Florence Welch has been named one of The Observer‘s ‘Faces of 2015‘. In the new accompanying interview she discusses a landmark year for her and her band, Florence + The Machine, which has seen the 29-year-old top the US Billboard 200 with her album ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ and headline Glastonbury. Here are seven things we learned.
1. SHE BEGAN 2015 IN THE NEVADA DESERT
Florence is behind a song called ‘Cosmic Love’, so it’s no real surprise that she spent New Year “watching the sun come up on the new year, in this place called Dante’s View. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, rocks and stones everywhere. Like being on Mars.”
2. SHE’S NOT OVERLY WORRIED ABOUT HER PERSONAL SAFETY
Welch’s gigs often have her giving wild performances. “One of the first gigs I ever did in America, at SXSW , I jumped off the stage to a nearby paddling pool. And then I didn’t know how to exit so I crawled, soaking wet, beneath the stage. Which was full of electrical wiring… And at one of the first Glastonburys I did [John Peel Stage, 2009], I climbed up and hung one-handed on the riggings in a pair of enormous high heels. Really quite pissed.
“Personal safety has never been a top priority. So it was amazing I’d never hurt myself before.” Coachella in 2015 was where she jumped offstage and broke her foot – the foot that healed just in time for her to play Glastonbury.
3. SHE FELT BAD ABOUT FOO FIGHTERS HAVING TO PULL OUT OF GLASTONBURY
Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl broke his leg in Gothenburg in June, a couple of weeks before they were due to headline the Pilton festival. Eventually it was announced that Florence, whose foot was now healed, would be taking up their mantle. “I really felt for Dave. You want to feel invincible on stage. And then you realise, oh, wow, you can hurt yourself doing this.”
4. SHE GOT GLASTO ADVICE FROM JARVIS COCKER
After Welch was announced as the Foo Fighters’ replacement at Glastonbury, she sought advice from a famous friend. Pulp had replaced the Stone Roses at Glastonbury in 1995 and made a huge success of it, and when Florence talked to frontman Jarvis Cocker he told her not to make too big a deal of it. She calls it “Good advice, because everyone’s having their own experience at Glastonbury. And what you have to realise is it’s not really about you. His advice really freed my performance. I realised it was so much more about the where-we-were, and being together, in a collective experience.”
5. SHE HAD A BLAST OBVIOUSLY
“I’ve never known anything like that night,” she says. See some of her balletic, effervescent performance below.
6. THEN SHE HAD A BIT OF A CRASH
After Glastonbury Florence had loads more shows to do, but found it difficult to readjust to shows of a smaller scale. “Every gig is different. Every crowd is different. An audience is what makes a show, and that has to be your fuel. I mean, I definitely had a bit of a crash after Glastonbury. I definitely had the on-your-own-on-a-sofa-with-a-boxset-crying-on-the-phone-to-your-mum moment, after that festival. But Glastonbury is such an entity in itself, I wouldn’t be able to recapture it, and I wouldn’t want to try.”
7. A LOT OF ‘HOW BIG, HOW BLUE, HOW BEAUTIFUL’ WAS INSPIRED BY AMERICA
Her third album became her first Number One in the US. “Maybe they sensed they were a big influence on the record,” she says, because many of the songs were written while she was “exploring Laurel Canyon, listening to Neil Young in cars, staring at the Los Angeles sky”. Yep, the one from the title.