‘Home’ is where Dido’s heart is
NEW YORK ó As a child, Dido was “obsessed with space travel. I only wanted to be an astronaut. The idea just blew my mind.”
So it’s fitting that a photo of the Earth taken on a 1984 Challenger mission is on the cover of the British singer/songwriter’s first studio album in five years, Safe Trip Home.
The album was inspired by the considerable ground that Dido, 36, has covered on the planet as a touring musician since 1999’s No Angel. That multiplatinum debut established her as one of the most prominent artists of the Lilith Fair era. Dido spent much of the following decade accumulating frequent-flier miles, appearing at events such as 2005’s Live 8.
“In one way, it’s made the world a very small place,” Dido says over tea in Midtown. “I’m very conscious of the fact that we’re all here together.”
But as the album’s title suggests, Dido’s journey has helped her realize “where home actually is. I’m someone who can feel at home anywhere. But the farther you go away, the more you realize that home is where your family and friends are.”
For Dido, that means London ó though Home took shape in a different setting. In summer 2005, producer Jon Brion, noted for his adventurous but pop-savvy work with artists as diverse as Fiona Apple and Kanye West, suggested that Dido travel to Los Angeles to work on an album.
It wasn’t a natural destination. “I was brought up in the inner city,” she says. “If I hadn’t been working with Jon, I’d have been a bit bored. Ö (But) Jon is so joyful about it all. We were so productive and having so much fun that I didn’t want to stop.”
Brion wasn’t Dido’s only source of inspiration, though. “I’m not that fussed about sunshine, but L.A. in the morning is just stunning. And it’s home to the film industry, so it’s a city built on storytelling, on people using their imaginations.”
In fact, for Homeó which was also recorded in London, with Dido’s brother and longtime collaborator, Rollo Armstrong, pitching in ó Dido commissioned 11 short films, one to accompany each song. “I found local directors in different countries and told them the theme was ‘What is home?’ ” The resulting clips, set in locales from a Thai boxing ring to a Mumbai taxicab, can be viewed at safetriphome.com.
Home hasn’t yet yielded a hit on the order of previous Dido singles such as White Flag or Thank You, but “you don’t take three years to make a record if that’s your concern,” says Blender editor in chief Joe Levy. He points out that her music remains “enormously popular with music supervisors for television and movies,” and one track, Quiet Times, was recently featured on Grey’s Anatomy.
For her part, Dido doesn’t mind maintaining a lower profile. “I’ve always been an introvert, and as you get older, all your characteristics get more pronounced,” she says.
Though she allows that the five years since her last album “have had some dramatic highs and lows,” she prefers not to discuss them in detail. “It’s amazing ó I’ve had 15 kids,” jokes the singer, who is single and has no children, when pressed for specifics.
Then, more seriously, and vaguely, Dido says: “I have a relatively normal life, in which there’s been an exceptional freedom to travel and to make music. And I feel so lucky for that.”
‘Home’ is where Dido’s heart is