The Official Chat with Paloma Faith: "We're raised to believe in fairy tales. I don't want one anymore"

In her most revealing LP to date, Paloma peels away the layers of grief, anger and sadness.
paloma faith interview official charts

Paloma Faith is going through it. When we meet to discuss the release of her sixth studio album, The Glorification of Sadness, we wonder whether, more than 10 years into her pop star life, the prospect of a release date ever gets easier?

"I'm nervous," Paloma tells us. "[But] I'm always nervous. I always forget this, and my management say 'you do this every time.' But now, I'm having stress dreams...which I've never really had before!"

Given the subject of her new album, though, you can't really blame Paloma for this. The Glorification of Sadness is - for want of a better term - her most personal work yet. In the words of Adele, the album is about divorce, babe. Divorce! 

Both thematically coherent and sonically diverse, the album veers wildly in tone, from Dua Lipa-esque club bangers (Cry on the Dancefloor), chamber-pop (How You Leave A Man) and arena-ready rock anthems (Let It Ride), for an artist already six albums and more than a decade into her new career, it's clear Paloma is not ready to rest on her laurels just yet, she wants (needs) to keep re-inventing herself and pushing forward, and that's not without precedence in pop.

"Tina Turner came back in her 40s and had a completely new career," Paloma says. "David Bowie broke America with his fifth or sixth album. I feel like all of that is open for me now. I'm not a back down person."

Paloma, it's become a bit of a joke to tell an artist that this is your most personal body of work yet...but bloody hell, this really, really is. How did you get into this headspace?

I didn't realise this until today, when I was talking to journalists about it, but this is the first time I've made an album where I haven't been listening to other music, or really had any other influences. I knew what I wanted to say, I knew how I wanted it to sound. It was all very organic. 

It's just because I'm executive producer [on the record]. I put my foot down! It needed to be true to my identity, and this very much sounds like a record I would buy. And I don't know if they'd say that about my previous ones. 

Now, Paloma, Fall to Grace...

Let's not knock it! I've always been in soul and R&B. I'd say [The Glorification of Sadness] is probably more contemporary than I've put out [previously]. I'm cool, basically. I'm proving it!

This is your sixth album, you know what you're doing!

Honestly, I think this time everyone has just let me get on with it. In the past, people have been more involved from the label, and they're just not now. I can do what I want. No-one really said anything. When I performed How You Leave A Man at the Royal Variety, I asked if I could smash up a bus stop... in front of the royal family? Everyone was like, great, approved! 

This album is really refreshing in how it approaches your break-up; you feel all of the emotions. You're going through each stage of grief

We've been raised to kind of believe in fairy tales, and I don't think I want one anymore. For me, I'm torn between the social expectation of what I should want, and the reality of what I actually want. I'm constantly, even now, in flux between the two. I'm still adjusting. 

Everyone says I'm meant to want to build a relationship, but I feel like my relationship broke down, it's very soon to be emotionally open again, especially with two small kids! They're so demanding.

paloma faith official chart interview

The album's interludes are really nice in exploring that - a lot of people will see that in The Big Bang I think

Everyone always wants to come and bitch and be like "what an arsehole!" but actually, I think we were just two good people that didn't work out, and we both need to be honest about it. I don't think enough of that goes on, I think there's a type of emotional intelligence that people should work on. You sound very bright in that sense.

It's sometimes so much easier to move on when you've had this massive, relationship-ending explosion

That's what I've been struggling with, because we don't hate each other. We really love each other, and it's really hard.

One thing I took away from the album is that you're still really keen to still look forward and try new things - what keeps you pushing?

I think that I'm a perfectionist and I don't think anything in life feels complete until you die? I'm not satisfied yet. That's probaby some kind of trauma response that's going to take a decade of therapy to unpack...but! I feel like there's so many things in my career I haven't achieved yet. The history books tell me I shouldn't still be aiming for them because I've passed the point where it could happen, but I don't buy that. I tend to think there's always an anomaly...and I want to be it.

Speaking of! Cry on the Dancefloor is a big, big highlight - and doesn't sound like anything you've put out before on your own. It's very Robyn!

Did you see my one-word summary of the album on social media? When It came to Cry on the Dancefloor I said it's not just one's two. Gay rights! Do you know how hard I had to fight to get that on the album? [People around me kept saying] "it's doesn't go with the album." But it does!

When I talk about the stages of grief, this is the moment where you're like...I'm going out. On my own, with friends, whatever. You need to lose yourself to dance, be a bit reckless, not give a sh*t about the consequences to my health! It's f*cking sad that moment, but it's also euphoric.

You can't tell anyone anything these days, can you?

I really pushed for it, I can't tell you. I said "I'm not releasing the album unless this is on it! I disagree with you entirely!" I really believed in it, it was a song I'd sat on for a few years and it kept getting pushed back. But it belongs on this album. 

paloma faith official chat

Are you still hungry for Official Charts success? Do you want this to go Number 1?

I would like to be Number 1, yes. I've one Number 1 album in my career [2017's The Architect] and lots of Number 2 albums. No-one gives enough credit to Number 2, it's pretty high!

But I live a quite interesting life. I'm not as isolated as someone like Beyoncé or Adele, I can still pop to Sainsbury's and I'm glad for my kids, because they can still have a normal life with me. I'm still grateful when people come up to me in the street, they don't scream and cry. They just sort of say thank you or tell me a song helped them get through a break-up. It feels like people know me as a friend, rather than someone they'd put on a pedestal.

I like that. It suits my personality. The people's princess! That's me. I'm taking over from Di!

The Glorification of Sadness by Paloma Faith is out now via Sony.

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