Daily Mail article today (22nd Feb), article is pasted below.
Big hair, panda eyes, soul voice, but Duffy insists: 'Don't call me the new Dusty!'
By ADRIAN THRILLS
Young musicians often have a tendency to credit their parents' suspiciously hip record collections for setting them on the road to stardom.
With male rockers, great play is made of those old Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan albums found in the loft. For their female counterparts, Joni Mitchell or Carole King usually do the trick.
For Aimee Duffy, things were different. Growing up in a Welsh seaside village, where her mum and dad ran the local pub, she can't recall hearing music at all in her formative years.
Even when she hit her teens, listening to records was never a priority. Trying to explain just how she came to possess such a remarkably powerful voice, the fragile-looking 23-year-old, who likes to be known only by her surname, is almost lost for words.
"I always had a hunger to sing, but I don't know where I got my voice from," she says, sipping tea and speaking with a strong Welsh lilt.
"I'm still trying to figure out what my voice is capable of, just as I'm still learning how to write songs. There was never one defining moment when I realised I could sing.
"When I was a teenager, I liked Blur and Oasis, but I never bought any CDs. We didn't really have the money. Some people think it's odd that I didn't listen to records, but that's just the way it was. I was never one for fitting into a gang, and I didn't think I was missing anything."
Duffy might be a novice in her appreciation of pop history. But, with her current single, Mercy, at the top of the charts and her debut album, Rockferry, out next month, the petite singer is already adding her own impressive footnotes to the story.
One of the new breed of female artists who have emerged in the past year, Duffy's emotionally bruised vocals, black eye-liner and old fashioned glamour have seen her likened to Sixties pop queen Dusty Springfield.
But her album and a recent live residency at the Pigalle Club in London align her more closely to the retro-soul stylings of Joss Stone or Corinne Bailey Rae.
Duffy, who reveals occasional traces of vulnerability behind her bubbly facade, isn't too keen on the Sixties associations, and it's easy to see why: the big, melodramatic arrangements on Rockferry come not from her, but from her producer, former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler.
"I still don't really know what a Sixties record sounds like," admits Duffy. "I only got given my first soul boxed-set about a year ago. To me, Bernard was pure rock 'n' roll. He didn't play me soul songs. He played me David Bowie and The Rolling Stones. It wasn't a nostalgia thing.
"But I can't be light-hearted about being compared with a singer like Dusty Springfield. It's easy for people to drop names like that, because they have a lot of resonance. But it's also unexpected. It's like saying a car is the same as a train just because the two of them move.
"The way I look isn't a Sixties thing. I just like pinning my hair up and wearing big jumpers. I think that the way I dress is really mumsy.
"I wear eye-liner, just like all my friends. All my friends dress in a pretty similar way to me. My look isn't that far removed from what's going on now."
Although her parents, John and Joyce, are separated, Duffy looks back fondly on her childhood in North Wales.
Until she was 11, she lived in the coastal town of Nefyn, on the Llyn Peninsula. Not long after her parents split up, she moved with her mother and two sisters (one of whom is her twin) to Pembrokeshire.
"Because they ran a pub, my mum and dad would do alternate shifts. We rarely saw them together, but we had a great relationship with them both. The pub was really a smoky, working men's club with leather seats and a snooker table, but I felt proud that my parents ran it.
"They tried to separate when I was six, but I cried so much that they stayed together. That was very cruel of me really, but my mum is a lovely woman and she didn't want to hurt us.
"They finally separated when I was nine. As kids, we weren't really aware of the emotional side of it, but I guess there was quite an upheaval. I don't like to dwell on the negative side. I'm not someone who takes the scars with me. It happened and I've learned how to live with it."
Duffy's first break as a singer came in 2003 when she finished as runner-up on Waw Ffactor, a Welsh language version of Pop Idol that featured former Catatonia guitarist Owen Powell as a judge.
"Waw Ffactor happened a long time before X Factor," Duffy says. "It wasn't a phenomenon in the way The X Factor is now. People didn't watch it for the drama. All the other contestants had family members there with banners, but I turned up on my own.
"At first, I wanted to back out, but I thought that would make me look stupid. So I carried on, and I kept winning through the rounds. I had no one there to celebrate with, so every time I won, there was hardly any clapping. I still don't know why I did it, really."
Unsure of where she wanted to head musically, Duffy went through a crisis of confidence before being introduced to her future manager, Jeanette Lee, by Powell and another Welsh indie-rocker, Richard Parfitt of the 60 Foot Dolls.
A director of respected independent label Rough Trade, Lee became Duffy's mentor, and encouraged her to really stretch her voice.
She hasn't looked back, spending four years co-writing the songs for Rockferry, many of them with Bernard Butler, and gaining the confidence to parade her talents in public.
"Before meeting the people at Rough Trade, I took a long, hard look at myself. I asked myself what I was really looking for. I had been working with various bands and writers, but I didn't really respect myself enough. Rough Trade helped me to believe in myself."
Her first meeting with Butler, now making great strides as a producer, proved a turning point in helping Duffy focus on what she really wanted from her career.
"He was the first person who seemed to understand me. I was introduced to this long-haired guy in skinny jeans. I didn't even know who he was, but we went out for a chat and within ten minutes I had the ideas for some songs.
"At first, I found it hard to articulate myself, because I didn't have the right musical reference points. I came out with some ridiculous things. I said I wanted something big. Rough Trade thought I meant that I wanted to be a big star. What I wanted was to do something big sonically."
With Mercy just a taster, the tiny Duffy is about to be big on just about every count.