Wednesday 17 January 2018

The real Paloma Faith is quite a Perfect Contradiction

Eamon Sweeney chats to Paloma Faith on following her creative vision, feeling at home in Ireland, cooking up a mean meal and having an affair with Instagram

Paloma Faith
Paloma Faith
Paloma Faith
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

Would the real Paloma Faith please stand up? The cover of the London pop star's third studio album, A Perfect Contradiction, boasts not just one, but six flame-haired Palomas posing in various costumes.

"I am always asked by people to define myself," Faith offers by way of an explanation. "I find that quite a narrow way of thinking. I think we've all got multiple personalities.

"In my case, some days I feel like I can conquer the world, and there's no such thing as the word no. However, the very next day I could feel completely inadequate and think I'm completely winging it."

While she sometimes might lack self-confidence, the 32-year-old is grateful for what she's got. A touching sleeve note on A Perfect Contradiction reads, "Without the dark times I would never experience the light."

"I'm very happy at the moment," she elaborates. "I feel very lucky. Sometimes, you wonder if what you are doing is ever enough."

"People who work with me have been working in the music business for a long time. They all say that they've never met anyone who works as hard as me.

"Maybe I should relax a bit more. I feel like I've always been flying very close to the sun, but never quite landed on it."

Paloma's latest odyssey sees her collaborate with pop superstar du jour, the Happy hit maker, Daft Punk guest vocalist, and seemingly omnipresent and all powerful Pharrell Williams.

"I'm still shocked that he worked with me," she admits. "He approached me at a party and actually asked to do it. I was surprised he'd even heard of me, let alone want to work with me. He's quite an Anglophile and he really likes the Brits."

Paloma also happens to really like us Paddys and she's hopping over the Irish Sea to play two festivals this summer in Bray and Waterford.

"I always have the best time in Ireland," she enthuses. "I feel very relaxed and I don't feel tense as you sometimes do under the judging eyes of other cities in the world. With Londoners and Parisians for example, you sometimes do get a bit scared.

"I love going to Dublin, Glasgow and Edinburgh and the northern English cities. The people are a bit more relaxed. I put on a better show when I feel that way, because I do perform a lot better when I'm not nervous. Ireland feels welcoming and homely, so I'm very much looking forward to it."

Speaking of Ireland, one famous Irish man made her laugh an awful lot when she appeared on a riveting episode of The Graham Norton Show alongside Bill Murray, Matt Damon and Hugh Bonneville.

"We were all talking afterwards and agreed that we'd all had a very special experience," Faith reveals. "Matt was saying he never had so much fun on a chat show before in his entire life anywhere in the world."

It genuinely was one of the most entertaining Graham Norton shows of recent times, as the viewer felt they were having a drink and a laugh with Norton's guests.

"I heard they drank all the champagne and had to send out for more," Faith reveals giggling. "Graham just said, 'That's what we do in Ireland just to give you a false sense that you've had the time of your lives!'

"As it happens, my make-up artist and her husband are both Irish," Paloma continues. "I introduced them to my boyfriend, who is French. I warned him that he'd probably have the best time of life with the Irish, but he could end up in hospital having his stomach pumped."

"Six Jager Bombs later, and I had to plead with them, 'Please stop corrupting my poor innocent boyfriend.' I'm not built of the same stuff as you Irish."

Faith is also good pals with our own award winning comedian David O'Doherty. "David is a friend of mine," she says. "I think we met on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. He's a friend of Noel's (Fielding) and I'm a friend of Noel's."

It has been a long and winding road for Paloma before hanging out with comedians and Hollywood royalty. The aspiring pop star took on a host of quirky jobs and boasts a very colourful employment history as a magician's apprentice, a life model and a shop assistant for luxury lingerie brand Agent Provocateur.

"I never did any of those jobs full time," Faith clarifies. "I always have been drawn to being an artist. I think I was drawn to those things because I'm fascinated by the human condition.

"I love to embed myself in subcultures. In addition to the fact that I am unemployable so I need to do alternative jobs, I also like the idea of meeting the sort of people that are drawn to these places.

"Those jobs might have been a means to an end, but that didn't make me feel I was doing anything conventional. I could never stand the idea of going to work every day. It scared me, so I did lots of things at once for variety.

"If I wasn't doing this, I probably would be directing short films or videos. I'd love to specialise in make-up too. I'm definitely a creative person. I have no choice."

While recording her new album, Paloma fostered a close relationship with her fans by posting lots of pictures of the process on Instagram.

"I wrote up on Twitter, 'I'm sorry Twitter, I have been having a love affair with Instagram', she laughs. "I'm very visual, so it says as much as I want to say. I think in pictures so it really helps me so it really appeals to me. It's actually a really nice document of one's life. Even my Christmas dinner is up on there."

As well as being one of the most colourful characters in pop, Paloma is also a decent chef.

"I cooked for loads of people at Christmas," she says. "I love food and cooking. Well, I like the eating of it more than the cooking! I'd love to pursue it more. I don't really have a signature dish, but I'm quite good at doing Spanish tapas and Persian food because I was taught by two friends from Persia."

While Paloma admits that Londoners can occasionally be a little reserved and stand offish, she adores her hometown.

"I would never, ever live anywhere else," she declares. "I was born here and I grew up here. I'm absolutely in love with this city beyond anywhere else in the world.

"I feel like a Londoner through and through, so I'm not bad mouthing. I was mugged recently and my handbag was stolen, but that's not the first time. I'm used to the way it is."

Paloma is also considering starting a family at some point, but for the moment, it's all go with A Perfect Contradiction.

"I'm going to see how this album goes. It's not just about getting a good chart position in the first week, but staying in there. It's going to be a very busy year, but that's just the way I like it."

  • A Perfect Contradiction is out now. Paloma Faith headlines the the Groove Festival, Bray on Saturday, July 5 and DayTripper, Waterford on Sunday, July 6.

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