Belfast Telegraph

Paloma Faith : I'll be very protective when I'm on the road, but I couldn't not take my baby with me

Ahead of her Belfast gig next March, Paloma Faith tells Una Brankin how motherhood has changed her and why marriage is not on the cards

The baby is yelling and banging what sounds like building blocks in the background; Paloma is giggling and taking the phone into another room to escape the pandemonium.

"Best thing ever," she says of motherhood, despite the traumatic birth last December and a womb infection which left her unable to walk for a fortnight afterwards.

Following her 20-hour labour and emergency Caesarean section, the multi-award-winning singer suffered chronic mastitis. Her weight plummeted - without her noticing, as she discloses.

"I have body dysmorphia - I don't have a very good understanding of what size I am," she says in a Cockney accent, familiar from her stint on The Voice.

"I don't get on the weighing scales - that's dangerous. I look at pictures of how I was before - some people think I was worryingly thin. I don't want to be like that again.

"A few people around me tell me; my mum keeps saying, 'You've done well - now, stop'. I can't tell, head-wise."

The dramatic weight loss resulted in a week in hospital for the 37-year-old, who has a Spanish father and an English mother. But she denies suffering from an eating disorder.

"I was exhausted," she admits. "I didn't have a disorder but I'm very headstrong and I have to be careful. I'll go on some fad and be obsessed. At Christmas, I won't celebrate and have some pudding. There have been a lot of Christmases when I haven't eaten much.

"I need to keep taking vitamins and to eat well to be able to function. I feel better now. It's amazing what women can survive. We're tough, totally."

She'll need all her energy for her upcoming tour in support of her new album, The Architect, out on November 17. Along with Adele, Paloma Faith is one of only two British female artists this decade to have her last three albums go platinum in the UK.

Her fourth features the catchy single Cry Baby and collaborations with John Legend, Sia and the actor Samuel L Jackson. The quirky chanteuse performed at the Hollywood star's star-studded gala concert in London three years ago, in aid of his One For The Boys charity, which raises awareness of male cancer.

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Perfect harmony: Paloma performing on stage

"I helped him with his charity gala and he told me he owed me a favour, so I called it in," she explains. "I'd started writing this piece of prose, a poem, on a track called Evolution. He's on it."

Like the campaigning actor, Paloma has a keen social and political consciousness. Describing The Architect as a "social observation record", she's using the album to express her feelings about social problems and suffering in the world today.

And one of her targets is President Donald Trump.

"He should resign - he's embarrassing," she says. "The one-knee gesture they have in the States is such a beautiful, dignified thing, and he's so vulgar. He lacks any dignity and any kind of core sensibility and compassion. He's horrible.

"I don't necessarily think Hillary was the best person for the job but anyone would have been better than him."

A vibrant screen presence, Paloma has also made feature film appearances in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Heath Ledger's last film; the 2009 horror movie Dread, and the 2007 remake of St Trinian's.

At the time of our interview Paloma was unaware of the sexual abuse allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein (explaining that she's been in "a bubble" with the baby and hadn't heard the news). The casting couch hasn't been a problem for her, she says, in either the film or the music world.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it happens in the record industry but it hasn't been my experience. I feel most men are too terrified of me - that's why I'm not a victim.

"I'm like the boss; I'm more confident around men. I've too much respect for women to play the victim. Even my manager is scared of me."

She agrees that her 'eccentric' label is connected to her refusal to use her sexuality overtly in her videos and fashion choices.

"I think people using their body to climb the ladder is sad, even if it's knowingly and willingly," she says.

"I'm seen as different to others acts; I'm just not willing to do that, to sexualise myself and my music."

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Paloma with Leyman Lahcine, father of her young child

Stung by the initial criticism of her judging role on The Voice, Paloma gave up the red seat last year to concentrate on motherhood, but she was back on television recently in Celebrity Juice, Keith Lemon's irreverent quiz show on ITV2. Her fellow panellists and the audience burst into laughter when she ribbed Sarah Harding after the former Girls Aloud singer claimed not to have had designs on her current boyfriend, Chad Johnson, when they first met in the Celebrity Big Brother House.

Paloma's cheeky quip: "She fell on him and just fell on it, it was an accident," immediately hit the showbiz headlines.

"The jokes I make - if a man made them, he'd be told he's funny," she says of the fuss surrounding her comment. "It's very strange if a woman is funny. I've had that all my life. There's a strong misconception by men that women are not funny.

"They get confused when we are. Then they 'like' you; you're their 'mate'."

Paloma was previously married to taxidermist Rian Hayes, but they divorced in 2005 after just a year of marriage. Her long-term boyfriend, French artist Leyman Lahcine (37), is the father of her nine-month-old baby (she has not made public the child's name or gender).

Born in Grenoble, Lahcine he has lived and worked all over the world, and spent a long time in New York before moving to London in 2014. His left-field, humorous art has been exhibited in New York and London.

For Paloma, marriage to the handsome Lahcine is not on the cards.

"Nah - everyone can do what they feel like. I don't want that for myself," she says.

"There's nothing as bonding as having a child with someone. To come home every day to that love.

"I feel like compassion, kindness, empathy and understanding are what's important and that's what I want to get across in my album. I was adamant that I wouldn't write about love. I wanted to look outside of myself. I'm coming at politics from the perspective of the common man or woman, observing why people are suffering.

"Each song on the record is about a different pocket of the socio-political world that I've been delving into. And it's about Mother Nature - she has given humanity everything we need and we have abused it. I'm asking, 'why?'

The album's title refers to herself as "the architect of the baby I made in my body". She's bringing the child with her on her upcoming tour, which includes dates in Dublin and Belfast, in the spring.

"I'll be very protective on the road but I couldn't not take the baby with me," she adds.

"I'm looking forward to coming to Ireland - my music director for 12 years, David Odlum, from The Frames, is from Dublin, and Belfast - they let go and have fun there. You really know how to enjoy yourselves."

  • Paloma Faith plays the SSE Arena in Belfast on March 23, 2018. See www.palomafaith.com. Paloma's album The Architect is out on November 17

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