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You'd be forgiven if you've forgotten about Hilary Duff's recording career. The busy actress has virtually never been out of the public eye over the last decade, but since 2008 she's been taking a hiatus from music and choosing to focus on the rest of her empire — a formidable slate of projects including a retail line, a trio of bestselling novels, and involvement in various philanthropies.
However, for those who lamented Duff's music as being "yesterday," the former Lizzie McGuire star displayed this week that she still can command a pop tune. And, she didn't waste any time proving the point. Just a few days after announcing her plans to return to the music world, the video for her bright new single, "Chasing the Sun," made its official debut on Tuesday, and a full album is in the works for this fall.
In the video, Duff shows that not only has her musical talent held strong, her figure hasn't atrophied at all either. The mother of 2-year-old son Luca — who bashed critics of her post-delivery figure back in 2012 — rocks a skimpy bikini while enjoying a rubdown from a handsome male model.
Yahoo Music had the opportunity to chat with Duff about her new music, the video, and how she's managed to return to the recording studio after such a lengthy period while juggling motherhood and her many other endeavors.
Yahoo Music: What spurred your decision to return to music after so many years away?
I think I was just ready, honestly. After having a baby, and deciding, okay I've been home for a little over a year now, I felt ready to branch out and find myself again in my workspace. It was time to reevaluate and decide where to put my focus and what I wanted to be doing. Ultimately I think I really missed being on stage and performing, and writing. I have been out of the game for a few years, but have been recording since September.
I wanted to make sure it felt right and that my album was where I wanted it to be — I do have a 2-year-old child, so if I wasn't completely happy with the record and the product there was no reason to do it, because I want to do it fully. I want to tour, I want all of that back.
Speaking of the 2-year-old, you have a lot on your plate right now — in addition to being a busy working mom, you separated from your husband earlier this year. Did your personal life affect the recording of the album?
A ton. I think one of the most important reasons I connect with my fans so much, why they've been so loyal to me, is that I have a very reachable life. They feel I'm kind of normal like them, and I am. I've just tried to be really honest about what was going on in my life, the good times and the tough times. And obviously that filters through in my writing. I do think I'm a very positive person, and I wanted a happy, feel-good record, but there definitely are some tracks on there explaining some of the tougher times.
Being a mom seems to fall under both tough and feel-good categories...
When you have a baby it's the greatest time in your life, but it's also kind of lonely. I didn't have any friends that had babies when I had my baby. And it's like everything to you and it consumes you, and you're kind of like, how do I find myself again?
I think all moms can relate to that.
It's a juggling act, and there's a lot of guilt involved with me going back to work again. All just growing pains, but they're good ones and they're important ones. I feel as if I've done a lot of growing up in the past seven years.
On the note of growing pains: I'm sure you've discovered that you've grown artistically since your last album. Can you discuss where you've seen the biggest change?
I think I found my writing voice a lot more. I think I am more brave than I was before. I have a lot more fun in the studio — when you're younger, you maybe don't have the confidence to make mistakes ... or have an idea that might suck. When you're coming up with the concept for a song ... just dare to suck. Because sometimes it sticks and sometimes doesn't.
Also, I think just finding my confidence and knowing what I want to sing about, and not really caring what people think — I think that's all been a big difference on this record. And doing things on my terms. I have a baby and he is the most important thing to me, You know, getting to the studio and putting in work and then being able to come home and cook dinner and put him down, then go back to the studio — it's the schedule I want.
You worked with Ed Sheeran on this album. What was he like?
I worked with Ed on one song, it's probably up there with my favorites on the record. It's called "Tattoo" and it's a little more of an emotional song. He's amazing; I had the best time with him. I was so nervous! I'm a big fan of his. It was a cool experience but scary too. He sat in the vocal booth with me and I was thinking "OK, Ed Sheeran is sitting here ... and I'm just going to start singing, I guess!" I have a lot of respect for him, he's so talented. I'm proud to have a song with him on my record.
Speaking of nerves... was it scary to put on a bikini for your comeback video? You look great, but that's something any woman might be a little nervous about!
I think I was a little scared, but I talked to the director and was like "I'm not going to be just prancing around in a bikini, like dancing my face off on the beach." And he was like, "No, no, it's not going to be like that." So I said "OK, just make me look good." And I'm in a good spot right now — I work out a lot. So honestly, after like the first 15 minutes, I was fine and I felt really comfortable.