Paloma Faith: Three sips of Guinness and I'd be drunk
Ahead of her futuristically tinged forthcoming arena tour, Paloma Faith chats to Jenny Lee about humanity, compassion, politics, enthusiastic Irish audiences and nursery rhymes
HAVING landed in Dublin two hours previously, I started our chat by asking Paloma Faith if she had a chance to have a Guinness yet? "No, I wouldn't go on stage drunk. It takes me about three sips and I would be drunk," she chuckled.
Despite this comment and her reputation as being one of pop's most flamboyant and outspoken songstresses, the Londoner has demonstrated a more grown-up attitude over the past year.
Now a mum, Paloma admits that motherhood has changed her "as a person". Although the only British female artist, apart from Adele, to have her last three albums go double platinum, Paloma's latest album, The Architect, was the first to secure her a number one record.
Featuring an opening statement from Samuel L Jackson and an appearance from left-wing commentator Owen Jones, the album certainly marked a change in direction for the 36-year-old.
While the music is still classic Paloma, with a mix of orchestral tracks, soul, disco and electro pop, gone are the love songs and instead is a philosophical socio-political commentary on the state of our world, with references to climate change, the refugee crisis, inequality, technology and motherhood.
Overall Paloma describes The Architect as a record of "hope", about "kindness, empathy and compassion". Her favourite song is the title track, which she believes summarises the entire record.
"It’s about the world complaining to humanity and so all the subjects fit under that umbrella. She is talking about her response to climate change and things like that. She is talking about her disappointment in humanity for her children."
It's an album inspired by her becoming a mother but deeply rooted in her upbringing in London borough of Hackney.
"I was brought up in a household where were social politics were really important. I was raised on the protest trail of anti-Thatcher Britain, listening to the music of Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and other protest singers. That's been engrained in me, so these songs don't seem like a new thing to me – it's quite inevitable. In my first three albums, I almost felt a little bit guilty and like a traitor doing what I was doing."
Her next single, Til I'm Done, will be released next Friday. In the disco-funk driven track Paloma sings about her independence and strength – something she has found has grown during her first 14 months of parenthood.
"It hard to take the different hats off when you work. There is no 10-minute break to get used to being home – it's just straight into putting on your mum hat. There is no peace. The other day I took a picture of both my boyfriend and baby sitting starring at me whilst I was trying to have a poo.
"But what has been amazing is realising the extent of my own strength and capabilities, which I believe comes from my capacity for love having grown. At the beginning, first time, I was scared I wouldn't be able to cope. I was raised by a single parent mother and I always thought of her as a bit of a hero and I feel I'm now emulating that myself, even though I'm not a single parent.
"Women are highly capable and if anything I feel I'm much more determined and am working harder than ever before. And I don't procrastinate any more," adds Paloma, who has been with her French artist partner Leyman Lahcine for four years.
Over recent months Paloma has sparked a media debate about refusing to name the gender of her child. However, while she believes in the importance of children playing with gender-neutral toys to develop their empathy and resilience, she stresses she would only be referring to her firstborn as 'they' in public in order to protect their privacy.
Alongside the dolls and cars, her baby's favourite thing, predictably perhaps, is music.
"I think all babies love singing. To be honest they prefer it when you sing softly and are not doing a performance, because it’s more intimate." As for their favourite song? "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," she laughs.
Paloma is looking forward to a busy few weeks ahead. Nominated for a BRIT Award for British Female Solo Artist – an award she won in 2015 – March sees her take to the road. She says her arena tour, which plays Belfast's SSE Arena and Dublin's 3Arena, will be "futuristically tinged", just like her music video for Crybaby was.
"I'm trying to do something a bit more in keeping with the theme of the album, based much more about the present and the future, than in previous records," adds Paloma, who is delighted to be ended the tour in Ireland.
"In my memory, my favourite audiences have always been Scottish and Irish because culturally there is a similarity there and they both know how to have a really good time. It’s not pretend – it feels genuine. There’s nothing better as a performer than to be in front of that. People think you just naturally bounce off the walls, but it’s really hard to do if no-one is doing it back. So in Ireland and Scotland I always feel the enthusiasm."
And when it comes to future collaborations, top of her list is Irish singer Imelda May.
:: Paloma Faith, with special guest XamVolo, plays Belfast's SSE Arena on March 23 and Dublin's 3Arena on March 24. Tickets from ticketmaster.ie