Friday, March 14, 2008

14 Mar: Duffy's Out On Her Own

Exclusive The Big Razz Interview Songstress Duffy Talks About Her Tough Climb To The Top Of The Charts And How She Doesn't Relish Being Compared To Current Or Past Stars

WELSH singing sensation Duffy's powerful voice has led her being dubbed the new Amy Winehouse.

But the 23-year old chart-topper has vowed she won't end up in rehab because she made a fool of herself on booze when she was just 14-years-old.

The singer - full name Aimee Ann Duffy - has revealed she indulged in an ill-advised teenage bender before giving a less than memorable performance in a local jazz club.

She says the experience made her vow to stay sober during the rest of her career.

When asked if she is in danger of the same pitfalls the likes of Amy has faced, Duffy says: "It happened tome one time. I was 14, all very illegal, and I had had a few drinks in a small jazz club. After some fortifying alcohol I got on stage and sang my heart out.

"Afterwards a man said I was caterwauling.

I was so mortified, I realised that kind of behaviour is just not me and I never did it again."

Referring to the comparisons made with the Back To Black star, she adds: "I realised that this type of music was coming into fashion, although I hadn't expected being compared to it.

"Maybe it's sad to say, but one likes to think one is original. I wrote Rockferry four years ago. Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse weren't around yet then, and neither was Candie Payne. That came later.

"I am not making this music because it is fashionable but because I genuinely love it. That's what makes it an honest record."

Meanwhile, Duffy, who is No.1 in both the singles chart with Mercy and albums chart with Rockferry this week, is keen to cash in on her fame - by getting a boyfriend.

"I want to go out and have a laugh, and maybe I'll go on a couple of dates," she says.

"Why not? I want to have a couple of dates.

Basically, I want to do all the normal things that any other single 23-year-old wants to do."

She also insists her success has been far from overnight.

Though her

Rockferry album went platinum (300,000 sales) within two days of going on sale this week, she was an unknown just weeks before the single Mercy shot to the top. She began songwriting at the age of 10, influenced by Doris Duke, Bettye Swann, Scott Walker and Richard Hawley.

In her late teens she left her hometown Nefyn in North Wales to tour Europe and struggled to make ends meet before returning home "battered and bruised".

Gigs at the local rugby club in Nefyn earned her just £20.

"The only fun part was the 20 quid at the end of the evening. I wasn't doing it for the appreciative crowd. I needed the money. And I wanted to make music and didn't know where to begin."

As little as four years ago, she even had to make do with runner up on theWelsh talent showWaw Factor, broadcast around her country on S4C.

Although she failed to win the top prize, her vocal potential was noted by competition judge and former Catatonia guitarist Owen Powell who, together with former 60ft Doll, Richard Parfitt, brought her to Rough Trade management's attention.

She has since spent the past two years creating the album, in part with ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, that would become her debut, Rockferry.

Duffy says: "We didn't have any record stores in my town. I just knew what I wanted to do. As somebody coming from Wales to the city I've had a lot to deal with, so for me this album is about a journey. We took two years to get the process right, and I think that's what we've done.

"I used to make stuff that sounded a lot more electronic. But it just didn't fit, it didn't sound chic. Modern sounds are often so cheap.

"I wanted expensive, polished sounds, not something disposable. Maybe it's a real psychological thing, but I like knowing that the string parts were recorded in a real room.

That the drum kit is live. I love that.

"It had to be an album that you can keep in your CD player forever.

"I could have made the whole album with only Bernard, I had to make that choice half way through. But I didn't want to make a hundred Rockferries. That would be all too easy. We could have released this record four years ago then. I wanted to find a balance."

Keeping the album under wraps once it was complete was tough, she admits.

"It was like living in this little bubble. Every time I made something new the label was excited. We were on a buzz. Now that the album is out, my life is no longer hurried. I was a very impatient person before, but that is no longer necessary."

Named after a town on the Wirral, the collection of songs on Rockferry are evocative of Motown's mid-60s heyday.

The album's success has also ignited renewed interest in the late Dusty Springfield, the other artist Duffy has drawn comparison with.

"Being compared to Dusty Springfield doesn't annoyme, not at all, but I really don't feel I deserve a comparison like that," she explains. "She went to Memphis in the middle of the 1960s, when she was a top star in the UK. It was a big deal for her to fly there and do that, and she made big, dramatic records and went on for years after.

How can one girl from Wales even stand next to someone like that?"

'I wanted expensive, polished sounds, not something disposable.

It had to be an album you can keep in your CD player for ever'

'I am not making this music because it is fashionable, but because I genuinely love it'

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