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Paloma Faith talks drag queens, heartbreak
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2012-09-11

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Paloma Faith. Photo by Rebecca Pierce


Paloma Faith has the potential to be the next big thing in the music world. The London singer has been compared to artists like Amy Winehouse and Adele. Her pop styling, along with a sultry soulful voice, has industry insiders buzzing; among said insiders is Prince, whom she recently worked with. L.A. Reid has been singing her praises since signing her to Epic Records and is ready to make her a star.

Her latest offering, Falling to Grace, was released in Britain in January, with her single "Picking Up the Pieces " debuting at number seven on the UK singles chart. She even performed on The Voice UK as a guest mentor. With the U.S. release in June, Faith has been soaring up this country's charts.

She proudly supported Out4Marriage, recording a video to help with the cause recently. She talked about her gay fans and falling for the bad boy in a personal interview.

Windy City Times: Hi, Paloma. How are you?

Paloma Faith: I'm excited to come to Chicago! [Sings to the tune of "Chicago"]

WCT: I know radio station people that will be at this show.

Paloma Faith: Tell all of your friends to come.

WCT: I will. I know lots of gays that are coming, also.

Paloma Faith: Good. I need the gays. I have two suitcases full of sequins so I need to go out to the gay bars afterwards.

WCT: I did notice a gay following to your music.

Paloma Faith: It's because I am an honorary homosexual.

WCT: In your video for "Stone Cold Sober," there is a drag queen in it.

Paloma Faith: That drag queen is my best friend so I had to have her in it. I have about three best friends and she is one of them. She is not always in drag sometimes he's a she and sometimes a he. It is really annoying because the British press says things like, "Paloma tries to being attention by bringing a [drag queen] to a movie premiere." I am not trying to bring attention. That is my friend!

WCT: The press is nicer on this side of the pond. What is your drag queen friend's name?

Paloma Faith: Russella.

WCT: Speaking of names, your name means "dove" in Spanish. Do you speak Spanish?

Paloma Faith: I speak a bit. I understand more than I speak. My father is Spanish. I didn't grow up with him, though. What I know I basically have learned myself. I moved to Spain for five months when I was younger because I wanted to learn Spanish. I felt like I needed to get in touch with my heritage. So I understand more than I speak. My grammar is terrible but I muddle through.

WCT: What part of Spain did you live in?

Paloma Faith: I lived in Seville in the southern part of Spain.

WCT: You have had some acting roles. Did you study it?

Paloma Faith: No, I didn't. I studied contemporary dance. I had a minor is directing and designing theater.

WCT: What made you want to become a singer?

Paloma Faith: It sort of chose me in a lot of ways. I never really thought I was good enough to be a singer. I did it at first for fun with friends. Someone wanted me to be a lead singer for a band. I told them they didn't even know if I could sing. They said, "We don't really care. We just want to make a band for fun." I started doing it with them and people were shocked that I had a good voice. People started coming to the shows to see me and I started writing my own songs.

I started to really enjoy it and do more and more. I never thought I wanted to make it as a pop star or internationally. I am one of those people that set realistic goals. As soon as I get to the top of one ladder I see another one. If I get the opportunity to make some waves in America I will do it. If I get a gold record then the next time I want platinum. I just don't have the natural confidence to sit there and want everyone to know me and be a household name. I don't feel like that yet but maybe one day. I never thought I would be where I am now or even doing this interview. Bit by bit, I have come around to the idea of people enjoying me and me enjoying them.

WCT: I have been blasting out "Picking Up the Pieces" in my car all week!

Paloma Faith: Cool. Have you seen the video for "30 Minute Love Affair" on YouTube yet?

WCT: No. Your voice has an interesting range on that track, though. Will that be the second single in the States?

Paloma Faith: I don't know what they will do in America. Usually they do [fewer] singles, so they might skip that one and go straight on to the third one. We just get them out really quickly. I think it takes longer to work a single over there than it does at home.

WCT: You worked with Nellee Hooper on this album. He produced Bjork's music in the past.

Paloma Faith: Yes and Madonna, No Doubt and Massive Attack.

WCT: Would ever work with producer Mark Ronson for a record?

Paloma Faith: He is amazing. I would love to. I asked him to actually but he couldn't do the whole record. I really wanted to work with someone who could do the whole album. I really wanted to make a classic album. Classic albums from my experience always have a thread through them with one producer. I didn't want someone that could only do three songs.

WCT: Then it would about singles and not the whole album.

Paloma Faith: Exactly. I am about the whole album.

WCT: That is rare, sometimes.

Paloma Faith: Only in America, that is!

WCT: The song "Agony" seems really painful. Is this a heartbreak album?

Paloma Faith: Life is about heartbreak, isn't it? It is not about one relationship. I wrote it over the course of a few of them, because I am a serial monogamist. I go from one long-term relationship to the next. "Agony" was supposed to be on my first album but when the people from my record company left I pretended like I had just written it for this one. I played it for a new record label person.

I just didn't want to lose it because it was so good. It was from a relationship and a person I was really in love with. I found out he was a drug addict and doing drugs behind my back. I am not into that because I have had bad experiences surrounding addiction. I am scared to be too close to an addict because I know what they can do. I don't blame them. I just try to steer clear of it. Unfortunately, I am attracted to them as well—terrible! I ended the relationship very soon after I had written that song. I didn't want to but I had to.

WCT: To take care of yourself.

Paloma Faith: Yes; I had to be cruel to be kind. It hurt but I feel better now. I'm not with an addict.

WCT: What is the story with the parrots on the cover?

Paloma Faith: I wanted the artwork to have me falling and be beautiful. I was looking at Claude Monet's paintings. Back then they used to paint like it was an invitation to go inside the artwork because the way the light hit them. It is like an ethereal view. I originally said I wanted to be underwater because I wanted no gravity.

The photographer said we only had one day of budget to shoot the whole thing. My hair wouldn't be dry in time to do all of the single covers! Instead of being in the water I decided to be up in the air. I was in a harness and flying about in the air. We drew the parrots around to make a tropical paradise thing.

WCT: Your hair looks fabulous on it. What color is your hair naturally?

Paloma Faith: Dark brown, but it hasn't been that color since I was 17 years old.

WCT: I saw your grill on Twitter with the gold teeth!

Paloma Faith: It was a new look I was trying out. [Laughs]

Check out Paloma's grill at Martyrs, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave., on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 7:30 p.m. Visit www.martyrslive.com for tickets and information.


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