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Florence Welch: 'I'm just always flooded with self-loathing'

Mr. Nimbus | 05/17/2022

Florence Welch joined Zane Lowe in-studio on Apple Music 1 for a conversation about Florence + The Machine’s fifth album ‘Dance Fever’.

She tells Apple Music about almost giving up on the album after heading directly from the studio with Jack Antonoff into lockdown, the difficulty of processing the uncertainty of not knowing if she’d ever be able to perform live again, how humour and self awareness informed the songwriting on the album, and trying to embody her favourite male vocalists like Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, and Iggy Pop on album opener ‘King’. She also discusses navigating sobriety during the pandemic, reflects on initially drinking to fuel her creativity and keep up with the hard partying indie scene she came up in, why being a musician is bad for personal relationships, and more.

Florence Welch Tells Apple Music About Almost Giving Up on Her Album After Heading Straight From The Studio with Jack Antonoff Into Lockdown…

There were so many moments where I had nearly gave up on this record. There were so many moments where I nearly went, “It just feels like the way that the world is, this is just too hard to finish.” I started with Jack, and we were meant to make the whole record in Electric Lady in New York in… March 2020. I went to New York. I had my suitcases packed for a month, we were going to make the whole… we had a bunch of amazing songs done. The first song we wrote together was King and… so Jack had wanted to work together for a while, and we met and we got on really well. I found him really great to talk to. I never start working with anyone at this stage in my career, unless we get in the studio and do something, and that really tells you whether something’s going to work. You’re never like, “Yeah, let’s do this,” until you’ve had a play date, and on this play date we wrote King and then Choreomania. I’d had Choreomania and it was in a very demo-like state, and what Jack did to it, he took it so far. I was like, “This guy’s really good. He’s really, really good.” The strength of those two songs was like, “Okay, there’s really something here,” and then we agreed to start the record together. We got to New York, in that one week we wrote Free and we wrote Back In Town. Ironically, Back In town was the last song I wrote before my mom called. My mom never calls me, she’s a very busy lady. We basically have to make appointments with her secretary. I saw my mom, she said, “You should come home.” If mom calls, somebody’s died or something has happened. I saw her, I was like, “It’s time to go,” and it was very much that stage where they were like, “This will just be a month.” It was interesting to me, though, as well, because for all of my anxiety and for all of my worrying about things that would happen in the future, I was wildly optimistic about this. It just proved to me that my anxiety doesn’t know anything. My anxiety is not a psychic. Everything that I think bad will happen tends to not happen, and then the things that I cannot conceptualize… happen, which is weird, so I’m really optimistic. So me and Jack were both like, “See you in a month, going to get home,” and then I didn’t see Jack for a year and a half year. I don’t think he left his apartment for a year.

Florence Welch Tells Apple Music About Processing The Uncertainty of Not Knowing If She’d Ever Be Able To Perform Live Again…

I felt like this cathedral of touch that I had built had just flattened overnight. And the grief and the loss of… It’s also, it was like, “It’s my job.” And I just didn’t know if it would come back and I don’t know how to do anything else. I don’t know how to do anything else? Because, there were so many false starts as well of like, “We can go to finish the record, or we can’t, there’s another variant. We’re going to get to New York to do it. Oh, we can’t. Everyone in England has COVID, you can’t leave. America doesn’t want you.” And so, there were so many false starts of whether this record would even finish and where the gigs… And you would see a tour go up, you would see it get canceled, you would see a show go up, you would see a get canceled. And so, it was almost like, after two years of desperately wondering, I almost settled in. I was like, “You know what? Maybe, this isn’t…” It’s like, “I will never, I could never live without this thing.” And I still feel that a world without live music, I was really questioning whether I even wanted to be in that world. That’s how I’ve seen miracles take place, is on stage. It’s how I’ve seen people transcend their physical bodies and bring heaven into the room. For me, music and gigs, they are my kind of spiritual practice, and making music. And I always felt like I was in communication with something outside of myself that would provide me this moment of relief from self. And that is a kind of transcendence, I think. And so when all gigs and live and… these places that had been my church… I felt abandoned, I think. I felt abandoned.

Florence Welch Tells Apple Music How Humor and Self Awareness Informed Her New Album…

I think it’s funny. But my therapist is like, “You have to stop laughing at terrible things.” She’s like, “A, you have to stop trying to make me laugh. And every time you say something bad, you think that it’s hilarious.” But that’s my work. That’s my ongoing work… But I think there’s a humor also in self-knowledge, that runs through this record, that I’ve actually found really liberating. And able to take the things that perhaps I used to protect myself, mythologies and a creation. And I feel like I can kind of wink at it a bit more and be like, “I know a lot of this is sort of fantasy.” But it’s like the self-awareness has allowed me to maybe take myself less seriously, as well, which has been kind of enjoyable on this record.

Florence Welch Tells Apple Music About Tricking Herself Into Releasing Her Music Into The World…

…making a record is so fun. And when I make records, I make them really with the… have to make things with the idea that no one else will hear them, and I’m in a private dialogue with kind of myself. And so then when you get to the realization that this private dialogue is going to be completely public, I’m always… It’s like I’ve tricked myself again. I’m like, “What the…? You did it to yourself again.” Always if I’m afraid, or it feels really exposing or vulnerable, it’s like the dare. It is. It also maybe means something is working, if it makes you feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, you’re like, “Ah, this probably means it will resonate with people.” Because it’s the most kind of vulnerable things that really are the most universal, often. But yeah, every time it comes to handing it over, I’m also just like, you think you’d be able to celebrate what you’ve done, but I’m just always flooded with self-loathing.

