Welch in 2013 at The Sound of Change Live
|Birth name||Florence Leontine Mary Welch|
28 August 1986 |
Camberwell, London, England
|Associated acts||Florence and the Machine|
I've always been able to just concoct a melody quite easily – it's just kind of instinct, really. You've got to channel your subconscious.
When I am with my family, then I can just sort of switch off. It's kind of weird, because I go back and I go into this bedroom that I have had since I was a teenager. It is like this parallel universe, because one minute I am on the red carpet and then the next I am hiding out in this room I have had since I was 15.
When I first started, especially because I got the Critics' Choice before I'd released an album, there was a lot of scrutiny on what my character was, what my background was, what colour my hair was. I fought quite hard for the music to overtake the personality aspect.
The stage is a place where I can be wholly myself. Even though you're in front of people almost to be judged, it is a place without judgement.
I'm really careful with what the music gets put with, and we say no to so much stuff, loads of it, for things that might quadruple the sales of my album. But if it doesn't fit then it doesn't fit, you know?
I was having a conversation with my father and he was talking about this thing – strangeness and charm. It's actually the name of the two smallest particles that there are when you split the atom, so I wrote a song around it. I even managed to fit the word 'hydrogen' in there. Isn't that a nice thing for scientists to call them though?
The release of 'Lungs' was so hard. It was terrifying, because it was the first time doing everything. The first experiences of media exposure were almost paralysing. I spent a lot of time crying on the floor of the studio – it sent me a bit mad.
I dyed my hair red when I was ten and when I was 11 – in my goth period – I dyed it black and I was really into witchcraft. I made mini shrines in my bedroom with candles and tried to cast spells to make the boy in the next class fall in love with me. I don't think he did.
I've built my wardrobe color palette around red, so I'm happy with it, but I do get pangs when I see beautiful brunettes. I've already been blue, green, black, and blonde.
'Dog Days' was recorded with pens and the wall, and half a stolen drum kit that was out of tune, in what was basically a cupboard. The only instrument I could really play was my voice, so we just layered everything a hundred times. It was enthusiasm over skill.
Music to me is so internal. It's physical and it's emotional. Whereas fashion is so much about the external that it's almost like a break. It's not inner turmoil. It's total escapism.
I'm just a black hole for stuff. No one should ever hand me anything, because I get so easily distracted. I'll be like, 'Oh, look, something shiny!' I'm glad I never learned how to drive. I would be really dangerous.
I think an encore is perfectly acceptable, but I find it so weird when people do two or three.
I'd experimented with so many different types of music. I had these folky songs I'd written and recorded, but something wasn't quite right.
You know, people always ask, 'What are you like offstage?' And I always say, 'Well, I'm completely normal and mellow.'
I've learned not to hide behind a veil of irony – to talk about my work in a more honest way.
I didn't want to become a personality, I wanted to be a musician, but because I didn't have an album to stand by yet it was hard for people to see that. But now, two albums in, I'm happy with things.
There's such an extreme feeling to be in love, especially in quite an emotionally destructive relationship, where you're both kind of really bad for each other, but you love each other so much. Those extreme emotions, I think, can only be described with extreme imagery.
I get in fights with my sister all the time. She comes on the road with me and we fight – like sisters do.
I've been having this really weird anxiety dream about arriving too late or too early, and the people in charge are like, 'You have to leave! You have to go back to the hotel and get ready!' And I use the wrong exit, and I'm running down the red carpet in pyjamas, like, 'No! Don't look at me!'
But I was always much more interested in reading fashion magazines than I was music magazines when I was a teenager. Just that sense of romanticism and escapism and the dream of it has always been quite alluring to me, as well as that sense of becoming a character through clothes.
I am obsessed with the whole Victoriana thing, the whole Jack the Ripper London era, the grayness of it, the haunted feeling of it, all ancient and bloody.
I've got my ideal job. I like to sing, I like to dance, I like to bang drums and dress up, and someone pays me – it's incredible.
I'm pretty obsessed with Stevie Nicks from her style to her voice. I like watching her on YouTube and her old performances, the way she moves and everything.
I feel a responsibility to the fans who have paid to see me and I want to give as good a show as I possibly can.
It's very flattering when you look into the crowd and people have made an effort and dressed in your style.
