the sound of those two words,” she explains.

“I thought about how it would sound if my mum or a genteel aunt said it and it worked.”

This tour will see Beth play less dates than previous ones with venues in Glasgow, London and Brighton.

“I love playing the UK,” she smiles.

“And because the venues on this tour are more intimate when I am at the front it is like being with friends.”

Beth will play the following gigs: Friday, May 25 Glasgow O2 ABC; Tuesday, May 29 Cambridge Junction; Wednesday, May 30 London Electric Brixton; Thursday May 31 Brighton Concorde 2

Fake Sugar is released on June 16 on

Virgin Records.

For more information on Beth visit: www.bethditto.com