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When 31-year old British crooner Imogen Heap became an overnight iTunes sensation with her breathy ditty “Hide and Seek” in 2005, little did her fans realize how much life would imitate art. But after laying low for the past four years, the classically trained pianist and former Frou Frou front woman is in the spotlight again, releasing her third solo album on Aug. 25 from RCA Records.
Called “Ellipse,” the record’s title is a reference to the unusual shape of Heap’s childhood home outside London, to where the singer recently moved back. Though she notes, “If it wasn’t for my brother being so pedantic, it would have been called ‘oval.’”
LONELY PLANET: Heap wrote most of the album while visiting off-the-beaten-path parts of Fiji, Maui, Tasmania and Japan. “I didn’t want to be around Starbucks and rubbish food,” she says.
SHOW TUNES: Like many artists from the digital era, Heap’s exposure has come mainly from licensing deals. Her music has been featured in films including “The Last Kiss,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” and “Shrek 2” and, perhaps most notably on television’s “The O.C.” She may not own a box set of the privileged-teen melodrama, but Heap doesn’t begrudge the show that helped make her famous, either. “It’s perfect for a hangover on a Friday afternoon,” she says of the series. “Some people don’t want their music on things like that. But I really feel like once you’ve finished a song it has a life of its own.”
STYLE FILE: When it comes to red-carpet dressing, the songstress has been known to take a page from the Björk playbook. One particularly memorable incident occurred at the 2007 Grammy Awards, when the Brit turned heads by sporting a parasol and a headpiece adorned with twigs. But the artist insists those experimental days are behind her. “[My clothes] are nothing like what I wore on the last record,” says Heap, who recently became a fan of Comme des Garçons. “I’m more angular and more black and white, more fitted now.”