Throwback Thursday: Florence and the Machine Interview from 2010

Swept Away in Song

Sep 11, 2014 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Issue #34 - Year End 2010 - Sufjan Stevens
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For Throwback Thursdays we are posting classic interviews from the Under the Radar print archives to our website. Under the Radar used to keep its print articles exclusive to the print magazine and so there are a lot of older articles that aren't to be found on our website. For this Throwback Thursday we revisit our 2010 article on Florence and the Machine (aka Florence Welch). The article was our second print article on her, ran in the Best of 2010 issue, and centered on her crazy year since the release of her 2009 debut album, Lungs. A year later she released her acclaimed second album, Ceremonials, and we hope we won't have to wait too much longer for her third effort. Read on as Welch discusses Lungs, her amazing 2010, rabid fans, still living in her family home, and how her mom doesn't quite think this music thing will last. 

"I've got to move out! I'm supposedly really successful but I still live with my mom," laughs 24-year-old Florence Welch, acknowledging the banner year she's had fronting her music project Florence and the Machine. "I'm still the same. Now more people come to see me sing rather than my family telling me to shut up, dancing around in my bedroom wearing a tiara by myself."

On the strength of her 2009 debut album Lungs and its anthem "Dog Days Are Over," the London songstress blossomed from fledgling upstart in the U.S. to performing at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and singing for national TV audiences on Dancing With the Stars, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Saturday Night Live. Although Welch jokes about moving out, she's putting off mansion shopping for now.

"It's really nice to be home, and the cluster of family lifeI've got brothers and sistersit really keeps me grounded," she says. "Everyone's a character and everyone's quite an extrovert. It's a big Royal Tenenbaums/Brady Bunch family. There's just more swearing and staying up late and alcohol."

Extensive touring has prevented Welch from checking in back home as much as she'd like, but the vagabond life of a performer suits her nonetheless.

"It's an adventure. I love going to art galleries and museums and vintage markets and vintage stores," she says. "When you're touring all the time you meet all kinds of people. I know people from Atlanta, and I know people from Montréal and Toronto. When you're all in this traveling circus you meet people over and over again. It's kinda nice, you know?"

She admits that her adventures and antics have become tamer as the scale of her performances has grown.

"The longer shows you do, the bigger audiences, it seems like we've calmed down a bit and we're experimenting more with the music than experimenting with our liquors," she says. "You have to lose yourself in the performance. I think that you have to almost go into some other state that's out of your rational thinking. Any rational mind would be like, 'No! Don't climb that lighting rigging in high heels!' But you're in a different land where something else takes over and it's not until you come back down after the performance that you're like, 'What? What was I doing?'"

The euphoria hit an all-time high for Welch at last summer's Glastonbury festival.

"It was a strange mix of terror and enjoyment. I was wearing this big, white, angel/bird/swan costume thing," she recounts. "There was just people as far as you could see. Everyone was just jumping up and down on stage. It was so massive I almost can't remember it! It's almost as if it blinded me with its enormity.... It's hard to remember shows specifically because you're so caught up in the song and the moment and if you get swept away in the song, it's almost as if it's taking you back to the place where you wrote it."

The singer's impassioned performances have been known to elicit intense audience responses, from tears to the downright riotous. She recalls a particularly wild college gig at Trinity College in Dublin in late 2009.

"We came out and there were all these girls screaming and banging on the van door! My guitarist went to the bathroom and these girls kicked his toilet door down. It was really crazy! We've never really had that elsewhere. I felt like we were in a boy band!" Welch says, amazed.     

When asked about how her shows often make people cry, she responds after a long, thoughtful pause across the crackly phone line: "Sometimes I get stuck in every day life. I get caught and I don't know how I feel or what to say. The words don't seem to express properly how I feel. When I'm singing, suddenly it's clear and I can understand what I'm feeling. It's almost in order to say something to one person I have to sing it to a thousand strangers," she laughs heartedly. "It's sort of deep-seated emotional repression!"

After an action-packed year, the former art student plans a (slightly) slower 2011, the first part of which she'll spend in the studio recording her sophomore album.

"My mother kind of hopes that one day I'll go back to university. She hopes that this is a phase," Welch muses. "It's been two years of total amazing chaos. It's been a lot to take in. I wouldn't know what to tell to my grandchildren," she continues, voice twinkling as she looks into the future. "I'll just open my wardrobe and give them a copy of the album and tell them, 'You sort it out.'"

www.florenceandthemachine.net

 

 

 

 

 



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