Growing up, I always wanted to be in punk bands, so I'm really enjoying the harder, heavier element. It's always been my dream to have people moshing at my gig, kind of that really feral element of the music coming out more. I love crowd-surfing.
I've always been a bit of a decorator. I think if I wasn't a singer I'd probably be in stage setting or interior design or something. I like clutter and I'm quite visually greedy. I can't have things to be plain; I have to have things looking interesting… maybe I'm just a frustrated interior designer stuck in a singing career.
The aesthetic came along the way, I think – just through experimenting, and going on tour, and trying stuff out on stage, having fun with it, and not taking it too seriously. If I had a ballgown at home, I'd wear it onstage. If I found something in a charity shop, I'd wear it. That's where it grew from – just wanting to play dress-up.
When I'm singing I'm always trying to get to the highest point possible. I'd fly to the top of Buckingham Palace to sing to the queen.
I've always been attracted to romantic secondhand clothes. But my style developed as I started going to these strange raves where everybody had these very definitive costumes.
I have this sensation of being in flight all the time, but being on stage is like creating a sanctuary in which you can completely lose yourself. The bits of your personality that you keep under wraps in ordinary life, you can let them run free.
I started off singing in church as a child. The sound of voices coming together, that was my first moment of touching something outside of myself.
I look really odd in jeans and a hoodie – it doesn't feel or seem right.
The sense of jubilee for music and what we're making is always genuine.
At the beginning of my career I was going through a really weird phase of dressing in boys clothes. I would only wear one American Apparel T-shirt and shorts and brogues the whole year round. Not the same T-shirt, obviously, but one style of American Apparel T-shirt. I think I was going through a tomboy stage.
I love that sense of release as you throw yourself into the crowd as hundreds of arms are carrying you.
Touring, and being in a band, it's almost like the other stuff, the other parts of life, get put on hold.
I saw 'The Artist.' It's really beautiful and it's all done to the letter with all the silent film techniques. The costumes were amazing and the dog is so good.
I'm completely in love with the world but also terrified of it. It creates some overwhelming feelings. Wanting to battle out that joy and fear is part of my music.
I love performing outside because it's as if the heavens are open and the elements become part of the stage show as well – you know, the wind and the rain and the thunder. It's almost as if there's a sense of invocation in performance.
I've got some incredible fans actually – so loyal and they make me birthday cards and Christmas cards. I got this package of poems and artwork based around the songs. They've got this thing called 'Floetry' where they all have to put in artwork. They've set up their own competitions and stuff which is kind of amazing.
I think I just get excited by music, and, like, singing is a very physical thing. It releases endorphins in your body. You're using almost muscle in there, and I think that adrenaline really helps to kind of make the songs fresh every time.
I feel things in quite an intense way. I'm not actually the most intense person.
Going to parties usually makes me feel depressed, just because I have such social fear after meeting people.
'Spectrum' is in part a disco song. But we play it hard, and it's a real euphoric, wailing tune. It's kind of like a total house anthem, in a way, but it seems to be going down really well. We've got all the grunge kids going mad for disco house raves.
I'm quite glad I never learned to play the guitar, because I think I'd write songs that were more classically structured. As it is, I've had to create my own way of writing, which isn't typical. Everything's a big crescendo.
The Teenage Cancer Trust does incredible work supporting and caring for teenagers and young adults with cancer, and it's a cause that is really close to me and my family.
On stage, you can use your emotions. It's the place where you can channel them. They have a purpose.
If you asked me to go back to being 14 or 15, I couldn't – it was a terrifying time. I was so awkward in my own skin. I used to hide behind my hair because I was so ridiculously self-conscious.
I can't wait to get on stage, because there you don't worry about whether you'll ever get married because your life is insane, or whether you'll ever have another boyfriend again, you don't worry about the typical boundaries of how your life has to be.
The first album, for better or for worse, was done over from the ages of 17-22, with a couple of different producers. Some of it was recorded in an old swimming pool, some of it was recorded in a synagogue – it kind of was all over the place.
When making the first album, I think I wrote a song about every six months. The first album was so much about the vocals carrying it.
I used to dress like an eight-year-old boy. Traveling has inspired me to be more experimental.
