Duffy brushes barbs aside
Thu, July 31, 2008
The Welsh singer, performing in Toronto this weekend, says she writes music because she's usually discouraged
By JASON MACNEIL
If Welsh singer Duffy has a thin skin, she's not exactly prone to showing it.
At 24, the performer's debut album Rockferry has been a chart-topper in several European countries and she has started to make inroads on this side of the Atlantic.
But while she has been the brunt of barbs by some critics as an Amy Winehouse-like clone and ridiculed by fellow musician Estelle, Duffy, performing in Toronto this weekend, takes it all in stride.
"Before I only had to hear about what my friends and family thought and those who knew me," she says from a London recording studio. "But when you go through the public eye, you no longer have feelings, you're no longer human."I don't care if people don't like me or disagree with what I do, I can handle that. But the music, that's what I love to create and what I put a lot of passion into."
Part of that passion was poured into Rockferry, which was released earlier this year.
Duffy says one of the keys to the album's success was realizing her own limitations in the studio.
"I needed to make room for other people and get other people's opinions," she says. "It wasn't just about me going into a room with a piano and making a record. I co-wrote with everyone that I worked with. I don't feel as though it's just my success, it's not me who won the lottery or anything. We all made this record and it all came together in a way."
And while she says she doesn't have a personal favourite of the songs such as the title track, Stepping Stone and Warwick Avenue, she says writing all of them is a release.
"I think I write because I'm usually discouraged," he says. "You say all those things that you were never able to say. I find that in communication -- whether it's with a friend or with someone you love -- there's so much subtext and so much at stake. When you write a song it's like you, your past and your emotions."
Those emotions come to the surface when one watches the video for the soulful Warwick Avenue. Shot by mistake, Duffy says originally the plans called for an elaborate storyline with dancers but instead ended up with a simple head shot of the performer crying while singing the song.
"I genuinely felt upset with Warwick Avenue," she says. "Technically it was a mistake and we should have gotten rid of it (the footage). Because it was so real I said that's as close as I'm ever going to get to ever doing a performance that's real in a video.
"I just think the whole performance or acting side of it, I find it slightly contrived. Like I explained the other day, making a video is like faking an orgasm. You're desperately trying to get to that state of mind. We would all love to be in that frame of mind but you're pretending to re-feel something."
Unlike recent speculation that had her all but pegged for the job, Duffy says she will not be performing the theme song for the upcoming James Bond film Quantum Of Solace. Alicia Keys and Jack White have been recently asked to record the theme song entitled Another Way To Die.
She will, however, keep touring most of this year and plans on recording a new album.
"That's a secret," she says when asked about Rockferry's follow-up date. "I'll probably just go in and do it. Nobody will know that I've gone and done it."
JOHNNY WAS QUITE ROTTEN
The Sex Pistols lead singer Johnny Rotten has never been mistaken for Mr. Compassion.
But Welsh performer Duffy got quite the unexpected surprise earlier this year when she tapped Rotten on the shoulder to say hello backstage at the MOJO (British music magazine) Honours List ceremony in mid-June
According to various reports, Rotten told Duffy to "f--k off," berated her for the action and knocked her off balance.
"There are always so many different experiences but I would have to say that was really shocking," Duffy says of the incident, which left her in tears. "That was the one that frightened me the most. But the thing I have to remind myself is that you're doing this because I like music and that's the way I choose to express myself. And it's no big deal, I know there's a big wide world out there and I try not to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I try to just take every day as it comes."