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David BoreanazWhy Boreanaz was asked to do the ’White Flag’ video
By Gene Stout
Friday 14 May 2004, by Webmaster
’Happy accidents’ are par for the course for British pop star Dido
Seeking peace and solitude to work on her current album, "Life for Rent," British pop star Dido left England for the California coast.
While holing up in a rented house on the beach north of Los Angeles, Dido spent a few days writing songs for the sophomore album.
"It was the first time I’d properly been away on my own," Dido said in recent phone call from London. "And it’s good when you’re writing to get a little bit mad, bored and lonely. You find yourself writing a lot. No one was around, and there I was on a completely empty beach. It was a great experience."
Dido’s 1999 debut album, "No Angel," was a runaway success. To date, it has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide. But the dreamy, electronic-pop singer wasn’t feeling anxious about her follow-up album, which was released last summer.
"Well, not until the night before it came out," she said with a laugh.
It occurred to her that her new songs were perhaps a bit too confessional and revealing.
"I suddenly thought, ’My God, everyone’s going to hear these songs.’ I think I was more worried about the fact that I’d sort of poured quite a lot of my life into the album without thinking about it."
Dido didn’t expect the album to sell as well as her debut. But "Life for Rent" took off like a rocket.
"When that happened, it was beyond all of our expectations. There wasn’t one person around me who wasn’t gobsmacked by what happened," she said.
In her native England, the album entered the national chart at No. 1 with the biggest first-day sales of 2003. The album has since sold more than 9 million copies worldwide.
"I remember waking up the next morning after the release, and people started telling me what had happened the first day," she said. "It was an incredible feeling that people were so loyal and warm toward my music. I feel really lucky because I know that second albums usually don’t do as well as the first."
Among the musical contributors on "Life for Rent" was studio assistant Pnut, a quiet fellow who made tea each day for Dido and said very little. One day he gave her a CD of tracks he had recorded.
"He handed me the CD one day and it took me ages to listen to it because people are always handing me CDs," she said. "He was the quietest person I ever met in my life. He just never said anything. He made a great cup of tea, but never said a word."
During a day off in Atlanta a few months later, Dido pulled out the CD.
"I thought, ’Oh, I’ll listen to Pnut’s thing.’ And I listened and it was like, ’My God!’ There were like 20 tracks on there that were all brilliant. I called my brother (and collaborator) Rollo and said, ’This stuff’s amazing.’ So when I got back, I started writing with Pnut. He’s just the most hard-working, dedicated person you can imagine."
The album also features ambient sounds, such as the clicking of a camera shutter and the sounds of someone bumping into the recording equipment.
"I like those sorts of happy accidents," she said. "I think you should always approach things with an open mind. When the computer screws something up, suddenly you have this whole new beat. I don’t like working with people who have such a firm idea of what they want that they’re blind to having a little fun."
The video for the album’s first single, the romantic thriller "White Flag," was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa, with actor David Boreanaz of the TV show "Angel."
"I’d never been there before," she said of Cape Town. "To shoot the video, we actually needed some warm weather, and that was the nearest non-jet-lag place to go from London. We also needed some pretty crazy scenery and we knew we could get it there. We needed cliffs and beach and woods. The woods had these mad trees. It was a beautiful place."
The song is about an obsessive relationship.
"I wanted someone who was pretty universally recognizable," she said. "We asked David to do it and he said yes. I wanted someone who was a bit dark and that you could believe might have this crazy obsession with a lover."
In February, Dido won her second Brit Award, for British female solo artist of the year. "White Flag" was named British single of the year.
Dido’s first North American tour in three years opens Monday in Vancouver, B.C., and features a concert Wednesday night at the Paramount Theatre. Most of the dates are in theaters instead of arenas.
"I had to fight for it, but I really wanted to make sure that our first tour for this album was sort of intimate," she said.
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