Martina Topley Bird returning to US for fall tour

Ryan Wood

Martina Topley Bird looked around her London flat Wednesday night for any last-minute items to throw into her luggage.

“It’s really not that exciting,” she said, looking around to see if she missed anything. “I mostly bring stuff to give to people. I don’t need much. If I need clothes, any shopping can be done there.”

Getting ready to fly to North America for the first stop on her 14-date tour to support her latest album, “Some Place Simple,” Topley Bird talked about everything from her latest recording to her regrets about not accepting Damon Albarn’s invite to sing on Blur’s 1997 self-titled chart-topping album.

Topley Bird’s new album came out in her native U.K. back in July on Albarn’s Honest Jon’s label. It gets a proper U.S. release Oct. 26 on Ipecac Recordings. “Some Place Simple,” the singer’s third solo album, features songs from Topley Bird’s two previous albums, “The Blue God” and “Quixotic.” But this is far from a compilation piece. The songs are tweaked and reworked interpretations. She also added four new tracks. There’s a jazzy feel to parts of the album, a tinge of a singer-songwriter atmosphere, and that ever-present and addictive trip-hop element.

“I don’t really know what the expectations are,” Topley Bird said. “I (am) into the idea of making the most of what you have. NinJa and myself, we put together a set of my tunes in a way that we could convey it with the two of us. Damon (Albarn) offered to make it in his studio. He wanted to capture what he’s seen. To me, it’s quite refreshing. I think it’s a really great statement this record, making it in a week.”

Topley Bird has had quite a remarkable career. She first opened ears when she sang on trip-hop artist Tricky’s 1995 album, “Maxinquaye,” his 1996 record “Pre-Millennium Tension,” and his 1998 offering “Angels with Dirty Faces.” She later performed with British trip-hop duo Massive Attack, coincidentally the band she’s opening for on her North American tour (along with Thievery Corporation).

In 2005, Topley Bird finally gave into Albarn’s constant pestering for her to appear on one of his albums. She collaborated with Albarn and South London lyricist Roots Manuva on the Gorillaz track “All Alone.” Albarn first tried to convince Topley Bird to guest on Blur’s self-titled album, which featured the smash hit and sports arena anthem, “Song 2.”

“He’s asked me to do a lot of stuff,” Topley Bird said. “I was friends with his (then) girlfriend Justine (Frischmann, of Elastica). He asked me to sing on that album with that “woo-hoo” song (“Song 2”).”

Topley Bird said back then that she didn’t want anything to do with that Blur track, but if she knew then what she knows now – that it would wind up garnering massive success – she more than likely would’ve contributed. But Topley Bird isn’t one to have many regrets. She’s also not one to get burdened down by the pressure of making a new album.

“The way I see it, if you’ve heard any of my other records, and for people who like the other records, this is a weird, eccentric record,” Topley Bird said. “I think for me, it’s particularly relevant. The product is such a massive part of what I’ve done.”

Martina Topley Bird begins her tour with Massive Attack and Thievery Corporation Oct. 18 in Montreal, followed by stops in Boston (Oct. 19), two stops at the Beacon Theatre in New York City (Oct. 21, 22), the Borgata in New Jersey (Oct. 23), Bayfront Park Amphitheater in Miami (Oct. 26), the Hard Rock in Orlando (Oct. 27), Fox Theatre in Atlanta (Oct. 29), MoogFest in Asheville, N.C. (Oct. 30), the Palladium Ballroom in Dallas (Nov. 1), RIMAC Arena in San Diego (Nov. 4), the Santa Barbara Bowl (Nov. 5), the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, Calif. (Nov. 6), and the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles (Nov. 7). To download a free track from her new album, visit