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Go With The Flo
She’s shaping up to be one of the break-out stars of 2009, with a number one album and a Mercury Prize nomination to her name. We catch up with Florence And The Machine’s Florence Welch, who talks about becoming an overnight sensation, reflects on her bizarre childhood and explains why her most controversial song really isn’t as contentious as it’s made out to be.
Paul Nolan, 10 Aug 2009
Looking like she’s just stepped out of the pages of a Grimm Brothers fairy tale, ‘pagan pop’ sensation Florence Welch is shaking her head in profound, if good-natured, bafflement. “The past six months have been so totally insane. Before my album had even been released I did a mini-tour and everyone knew the words to all my songs,” she says. “Like, how the fuck did that happen?”
Backstage at Oxegen, Welch, front-woman of the year’s buzziest newcomers Florence And The Machine, is chomping crisps and contemplating her burgeoning fame. Released to some of the year’s most ecstatic reviews her debut LP, Lungs – a sparkling collection of highly atmospheric indie-pop – topped the Irish charts and also hit number two in the UK, where it has already been certified silver (the record was only kept off the top spot by a Michael Jackson compilation). Add to this a recent Mercury Music Prize nomination – she’s the bookies favourite – and it’s little wonder that Welch feels as if, in a very good way, her world has been spun off its axis.
With a sartorial sensibility poised somewhere between a Celtic Druidess and Bjork circa her ‘dead swan’ phase, Welch is one of the most singular newcomers in pop, combining the attitude and style of Karen O with the brilliantly imaginative songwriting of Kate Bush. If one were being glib, you might describe Florence And The Machine as sounding like Bat For Lashes – her rival for the Mercury – only catchier and more publicity friendly (you can compare both for yourselves when they play Electric Picnic this autumn).
Face to face, Welch is softly-spoken and slightly fidgety. She’s also impressively direct – her replies are straight-to-the point. Given the critical and commercial performance of Lungs, she must be feeling pretty happy right now.
“I really am,” she enthuses. “It’s the most terrifying thing, to release an album. You have to kind of keep your head down, and you shouldn’t read too much into what people think; you have to do something that you yourself are satisfied with. It’s weird, I go through stages in my life, with everything, where I hate something and then I love it. I’ve gone to a comfortable place now where I actually can say that I’m happy with the album.