July 20, 2008 / 3:11 AM / in 9 years

UK pop star enjoys new life as hit songwriter

NEW YORK (Billboard) - UK Singer/songwriter Cathy Dennis stormed America at the beginning of the ‘90s with top 10 hits “C‘mon and Get My Love,” “Just Another Dream,” “Touch Me (All Night Long)” and “Too Many Walls,” and spent 67 weeks on the Billboard 200 with her debut album “Move to This.”

After her third album in 1996, she launched a second career writing tunes for the likes of the Spice Girls, Kylie Minogue, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Celine Dion, among others.

She also signed with “American Idol” producer 19 Entertainment, delivering hits for Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Clay Aiken. This month, she scored her first No. 1 in the United States, as co-writer of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” which has ruled Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart for four weeks.

AFTER A STRING OF SOLO HITS AROUND THE WORLD IN THE ‘90S, YOU DELIBERATELY RETREATED AS A RECORDING ARTIST. WHY?

The more I became aware of new styles of music, the more I felt I was moving away from who I wanted to be. There was a lot of pressure that what I had been successful with before -- and what I wanted to record -- was no longer going to meet the expectations of the people that originally invested in me. So there was huge disparity between where I felt I should be versus the dance singer that came out in cat suits.

IT DIDN‘T TAKE LONG FOR YOUR SECOND SUCCESSFUL CHAPTER AS A SONGWRITER FOR SO MANY OTHER ARTISTS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THEN THE ALLIANCE WITH 19. IS THAT AS SATISFYING AS BEING A MARQUEE ACT?

I’ve never felt like this success is any different. It’s still about proving myself, that I have a place in music somewhere. It’s a tough process for me to write songs, so when I hear a song on the radio that I’ve written, it’s as exhilarating as hearing one that I recorded.

TOUGH TO WRITE? THAT‘S A SURPRISE. WHAT IS THE PROCESS LIKE FOR YOU?

Usually quite chaotic. I‘m seldom in the same place or even the same country and quite often I‘m working with different writers and catering to a specific artist. I guess the difficulty comes from never being happy; questioning instincts and never being sure when something is finished.

SO, YOU HAVE THE HONOR OF CO-WRITING THE BILLBOARD HOT 100‘S 1,000TH NO. 1 HIT, “I KISSED A GIRL,” BY KATY PERRY.

The song was hatched in 2005 ... and then Katy and I finished it earlier this year. It’s my first proper No. 1 in the States and I appreciate it all the more because it’s taken a long time. I never see my collaborations as writing for somebody; we’re all a team. As an artist myself, I fully understand how much work the singer needs to put in to make a song successful. “I Kissed a Girl” is a special song. It’s controversial and it stops people in their tracks, which is a good thing. Katy is an original, very funny and engaging. I couldn’t be happier for her. She’s super talented and worked her ass off for this record.

A LOT OF FOLKS WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOU RETURN TO THE FOREFRONT. ANY CHANCE FOR A NEW PROJECT AS A SINGER?

Actually, yes. I’ve been working for the last year-and-a-half with a band I put together called Sexcassettes. We’re shooting a video for the first single, “Killer Love,” this month, and I hope to have it out by the end of the year. It’s more of a band sound than produced pop. As usual, I have no idea what to expect.

SONGWRITERS OFTEN SAY THEIR COMPOSITIONS ARE LIKE THEIR BABIES. I KNOW MOTHERS AREN‘T SUPPOSED TO PROFESS TO FAVORITES, BUT IS THERE A SONG THAT HOLDS PARTICULAR MEANING TO YOU?

I have so many fond memories of performing, so I’d have to go with my own “Touch Me.” But having said that, my favorite song is the one that I haven’t written yet and will spend the rest of my life chasing to perfection.

Reuters/Billboard

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