Exclusive Duffy interviewThe Welsh wonder talks weekend disguises and illegal downloads
By Matt Hill
From a tiny North Wales town to touring the world in less than six months, diminutive 24-year-old Aimee Duffy has well and truly blown up (to the point that a first name seems no longer necessary). Now, ShortList.com has been touting her for superstardom since last October, so it was only fair that we were exclusively invited to catch up with her in LA to see exactly how big she’d got. And as she belted out her hit ‘Mercy’ on Microsoft’s upcoming ‘Lips’ karaoke game in front of thousands at its E3 keynote address, we were left thinking: yep, pretty big…
So you’ve conquered the mainstream and now the geeks. Are you a technology fan?
Yeah, I am, but I don't understand it. I'm the type of person who needs assistance turning on the computer. But I'm getting there. I didn’t really get into downloading till two or three years ago, but it's amazing. When you think about that I had literally no access to music all my life… I don't know if you know North Wales, but we're talking two hours on a bus to a really great record store. So I think it’s amazing all this access.
We’re presuming you mean legal downloads?
Well, I mean, it can go two ways – there are pros and cons to everything. Some people think it creates illegal access, but I think the big wheel is round, y’know? I think it’s got more positives because it basically gives people access, what’s the harm in that? Somebody asked me the other day what I thought of illegal downloading, and I thought, “You know what? I don't care,” because I think the majority [doing it] are kids and as they get old and get more income they'll probably buy records. So it’s just making music a part of everyone's lives, which is what I think this game [‘Lips’] does in the home. It’s really credible and fun, not gimmicky.
So have you been involved much in the making of the game?
No, they’re literally just using my song on the game. There's loads of other artists that are going to be featured as well, it just so happens that 'Mercy' is one of the songs that they've decided to use really early on. And so they asked if I wanted to come along and do a performance on the game.
Which, unsurprisingly, you aced. We think you deserve more of a test – what’s a very un-Duffy song people would be surprised you like?
‘Smack My Bitch Up’ by The Prodigy. It's actually my favourite music video – what a classic.
We can’t imagine you blurting that out after a few soft drinks at a karaoke bar.
Probably not. It would have to be a classic – something like ‘Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay’ by Otis Redding. It kind of sums up karaoke's soul, it's such a beautiful song, the history of it is unbelievable. I can murder that when I'm doing karaoke, but the thing is that Otis Redding never heard the completed version of that song because he died in a plane crash, so it’s like the saddest, most amazing song that you can somehow take into your living room and make it your own. Blah, blah, blah… Sorry, I'm really into musical history - one moment I'm slaughtering a song, but on the other hand I'm really aware of what it means.
Do you have many music epiphanies while you're drinking?
Yeah, and I start crying! [laughs]
So aside from karaoke, how do you get away from everything and be yourself?
A glass of wine is definitely up there. Whatever I can manage to find - just 10 minutes by myself normally does the trick.
That doesn’t sound very exciting for an international star.
Well, I obviously I do other things, but that's my private life, isn't it? I can get up to a little bit of trouble with my sisters and my friends, but I’ve spent months pretending that I’m so clean-cut, so I’m not going to change that now. So I do whatever, I chill out, party in secret locations around London.
Do you get people chasing you around the capital then?
I think everything is manageable if you're smart about it. I just have to plan my routes carefully – where I go, what I do and normally a boiler suit, black moustache and a wig doesn't go amiss. Good times. My friends call me 'Bob' on the weekends. I was walking down the street in LA about four months ago and this girl ran up to me screaming, "Duffy!" and my record wasn't even out here then. It was the most bizarre moment ever.
It’s been a huge year for you, how are you taking it all in?
You know what, it's actually been a huge 18 weeks – we've discovered that that's how long my album's been out, it's not even a year, is it? [laughs]. People say, “How’s your year going?” and I feel like I'm in 2010, reminiscing. It's like, “Wow, I'm still in the middle of it.”
Duffy's comments on illegal downloads have provoked further articles online. The below article is from NME:
Duffy: 'Illegal downloading is a good thing'Singer says online sharing puts 'music in people's lives'
Duffy has suggested that she supports illegal downloading - as she believes it will ultimately inspire fans to buy more music.
In contrast to the recent agreement between the Government, music industry and internet service providers to send warning letters to people who download music illegitimately, this year's biggest selling artist so far says she is comfortable with fans listening to her music for free.
"Well, I mean, it can go two ways – there are pros and cons to everything," she told Shortlist. "Some people think it creates illegal access, but I think the big wheel is round, y'know? I think it's got more positives because it basically gives people access, what's the harm in that?
"Somebody asked me the other day what I thought of illegal downloading, and I thought, 'You know what? I don't care', because I think the majority [doing it] are kids and as they get old and get more income they'll probably buy records. So it's just making music a part of everyone's lives."
Her comments follow an interview with the star in this month's Uncut, where she repeated her views, explaining: "What I've begun to think [about illegal downloading] is, when kids can get access to music, it's only a good thing."
The below article is from ContactMusic:
DUFFY - DUFFY SUPPORTS ILLEGAL DOWNLOADS
Welsh star DUFFY is happy for young fans to download her music for free - as long as they buy her records when they get older.
The singer believes most people who use illegal file-sharing websites only do so because they can't afford to buy CDs.
She says, "There are pros and cons to everything. Some people think it creates illegal access, but I think the big wheel is round, y'know?
"I think it's got more positives because it basically gives people access, what's the harm in that?
"Somebody asked me the other day what I thought of illegal downloading, and I thought, 'You know what? I don't care', because I think the majority (of people who download) are kids and as they get old and get more income they'll probably buy records. So it's just making music a part of everyone's lives."
The U.K. government recently launched a crackdown on illegal downloading, with internet service providers planning to send warning letters to customers who access file-sharing sites.
EDIT: I thought I'd update this today (30th July) since The Guardian have this sarcastic anti-Duffy article which there is totally no need for. The state of this:
Duffy: downloading music illegally is 'amazing'
The Welsh warbler becomes the unlikely spokesperson for Generation BitTorrent
Duffy may not be working on the new James Bond film, but at this rate she may still have an assassin after her. And that assassin will have been hired by her record company. The 24-year-old singer has come out as a defender of illegal downloading, celebrating it as a way of "making music a part of everyone's lives".
Alhough Duffy is No 2 on the charts at illegal download site MP3 Fiesta, the Welsh belter doesn't seem much bothered. "[Illegal downloading] can go two ways," she explained to ShortList. "Some people think it creates illegal access, but I think the big wheel is round, y'know?"
"Somebody asked me the other day what I thought of illegal downloading, and I thought, 'You know what? I don't care,' because I think the majority [of downloaders] are kids and as they get old and get more income they'll probably buy records."
Take young Duffy, for instance. Two or three years ago, the singer started downloading music. She was just a poor kid living in North Wales, "two hours on a bus to a really great record store". But now she's older, wealthier, and surely she gets her music at the shops. Everything in deluxe 180-gram vinyl? Right? Duffy doesn't say. All she says is: "[Downloading is] amazing. It basically gives people access, what's the harm in that?"
Perhaps she should ask her manager.