That Duffy displays no trace of a pop-star ego may be endearing, but you wonder if it won’t hinder her progress in America. Although Rockferry peaked at No 4 in the Billboard charts in May, and has sold more than 500,000 copies to date, she is still not a household name. She has done the chat-show circuit, though singing, rather than sitting on sofas, but attempts to associate her with more established stars don’t seem to be going down well with the singer. Last month, she played alongside Mariah Carey, Michael McDonald and Rihanna at a charity concert in LA, but spent most of the time in her dressing room.
“There were superstars everywhere, but I don’t get that stuff,” she sighs. “I don’t like how big American stars consider themselves an exception from humanity. But there are some nice ones. I met Stevie Nicks, a wonderful woman who knows all about Welsh myths. She was educating me with tales about dragons. I’ve met Beyoncé, too, and she was lovely. Some of the others were a bit sad, really. They had entourages, pushing here and pushing there. It was embarrassing.”
The night before the New York show, Duffy was in Cleveland, supporting Coldplay. “I love those boys, but I’m not sure about supporting,” she says. “I only want to be on stage when I’m welcome, and I don’t know if I am in a support slot.
“When we were kids, we went to the pier in Llandudno and there was a band. My sister was egging me on to get up and do a song. I didn’t want to, because it wasn’t my gig. Music is precious and, whether it’s played on a pier in Wales or in an arena in Ohio, I’d hate to impose myself. I prefer people to choose to hear my songs.”
So, how desperately does Duffy want to conquer America? “I don’t even know what that means,” she laughs. “But there’s nothing I really want out of this any more. I got it all when we released Rockferry. I spent three and a half years making that record, and it was hardest thing I ever had to do. I’ve been making music for a decade now, so it’s not as though suddenly someone gave me this great big package and I was struggling down the street with it. I was more prepared for this than for anything I’ve ever done. Of course, it still takes my breath away at times.”
Suddenly, Duffy hoists her 5ft 2in frame from the sofa and points to a decoration in the corner of the bar. “I tell you what this year has been like,” she announces. “That little tree over there. Except it isn’t a tree. I thought it was, but then I went to look and it’s actually five sticks in a vase with a twirly thing round it. It’s like the closer you get, the more the picture changes.”
The deluxe edition of Rockferry is released tomorrow; Duffy’s UK tour begins tomorrow night in Dublin