The singer talks to Rosalind Sack about motherhood, new music and her ‘nervewracking’ return to the spotlight.
Warm, chatty and down-to-earth, Paloma Faith is a rare breed. She’s one of only two British female artists this decade to have their last three albums sell over two million copies in the UK (the other being Adele), and has appeared in films alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. She’s also lovely.
Now, the singer, songwriter and actress is back with her fourth album, The Architect, and a 2018 UK arena tour. It’s the first since the traumatic birth of her child with her partner Leyman Lahcine, which left her with a womb infection and initally unable to walk.
‘It’s nervewracking because becoming a mum is such a life-changing experience and you almost feel like you’ve left an old version of yourself behind. I wonder if people will like this new version,’ she explains. ‘I’m still me, but it has changed everything – I have a different mindset, a different outlook, everything.’
The album’s guest credits read like a who’s who with the likes of John Legend, Sia, John Newman, even Samuel L Jackson all featuring. Her trademark sweeping orchestral tracks, sleek disco and catchy electro pop sounds remain and her lyrics cover themes such as social anxiety, wealth inequality and motherhood.
‘It felt like a good time to start singing about what was going on outside of my own emotional world,’ the 36-year-old explains. ‘My mum raised me around quite political music from the ’60s and ’70s – they call it political, but I think it’s humanity music. I was always on marches with her as I was born in Thatcher’s Britain. So I have a deep-set sense of responsibility for community and thinking about the greater good.’
Paloma also has her mum to thank for her bold and eclectic dress sense. ‘I remember my mum saying: “I don’t feel great today so let’s get dressed up,” and if something bad happened she’d dress us both up,’ she says. ‘Now, I don’t feel comfortable or brave if I’m not dressed up; it’s almost like a suit of armour.’
Yet, Paloma confesses to ‘slobbing out’ for the first few months after giving birth: ‘You know those massive pants from M&S, the granny ones that are cotton and go right up to your boobs? That’s what I wore. I only recently threw them all away and it felt amazing!’
Following the phenomenal success of her last three albums, is she feeling the pressure this time? ‘I am, simply because I’m the breadwinner at home and, now I have a child, I feel a bigger sense of responsibility to make ends meet.’ Despite all her achievements, Paloma admits: ‘I still feel like a bit of a fake, like I’m waiting for it all to suddenly stop and people to realise!’ Yet don’t underestimate her grit: ‘Once you’re a grafter, you’re always a grafter, and that’s part of my whole being, it’s my default setting.’
The Architect is released on 17 November by RCA Records.