Florence Welch first appeared on the music scene in South London in 2008, in a whirl of hedonism, red hair and glitter like indie band leader Florence + The Machine.
Now – a decade after – the band has three albums multi-platinum and countless awards including Grammys, BRIT and MTV, While the 32-year-old frontwoman boasts several ad campaigns for Gucci and a book of poems by success.
With one of the most distinctive voices of his generation, the sound of Florence combines a music that makes you dance with lyrics described by the Director of Ladybird Greta Gerwig as ‘ able to evoke the deepest, the darkest pit of pain ‘. Case in point: Florence + The machines are headliners at Glastonbury in 2015, where she hovered on the Pyramid Stage in a magnetic performance that did move all present.
The single Hunger, from the new album High As Hope, is a classic example of this tension. This song is deceptively perky and optimistic, revealing his long struggle with drugs and eating disorders.
While he recorded the last album (his fourth), Florence has discovered a new sense of clarity and openness, revealing his demons as described so blunt his efforts through songs. The summer release of the album also coincides with his first book, Useless Magic: Lyrics and Poetry (you will find his notes and drawings on these pages). It is in the book that Florence promises readers: “You can have anything you want”.
Among women who inspire the work of Florence there is her friend and fellow poet Yrsa Daley-Ward, whose sincere approach to poetry in Bone and The Terrible made her a global phenomenon and a wonder of social media.
In his book, Florence thanks Yrsa for your inspiration, his support and his high targets ‘. ELLE listens while the two friends discuss how to combat their addictions, the healing power of writing and joy that can give a good silk pajamas.
FLORENCE WELCH: We met through my book club, Between Two Books, No? The extraordinary poet Nayyirah Waheed wrote an amazing piece on your work. And I remember reading Bone and I said ‘ Oh, shit. It was so great.’ The poem talks about people, but it is also accessible. I think there’s a real resurgence of poetry, and it’s so exciting to see how contemporary poets are using social media as a new platform.
YRSA DALEY-WARD: It’s like some kind of rebirth. But I think people have always wanted to read or hear or see something that would make them feel less alone. How did you start writing poetry?
FW: I had changed my lifestyle – that is, I had to stop drinking. Esageravo during the party and I was getting to the point where I always felt apart.
The scary thing is that I thought what made me big creative was being a hedonist. But at some point it was quite difficult to compose new songs because I suffered a lot and everything I could write was: ‘ How do I get out of this trap?Is the central theme of my notes was: ‘ I’m stuck, They fuckin’, I don’t know how to stop: help, help, help!’
I quit drinking shortly before How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Show people this side of yourself, that is so scary for you, and having people accept it with love, sing it along with the other – was really a great catharsis. So I found that my mind was more open. I started to write everything and let it run.
YDW: Look a different sense of vulnerability when you write poems?
FW: What I discovered is that – as with the songs – the poem was a safe haven in which to tell the truth. You said it yourself: ‘ If you are afraid to write it, It’s a good sign.’ I definitely felt that with some of the songs of this album I was really scared.
“I SUFFERED A LOT AND EVERYTHING’ THAN I COULD WRITE WAS: ‘ HOW DO I GET OUT OF THIS TRAP?’ “
YDW: Why all this fear?
FW: I was horrified by what I was doing. I was so scared before Hunger. I don’t know, have you felt like this before The Terrible It was published?
YDW: Absolutely. There were things that I had never told anyone. I would say to myself: ‘ Oh, fantastic. Actually I did it on purpose to ruin my life ‘.
FW: Yes, exactly! There are things in Hunger of which I have not yet talked to some of my oldest friends; I don’t talk about even with my mother. My little sister said to me ‘ what are you doing? You can’t talk about this stuff and put it in a fucking pop song!’ [Ride]
YDW: Is as a breakthrough, No?
FW: I’m not a believer but for me the singing has always been a religious thing. When I sing I’m always alone.
SHE MADE ME JUST SIT AND DO WHAT I WANTED AT THE PIANO AND HIT THE WALLS WITH CHOPSTICKS AND IT WAS FROM THERE THAT IS BORN THE SOUND OF FLORENCE + THE MACHINE
FW: I am very anxious every time I publish something – I feel this vulnerability in showing something of my own to the whole world. [Ride] Oh my God, Basically I have this app on my phone, that is the app of the Moon, and tells me when there’s a full moon.
YDW: Me, too!
FW: Have you ever received strange messages from the Moon saying ‘ have you been drinking orange juice expired today, EH?’ [laugh so much] And I thought: Who writes these messages on the Moon?’ Why I would do that job, I would like to be the person who sends messages in place of the Moon. The best thing about Instagram is that Patti Smith has an account now. I wrote a song about her, Patricia. She texted me on Instagram to thank me and I; ‘ Oh, It’s amazing!’.
YDW: In other news, This morning I was going to send you a picture…
FW: Oh my God! Did you get the Pajamas [sleepwear collection of Florence to Liberty London]? I’m so glad you like them. I’ve always been obsessed with Liberty prints, then they let me go into their archive of 18th-century fantasies of the sixties.
YDW: They are so beautiful, I really feel elegant when I wear them. Are the cutest thing I’ve ever had in the House. I also like what you wear during your performances. You’re always wrapped in beautiful fabrics and silks.
FW: I swear – When I started performing I was very messy. But now if I can move fine wearing something everything goes the right way.
Alessandro Michele of Gucci really understands the way I perform. It’s strange, because I’ve never met anyone that has an aesthetic so similar to mine. Many of the ideas for my performances are by Otis Redding, Mick Jagger and Nick Cave, so masculine influences. But then I always made up for it with the femininity of clothes. Try to be scary and strong, but in a Nightgown.
YDW: And I love it! This power… Are you channeling every single part of your energy.
FW: I was watching this documentary on the Beatles, they did see a concert with Allen Ginsberg and the Beat poets at the Royal Albert Hall in the years ‘ 60 and I thought we should do it again! I would love to call poets like you, listen to the poems. I may need your help. We should collect a whole lot’ of poets if seek them together…
YDW: Yes! My God. It would be great.
FW: It’s decided then! We’ll do! Ah well, won’t let you go, but I miss you!
YDW: It was a pleasure. I wish you much love!