Monday, June 9, 2008

09 Jun: Tea and Cake with Duffy (MSN Interview)

You can download the interview as a podcast here.

Tea And Cake With Duffy

After several months of trying to arrange an interview with Welsh songstress Duffy, I finally get to meet her on the day her album, Rockferry, enters the US charts at number four.

At three places higher than Amy Winehouse managed amid much fanfare last year, it's one hell of an achievement.

As she offers me a slice of celebratory cake at her label Rough Trade's decidedly unglamorous office, I get the impression the 24 year-old isn't one to let such things go to her head.

Did she have any idea the album would connect in such a big way with an American audience?

"It never really crossed my mind" she says. "I've been so busy and we've been doing so many places at once that I never sat down with any hope or expectation, you know? And really the record is doing its own thing, it's bizarre. It's like a steam train that I'm watching and waving off and all I can do is follow it."

I mention having first seen her live last November at a Radio One showcase and she actually blushes at the memory. "You were at that? Oh my God, I was SO nervous". I ask whether the speed with which things have happened since has ever been frightening.

Once again she is disarmingly candid.

"I feel like I want to hide all the time but I can't, you know? If you really think about you as a person, I think there's always two sides to you. There's that person who when you get home at night is tired and wants to go to bed and there's the other side that says 'Oh, I'll just go for one drink'.

So it's almost like that. Sometimes I want to hide because I feel very overwhelmed by it all but then there's the other side of me that's so passionate about music, that can't deny that this is something I really want to do."

Meteoric though her rise may appear to have been, as is usually the case, it's actually been a long time coming.

She says of her first forays into music as a teenager in Wales, "I kept getting into all these projects. I had five bands on at one time, like a promiscuous lover, never telling them about each other because I just knew eventually it would all fall apart.

It was a nightmare for my Dad, always having these boys round, and everything was always like I was being used as a vehicle. Or my voice was the cherry on top of someone else's idea…and I just felt really used.

And I got to 18 and I thought 'You know what? The thing that gives me so much passion is also causing me so much pain.' And I thought, 'This isn't right. What am I fighting for? What do I want?' And then I realised that my vision was completely wrong. What I needed to do was bring it back to basics and just sing."

Amen to that.

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