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fifteen minutes with... paloma faith

Where we ask pop music commentator Michael Cragg to ring people for fifteen minutes and no seconds. First up, it’s lovely London lady Paloma Faith, who just had a baby and is about to release her first album in three years, The Architect.

by Michael Cragg
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21 September 2017, 8:58am

Hello Paloma! Where are you?
I'm just at home. I've been doing mum stuff.

Has having a baby changed your life?
Yeah, in a nuts way.

Elaborate please.
It's quite amazing because you just have loads more respect for your own mother and all mums.

Beyoncé called the act of giving birth the most beautiful thing in the world – would you agree?
No, I think it was the worst thing that's ever happened to me. I keep saying to people that I went to hell and brought back an angel. That's what it feels like.

I didn't tell you the concept for this interview. It's called Fifteen Minutes with Faith, and we're going to chat about whatever you want. I haven't prepared a thing, you're not prepared either, let's just chat.
Oh great!

So is there anything – anything at all - you'd like to talk about?
I'd like to talk about my album that's coming out and all the songs that are heading to your ears soon.

I see. The album's called The Architect...
Yes and it's the first time I've done something that's more waited in social commentary. I think that was influenced by becoming a parent. I started to look outside of myself a bit more. There was an element of wallowing in my own mind before, but this one is much more about documenting and making a statement about the current social climate.

Okay. Do you feel worried about doing that?
I don't feel worried about it. I feel like it's time younger people became more politicised and I feel like I want to say something about that and make it more prevalent. I think it's been a long time since artists focused on social commentary. Obviously there are some exceptions with grime and people like Kendrick Lamar, but it's very thin on the ground. I just thought it was time, especially as a female artist, that we weren't just defined by whinging about men breaking our hearts and actually defined by observation and things like empathy and compassion.

Do you think it will put off those in your fanbase that just want to hear some nice love songs and not be preached at?
No, because I've done it very cleverly and made it sound like they're all about relationships. I've written everything in the first person because I think being somebody who wants to promote empathy you have to imagine all these situations are you. For example the title track is a heartbreak song but it's from the point of view of the world singing to humanity.

That sounds quite Michael Jackson.
Yeah, but I think he did a lot of stuff about telling people how to be. I didn't want to do that. I wanted to imagine that I was the world and how I'd feel.

Do you think people might cringe reading that in print?
Maybe, but when they hear it they won't because it works.

Who did you work with on the album?
You know what, I'd like to go back to what you said about the cringing. I think there's a problem in young culture with the cringing thing. I think it's quite dangerous. It's a major denial of basic human qualities that are being ruled out by irony and cynicism, and trying to pretend like you don't give a shit. Or trying to be so clever that you're paralysed by it and you do nothing so you're inactive. I think it takes a certain level of bravery to stand up and say something. We're in a major mess in the world. I feel like we're on the edge of world war three, if not actually in it. I've written a song for the album actually about that, it's called World War Three.

I see.
There's too much distance between people and the media portrayal of what's happening in the world. We can't put ourselves in these peoples in shoes. I didn't want to sound preachy or have people think it's another Live Aid album, but I'll let you decide whether I've succeeded or not when you've heard it. I think I've tried to redefine the way we deal with these things. Maybe if you start from the beginning just by saying 'maybe you could understand how I'm feeling' then maybe you're starting with a realistic goal.

If you were allowed to chat to Donald Trump for ten minutes what would you say to him?
It would be very difficult because I feel like he's a man beyond reasoning.

What about Theresa May? Does she seem more reasonable?
Maybe. I'd ask her why she's up his arse, but not using that language. I think it's strange, this allegiance, although I do get it as she doesn't have too many other allies. I just think it's dangerous to align yourself with somebody who's obviously an egotistical psychopath. It's almost like a weird apocalypse film you didn't think would happen. I'm worried that people that swipe the news now, or it's delivered in a tweet about Donald Trump threatening to launch a bomb that could wipe out the whole world and it's 'oh, let's go on Instagram'.

Do you ever wish you cared less about things?
Yes, but I was raised on the protest trail of Maggie Thatcher's Britain, so I was always on a march. That's where I came from, so when I first came into the public eye I tried to curb it a bit. But now I'm just being me.

We need to lighten this up. Have you been watching Bake Off?
No. I've been getting the narrative from Noel [Fielding] because we're friends. I don't really watch television. That's a really not very i-D question you've just asked me.

Did you have a perception about what the questions would be like?
Well I just thought i-D wouldn't be interested in Bake Off; it sounds like something you'd have in TV Quick.

Did you think that i-D would be interviewing Paloma Faith in 2017?
I was in i-D very early on in my career. When I was in a band called Paloma & The Penetrators. It was a bit more like what you wanted me to do which was shouting in people's faces about my political beliefs.

You're sort of still doing that but just not penetrating as much.
Or being penetrated hardly at all now that I've got a child.

Our time is up Paloma!
Bye then.

Paloma Faith will release her new album, The Architect, on 17 November via RCA Records.