30 May 2012

Her kind of place

BETWEEN the nationwide concerts, interviews, and guest spots on TV shows, only in the hectic life of Paloma Faith could a tour of Germany be ‘restful’.

Demand for the 24-year-old singer is high, whether it's gigging in Berlin, or debating educational issues with former MP Michael Portillo. But despite all the attention, the Hackney-bred star is still unashamedly proud of the borough.

“It’s a great place, you only have to go to Ridley Road Market on a Saturday and you can hear music everywhere,” she said. Adding: “I used to say when I was little, that I wanted my ashes spread across the number 73 bus route; this was our place, Hackney.”

Despite having moved to West London, she’s determined not to forget her roots. “I’ll come back as soon as I can buy a place,” she said.

Brought up in a house off Stoke Newington Church Street, her early years were spent taking in Dalston and Stoke Newington. Of Clissold Park, she said: “We were naughty – we used to jump the fence and hang out in the park.”

And of the local nightlife: “I’d go raving all night, go to Mr Bagel in Dalston, then come home and do my coursework,” she confessed.

Paloma is a strong advocate of her Hackney education. She said: “As a very young child I had learning difficulties, but I was always creative and the teachers nurtured my confidence.”

Starting with ballet, at the age of four, in a class off Kingsland Road, she was encouraged to study arts. She left school with three A- star GCSEs, three As, one B and two Cs, getting a mention in a local newspaper. But after studying for a degree in contemporary dance, Paloma was looking for a new direction.

She said: “While I’d always danced, as an adult, I realised it wasn’t for me. So I did a Masters in theatre direction and it opened up a platform of other styles as a performer. I always sang and knew I could sing in tune, but it was more of a laugh or a hobby. It wasn’t until later that I started to really work on it.”

She began to mix forms, Tina Turner meets Marilyn Monroe, Grace Jones and Etta James, with a distinctly burlesque finish, helped along with cabaret stints as a singer and magician’s assistant, and as a model for Agent Provocateur.

After one performance, fortuitously witnessed by Epic Records, she was asked to come to the music label’s HQ. The interview went well – right up to the moment she cursed the A&R manager for using his mobile while she sang. Nine months later, the same manager called back with a contract, admitting he hadn’t seen as memorable an act since.

With the release of her first album ‘Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?’ and appearing in Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus’, the future looks bright. Paloma recently completed a Haiti benefit single – ‘I’ve Put A Spell On You’ with among others, Shane McGowan, Johnny Depp, Nick Cave and Chrissie Hynde – and is to appear in a Channel 4 film ‘I Don’t Care’ later this year.

But all this success is yet to save her from the stiletto’s arch enemy, rainy summer festivals: “I’ve done loads, but I don’t really like them. Maybe I’ll get someone to carry me through the mud,” she joked. And judging by current demand, that may be one of the few chances for Paloma to put her feet up this year.

Curriculum Vitae:  Paloma Faith
1985    Born in UCH Hospital London as Paloma Faith Blomfield
2007    First feature film, ‘St Trinian’s’
2009    Releases debut single ‘Stone Cold Sober’
2009    Releases debut album ‘Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?’
2009    Appeared in Terry Gilliam’s film ‘The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus’
2010    First headlining tour of the UK and Ireland

*This article first appeared in Hackney Today on 22 March 2010

Hackney-bred Paoloma Faith is unashamedly proud of the borough

Hackney-bred Paoloma Faith is unashamedly proud of the borough

Hackney-bred Paoloma Faith is unashamedly proud of the borough

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