Florence and the Machine: Singing Her Heart Out | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Florence Welch at Coachella 2010

Florence and the Machine

Singing Her Heart Out

Apr 22, 2010 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Web Exclusive
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For Florence Welch, also known as Florence and the Machine, the past few years have been a whirlwind, transforming her from art-school dropout to Mercury Prize nominee for debut album, Lungs. Still flush from her dynamic Coachella performance, the redhead songstress sat down with Under the Radar to discuss her new "scientific" sound, cover songs, and collaborating with her hero, David Byrne.

Laura Studarus: Tell me about your track on the Here Lies Love David Byrne collaboration.

Florence Welch: Well, he just asked to work with me, and when David Byrne asks to work with you, it's yes, anything! We spent the day in the studio together. It was fun. I didn't know much about the project, but like I said, he's my hero. He could have asked me to sing the alphabet backwards and I would have said yes.

Do you have any other collaborations in the works?

Well I just collaborated with Nathan from the Cold War Kids today on stage. He asked to sing with me, which was so exciting. They aren't even playing and he asked to come play. We did [Cold War Kids song] "Hospital Beds." That was really fun! It was the highlight of my festival, it was so exciting. I had a fun show.

You do a lot of great covers. Are you planning on slipping any new ones in?

I don't know! When you're a new band and you're starting out, you need songs to fill a set list so that's why you do so many covers. I enjoy singing; it's my favorite pastime. So when I'm in rehearsals I start singing something that's going around and around in my head and we'll end up doing a cover of it. It's never really planned.

What's catching your ear right now?

I've been listening to Mario Winans. I did a cover of "I Don't Want to Know." I've been listening to the new Yeasayer album a lot. I really like that. I'm obsessed with them.

I know that your own album Lungs is still fairly new, but have you been working on any new material?

Yeah, I've been working on some new songs with Paul Epworth, and yeah, it's going pretty well. It's a kind of dancier, darker sound. The guitar is coming back. The first song is called "Strangers and Chants," about atomic particles. It's interesting.

Is that something you'd be interested in exploring more?

[Laughs] What, science? I don't know! I'm just thinking I want this album to be more ephemeral. The first album was very much bodily and anatomically fixated. I think maybe I'm looking to move outside the body into the atmosphere. You've got to push outwards.

Sounds deep.

I'm not deep, I'll tell you. I'm just confused.

Are you looking to go into the studio anytime soon?

As soon as I can. We've been recording demos while we've been on tour, but it's funny when it comes time to write the second album everyone expects you to have some pimped out studio. Now we've got less equipment. We're recording with the shittiest sound systemwe've got nothing! We got the constant sound of a dressing room fridge in the background the whole time. It's getting worse basically.

When you're touring like crazy like you've been doing, how do you keep inspired?

Just for fun basically! I keep sane by writing. That's what keeps your head from tipping over, but writing and occasionally going out and getting some studio time. We have makeshift studios. We've used hotel sinks as drums. Bad idea is to use a hotel partition wall, because the people banging back, they're not playing along, they're just angry!

With all the touring you've been doing, have you noticed a difference between American and British audiences?

I think Americans are slightly more reserved because they're still getting into it. But I haven't noticed that much difference. Everyone's still singing along and there's still a huge amount of support over here, which is really amazing to me. I'm not here that often. It feels really good.

I've heard that you've sold a million albums in the U.K.; who keeps you grounded?

I keep myself pretty much grounded. I have good friends around me all the time. All the people I work with have been my friends forever so there's no one blowing me up all the time. Everyone's just mates and hang out together. No one's in it to make you feel like a rock star. Everyone's in it to make sure you're okay. That's the thing.

Looking ahead, what are you goals for the next couple of years?

I'd just like to survive. It's such a grueling schedule. I think if I can come out on top with my sanity intact it will be a triumph.

Are there any artists who's career path you'd like to have?

Stevie Nicks, I think. She's definitely an idol of mine. PJ Harvey as well. Björk. All those strong female artists who've kept their personality and integrity while having a long-term career.



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Mandi Lee
April 22nd 2010

She’s like my favorite.

April 27th 2010

<3 Florence and the machine!!!!

Jonathan Price
June 30th 2011

She’s absolutely brilliant with such a magnificent voice.  I’m really looking forward to more of her works and collaborations soon.