Mel’s mini-me

Mum's 'it girl' teen has what it takes!
Melanie Blatt

As a judge on The X Factor NZ, Melanie Blatt’s been hunting down hot new talent, but back home, she doesn’t need to look very far to find a fresh face that’s poised to take the showbiz world by storm.

The All Saints singer’s daughter Lilyella Zender-Blatt is an aspiring vocalist who’s already taken her first tentative steps into the spotlight, walking the runway at London Fashion Week and modelling for a top UK style magazine.

Joining her mum in Auckland for a fortnight-long reunion after four months on opposite sides of the world, Lily, 16, reveals, “My plan for the future is to go to LA and stay with family friends. Hopefully, I’ll find a band so I can be like Courtney Love, but not so problematic and with less heroin.”

At this point, feisty Mel, 40, interrupts with her hand on her hip and one of her famous steely glares. “Less heroin or just no heroin?” she asks pointedly.

“A lot less,” Lily clarifies quickly. “One hundred percent less. No heroin! I just like her music.”

Mel and her daughter Lily.

The daughter of Mel’s ex-partner, former Jamiroquai bassist Stuart Zender, Lily has been studying music at London’s Sylvia Young Theatre School, which includes among its alumni Amy Winehouse, Rita Ora, Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton and Mel herself.

“I loved it there,” recalls Mel. “That’s where I met the other All Saints girls. It wasn’t the easiest environment to be in, but it gives you a thick skin. It makes you pretty strong for going out into the entertainment world.”

Rolling her eyes, Lily describes her fellow students as “full of pizazz”, but she’s formed a close group of friends, including Tori Amos’ daughter Tash, and she’s glad she no longer has to attend the compulsory ballet lessons due to a knee injury sustained in class.

“I was crying and swearing at all the teachers – it was great,” she quips.

Lily is the daughter of Mel’s ex-partner, former Jamiroquai bassist Stuart Zender.

Modelling debut

Lily’s first flirtation with fame came when one of Mel’s photographer friends asked to shoot her for a project on “the offspring of pop stars”, which saw her modelling alongside Noel Gallagher’s daughter Anais and Neneh Cherry’s girl Mabel in British glossy i-D. “I go to school, sing, play video games and write pretentious angst-poetry,” she says in the accompanying interview. “Predictably, I want to be a rock star.”

“It’s hilarious, isn’t it?” smiles Mel. “Lily wanted to do it and the photographer was the same one who shot the cover of our single ‘Never Ever’, so I trusted him to do it.”

Mel was more concerned about London Fashion Week, where Lily opened the show for top UK designer Pam Hogg, who had fallen for the young girl’s unique sense of style.

“I was so nervous,” Mel recalls. “I was here in New Zealand, so it was horrible to be thousands of miles away for such a big thing, but it’s probably good as I would have just made Lily more nervous.”

“Oh, my God, yeah, I thought I was going to die,” Lily recalls. “The shoes were these big, old platforms that were seven sizes too big. I almost died practising and I was terrified, but I got it in the end. I just pretended I was on [drag-queen reality series] RuPaul’s Drag Race and I was fine. It was amazing.”

“She smashed it,” her mum confirms. “I woke up to see the photos and I was so proud.”

So what’s next for Lily? “Concentrating on school and doing exams,” Mel says quickly.

“Let me answer my own damn questions,” snaps her daughter, “but, um, I don’t know. We’ll have to see.”

Lily had already dipped her toes in the modelling world, having walked at London Fashion Week.

School has been far from Lily’s thoughts during her two weeks Down Under. The highlight was a weekend in Queenstown, where Mel and Hobbit-mad Lily did a Lord of the Rings sightseeing tour.

“It was so cool,” Lily enthuses. “They showed us the spot where Boromir died and I almost had an aneurism, then we jumped in a lake, which was so cold. All the scenery was just like a movie set.”

Mel continues, “We even went on the Shotover Jet, which is very action-packed for me. I was scared, but I enjoyed it in the end. Now our photo is on their wall of fame, next to Wills and Kate.”

The pair went out for dinner in Auckland, along with Mel’s parents and a few friends, to celebrate Mel’s recent 40th birthday. So what did Lily get her mum to mark the milestone?

“Nothing,” reveals Mel, feigning grumpiness. “Not a present, not a card. She’s very good at using my credit card to buy things online, but I never get any presents. I’m appalled.”

“I’m here,” insists Lily, giving her mum a big hug. “My presence is your present. You’re welcome!”

With this, Mel’s cranky façade melts and she succumbs to the big cuddle. “But there’s still Mother’s Day coming up,” she laughs. “Anything would be nice.”

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