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Going with the Flo
Florence Welch started the year a virtual unknown, and ended it an eccentric pop genius worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Bjork, Kate Bush and Siouxsie Sioux.
Ed Power, 04 Mar 2010
Florence Welch gets straight to the point.
“The lyrics are meant to be provocative,” she says, pursing her lips. “I wanted to conjure something in the minds of listeners that they weren’t necessarily comfortable with. Do I regret writing it? Not at all.”
The flame-haired ingenue is talking about ‘Kiss With A Fist’, her karate chop of a debut single, the chorus of which declares that “a kiss with a fist is better than none”. More than one critic had wondered if she isn’t suggesting that it’s preferable to be in a destructive relationship than to be on your own.
“Well, people were always going to read things into it, weren’t they?” she says. “I don’t have a problem with that. As a songwriter, you have to be prepared to stand up and defend yourself. You can’t write something and then moan when people take you up on it.”
Twelve months ago, Florence, who performs as Florence and the Machine, looked a long-shot for pop stardom. With her Wicked Witch of the West dress sense, bonkers stage show and off the wall pop songs, the 23-year-old Londoner screamed ‘cult appeal’. You expected her to send some bloggers into a swoon, scrape into the top 50 and toddle off to wherever it is last year’s next big thing goes to contemplate what might have been.
In fact, the music consuming public has stampeded to her cause, leaving more fancied peers such as La Roux and Bat For Lashes choking on metaphorical dust. By all accounts, she came agonisingly close to scooping the Mercury Music Prize for her debut LP, Lungs, and would probably have shot to number one in Ireland and the UK over the summer were it not for the passing of Michael Jackson, whose albums started to sell by the tonne shortly afterwards (this would have won her a place in the history books – the first artist to reach number one in Ireland on the strength of downloads). Was she left cursing the King of Pop and the unfortunate timing of his demise?
“Not at all. I was honestly delighted simply to have put an album out. To think that this little thing I’d written in my bedroom in Twickenham would actually see the light of day... that’s amazing in itself. I heard Jackson had died listening to the radio at home. It was a bit surreal to be honest. It happened so quickly.”