PopPersonality: Florence Welch
I first discovered Florence (Leontine Mary Welch) and the Machine while watching an episode of the Colbert Report, an American satirical late night television program, and it was right then I realized that the English siren had one of the most captivating vocals that I've ever heard -
Florence + the Machine - Dog days are over (Nobel Peace Prize Concert 2010)
The video above is not the Colbert Report, but it does feature the first song that I ever heard her sing (Dog Days are Over) and it accurately represents the sense of awe that I felt right from the moment she uttered her first note - I don't usually stick around to watch the musical segments that happens towards the end of talk shows - but I was spellbound by Florence's ethereal sounding voice so I sticked around for her entire performance and then some (on Youtube).
Who is Florence Welch?
Florence Leontine Mary Welch was born on the 28th of August in 1986, that would mean she's 26 this year (2012); she is an English musician, singer and songwriter and she performs with her band named Florence and the Machine.
Florence + The Machine - Cosmic Love (Glastonbury Festival 2010)
A Little Background Story
The English songstress was born in Camberwell, a district of south London, to Evelyn Welch (a Professor of Renaissance Studies and Academic Dean of Arts) and Nick Welch (an advertising executive); she was the oldest of three children.
Her father who was a performer during his younger days had influenced Florence into vintage rock music - he was partial towards old punk rockers like the Ramones as opposed to the new generation of rockers like Green Day. Florence's mother, Evelyn, too had made a significant impact in her life - a visit to one of her mother's university lectures left an adolescent Florence deeply impressed -
"I aspire to something like that but with music. I hope that my music has some of the big themes—sex, death, love, violence—that will still be part of the human story in 200 years' time." - Florence in an interview with a music publication.
Florence + The Machine - Shake It Out (Later... With Jools Holland)
School, Alcohol and Music
Even though Florence was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia - a chronic neurological disorder that can affect planning of movements and co-ordination - she did well academically; however Florence did get into trouble regularly because she would start singing spontaneously in her classes.
"Florence found her own space by going out to clubs and pubs, by singing onstage and in her bedroom."
After a year working in a bar, Florence went to study at Camberwell College of Arts where she'd make tents under the desks to sleep off her hangovers - when questioned by her tutors, Florence would try to convince them that she was an installation.
The English musician writes her best songs when she's intoxicated, according to her, that's when the freedom and the feral music comes from - stitched and patched together from the pieces of writings scribbled in her notebooks and thoughts in her head.
“I want my music to sound like throwing yourself out of a tree, or off a tall building, or as if you’re being sucked down into the ocean and you can’t breathe,” says Florence Welch. “It’s something overwhelming and all-encompassing that fills you up, and you’re either going to explode with it, or you’re just going to disappear.”
Florence + The Machine perform Drake's Take Care (feat. Rihanna)
Florence dropped out of her art college so she could focus on making music; the trouble was that she knew what she wanted to do but did not know how to go about it. When trying to create tunes for her songs, she'd do so in a rather unconventional way - in place of percussions, Florence would pound the studio walls, she'd also built her melodies on a piano despite not knowing how to play it.
“It’s been a real process of me learning that the way I wanted to do it was actually the right way. This whole album has been about having faith in myself.”
Performing and Singing
As a performer, Florence appears to be fearless, but she's also really self conscious - her bipolar sentiments and emotions mean that she's at times a mass of contradictions - she's strong yet vulnerable, euphoric yet full of doom and gloom - she gives in to her emotions entirely - it helps her write sensational music and rock out during her live concerts. It goes without saying that anyone other than Florence should not take this as a cue to act irrationally - well unless it helps you sell millions of albums.
“I feel things quite intensely, which is why the music has to be so intense. I’m either really sad or really happy, I’m tired or completely manic. That’s when I’m at my most creative, but it’s also dangerous for me. I feel I could write some good songs, or break some hearts. Or tables. Or glasses.”
Florence + The Machine - Drumming Song
Florence and the Machine in 2012
Florence and her band are currently doing their spring tour in the United States - she had huge success in the past year and thus the band's returning for another round of shows spanning 15 cities. Her tour in America ends towards the middle of May and there's no word on whether she'd be making her way down to Singapore - if she does, I'm going to buy tickets to her show - this coming from a person who's never bought tickets to music concerts in his life.
Like skydiving, I feel that going to a Florence and the Machine concert is something that everyone has to do at least once in their lives - well of course I might just be saying this because I've never been to a large scale concert before - but I'm confident that being at her musical event would be an unforgettable experience regardless of how many other concerts you've been too.
Let’s talk about magic. Because music, at its best, is a kind of magic that lifts you up and takes you somewhere else. “I want my music to sound like throwing yourself out of a tree, or off a tall building, or as if you’re being sucked down into the ocean and you can’t breathe,” says Florence Welch. “It’s something overwhelming and all-encompassing that fills you up, and you’re either going to explode with it, or you’re just going to disappear.”
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