Duffy: 'My life is so glam now - but it means nothing to me'
By Pippa Smith 2/08/2008
Welsh singer Duffy, 24, talks about her new jetset lifestyle, her love of vintage handbags, and why a glass of Merlot is better than a man…
Aimee Anne Duffy is one hard girl to track down. A flurry of festival performances and a diary of ‘shoots, interviews and gigs’ means she’s hot property. As we start chatting she gives us a rundown of her über-hectic schedule, in the next breath reminding us she’s ‘just this kid from Wales who’s done a few songs’.
Yes, she’s still the same girl who grew up in a small Welsh seaside village with her twin sister Katy and older sister Kelly. But with a chart-topping album that’s sold millions, catapulting her to superstardom and earning her a Mojo Song Of The Year award, it’s clear Duffy is more than just some kid.
When we meet the 24-year-old she’s looking hot to trot. With her wispy blonde hair, big eyes, and bee-stung lips, it’s clear where the Brigette Bardot comparisons come from. Interspersing her soft Welsh lilt with girly giggles, Duffy is as un-divaish as they come.
But while her start in life may have been very un-showbiz – she was brought up in the remote Welsh wilderness of Nefyn, and her first experience of music was watching a video tape of Mick Jagger singing Jumpin’ Jack Flash – these days when she’s not picking up music awards, she’s recording the soundtrack for the new James Bond film and fitting in her job as Dolce & Gabbana’s new muse.
And it’s about time she enjoyed herself. After a childhood plagued by family drama (her step-dad was the target of an attempted murder), Duffy is now rocking the world.
The fame game
There’s no denying Duffy’s life has changed dramatically since watching music videos as a teen. These days she’s hanging out with the jetaratti, and when she’s not playing gigs in Paris and Milan, she’s performing in New York. She admits, ‘I guess my life is a lot more glamorous than it used to be in terms of the things I wear, the places I go, the places I stay, the places I eat at and the people I meet. Everything is just wonderful, it’s really fantastic – but I don’t get too caught up in it. I do nice things, but, to be honest, they’re not important. I’m not after a big house in the city, or anything like that.’
Oh, and she recently became the first Welsh woman to have a UK No1 hit in 25 years. She says, ‘It’s cool, it makes me feel really proud to have done that. I think Bonnie Tyler was the last Welsh lady at No1 with Total Eclipse Of The Heart, so yeah, it’s great. When I go home to Wales everyone is so happy for me. It’s really lovely.’
Although she admits it can be over-whelming at times. ‘Can you imagine everyone you’ve ever known suddenly wanting to come and say hello to you and congratulating you for the record? It’s all quite mad, really. But it’s lovely too because everyone’s been so supportive.’
Her new-found fame has seen Duffy mixing backstage with none other than Justin Trousersnake, and taking advantage of guestlists at London’s hottest clubs. But when asked about her favourite celeb meeting, her answer is, well, rather unexpected.
‘I met Roger Daltrey from The Who, and that was really special, because I used to adore him when I was growing up. He’s gorgeous, with the most amazing blue eyes. I really enjoyed meeting him because he’s such a lovely guy and also very genuine. He gave me some really sound advice, which made me feel like what I’m doing is worthwhile and important.’
She’s also about as far removed from the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll image of certain fellow singers as you can get (even her beehive is more Bardot than Winehouse), but that hasn’t stopped her being compared to a songstress with whom she happens to share a first name.
She says, ‘It makes me mad that people keep comparing me to Amy Winehouse and Dusty Springfield. It’s just labelling me as something else, without any respect for the struggle, the determination, focus or artistic vision I have. It’s like, "Whoa, what’s that about? Why would I want to be someone else?" Because I really don’t. I just want to be me. It’s kind of strange and disheartening to be constantly told who I look like, or who I sound like.’
She adds, ‘Saying that, you do get some people who hit slightly closer to where I’m coming from. I got compared to Diana Ross the other day, which was a real compliment. And someone also wrote that I was the female Otis Redding, which really made me feel good because he’s a hero of mine.’
‘Complicated’ love life
Duffy’s been single for the past two years, and says she’s not interested in complicated relationships – all she wants is to be able to be herself. ‘My music is the most honest thing I have. Actually, it’s the only thing I can be honest in, because everything else in life – like love and friendship – is so complex.’
Perhaps it’s a case of once bitten twice shy, as she reveals she’s not got the best track record in romance. Her five-year relationship with Mark Durston, who she met while she was studying A-levels at college, ended when she discovered he’d cheated on her. ‘I always meet rogues,’ she says. And although she’s admitted a current platonic relationship looks like it might be turning into something more, Duffy says she’s not looking for anything serious. ‘I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe. Why? I don’t know… It’s the only thing I’m afraid of. And besides, I’m really happy on my own. Because, that way, no one can hurt you.’
Although if she ever was to be in a position to have a relationship, she knows what she’d be looking for. ‘I want a man who’s charismatic and funny and intriguing and dresses well. And I like a guy who’s good with his hands, a real man.’
She's got the look
After being signed up as Dolce & Gabbana’s clothes horse earlier this year (like you do), Duffy’s not been short of designer frocks. But like most songbirds around, she loves a bit of vintage in her wardrobe. She says, ‘I like to wear vintage designer clothes, you can never go wrong with that. At the moment I’m wearing vintage Chanel and I also like vintage Gucci, especially little handbags that are battered and have been around for 40 years. I love wearing things that have been around longer than I have, and seen more than me.’
But when she’s not dressing up, she loves to, erm, undress. ‘I like getting home after a day’s work, taking everything off, slipping into my bathrobe, pouring a glass of red wine, having the radio on in the background, then calling my friends and family and gassing on the phone all night. I like to hang out in my bathrobe a lot, and just kick back. Sometimes I’ll stay like that the whole weekend.’
At 5ft 4in, Duffy is petite and slim, even her shoe size is a super tiny two and a half (yes, really). But her small frame has less to do with starving herself and more to do with good genes and clean living – she certainly isn’t the type to nibble on lettuce leaves and carrot sticks. ‘I can’t resist seafood because I was raised on it, growing up by the sea in Wales. I love lobster linguini – that’s my favourite dish at the moment. I love red wine too, especially Merlot. I can’t resist that either, but I can only have a glass or two otherwise I get tipsy.’
• Duffy performs at V Festival on 16-17 August. Her next single, Stepping Stone, is out on 1 September
Saturday, August 2, 2008
02 Aug: Duffy: 'My life is so glam now - but it means nothing to me'
This article appeared in the Sunday Mirror today: