Paloma Faith Talks "Fall to Grace", Literature, Movies, and More
Fri, 07 Sep 2012 13:38:13
Paloma Faith enchants on Fall to Grace.
Her second studio album echoes with classic soul and the rapturous orchestration of a timeless film score. Fall to Grace is unlike anything out there right now, but it's emblematic of how wonderfully and wildly unpredictable Faith is. She's got a robust voice and an inimitable vision that makes her one of the most exciting artists of this era. Once you fall under her spell, you might never be the same.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Paloma Faith talks Fall to Grace, books, movies, and more.
Did you approach Fall to Grace with one vision in mind?
Yeah, I wanted it to sound like a movie soundtrack. I basically tried to create the highs and lows that a movie has. In a film, you have happy moments, intimate moments, and dramatic moments. It's like visualizing a film of my life.
Is it important for you to tell stories lyrically?
I think I'm a natural born storyteller. I've got so many stories. I can't write about anything else [Laughs].
What's the story behind "Picking Up the Pieces"?
It's about being in a relationship with somebody who's still preoccupied with the relationship they were in before you. I was in love with someone who was still getting over his ex. I was like his shoulder to cry on. I didn't want to be though. I wanted to be the one and only.
Where did "Streets of Glory" come from?
It's the hardest song for me to sing or think about. It's too raw and close to home, but it's about a relationship with someone—not necessarily romantic—that you can't have because it's bad for you. You still want it though. You're basically saying to that person, "I'll see you when we're in heaven".
Di you always know it would close the album out?
I didn't know until I came up with the final tracklisting. I had an inkling because it is quite dramatic. Also, it's hopeful. I wanted my album to turn sad, difficult situations into something hopeful. "Streets of Glory" is super positive, but it's sort of bittersweet. I did that on purpose.
Is balancing light and dark an integral part of your process?
Absolutely! I've always made a conscious effort not to become hardened. Innocence, softness, and naïveté are all qualities I admire and aspire to have even when things are thrown in my path that would otherwise tarnish a person. Generally, I'm always a smiley face. I try to be positive. When I was making this record, I was trying to be honest and show who I am—light and dark. That comes across. I joke around when I play live. You'll see that when I come over to the States. I lighten the mood in between songs with comical chatter. That's my way of getting through the hard times. That's also why I think I'm so in love with old-fashioned vintage music. It was always tinged with positivity, but when you listen to lyrics, it's so sad. For example, "Young Hearts Run Free" by Candi Staton is one of the happiest songs I can think of, but when you read the lyrics on the page, it's so tragic. Then, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland is so hopeful, but there's so much tragedy in her voice.
Do you read a lot?
I do! I love to read. I love Jeanette Winterson, Milan Kundera, Charles Bukowski, Angela Carter, and a lot of different authors.
What's up with "Beauty of the End"?
I finished with a boyfriend. It's really hard to end a relationship with someone you love. I knew that it wasn't right. We ended on really good terms. I missed him, and I still do, but we weren't compatible in the relationship. I missed my best friend though. That's what that song is about. My album is really about how there are never any clear-cut relationships. A lot of people will demonize their ex-partner in songs about relationships. I look at it from a different perspective. Just because somebody makes a mistake or ends a relationship, it doesn't mean they're a horrible person. I try to look at life and circumstance with empathy. The song says, "One day you'll realize I did it all for you". One day that person is going to be happier with someone else. I love him so much I feel he deserves that happiness.
If you were to compare Fall to Grace to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
It'd probably be 2046, David Lynch's Blue Velvet, and Drive. Those three movies had a big impact on the record. I watched 2046 so many times that I feel like it's in my blood and everything I do is naturally, by default, inspired by it. Then, I watched Drive around the time I produced the record. Blue Velvet is an atmosphere I've always admired. There's something about Isabella Rossellini's delivery. It's obviously based on old jazz singers, but you've got this damaged and adult woman singing songs about what she's been through.
What artists shaped you?
Well, I was brought up listening to Billie Holiday and Etta James. I always tell people, "Etta taught me how to sing". I never met her, but I learned to sing by copying her. I think a lot of singers learned by emulating the people they admire. Later down the line, I emulated other singers who I'm sure listened to those first influences. I can tell Jill Scott listened to Etta James and Erykah Badu listened to Billie Holiday. There's something about the quality of those voices I appreciate. When it comes to innovation and having the guts and courage to be yourself, I'm inspired by Grace Jones and Björk. I respect their artistry.
What's next for you?
I'm coming to the U.S. for my first American tour. I'm really excited about it! It's a bit rawer and slightly edgier. I'm looking forward to going back to basics. That's where I'm in my element—in that spontaneous atmosphere. I like the unpredictability of it all.
Upcoming Tour Dates
September 10 Cambridge, MA TT The Bears Place
September 11 New York, NY Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
September 13 Washington, DC Red Palace
September 16 Chicago, IL Martyr’s
September 18 San Francisco, CA Rickshaw Stop
September 19 Los Angeles, CA Hotel Cafe
Have you heard Paloma Faith? Be sure to check her out on tour!