Eccentricity and Melancholy: Interview with Florence + The Machine
Two hours before the interview, a call comes in: you cannot drive up early, but is it best right now? Arriving at the Boutique Hotel, located right in the center of the Covent Garden district of London, which we got in a terrible hurry, we are told: Florence suddenly decided that she would have lunch after our conversation, so we decided to postpone the meeting. Oh yes.
The meeting takes place in an old-fashioned furnished room. Florence seemed to have become taller since our last meeting four years ago. At least it became thinner. And pale. But despite all this, she is full of health and, importantly, is in a good mood.
Back in our last meeting, I wanted to ask if the writer Denton Welch is your relative?
No, and who is he?
An English author who wrote surprisingly expressive, peculiar stories, and besides that he painted …
It sounds interesting, you need to look for information.
William Burroughs was his biggest fan. Unfortunately, he died young. Edith Sitwell supported him.
Oh yes, Sitwell! I like her.
Have you read her book about English eccentrics?
This is an example of fundamental English literature. But I still have not mastered it. And at the same time I am a huge fan of English eccentrics. I need to make up for this.
In the UK, eccentricity is a tradition …
Eccentricity and melancholy! Therefore, we have such sad and biting folk songs. The mood of triumphant melancholy. Or a melancholy triumph. This is exactly what I wanted on my new album. The thundering trumpets on “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful” embodied this feeling for me. This is very English. It smells of roses everywhere, but do not forget: to get here, you need to leave something behind.
English music history is replete with wonderful personalities. Starting from Vivian Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band with his best friend Keith Moon, ending with Julian Cope. But tradition dates back to a much earlier period, right up to the Middle Ages. Feel your belonging to her?
Hmm, hard to say. You know that the one who says about himself that he is insane is not at all like that in reality? I have something like this. Our English are usually quite restrained. But behind the mask of restraint, we enjoy freedom, a lot of strange thoughts spin in our heads, and if all this breaks out at once, those around you will consider you an eccentric. I believe I have similar behavior. I have a certain taste, I know what I like. Whether it is eccentric or not, I don’t really think about it.
Even the Rolling Stones were initially outsiders, otherwise they would never have the audacity to challenge the routine and, for example, start playing the blues on the electric guitar. And you, in turn, came with a harp …
With it, my thirst for freedom is expressed. A strong desire to express their feelings, while not losing control. For the performer, this is a great position. For me, the stage is a platform where I can fully express myself. This is a place of freedom. And maybe it seems strange to the audience, because the part of my character that is capable of jumping onto the table, ruining houses, wearing huge velvet pants with lapels appears on the stage.
Your clothing style allows for a certain eccentric, since it includes Pre-Raphaelite robes and shirts with ruffles. Or is it a stylist’s quirks?
From time to time, my girlfriend helps me with this, for example, if it comes to inviting me to some event with access to the red carpet. At first, in such situations you feel very insecure. In any case, it’s more convenient for me to make decisions myself. Nobody will convince me of this.
In the United States, things are a little different, right? Can you afford such freedom in the showbiz there?
I am definitely certain that the British in the States can afford much more. I’m also half American. My mother is from the United States, but has always been an Anglophile. Her accent is thoroughly English – she is more British than the Queen of Great Britain. In fact, I sometimes ask myself what I would become if I grew up in the USA.
Joe Boyd, producer of the Incredible String Band and Nick Drake, moved from the US to London in the early 60s. Later, he wrote in his memoirs that he immediately liked the city, because rebellious youth wore absolutely crazy clothes. In the US, all the rebels in jeans.
Well, I don’t know … To record the songs for the new album, we moved to Los Angeles. A huge blue sky, endless streets – this also influenced the sound of the album. I spent hours driving in a car to the music of Bruce Springsteen, Nick Cave, Patti Smith and Neil Young. Maybe he wore jeans, but who is he, if not a damn rebel! Los Angeles encourages you to be yourself. Sometimes you can even overdo it. At such a moment, you find yourself in flirtatious trousers and think: it’s time to return home to England, where someone will tell you that you look like a complete moron.