When Dido finally finished touring behind her slow-building debut album last March, she returned to the studio where she'd recorded No Angel only to find it had been torn down. It had been that long.
"When I made No Angel I was in my early 20s, and now I'm 30," Dido mused last week from her London home. "I'm a completely different person. My world has changed."
Her next album, which is more than half-finished, will reflect that, she said.
"The songs are definitely deeper. I've had quite a bit of mad experiences in the last few years. But it's the same soundwise, in that I'm writing songs on the piano and guitar and producing them the way I want to listen to, with beats that excite me."
Dido is recording the album at Church Studios (her second choice was also knocked down) with older brother Rollo and some of the musicians and songwriters associated with his Faithless collective. Although she's contributed to material by Eminem, Britney Spears and Santana since her last album (see "Musiq, More Added To Final Santana Track List"), Dido doesn't have plans for any big-name collaborations on her second release.
"There was a lot of magic around the first record, so obviously I want to work with those people first, because it's fun and it's family," she said. "At the moment it's even a smaller group of people than the first album. I'm working with a guy who was an assistant in the studio on the first album, and it turns out he's a hip-hop genius. He's called Peanut. He's amazing and I've written a lot of stuff with him."
Dido's new material ranges from "classic relationship songs," similar to No Angel, to "stuff about life and philosophy." Though her success after Eminem sampled "Thank You" in 2000's "Stan" has changed her life, the success itself won't be a song topic.
"I still write about personal moments that will be relateable to other people," she explained in her thick accent. "I still live an incredibly normal life. I've really fought for it. I do everything on my own. ... One of the things I love doing is walking around London and going to the pub and football match. I don't want to write about being famous and making money. Who's going to relate to it, apart from me and 136 other people?"
Dido plans on finishing the album by early summer for a fall release. That is, if she can decide on a title.
"I do think about that day and night," she said, laughing. "It's sort of like every 10 minutes. And they're getting more and more ridiculous."
Dido, who penned "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" for Britney Spears ("It was an interesting challenge, and I think she's a sweet girl") is anxious to hit the road when she's finished recording, although she also plans to continue writing for other artists.
She considers The Eminem Show genius, but she hasn't talked to the rapper in months. "If I was in the same building at the same time, I would say hello," she said. "But we're not pen pals."