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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
As to the influence of the esoteric in her music... well, she has always had a passion for things that are slightly left of centre. It’s no surprise to learn that, as a teenager at the middle-class Alleyns school in London (also alma mater to Jack Penate) she started her own coven – or that she dabbled in Ouija boards.
“Nothing happened though!” she laughs. “We weren’t very successful at it. Perhaps we weren’t doing it quite correctly.
Welch’s parents split when she was entering adolescence. She admits to being a bit of a handful as a teenager – “I started going to raves and what have you.” Her mother’s decision to remarry the neighbour two doors up along their terrace in Camberwell did nothing to quell her errant behaviour – her stepfather had a family of his own and she became part of a household of five kids, which gave her license to run, if not quite amok, then a little bit wild.
“When you’ve got all those teenagers under the same roof, you can get away with an awful lot!”
Her rise hasn’t escaped the attention of the UK fashion industry. Having previously frequented Topshop and Primark (the UK offshoot of Penney’s), nowadays she’s the toast of designers such as Hannah Walsh, who’ve been gallantly furnishing her with customised outfits. Speaking to a UK newspaper earlier in the year, she was ambivalent about her burgeoning status as a style icon.
“I didn’t sit down and work out how I wanted to present myself. It was a response to the music. As it got more and more overpowering, I started to feel I needed to compete with it. The more I toured, the less inhibited I felt. And then one day, I found myself on stage in a cat-suit, with a curtain around my shoulders.”
Reading between the lines, it’s tempting to regard her as being rather ambivalent about the fame her music has brought. She’s not sure she agrees. “Firstly I wouldn’t say I’m famous. I mean, if you know my music, you probably know me. But yeah, it is strange when you sit down with someone and they bring up a quote from when you’re a teenager. It weirds me out.”