Florence Welch Tells Apple Music About Album Opener “King” and Trying To Embody Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, and Iggy Pop…

I was like, “I’ll never write a song again, I can’t do anything.” It came from a real conversation in a real kitchen, and then it went into this metaphysical archetypes world, and I think I was thinking about these male performers that I have idolized for so… I was thinking about Nick Cave, I was thinking about Leonard Cohen. I was thinking about how, in some ways, although everyone undergoes huge changes, their physical bodies, especially moving through touring, have been allowed to remain unchanged… and they can commit their body entirely to the stage. These people that I had tried to follow in their exact footsteps, I was like, “Oh my God, I can’t do that. I’m not going to be able to do that. I’m going to have to make choices.” It’s so funny because in the singing, I’m trying to still embody them. In the lower baritones, I’m trying to do a Leonard or a Nick, or an Iggy Pop was a really big reference, so it’s this, “I can do it.” It’s this desperation of trying to hold onto this idea that I had about myself, all the while it is even being undercut by the song itself.

Florence Welch Tells Apple Music About New Song “Free” Resonating With Live Audiences…

We’ve already been playing Free a bit. And sometimes you just know a song is working because when we started playing it before it had even come out, just this ripple started in the audience of people catching onto the chorus and starting to move. And it was one of those moments where I was like, “Oh, this is a special one. This is really hitting something in people.” And that’s so magical for me. That’s when it really, the celebration starts

Florence Welch Tells Apple Music About Aging and Identity…

…this idea that there was so much I wanted to do, but if I wanted to have a family, there was this sense that suddenly I was being irresponsible with my time by choosing this thing that I’ve known my whole life, which is performance, which is making songs, which is striving to be the best performer that I can be, and suddenly realizing that it felt like a betrayal… Somehow it would be your fault or something that you missed that boat, so I think that scream at the end of King, it’s just one of frustration, and confusion as well.

Florence Welch Tells Apple Music About Initially Drinking To Fuel Her Creativity and Attempting To Find Her Place in the Hard Partying Indie Scene at the Time…

I had thought that the chaos in my life and the drinking and everything was fuel for my creativity. And that was how you were a Rock&Roll star, that was how you did it. That was the brief. Because, as a young woman coming out in the indie scene, you didn’t want people to think you were girly or sensitive. And it was like, “If I can drink as hard as these people can and if I can drink them under the table, that’s how I make my place in this world.” And that was all I knew. It was a scene. And in the South London scene that I came from, that was how you did it. The gig was either the side of the drinking. And then, it was the drinking before, the drinking during, the drinking after. And if you could hit the sweet spot where that made the gig really good, that was great. Sometimes, you missed’re just throwing a bucket of paint on someone and screaming, and that’s the show.

Florence Welch Tells Apple Music About Sobriety During The Pandemic…

…a lot of what makes sobriety amazing is that, you get this very big life. So you get to do and experience things that you would have completely ruined, had you been drinking or you wouldn’t be able to show up for, or you just messed things up. And so, sobriety gives you an ability to live. And when there was no living to be done, I was like, “I don’t know, maybe just drink.” It’s like, maybe, but I think luckily I’m further along now that I’m like… It’s not even discipline. It just doesn’t… It’s not… It would cross my mind, but I’m like, “It’s not…” Yeah, it doesn’t stick, it’s like a fleeting thought. But I definitely had that like, without that outlet, without creativity, definitely some of those thoughts crossed my mind.

Florence Welch Tells Apple Music How Making Albums Upends Her Life and Why Being a Musician Is Bad For Personal Relationships…

A lot of it is questioning what it gives to me as well, and being like, “Why do I need this so much, sometimes at the cost of more sustainable forms of intimacy or more stable relationships?” because I think making an album, every time, it upends your entire life. If you’re in a relationship, they just have to hang on for dear life. It’s gotten much less chaotic as the years go on, but being a touring artist and being a musician is just so bad for the personal relationships in your life. I think this record is questioning a lot my commitment to my sense of, and again, winking at it and being like, “How committed am I to my own loneliness? How committed am I to my sense of a tragic figure?” and with the last record I felt like, “God, the loneliness.” Now, this record is, “But are you choosing this?”

Florence Welch Reflects on Early Success and Her Breakout ‘Ceremonials’…

I had such little care for myself, at that moment when Ceremonials was starting to blow up everywhere. And sometimes, when I look at younger artists having a huge moment, I always wonder what it’s like for them on the inside. In some ways I’m like, “That’s so great for them, but I know what it’s like to be on the inside of that.”

Florence Welch Tells Apple Music How The Pandemic Fueled Nostalgia…

But, I think, it put everyone into an early mid-life crisis. It was really, all you were left with was your life up to that point. Because, you also weren’t creating new experiences and you didn’t know when those new experiences would come again. And so, I think the thing that I was most hungry for, was that time almost before… Because, although the fact that this music took off and the fact that Florence and the Machine happened, is incredible to me. It’s so of its own world, that the fact that it became big, is crazy. This wild thing, that for it to sort of go global, I never kind of get over that, that happened.

This post was originally published on this site

Written by Mr. Nimbus

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