KEEPING THE FAITH
THIS SUMMER PALOMA FAITH COMES TO BEDGEBURY AS PART OF HER THE ARCHITECT SUMMER TOUR. HERE, THE LONDON˜BORN SONGSTRESS REFLECTS ON HER ALBUM’S POLITICAL NATURE, RECEIVING DEATH THREATS ONLINE AND HER PARTNERSHIP WITH THE PRINCE’S TRUST AIMING TO INSPIRE YOUNGSTERS
It’s a cold, bright morning in south-east London. Wrapped in a dressing gown over a red polka dot dress, Paloma Faith emerges from Peckham Liberal Club and makes her way to a Winnebago across the road.
Production crew, assistants and stylists drift in and out of the 19th century building, tucked away in a side street of the busy London borough. Passers-by stop to observe the commotion and wander off again with the knowledge, via a particularly cheerful security guard, that it’s the site of a Skoda advert shoot, starring Faith.
The singer-songwriter has teamed up with the car brand and the Prince’s Trust as part of a new initiative to inspire young people to fulfil their dreams.
It’s a cause close to Faith’s heart. She beneﬁted from Prince’s Trust funding as an A-level student when her mother, who suffers from ME and has also battled cancer and a brain tumour, was unable to help her ﬁnancially.
“I had a really big idea for my art project and I needed money, so I applied and they gave me the money … it taught me a lesson in that I have to learn how to pitch myself to get where I wanted to be,” she says, now curled up on the sofa in the Winnebago, which occasionally rocks in the wind.
Her partnership with Skoda was a deliberate one, she says, cackling loudly, but innocently, as she ponders the thought of fellow celebrities who team up with brands that are clearly not part of their identity.
“I watched their last advert and welled up with tears in my eyes and then I was talking for a good hour telling people ‘I’m deﬁnitely a Skoda, I’m a Skoda’,” she says, laughing again at her comparison between the car manufacturer and star signs.
It reminds her of a Christmas as a kid when her mum told her she was planning to buy Faith some Oil of Olay because Penelope Cruz uses it.
“I was just like ‘mum there’s something I need to tell you about advertising’,” she roars with that familiar cackle.
Hailing from Hackney, Faith followed fellow east Londoner Idris Elba in becoming a Prince’s Trust success story. She says the funding helped her overcome obstacles and wants young people to feel as empowered as she did.
“I’m not negating that there are obstacles and I show in this ﬁ lm there were loads, but it would only be me who made them signiﬁ cant and I chose not to,” she says.
Not quite avoiding obstacles, but the 36-year-old has certainly reached some milestones of late. She scored her ﬁrst UK number one album with November’s The Architect – her ﬁrst as a mum.
One would struggle to describe The Architect as politically-charged, but it certainly sways in that direction more than any other Faith album. Featuring an opening statement from Samuel L.Jackson and an appearance from left-wing commentator Owen Jones, Brexit, refugees and inequality of wealth simmer away in the background as her pop stylings remain at the forefront.
It was becoming a parent, she says, that made her decide to look outward.
“Parenthood makes you so less self-involved and you start addressing the world you’re bringing this child into,” she adds. “Also knowing I was pregnant, I’d know my child would actually go and listen to that and say what were you saying when I was in your tummy.”
Another attempt to look outward saw her launch her own investigation following last year’s avalanche of allegations against ﬁlm producer Harvey Weinstein, as she started asking women if they’d experienced harassment or assault. The results are depressing, but not surprising.
“I’ve not met a single woman who hasn’t been sexually harassed or assaulted at any point during their life … I’m convinced it’s everyday life for a woman,” she says.
Faith is certainly not shy about being honest, but it has, she admits, backﬁred in the past.
“It can be misconstrued as something that can inevitably be polarising and that’s not my intention,” she says. “I’ve been attacked for saying I don’t like musicals.”
Social media is the enabler for abuse, she argues, clasping her red nail-varnished ﬁngers together. “I don’t understand why people can’t just go, ‘we have different opinions let’s co-exist’.”
And it’s not just Faith’s views on musicals that has led to online backlashes. The star says she has encountered threats on her life after speaking up for the “underdog”.
“I might say this or that, but there’s no reason for people to want to stab me to death for it. I ﬁnd it bizarre that we live in an age where people can’t just go, ‘You vote Labour, I vote Conservative, can we have a conversation’.
“That’s tragic because how can anything be resolved or solved through violence if people are that vehemently separated due to a difference of opinion?”
Paloma Faith will be coming to Bedgebury Pinetum on Friday June 15. www.forestry.gov.uk/music
Skoda’s Driver’s Seat Initiative will be available via The Prince’s Trust’s existing Get Started programme.