You Gotta Have Faith: Paloma Faith Returns to the US With a New Tour and Album

With a background in the East End cabaret scene, singer/songwriter and self-confessed “drag queen,” Paloma Faith has plenty of gay pride.  From her dragtastic video for the 2009 single “Stone Cold Sober” to her love of the bears, even referring to herself as “Goldilocks,” there’s no denying. Faith has been an outspoken activist for LGBT rights and recently worked with Out4Marriage, taking part in a PSA for gay marriage. In 2012, she was on the judging panel for the ramshackle version of America’s Next Top ModelLondon’s Next Top Tranny.

Many might be surprised to know that Faith says she didn’t set out to be a singer. She originally studied contemporary dance with a minor in directing and designing theater. It wasn’t until being spotted during a stint as a cabaret singer in a burlesque bar, that she was picked up by a record label and her music career followed. Her acclaimed debut album Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? in 2009 reared the hits “New York” and “Stone Cold Sober.”

After crossing the pond to the US and releasing her domestic debut Fall to Grace in 2012, Faith hailed her first Top 10 single with “Picking Up the Pieces.” With a maturity and talent beyond her youth, the 33-year-old British diva has cemented her reputation as one of the UK’s most distinctive and talented female artists. Faith’s influences, Etta James and Billie Holiday, continue to be evident in her work.

With the release of her third studio album, A Perfect Contradiction, Faith kicked off an ambitious world tour, which brings her glammy gams to San Diego’s SOMA Saturday, October 4. The upcoming release, out October 7, features collaborations with Pharrell Williams, John Legend and Raphael Saaiq. This funkier collection is a perfect mix of of snappy, upbeat, disco-style tracks mixed with soul and Faith’s husky, unmistakable vocals.

In an exclusive interview, I spoke to the Hackney-born Faith before the US leg of her tour. The theatrical troubadour discussed her US tour, drag queens and being the Perfect Contradiction.


ERIK RAYMOND: So tell me about A Perfect Contradiction. What story are you telling with this album?
Paloma Faith:
First of all, you can’t have joy unless you’ve experienced darkness. That’s where “A Perfect Contradiction” came from. I wanted to write a happy, more joyful album and the reason I was able to do that was because of having experienced it.

Your last US tour was chock full of elaborate sets and costumes. What can we expect with this tour?

This tour will be at smaller venues compared to what I’m used to, so there’s only so much you can do. It’s hard to do a lot of theatricality this time around but I’m a big fan of getting dressed up. I’m bringing my full costume wardrobe, which I didn’t get to do last time. I only had three people and this time I’ve got all the musicians. It’ll be quite a big set-up compared to last time.  If people aren’t sure about coming – just come. [Laughs]

Speaking of the fashion, you’re known for your fierce fashion. Is it all you or do you have a specific designer that puts it all together?
It’s a combination of me and my tastes with my stylist helping me get bits of it.

What is your favorite part of touring in the states?
The weird shops on the roadside. When we’re driving, all those little places on the highway, I like to stop and buy really abstract ornaments and stuff.

You seem to be really involved in the gay scene, from doing cabaret in the East End to judging on London’s Top Tranny to a number of Pride events.
I’m also very intimidated by the fashions of drag queens. It was just London Fashion Week here and I was at a party. A friend was saying how intimidated by all the people because of how cool they all were. I said, “I’m intimidating by how cool the drag queens are because of their style!”

I read that you are a self-confessed drag queen. Why is that?
When I was 16, I used to get dressed up in all my mum’s clothes. One time, my mum said, “I thought I had a daughter but I realize I have a gay son.” [Laughs]

Tell me about your stint on London’s Top Tranny. We don’t have anything like that here in the states.
It’s amazing! It’s hosted by my friend who’s a tranny, called Russella. She actually lives in Toronto now.

I also read that your favorites are the bears.
They’re hilarious! There’s a troupe here called “Bearlesque!”

How did you spend your last day off?
I spent four hours of it staring at a wall. I literally didn’t know what to do with my time. I was too tired to do anything or arrange anything or get out of the house. So I did absolutely nothing. Then, I realized how fast time is blown and I had just wasted it.

More info:
Paloma Faith
SOMA San Diego, 3350 Sports Arena Blvd.
Saturday, October 4


Photos courtesy of the Karpel Group



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