Duffy returns to Wales after American adventure
After making a huge impression with her debut album in America, Duffy is back in Wales for a couple of smaller gigs. She talks to Holly Wild about fame, getting starstruck and being chatted up by celebrities
AT the start of the year, Duffy was a relative unknown.
Today the Welsh soul singer admits that she “fights with my diary” every day as she’s in such demand.
With a UK chart-topping debut single and album under her belt – and after making a huge impact on the highly competitive American market – it seems that Duffy can barely find time to breathe.
But the 23-year-old from Nefyn has managed to squeeze in a couple of intimate gigs in her homeland as part of a mini UK tour before she performs in countries across Europe.
Tomorrow she will be at Cardiff University and on Friday she heads to Venue Cymru in Llandudno.
Duffy, whose second single, Warwick Avenue, is released on Monday, says the Welsh gigs were important to her: “We had the one date booked in Cardiff and I really wanted to get another show in Wales because if you just do Cardiff then you eliminate the north of Wales.
“I’m always trying to squeeze things in and I just wanted to accommodate the fans from home and put another date in there.
“The tour sold out really quickly and it was quite crazy really.”
It is just three months since Duffy performed a gig for just 220 fans at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff, which was an instant sell out.
“That was wild,” she says recalling the gig, which took place just as her debut single Mercy went straight to the top of the UK chart. “I couldn’t really see the majority of the audience ’cos they were all squished in together, but I could hear them for sure. It was so much fun and they were brilliant.”
Debut album Rockferry, released in March, has now reached double platinum status in the UK, with sales currently sitting around the 600,000 mark. In America it entered the Billboard chart at number four.
Duffy is the first to recognise how fast everything has been happening for her.
“It’s been quite mind-blowing,” says the singer, who was once runner-up on S4C’s talent show Waw Ffactor.
“Of course I hoped that people would warm to the album because I make music for people, not for me. You hope that a record is going to become something that people want and like and so it’s really surprising how quickly everything has happened.”
With such a sudden rise to fame, she admits it’s taken time for it all to sink in for her family and friends as well as her. “They’ve been like excited children at Christmas! It’s gone from nobody really caring that I’m a singer to suddenly everyone being super proud.”
Duffy’s newfound recognition has even led to her being asked out by celebrities. “I’m not going to drop any names, but I was walking around Chelsea about two weeks ago and I saw this celebrity guy walking towards me.
“Usually with my sister I’m like ‘Oh my God, I saw so and so today’ and then this guy and his mate stop me, ask for my number and see if I want to go out for a drink with him! At the end of the day I’m still a kid from Wales and I’m being chatted up by a celebrity in the street! Is that supposed to be normal?”
With her British success looking set to repeat itself in the US, Duffy, whose Welsh icon is Tom Jones, points out that she isn’t about to turn her back on her homeland. “I’m a British singer and I value that so much and that’s why I’m not in any hurry to leave. The fact that I moved to London from Wales in itself is a really big thing.”
Duffy is now looking forward to a packed summer schedule of festivals, including Wakestock at Abersoch on July 6.
“I can’t really get nervous anymore,” she says of playing live. “There’s an element of vulnerability and I do get scared a little bit, but I just want to let people have a good time. I don’t want to be loved or adored or get off stage feeling good about myself, I want to get off stage feeling that people had a good time. I can’t stand on my head and do magic tricks, you know, I do what I do and I just hope that it goes down OK.”
So what’s next for Duffy?
“I’m not worrying about what lies ahead in the future yet. I just take each day as it comes otherwise I’d lose my mind.”
Duffy performs at Cardiff University tomorrow and at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, on Friday . She releases her second single, Warwick Avenue, on Monday