It seems hard to believe that someone as striking as young Miss Florence Welch could just come out of nowhere. But the 24-year-old Londoner -- who possesses both a Victorian grace and a voice that elicits comparisons to Kate Bush and Annie Lennox -- did just that last year, taking an unassuming U.S. public by storm.
There she was at the 83rd Academy Awards, performing the Best Original Song nominee, “If I Rise,” with A. R. Rahman. The powerful MTV Video Music Awards performance of her hit, “Dog Days are Over,” involved a huge choir and a tight choreography. At the Grammys, Florence + The Machine were nominated for Best New Artist, sharing the stage with Jennifer Hudson and Christina Aguilera to perform an Aretha Franklin tribute.
"I’m still on a mattress on the floor of my mom’s house."
The breakthrough was surprising, if not entirely unexpected. As of the end of September, her debut album, “Lungs,” was on the Billboard 200 best-selling album chart for 69 weeks after peaking at no. 14, and sellouts of legendary venues from the Greek Theatre to the Bowery Ballroom suggested fans here weren’t slow to catch on.
A muse to fashion houses like Gucci, Givenchy, and Yves Saint Laurent, the flame-haired beauty mingles smart lyrics and a gospel-strong voice with a stage performance that matches the exuberance of her melodies.
With her second album,“Ceremonials,” out now, Welch told The Red Bulletin about the visual artists that inspire her and the VMA show that almost broke her.
I read somewhere that you’re still sleeping on a mattress on the floor of your mom’s house. Is that true?
[Laughs] Yeah, that is true! I haven’t had time to change my home -- I’m hardly ever there, so it’s quite hard to. I haven’t had time to move out, so yeah, I’m just still on a mattress on the floor of my mom’s house.
Speaking of your parents, your dad was the tour-bus driver when you supported MGMT. How did that come about?
We didn’t have any money, and they offered us a tour around Europe. So my dad had this camper van, and he said that he’d drive us around. So we clattered around in this camper van, with all the pots and pans shaking, and we were all sleeping on the floor, but it was really fun.
Check out the December issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands November 15) for more of the article. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.