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  Zoe Birkett: full interview
Updated 13 January 2003, 18.28
Zoe chats to Lizzie
Zoe chats to our entertainment show Newsround Lite about her debut single and her hopes for the future.

Your new single Treat Me Like a Lady, what's it about?
It's a funky disco pop track. The message is that sometimes you can get taken advantage of and things like that. And if you want to hang with me I like to be treated like a lady - wined and dined, and that sort of stuff.

Is it a new song or a cover?
It's a new song. Sarah Whatmore wrote the track.

Why did Sarah write it for you, why didn't she keep it for herself?
Well, she recorded the song first and then I got the track played to me and I really liked it. Simon Fuller gave the go-ahead to see what I sounded like on the track. So I recorded my vocals and then he came back and really liked it.

I really liked being in the studio trying to work out which single was going to be the first release, and then we picked that one.

Sarah's really pleased that it's going to be the single, cos if it really does well it's going to be a proud moment for both of us - her as a writer and me as a performer.

Do you feel you've been kept in the shadows while Gareth and Will have had all the publicity?
Not really, because they (record label) didn't want to rush me, they wanted to keep with the plan and that was to release a single in 2003.

I think they wanted to take me away from the Pop Idol status and be Zoe Birkett the new artist and not have the Pop Idol tag.

Are you pleased that you haven't had to go up against, Will, Gareth or Darius in the charts?
I'm pleased because it's given me time to have a good 11 months in the studio and sit down and write with people and put my stamp on the music and haven't had to quickly get a song and put it out.

And build on who I am - because I've just turned 17. I'm still learning about myself. I'm pleased that I have waited.

How has the last year changed you?
I feel I have had to do a lot of growing up. I now have a little apartment in London with my mum and it's all a bit adult-like but I'm still a child really!

Do you feel you've lost your part of your adolescence?
Not at all, I've been dancing and singing since I was three, it's been my life, it's always been what I wanted to do and this have been the lucky stepping stone for me, it's been an amazing year.

Zoe Birkett

How do you keep your feet on the ground?
I just be myself really. I have changed in that now I'm living my dream, going in the studio, which I still can't believe! I don't think I've changed as a person because I still have a lot I want to achieve. I'm still working on goals. And I have a good supportive family.

Have Will and Gareth changed?
Obviously they are huge stars. No they haven't changed towards me. When I see them they are still always as nice as ever.

The only thing is that they're doing their job, working very long hours and everybody wants a piece of them. But we still hang out a lot.

What do you do when you're not being a pop star?

I like to be on my own. But if I'm with Gareth or Will, we like to go out for meals or get a video, a Chinese and sit in a talk.

We're so busy that when we do get together we've got so much to talk about, so for me my relationship with them is talk time. We also have a good laugh - it's what friends do.

Do you have to go out in disguise?
No, not at all. I think when you start separating yourself from the normal world, that's when you start believing the whole hype. If people want to come up to me and say hi or well done then I'm grateful for that, I love meeting fans, it's not a problem if someone wants an autograph.

New album, when does it come out?
Not too sure, we haven't set a release date for the album yet, we're still working on the tracks.

The album is just going to be funky, about having a good time.. I'm writing about what I'm doing now. I've grown up a lot.

How's school going?
I got my GCSE results when I was in Pop Idol. Next year I'm going back to do an A level in Spanish, I love the language and I love studying.

How about the future?
I just want to be a successful artist, have respect, be a nice person and good at my job. I also like to try out acting, I don't know if I'd be any good but I'd like to try.

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Will, Gareth and Zoe light up first night of tour



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