Maybe in music you're making an auditory environment and maybe you change your environment around you to suit your own way.
I've got quite a vivid imagination and I'm easily overwhelmed by sensations and things that are beautiful or scary. I don't think I've ever seen a ghost – I think I'm probably haunted by my own ghosts than real ones.
I'd gone from being this art student messing about with music to this girl with a record deal, magazine front covers and all this hype. In many ways, it was everything I ever wanted, but when it happened all I felt was total, paralysing fear.
I quite like the drama of an encore. I think an encore is for those artists who are inclined to do dramatic gestures, and I certainly would say I am inclined towards them.
When something really hits me, it makes me want to either jump off something really high or lie down and be buried. I want people to get hit and caught by my music.
Bono told me how to dance in high heels and he also told me about U2's Glastonbury performance and how everything that could have possibly gone wrong went wrong, including him ripping his trousers on stage. I think he was lunging and his trousers ripped! He was telling me how he had to find a new way of performing that didn't involve moving.
I try to write lyrics so that they won't age, which sort of leaves you with the big subjects like death and love and sex and violence.
What I really like seeing from the stage is people having their own moments, when people are doing some performance of their own.
I got to live out my 11-year-old fantasies – I got to go on stage with Green Day. Billie Joe called my name from the stage. 'Dookie' was the first album I ever bought. I covered the whole of 'Nimrod' and he'd heard it. That was like the 11-year-old girl dreamed.
I can't ever seem to shake the feeling that when things are really good it essentially means that things are going to go really bad. When I feel calm and settled, there is always an underlying feeling of impending doom… I don't think that it's healthy.
I'm a light sleeper. I've never been one of those people who can put their head down and suddenly everything disappears. Nighttime is the time I get most scared, anxious or worried. In those darker moments before waking or sleeping is when I feel most, I don't know, I can turn on myself, and my imagination can take me dark places.
I made music with my friend, who we called Isabella Machine to which I was Florence Robot. When I was about an hour away from my first gig, I still didn't have a name, so I thought 'Okay, I'll be Florence Robot/Isa Machine', before realising that name was so long it'd drive me mad.
Music is my way out. I keep things locked up and never say anything. I guess in order to say something to one person, I have to sing it to a couple of thousand. It doesn't make for healthy relationships.
My room is like an antique shop, full of junk, and weird stuff. There's a big sword in there. And a taxidermy bird, and a couple of birdcages. And a lot of newspaper cuttings. I used to have a weird thing about cutting out morbid headlines from newspapers, and collecting them. I was fascinated with drowning, which is kind of strange.
I think I should get a bigger between-the-song persona, so then I'm not wandering around the stage like some mad old auntie that's saying hello to people and falling over.
During the songs, you transcend yourself. The best way to be in the performance is to be without pause and be essentially in the moment, in that moment of expression.
I'm one of those people that is up for most things. When I was offered to sing at the Oscars I was like, 'Yeah, I want to know what that's like!' I'm always curious to know what things are like – as long as you're not compromising who you are.
It would be too frightening for me to consider myself a role model. But I like the idea of not being afraid of letting your imagination rule you, to feel the freedom of expression, to let creativity be your overwhelming drive rather than other things.
I always seem to feel that everything is about to cave in on me. I think that maybe music is my protection from that and in some senses it's an outlet to turn it into something euphoric: embracing the eventual decline.
I love Lady Gaga and I love Katy Perry and R&B and rap music… I love big, American pop music.
I'm down to bleach my eyebrows again. I tell you what, though – that didn't go down well with my boyfriend. Girls love it. Guys, not so into it.
You should have high expectations for yourself and others should come second.
When you play, it's like you know that there are people out there who are hearing it for the first time, and I think that's really important.
Look, if Givenchy is going to lend you a dress, I'm not going to turn it down. I would wear that dress to just go out and buy a pint of milk if they would lend it to me.
My siblings and I were friends with the boys who would become our stepbrothers – we grew up on the same street. I feel very special to have these amazing people in my life and if we hadn't all moved into this big house together I think I would have missed out on that, because we would have drifted apart.
When you're heartbroken, you're at your most creative – you have to channel all your energies into something else to not think about it. Contentment is a creativity killer, but don't worry – I'm very capable of making myself discontented.