Our Great LezBritain columnists, Sarah and Lee, recently chatted with out musician and Lip Service star Heather Peace about the preparing for the grueling emotional scenes in Season 2 of the show, why her new album, Fairytales, is a “diary of bad relationships” and her upcoming UK tour.
Photo by Andrew Whitton
AfterEllen.com: This series of Lip Service feels very different from last series, it’s almost like a different show — would you agree?
Heather Peace: Yes, it does. It certainly felt different for me as a character. It was all love and light last series and this one is dark as hell for Sam. I still think the essential ingredients are the same apart from the second episode for obvious reasons. You still have the comedy with Tess and the shagathons and irreverence with Sadie. Sam, of course, is different; it couldn’t be any other way. The show is still about love, lust, lies, betrayal and friendship, exactly what it was about last series, so the roots of the show have stayed the same albeit with the addition of some major new characters.
AE: What are your thoughts on this year’s storyline and the decision to kill Cat rather than send her to a Buddhist chanting camp in Tibet?
HP: When Harriet Braun, the writer and creator, found out that Laura (Cat) would only be available for a limited amount of time, she had a really big decision to make. She could have had Cat leave both Sam and Frankie and run away to London, but then she realised that would mean losing Sam also. Sam was not part of the main group of friends and so without Cat there was no way of weaving her into the story. She told me a light went on when she realised that everyone would unite in grief. Kudos were nervous about the decision but realised it was the only way to create the drama needed to bring the remaining group together.
AE: Sam was very popular last time around although you were not a lead character. This time, a lot of the drama really centres on her. How difficult was it to play the scenes surrounding Cat’s death – and then the ones when Sam finds out she was unfaithful?
HP: The whole process for this series was tough. I’d never thought of myself as a “method” actor, which means living and breathing the role and taking it home with you, but through the filming process this time I just couldn’t shake off my mood. I felt really down when I got home. I figured that it was down to taking myself to a point of nearly crying and then just at that moment of sobbing I’d block it and not let it out. I think after doing that for 10 hours a day, my body needed to actually release what it kept blocking. I did go back to the apartments sometimes and just sob. It was a real surprise to me. Hopefully it was worth it for the stuff you’re seeing on screen. It was a challenge, but one I relished and was thankful for. The scripts were great for me.
AE: Your acting skills have been immense this series, have you had a lot of good feedback online?
HP: Aw, thanks. I have had fantastic feedback especially over the panic attacks. I suffered panic attacks when I was 20 so it was weird trying to get back in that space. It’s been very complimentary so I’m glad I threw myself into it, it makes it all worthwhile.
AE: How difficult is it to switch off when you go home after filming scenes like that?
HP: I couldn’t switch off. I really cared about this show so there were always other scenes to look at when I got home. Because a lot of the scenes were filmed on my own this time I would really try and get in the head space whilst I was just wandering around my apartment. I would worry that I wouldn’t be able to hit the level of grief or anger when the camera was just pointing at me the next day. It’s way harder to find the emotions without other actors in a scene and without any dialogue. Then it just becomes a thought process which takes a lot of concentration (which I find very difficult!) So, in answer, no, I couldn’t switch off and was a complete nightmare to be around quite frankly!
AE: You all always seemed to have such a lovely time together on set – who did win the Small Spaces competition between you and Ruta?
HP: I won. The end. I sat in a teacup. Albeit one on Brighton Pier that was slightly oversized, but who cares?
AE: What are your thoughts about getting a third series?
HP: There is still no word. I really don’t know. I think it would be very unfair to not recommission. I think this series has been dramatically strong. I also think the audience deserves a series where we know it will be the last, whether that’s the third, fourth, fifth. An audience deserves a proper ending without cliffhangers. They deserve to see how all the loose ends tie up.
AE: Tell us a bit about your new album, Fairytales.
HP: Fairytales is my first fully produced studio album. It’s a diary of bad relationships, being down and lost and then meeting the person who pulls you out of all that! It’s a big album sound wise. I play classical piano and guitar so there are piano riffs, guitar and strings, a gospel choir and huge vocals. I’m really proud of it. It’s been a very long process and a labour of love. You can listen to an album sampler on my soundcloud if I’m making no sense.
Photo by Andrew Whitton
AE: You’re releasing this on your own independent record label, which can be tough, so how is it going?
HP: It was the only way to do it. The whole “actress releasing a record” situation holds you back as far as record labels are concerned. We made the record with the fans that came to all the gigs, pre-ordered the album online at Pledgemusic and bought merchandise. That’s how we raised the money. It has meant that we’ve had complete artistic control. I was lucky to be friends with Nigel Wright, who produced the album, after a brief spell signing to BMG/Sony 12 years ago and he has just brought such a lot to the process. It’s released on the 21st of May and we’ve already had an amazing amount of pre-orders from retailers so I’m excited to see how well we do as very small fish with very lovely fans.
AE: And you are on a UK tour soon too?
HP: Yep. I’m on the road from next week. The tour is 22nd May to the 5th June in the UK and will be a showcase of the whole album. The band is complete, rehearsed and brilliant. They have worked very hard and are a talented bunch. We had to recreate a 12 piece string section and gospel choir live! I’m pleased with the results and all the musicians are also vocalists so the sound will be really strong. We’ve sold out quite a lot of the dates which is quite amazing. I just want to go now!
AE: What are the chances of you getting over to the US at some point soon?
HP: I don’t know. I’d love to but it’s an incredibly expensive thing to do. Maybe we will get some offers of help once the album is out. We will have to work out if there is a demand for us to come. It would be disastrous if no one turned up!
AE: And what’s next for you?
HP: After the tour, I move to Glasgow — yet again — to film BBC1’s Waterloo Road for six months. I play the Head of English Nicki Boston – she’s a great character, ex-army of course! And I’ll keep promoting Fairytales in between. Plus I’ll be appearing at the first Lip Service fan event on 15th July in Glasgow too.
You can find out more about Heather at www.heatherpeace.com. Her album Fairytales is available to order worldwide from Amazon and iTunes. The Lip Service Official Finale Event will take place on Sunday 15th June in Glasgow. Tickets from www.ticketweb.co.uk Lip Service continues on BBC3 on Fridays at 9 p.m. @lipservice_bbc3