@ Tatler magazine


Tatler magazine, August 2008

Hit us, baby, one more time - posh pop genius Miranda Cooper just can't stop turning out Top 5 smashes, says Ticky Hedley-Dent.

Miranda Cooper is one of the most powerful women in the music industry - not that you'd recognise her. The unassuming pint-sized blonde is a driving force behind Girls Aloud, the most successful girl group since the Spice Girls. As maverick pop-production supremos Xenomania, she and her business partner Brian Higgins have written songs for everyone from GA and Sugababes to Kylie. They're a walking hit factory - no wonder cool acts like Franz Ferdinand and Pet Shop Boys have collaborated with them.

So how did the 33-year-old daughter of a former director of royal jewellers Asprey become such hot property in the music business? It all started when she was nine. "My sister Rebecca [who is now an opera singer] and I used to put on shows - I was hugely into dancing," recalls Cooper. "So we were shipped off to boarding school to get it out of our systems. It had completely the opposite effect." After A-levels at Canford in Dorset, Miranda was spotted by Dannii Minogue at a dance studio. Next step was the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest as a backing dancer for Brit entry Gina G. "Bless her, she kept shortening the outfits. Eurovision was absolutely hilarious - hanging with Terry Wogan! We looked like we were going to win. Morten Harket from A-ha was presenting it and was rally buddying it up with us, and then he completely dropped us when we got loads of null points".

After that Miranda stopped dancing and went into TV presenting, and then met the man who would change her professional life, Brian Higgins. "It was at the right time," says Cooper. "As soon as he played me some tracks, I thought 'This feels right.'" The pair signed to London through Pete Tong under the name Moonbaby. "I was the singer because I didn't think there was any other way but I was out of my depth. Radio 1 saw the photos of me in a Jacuzzi with a bottle of champagne and said, 'Oh, she's some dolly bird, she hasn't written the stuff.' Then we started writing for other people," says Cooper. "I'd had complete writer's block for myself but, as soon as it was for somebody else, all these songs popped out." After Moonbaby, their first track to be released was Sugababes' "Round Round", which went straight to No. 1 in 2002. "I though, Ohmygod this is good. The first record we put out was a hit.'" The duo have since had three No. 1s and 29 Top 10s.

Xenomania HQ is a fabulous manor house in Winston Churchill's old village in Kent, complete with a lake and two mallards, Edmund and Josephine. "It's not remotely rock'n'roll", says Miranda. One imagines the villagers would disagree when they see Cheryl Cole and Sarah Harding pull up in their sports cars. What's it like working with the girls? "They are our muses. We've covered practically every genre. I think they've had a musical education through us. It's mad because we only see them when they come down to the studio, so when we see them performing, it really hits home what a huge machine it is".

Miranda is a workaholic: "There are lots of late nights. My husband Nick is a songwriter's widow. I have my phone with me all the time to record things. Sometimes when the washing machine is going round or a train whizzes past I end up writing something." It's not all work and no play, though, as her work takes her across the globe - Girls Aloud's hit "Call The Shots" was written in Hotel Costes in Paris and the Mondrian in LA. Weirdest experience? "Flying in a seaplane over Miami with Enrique Iglesias - that was pretty mad!" Xenomania are going from strength to strength. They've helped launch teen pop sensation Gabriella Cilmi and are about to break another young artist. Next step? "An Oscar," says Miranda. "For Best Song".

Photograph: Veronique Rolland
Miranda wears silk-satin jacket with diamante, POA, by 3.1 Phillip Lim. Cotton vest, £60, by Velvet. Tiered lame skirt, £180, by Paul & Joe. Patent belt, £235, by Yves Saint Laurent. Metallic leather shoes, £380, by Nicholas Kirkwood. Jewellery, Miranda's own. Styled by Jessica Andrews. Hair and make-up by Irena Rogers at Frank Agency.

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