It's just before 10am on a Tuesday and VF is preparing to chat with one of the UK's biggest pop stars of 2010, Paloma Faith. That's right, before 10am on a Tuesday morning; the coffee hasn't even kicked in yet.
What the hell is a musician doing up at this hour? "All pop stars have to get up at ridiculous times because you have to do a million things in a day," a fresh Faith gleams as if she’s returned fully rejuvenated following a five-star spa break.
But since the release of her debut, ‘Do You Want The Truth Or Something Special’, last September, the 12 months that have followed have been anything but a relaxing world of hydro-mineral body scrubs and exotic frangipani body nourish wraps. In fact, with a top ten album, a winter tour about to get under way and a brief foray into acting, the 25-year-old currently finds herself busier than ever. “I’m trying to write the second album at the same time as everything I was doing before,” she says, “it’s quite difficult. It’s going well, I think I’m halfway there but I’ve just got to keep plugging away really.”
Miffed earlier in the year that her first LP didn’t get nominated for the Brits, the eccentrically styled star has also, in her words, plugged away all summer making a big impression on the festival world, culminating with a nomination for Best Breakthrough Artist at next month’s UK Festival Awards. Even after entertaining hundreds of thousands of people in the space of a few months, she still doesn’t seem all that convinced that she could take home the gong. “Up against The xx and Mumford And Sons I reckon there is absolutely no way I’m going to win. They just clear up on everything.” But much like her dress sense, it’s not all black and white with Faith, and it seems that she is ready to back her own corner if needs be. “[It’s] not because they necessarily deserve it, but I think that – out of all those artists – I’ve been the most surprising turnaround this festival season. I’ve come from being reasonably unknown to really well-known based on the festival shows.” With defiance and self-confidence like that, it is not that unfathomable to see her plucking the crown and wearing it on the sleeve of her next release.
Paloma Faith is part the latest wave of pop stars that stitch music and fashion together, with stages becoming the new catwalks and over extravagant dress sense the norm. But unlike the Lady Gagas of the scene who say they live their perceived personas 24/7, there is a distinction between the Faith we see onstage and the one that her mum probably knows. For instance, the white show suit with enormous, protruding balloons is kept only for the likes of Glastonbury, not watching Doctors with a cuppa on a Thursday afternoon. The ‘Stone Cold Sober’ star admits that she normally wears “a tracksuit and t-shirt” when at home and the personality that we see on stage is just a character. “I think it’s a combination and a mini mix of all the greats I admire like Shirley Bassey and Earth Kitt and Etta James and Marilyn Munroe,” she confesses, “it is that kind of ballsy confidence. But it’s totally put on by me but it helps.”
There also seems to be a lot of authenticity involved from Faith herself when she’s performing though, it’s not all for show. “I am a massive piss taker”, she says, “it’s all spontaneous, I don’t plan it, I just go on and say what I’m thinking.” It’s not necessarily the best tack to take, as many singers can attest, but there is a cheeky and youthful innocence to her charm. “One of my highlights this year was going on stage at V Festival on the stage that David Guetta was headlining. It was so funny", she regales, holding back the titters, “I walked on stage and said, ‘who’s here for David Guetta?’ and they all cheered. And I said ‘I think he’s shit!’ and they all went, ‘boo!’ and I went ‘whatever floats your boat ladies and gentleman. But just to prove that a shit song can be made good, I’m going to do one of his’ and I covered one of his. And then at the end of the gig I went ‘who likes David Guetta?’ and they all went ‘boo!’ and I said ‘who thinks I’m better?’ and they all went ‘yeah!’ It was definitely one of my festival highlights. It was so funny and I wasn’t being horrible, I was just mucking around and they were all laughing.”
Falling into a fit of infectious giggles, it seems that she’s now cool and accustomed with the fame. Pit stops at all the majors music festivals including Glastonbury, V Festival, T In The Park and Lovebox Weekender have helped, but when asked about her favourite of the year, a warm Saturday afternoon at the Isle Of Wight Festival springs to mind. “I think the Isle Of Wight was my favourite because I’ve never played to that many people before and I didn’t expect to walk out onto the stage and see that many people,” she says excitedly, “When you’re backstage you don’t know what you’re going to see when you get out. It was the first one and I stepped on and I was so moved I was a little bit tearful. I was like ‘this is amazing!’”
But festivals haven’t always been so kind on the singer, especially one memorable event she attended as a ticket-holder. “One year at Glastonbury I went all the way there with my boyfriend, the subject of the song ‘New York’ who dumped me,” she recalls, “I was driving and it was his job to remember the sleeping bags and stuff and he forgot them. We got there and we had a tent, but no sleeping bag or anything to sleep on. So I made him take all his clothes off and I made him put all his clothes on the floor so I could sleep on it and he had to lie on top of me like a duvet cover. He was freezing and didn’t sleep and I did!” We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
Paloma Faith is up for the Best Breakthrough Artist in the UK Festival Awards.
Click here to vote now.
The winner will be announced on Thursday 18 November at the gala ceremony at the indigO2, London.