The eternally lovely Louise has returned to the pop charts once more, bringing a welcome glamorous touch. However, there's more to this star than just a pretty face and a winning dance routine. We asked the 25-year-old veteran all about songwriting and superstardom. Surviving teen-pop and tinkling with Mozart
It's been over two years since you last released a record. Where have you been?
"I'd been buzzing around since I was 16 living life to a schedule so I finally decided to have a break. I needed a year off basically. To begin with I didn't know what to do with myself. I had to learn to relax."
Two years is a long time in the music business. Were you worried everything might have moved on?
"It was a long time. You can be dead and buried in this industry with that gap. There was always the worry that I might release these songs and people would turn around and say this is all a year too late!"
You're a 25-year-old veteran. There's a lot of new kids on the block now...
"I know, every time I looked at the TV there was another 16-year-old sensation and I'd wonder if my time had gone. There was a feeling sometimes that that might be it."
Did you try to forget about music completely?
"I actually learnt how to write. I went and visited various songwriters I knew to learn about the trade, to look at how they went about making music. I needed to do that because I hadn't had a lot of control to begin with."
Has your approach to making music changed a great deal?
"I used to get a dozen songs through the post and pick the ones I liked and I was desperate to get away from that so I went and picked up a few tips. I still can't really play that well but I can toy with keyboards. I can't read music or do Mozart, but I can tinkle around."
Going into Orbit?
You've worked with a fairly unknown man called Matt Elliss, rather than any of the big names you could have called in...
"Every time I'd worked with people in the past they had a copy of the old album in the studio and they were just interested in replicating my old stuff. I wanted to work with someone who didn't have any interest in what I'd done before." Why him, was he a fan?
"He didn't know much about me at all so he had a whole new angle. It was his first take at pop music - before he'd been into hip-hop. He was in a hip-hop band called Honky. There was no formula, we just sat there for nine months in a studio in Doncaster and worked it up from scratch."
Did you have a plan for re-designing your sound?
"I went in with no songs, no preconceptions but I knew what I didn't want. He [Elliss] played a few snippets he had and I liked the feel so we started from scratch. It was always going to be pop, I was never going indie, but it had to have more depth."
There was talk of you waiting for a chance to work with William Orbit...
"I said in an interview a while back I wanted to work with William Orbit and that went from me liking his work to waiting to work with him. I'd still like to."
The title of the first single, 2-Faced, has led to suggestions that it's about your former colleagues in Eternal. Is it?
"It's not about them. If I were going to say something about them I'd have done it four years ago when we split. I'm not the kind of person to hold a grudge. If anything I get on with them better now than when we were in a band. They're not as bad as everyone makes out."
Have you changed a lot since those days? You were only 16 when you started out in Eternal.
"I have changed definitely. I've gained in confidence over the years. When I left Eternal I wouldn't say boo to a goose because my confidence was so low. I certainly didn't trust my judgement, so I wouldn't speak out over things in case people laughed at me. I'd managed to lose everything in that sense."
Getting some Elbow room
What did you want from your new album, Elbow Beach?
"I wanted to be looked on as an artist. I wanted a bit of respect because I've been doing this nine years, which is a long time in this business. I know I have to earn that respect so I decided to have a go."
It's certainly sounds a lot more sophisticated and more upfront lyrically...
"I'm not sure people listen to the lyrics much do they? It's not 18 certificate, more PG - my U days are in the past though. Anyway I didn't write the really rude ones - not that they're offensive or anything."
I can imagine your husband, Jamie Redknapp, getting a bit of stick in the changing room about some of the songs...
"He might get stick for First Kiss which is really girlie, about how beautiful he is."
Why did you call the album Elbow Beach?
"It's where we got married. We went out there for a holiday during the World Cup and decided it was so beautiful we'd get married there and then. So we put a call into parents and grandparents and did it. I wanted something that meant something to me, something that wasn't corny."
Vicoria and David Beckham have suffered for being a celebrity couple, but you seem to have avoided the same fate. How?
"We keep ourselves very private; we don't do shoots together and rarely go out to showbiz events together. But we try and live as normally as possible, we do our things and then when we get home the door shuts and that's it."
Where do you see your career going in the future? Will you carry on?
"I'd like to think I can carry on for some time, I don't want to do something tired but if you look at the way Madonna has developed her career she's got stronger and stronger."
How important is it for you to have another hit album?
"I'm not desperate for huge success. I do this because I like it. What I want most is to be able to hold my head up."