Paloma Faith is back with a fourth album, which is heavily influenced by her pregnancy in 2016. Here, the pop icon talks about the impact of motherhood, the power of the female body, and nutrition
If you follow Paloma Faith on Instagram, you may recently have seen her in the gym, complete with boxing gloves, alongside the mantra ‘work hard, play hard’. It’s clear she’s on a mission in 2019: to balance her busy life as a global superstar following the launch of her new album, The Architect, with being a mum, and to do that she’s hitting the gym, and the boxing pads, hard. Here, the singer tells BESTFIT about how she has tried conquering feelings of inadequacy about her body, how hard it is to eat well and enjoy food at the same time and, of course, that new album…
You talked recently about how having a baby made you much more confident about any inadequacies. Is this the thinking behind the song, ‘My Body’, from your new album?
This song was almost like self-help for me. We all put ourselves under so much pressure to fit into stereotypes. I am one dress size bigger than before I was pregnant. The amount of sacrifice, not just literally on what I am eating, but also the emotional impact of that level of restriction, and the tension almost, of always needing to watch what you’re eating… that’s the sacrifice it would take for me to go back to being that one dress size smaller. I don’t think it looks that different on camera and I’m actually much happier right now.
This song was influenced by that and by becoming a mother. I was realising that all I was doing was berating myself, forgetting that I had created a human life. I feel like people forget to thank themselves or their bodies for what it does for them.
All of you’ve got to do is watch something like the Paralympics and see what the body is capable of. A physical attribute has been taken away from those people, yet they’re still able to be a better sports person than you or I.
Although we often see evidence of your gruelling workouts on Instagram [@PalomaFaith], we’ve also heard your weakness is Italian ice cream. Has being in the public eye forced you to follow strict diets?
Before I was pregnant, all I was eating was steamed fish and vegetables at practically every mealtime. It tasted of nothing. I did it mainly because I was doing an underwear campaign but it lasted for a long time and when I look back on that time I feel like I never really enjoyed myself because I’m a foodie.
How difficult has it been to juggle an award-winning career in music since welcoming your first child back in December 2016?
This morning another childcare person didn’t turn up. She was supposed to be the new nanny and she didn’t tell us she wasn’t coming until 15 minutes after she was supposed to arrive. Now I’ve spent most of today thinking, “I am going to ask my husband to give up work.” It would be easier [Laughs].
The standard-issue bland pop star has nothing to say. This is certainly not the case with you. What gives you the confidence to speak your mind?
I think it’s just something that is part of who I am and my upbringing. My mum is very honest with me and I am just used to things that way. I didn’t realise that that’s not the norm. Quite often people will overhear her in lots of different situations and they really raise their eyebrows.
My mum will say to me, for example, ‘you look exhausted, terrible, do something about your face’. [Laughs] People are shocked but it wouldn’t affect me the way it would affect most people because I am used to it. She turns it into something constructive, it’s never meant to bring me down a peg, and I’m not precious as a result of it.
Your fourth album The Architect is a “social observation record” by your own admission. What inspired you to discuss the topics you’re passionate about in this way?
My mother has always been very socially aware, not just in terms of people and human rights, but in environmental issues, too. I was raised with that mentality so it’s been something that I’ve always done. I was raised in that way.
I was pregnant when I was writing this record and I was immediately going through this transitional phase where I was becoming much less self-absorbed and started to look at the world around me. I just felt that there was this transitional morphing of almost the inevitability of analysing the world that I was going to bring a new person into.
Your previous three albums all went double platinum, but what do you think gave The Architect that winning edge to send it straight to Number 1?
I think this is the first time I’ve ever really pushed against record label deadlines. In my mind I could not fail with this record because I felt a duty and responsibility to this new person that I had brought into the world.
I am the breadwinner at home and I was not willing to take a risk. I sat in sessions and I tweaked, I really grafted on this one. I am aware of every single sound on every single song in a way that I have never been before. I think I will continue to do that because I feel a massive sense of responsibility to my family.
The clever lyrical vagueness in some of the tracks means listeners can interpret the meaning behind the songs in different ways. Was this always the intention?
I wanted to make an album that was accessible to everyone. You can choose to enjoy it on whatever level you want. My die-hard fans who know everything that I want to talk about and who want to have the conversation and they’re interested, they can listen to my commentary and they can realise what I was thinking about and why.
At the same time, if someone just wanted to relax and put the album on in the background then they should be able to listen to it also. In my opinion, that’s the way you invite more people to be socially and politically aware.
Paloma Faith’s number one album, The Architect is out now.