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DailyBoom Your Old School Music Authority

Monday, October 3, 2022

Exclusive Interview: Bananarama's Keren Woodward Hopes Reunion Inspires Others to Chase Their Dreams

DailyBOOM is flashing back to some of our favorites from previous years, plus some interviews that are oldies but goodies! Enjoy this flashback!


Chances are when I say Bananarama, a particular bit of music instantly runs through your mind before a visual forms.. It might be from "Cruel Summer" or the heavy synth of "Venus", but you've got something already stuck in your head, don't you?  It's the mark of a legendary artist really when their work is so easily recalled. The ladies of Bananarama are exactly that- legendary. Iconic. If you could jump back in time to the early 80's you would find Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward, and Siobhan Fahey kicking down preconceived ideas of what a girl group "should" look like. They were trailblazers that helped to lead the way for other female artists, not because they were trying to, but because they were simply being true to themselves and their own unique creativity.

Their approach was probably one of the main keys to success. Sara, Keren, and Siobhan have always at root, just been three friends doing something that they believed in. That belief has translated into 4 U.S. top tens, 32 top forty UK hits, ten albums and over thirty million records sold. Did you catch that? Thirty MILLION records sold. It's no wonder that when Bananarama announced last spring that they would be reuniting for a real tour, the response was insanely positive.

Siobhan left the group in 1988 and had never actually experienced the live audience love of Bananarama's fan base, until recently. The Original Line Up Tour crisscrossed the UK late last year leaving the ladies vacillating between moments of healing tears and pure joy. The experience was so phenomenal that they are now bringing their tour stateside to the U.S. and Canada beginning in late February. Those quirky young girls have aged gracefully but don't let their obvious class completely fool you, there's still a bit of mischief and a whole lot of fun going on behind the scenes.

I was lucky enough to steal a few minutes of Keren's time earlier today and she was quite happy to reflect on Bananarama's past while being incredibly grateful for their current success.

Cate Meighan: Where are you now?

Keren Woodward: I'm at my home in Cornwall. I got back from London yesterday actually. I don't live there anymore, I prefer a quiet life in the country. I've got a little time off before the tour and we'll be starting rehearsals when we get to the states. It shouldn't be too difficult since we've just done 23 shows in the UK. We should hopefully still remember most of it (laughing).

CM: I've watched a lot of video clips from those shows and the emotion on stage between the three of seemed to range from teary-eyed to pure joy. Was it everything that you had hoped this reunion would be?

KW: It really was quite an experience and it really was quite emotional. We wanted to do something different and special. We phoned Siobhan up, thinking she just wouldn't want to do it because it was a huge amount of work for her, and then she surprised us. She hadn't been doing the songs in the same way that Sara and I have, so for her to take it on required a huge amount of rehearsals, and sort of just relearning stuff. It was very emotional from the first time that we were sitting together listening to the songs that we wanted to do on tour, we all got quite teary eyed. It has been an absolutely amazing experience, with such an overwhelming response. The emotion in the crowd and all of that emotion on stage was actually quite unexpected and incredible. It's the whole reason why we decided to bring the show to the states and to do a couple of other things as well. It's just been so fabulous. A really wonderful experience.

CM: Bananarama fans are really one of a kind. Not only do they love you ladies, but they also seem to have an instantaneous, genuine love for each other.

KW: Aren't they? It seems like a bit of a family. We've met so many of the fans and they have so many different stories of why Bananarama has meant so much to them. It's really, really heartwarming. When we were in our heyday back in the 80's we were going around doing TV and interviews, but maybe not getting to meet the fans as much. The loyalty and the stories that they tell us now are just really so wonderful. I did feel slightly bad that we had so many fans come from the U.S. to see us and then we announced that we were going there anyway. So now they get to see us twice and they don't seem to be too bothered by that, to be honest (laughing).

CM: It's beautiful to see the love and positive energy that they share with you.

KW:  It really is and it's quite surprising in some ways. We never could have expected it. Sara and I have done a lot of shows but it's really quite different when you're playing a festival as opposed to your own show. I know we've got enough songs that people know to keep us going but it's a different atmosphere when you're playing in a theater. Especially when everyone knows every word, of every song, start to finish, including album tracks and B sides. It's quite extraordinary.


CM: Let's be honest, you're not twenty-five anymore. How daunting is it to tour now?

KW; I've toured with Sara before and we have maybe done ten shows in a row. This one did seem pretty daunting when we first took off but I think the excitement kept us afloat. I mean we perform full out. I know my friends that came to see us said they were exhausted just watching. The reaction from the audience helped and I don't really remember feeling as though I couldn't keep going. Not at all. I was a bit tired in between shows I'm sure, but performing was never a problem. It's good to know I suppose (laughing). It's not like I'm really a gym bunny and I tend not to do much more than walking the dogs, so I must be fitter than I thought. It's a good thing (laughing).

CM: Have there been some kitchen discos along the way?

KW: (Laughing) To be honest, we had enough disco at our shows in the evening. No time for kitchen discos when we were on tour. They worked us so hard that when we had a day off all we wanted to do was relax (laughing). I did have plenty of discos over Christmas though, in my own kitchen with family, friends, and Sara. She and her daughter came and spent Christmas with me. We did have a sing-a-long in our dressing room before each show though. We would put music on and sing songs while getting ready just to help us get in the mood.


CM: So we know the UK tour was a smash. What should we expect from your U.S. dates?

KW: It's quite energetic and we're adding in our own memories. Plus there are visual memories on the screen behind us, which someone commented is really brave, to perform in front of a younger version of yourself (laughing). I suppose they're right. I know there were people (at our UK shows) that weren't massive fans but sort of came for the hell of it, just to have a laugh because they knew a few of the old songs. Well, they got there and realized that they actually knew most of the songs and had a ball. I'm hoping it'll be the same in the states. There are hits, surprises, and more. Some of the older tracks we've given a real party treatment to and it all sounds really great with the band. Our band is incredible and it just changes the dynamic. Keep in mind that much of the stuff that we did in the 80's didn't have live musicians. It was all done on computers at that time. Sara and I have performed with a band for so long that we can't bear to do it without one. I know people still go out without one and do a track show but I just can't, it wouldn't be right for me.

CM: Does Bananarama have any other solid plans in the near future once this tour wraps up?

This current tour is all about our celebrating our time as a trio. We have some big festivals that we'll be doing and after that, I don't really know. The whole point of doing it was to welcome back Siobhan and to do these songs with her. Every time that Sara and I saw her, either in London or at her home in LA, we would be dancing around and singing. It was hard to imagine that we had never done these shows with her and she absolutely embraced it, which is amazing. The beauty of Bananarama is that we've never really made monster plans. In the 80's everything was always so laid out and your calendar was full before you even started the year. Now we're doing what we want to do and going with what makes sense in the moment. Right now this show makes sense and we're having a ball.

CM: What would you like to say to those fans that have supported you through the decades?

KW: I've met so many of them! So many women along the way have told me that they considered me a role model growing up. I feel it's important to set an example at this age, to remind people that if they put their minds to something they can still do it and hey, you might surprise yourself! I think it can actually be quite difficult for women of our age to be seen or heard. You might feel written off because of other people's attitudes but ultimately that comes back to you. You're not too old to do things or change things that are making you unhappy. Hopefully, people can look at us and think- if they can do it then I can do it too. We girls need to stick together and buoy each other. That's how it should always be!

Check out a review of Bananarama's reunion in NYC in February of 2018 right here!

Follow Bananarama HERE for updates & also on:

Check out a medley of old & new Bananarama performances:

Bananarama's Reissued Greatest Hits: