We spoke to Paloma Faith back in 2011 about her second album, Fall to Grace. Last week she released her fourth album, The Architect, so who better for a #ThrowbackThursday moment…
Hey Paloma, how are ya, love?
I’m good! I actually have my token gay friend with me. He’s asking if you were at the Penny Arcade book signing yesterday as he’s in the show. I was blown away. It’s a series of monologues but it’s beyond that. It’s really empowering for people and it has a left-wing approach and ideology. It’s all about loving each other. it’s very inclusive. It’s hilarious at the same time. It’s deeply cynical but for some reason you come out feeling like you can do everything you ever dreamed of. That invincible feeling.
I am leaving my job at the moment so maybe I need this in my life.
You need to go and watch Penny Arcade then.
You good otherwise?
Yeah all good. Just on our way to do our first show to tour with the new album so it’s very exciting.
Not really, no. Performing is my main thing. It’s why I wrote the album.
How have things changed between albums?
Well, I’m in what’s called a luxury Mercedes as opposed to just a standard Biffa Van so that’s nice.
Has the wardrobe budget gone up?
Do you know what? I’ve actually decided to just wear one costume per gig now because it almost got to the point where it was more about my clothes than my singing. But what I’ve really put more money into is my band. there’s an extra band member and they’ve all had a pay rise.
What’s your audience?
Multi-generational. Whole families. Are they who I expected? Well I never expect anything really, because then it all feels like a bonus.
There doesn’t seem to have been a difficult second album syndrome for you? That’s pretty rare.
Is that rare? Adele’s done pretty well. I felt like I got a certain level of success on the first one that showed me what I could have in the future. The carrot was dangled and I thought ‘Do you know what? I really want that…’ Because I had had the kind of level of success that wasn’t exceptional but wasn’t bad I could see what was there for the taking. It really just prompted me to push forward rather than back.
What’s your favourite track on the album?
It’s hard to pick. I think there’s something to pick for every mood you’re in on there. If you watt a bit of dancing and fancy a rave-up then there’s ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’…
Which is my favourite…
Is it? You big gay! I always call that my gay anthem. When I wrote that I called it my gay anthem. Russell next to me is saying ‘What about Freedom?’ I am a gay man trapped in a girl’s body so that explains that.
Are you a ‘Fag Hag’ as well?
I’m a Fag Hag that’s not allowed to have any other Fags because my one Fag will get so jealous. He gets furious with my stylist
Can’t you hook them up?
No, the stylist is in a happy relationship. Another reason why he’s furious with him.
That should be part of your rider. I need a stylist who is single so I can hook him up with my best friend.
The last album felt very American whereas this one feel more British.
I don’t know. I would say the opposite. But maybe you’re right.
You worked with some great British producers, like the iconic Nellee Hooper.
Yeah I love him. I worked with Jake Gosling as well who worked on the Ed Sheeran record. As a trio it was amazing because Jake has had loads of success with Ed but then Nellee has all this history with this amazing stuff he does. It was perfect. They asked me ‘What do you want these songs to sound like? I explained that I wanted it to sound like a film soundtrack. I wanted it to be commercial but arty. It was perfect.
Are you tempted to do what Florence has done and complete your album the way you want but then have Calvin Harris do a remix and get a #1?
I think if you remix it, it’s very different. It’s not just her record is it? I respect her for that. She’s just had it remixed by a load of people. It’s not her fault that that’s what’s coming to the fore. I just think that probably what she would have wanted for her record is on her record and however you get there, she is an incredibly talented person and the fact that she let Calvin Harris remix her song doesn’t make her any less talented. Anyway all these people who keep saying ‘They’re selling out, they’re selling out…’ It’s rubbish because if somebody offered them a huge amount of money to do something they would take it. It’s very easy for people to sit on their sofas and say ‘So and so has sold out.’
Are you tempted to write for other people as well?
Yeah I would love to. I feel with this record I’ve a bit of a bee in my bonnet as I wanted to write all that for myself. But now that I have a record that I am incredibly proud of, one that is wholeheartedly me I would love to write for other people.
I’ve been hearing stories of you working with Prince last year…
Yeah. He was just really nice, positive and encouraging. I think I was mid-writing this record when I worked with him. I wouldn’t call it an enjoyable experience and the reason I say that is because I felt very exposed for the first time to what I was. He is so extremely talented that you do feel a bit inferior. So I basically think what happened was that I went there for that weekend having been invited by him and was flabbergasted to know that he knew every song on my first record. He had a favourite which was something obscure like Track 9 that no-one really listens to unless they’re properly listening to an album. I think that before I thought that I was at a pretty high level of a UK based ladder and when I left I realised I was on an international ladder. It was quite a vulnerable and exposing place to be in. I feel like it’s really helped me up my game. I watched all the acts that weekend and Prince was there saying ‘Watch how they do this…’ He was properly offering me advice. And I think what I’ve brought back, in the live capacity, I’ve improved.
Now you played G-A-Y the other night. Was it a younger crowd for you?
It was quite young. There were quite a lot of twinks instead of bears. I have a lot of bear friends. I go round to their house quite often for a cuddle. Twinks aren’t so huggable because they are quite skinny.
You also made a Right2Marriage video the other day. Do you think that the Right2Marriage videos are being made for the right reason or do you think that some people are just using them for publicity?
I don’t think it matters. I think what matters is that we make as many people as possible hear the message. So regardless of the person’s intentions are nobody should be questioning that. We should all appreciate that someone will be listening to that. Don’t you think? It’s a bit bitchy to question it.
Well maybe when someone like Cheryl says it…
Yeah but isn’t a massive chunk of her fanbase gay?
Yeah they are.
So she probably looks at it like ‘Loads of my friends help me so I’m going to help them with something they re passionate about.’
Maybe for me it just means a lot more coming from celebrities who are generally more opinionated and political.
Yeah but I doubt think you should doubt it, because it can only do good. A massive chunk of her fanbase might not also be aware of what is going on and that might raise the awareness for them.
Also if they’re not out yet, it might give them the courage to do that.
Yes I think so.
Do you go out on the gay scene a lot?
Whenever I am invited I usually go, yeah. But I don’t go out looking for it now as I am a bit of a homebody. But I like to support drag queens because essentially I am one. Russell sent me a photo of one the other day at the Gay Extravaganza. She had this mohawk and this massive dress and he text me saying, ‘She reminds me of you.’ She’s always borrowing my clothes. She squeezes in. I’ve got loads of hats and stuff she borrows.
Do you ever leave the house wearing jeans?
I’m wearing jeans today because I’ve been told the festival I’m going to is full of mud. So I’m in jeans and wellies.
Finally. what would you say to your sixteen year-old self?
Don’t keep jumping into relationships. Take your time to choose the right people.
Are you in a relationship now?
Yeah. Will it work out? I hope so!
Find out more about Paloma at www.palomafaith.com