With her quirky style and outlandish personality, she's been as much a fixture of London's fashion and party scene as the music scene, but Paloma Faith's retro sound is still making waves. Helen Clarke caught up with her ahead of her three night run at Shepherd's Bush Empire.
It's been a whirlwind 12 months for Hackney singer Paloma Faith. Her debut single Stone Cold Sober was rush released last June after becoming an online hit, her album Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? was released three months later and she also crammed in roles in films St Trinians and The Imagination of Dr Parnassus. Not bad for a girl from Hackney.
"Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not," she says. "It's amazing that people like my music – that's nice, isn't it? And meeting Jools Holland and Nick Cave has been quite exciting for me...and getting free clothes! Sometimes you're expected to do lots of interviews though, and everyone asks the same questions. It gets a bit boring – I don't know why we can't all get in big room together and do it in one go."
She speaks in a child-like voice and sounds as though she's constantly thinking out loud, looking for distractions. She's munching on nuts as we chat and goes off little tangents all the time. Whether it's because she's bored of doing interviews or just because Planet Paloma is a more interesting place than drizzly London, I'm not sure, but you can't help but warm to her.
"I've never been an arrogant person and I'm not taking any of this for granted – I know a lot of singers are here today, gone tomorrow, so I'm trying to enjoy it all. I think I've done enough to never have to go back to working in a bar or something like that. If I could, I'd definitely like to be an artist that sells really well and has a career that has five or six albums in them, but I'm realistic and I think I've done enough to be able to move into another part of the industry. I'm always nice to people and try to learn things from them.
"I'd especially like to direct videos I think. I'd like to do my own but my label don't trust me to do it. When you're a new artist they play it safe and I think they think I'm too mad."
She might not have to go back to her former life, but it was never an ordinary one, even before she released a record. The jobs on her CV include magician’s assistant, Agent Provocateur sales girl, a live ghost at a fun fair and a burlesque club singer, and elements of all these former careers can be seen in her live show.
"I always do a bit of a spectacle," she says. "I like people like Billie Holiday, Etta James and Annie Lennox – quite theatrical artists. I think people coming to my show should expect to be entertained. There's not enough entertainment in music any more...but I'm not telling you any more – the element of surprise is important!"
Paloma Faith plays at Shepherd's Bush Empire on March 29, 30 and 31. Tickets cost £15 from www.ticketweb.co.uk