Florence Welch is a charming and delightful individual. Her gestures, tone and remarkable spiritual presence can illuminate a bleak room, but her voice is her most captivating trait. The singer of Florence + The Machine has left listeners in awe with a string of singles off the group’s well-crafted debut Lungs. Her success is consistently growing and as Welch told us the day of her Toronto gig, she’s enjoying every last bit of it.
Most of the world already knows 2009 was a breakout year for you. How has 2010 treated you so far?
It’s been amazing as I’ve learned a lot, I guess. I find I’m handling the music thing a bit better as it’s become less scary. I’m feeling it today though, as I’m a bit tired. But it’s been fun; just a tad exhausting that’s all.
Ever since the release of Lungs, it seems like you’ve found a home on the road, despite it taking a toll on you sometimes. Do you thoroughly enjoy every bit of it?
I really do, it’s just difficult to try and have a life as well. I was talking to David Byrne the other day about it and we both agree you just have to try and do fun things outside of the gig. Taking part in cultural activities can really help a lot. Tours can be frustrating, but you just need to find time for yourself to cope with them.
How excited are you for the summer music festivals this year?
I’m really excited. Festivals are kind of like holidays, especially when the weather’s good. We’ve been to a few European ones and they were great. It’s nice to see other bands and just hang out with them.
One of the reasons for your success has been your group’s unique sound. How would you describe your music?
It’s kind of loud and intense. The whole album is like a patched quilt of different ideas and emotions. It’s an exercise of trying to create a landscape but with music. It’s a bunch of different styles that excite me and might technically not be good.
The thing that stands out the most when listening to your music is your powerful vocals. When did you first discover that you had such a talented voice?
I’ve never really thought about it, as I guess I’ve always just kind of sung. I do have a very strange voice, as it’s not really a typical pop voice, as it’s not very music-orientated. I did singing competitions in school, but I never really did any good in them. But I have always been able to sing quite loudly (laughs). Whether that means you’re singing well or not, I don’t know.
Magazines have argued over what type of singer you are, claiming you tend to fall into different genres. Do you consider yourself a pop, rock, or soul singer?
See, I don’t know. Maybe just a bit of everything. There’s bits of soul and sometimes the music gets so loud that it could almost be rock. There are also pop elements too. I don’t know if I’d want to classify it as anything, as it draws from different genres. So pick whichever one’s your favourite.
Aside from your voice, you’re a very artistic songwriter. How did you create most of the songs off of Lungs?
It comes from looking around the world and seeing what’s out there. Also going to a lot of gigs and getting inspiration from other artists. Generally getting excited about music in general helped me make the album.
One stand-out track is “Howl” because it’s evidently passionate. What is it about, exactly, and what kind of personal attachment do you have to the song?
It’s really just experimenting with gothic imagery and wasn’t based off reality. In a way, it was kind of like my version of writing a horror story. It’s really cool you like that song though.
You recently said you’ve written a lot of material the past few months. What’s influenced you lately?
Dancing (laughs). Electronic dance music and hip hop. I’ve been listening to so much on this New York radio station, like a lot of Drake, Nicki Minaj and Usher! I’m going through a real hip hop moment as I’m obsessed with the new Rihanna album.
Do you think your next record will be drastically different from your debut?
Who knows. I’m definitely going to work with different people and get their opinions and tastes. Just like look at Lungs and you see that all the songs are drastically different from each other, so there’s no real change. I don’t know if it’s the way they worked. All the songs on the second album could be singular and have a different feel to it, but I haven’t written a lot of tracks to see what it’s going to be like.
Do you feel pressured at all to release another album everyone will adore?
I just feel under pressure at the moment trying to keep myself healthy and be alive and awake. I’m not really thinking about that pressure yet because the downtime to record the next album will be a break for me. Right now, I’m just trying to focus on going from town to town, doing shows and not falling down in between.
What do you think your life would be like if you weren’t a famous musician?
I don’t know. I think I’d always be singing somewhere. I’d be traveling lot less as I’m not a natural traveler. I’d probably be in London at art college, drinking way too much and singing here and there. I’d do bits and bobs for friends. Pretty much making music, just not releasing it.
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