Star singer Florence Welsh covers the June 2019 issue of London’s ES Magazine in advance of her July 13 Florence + The Machine British Summer Time Hyde Park concert . Aldene Johnson styles Florence in vintage-inspired looks by Gucci, Erdem, Molly Goddard, Alessandra Rich and more. Photographer Bella Newman is behind the lens, on location at Clapton Tram Shed/ Makeup by Sarah Reygate; hair by Leigh Keates
Laura Craik conducts the interview..
We see plenty of Gucci in the Florence Welch editorial. The looks are indigenous to Welch’s innate sense of dressing. ‘It’s funny, our sense of aesthetic is so similar,’ she says of Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele. ‘We’re just quite kindred spirits. I think within me there lives an Italian man, and within him there lives an English redhead.’
Florence Welch speaks openly about being sober on all fronts for two years, without condemning her past behavior. The singer admits being bolshie (combative, uncooperative) with the press and fans, part of a circuitous process in which she was attacked much more often for her personality and not her music.
Welch grabs a key word that often lives in the mental house of self-destructive bad behavior: ‘shame’.
‘I stopped doing as many interviews. I started to retreat. I didn’t want the idea of becoming a personality to overshadow my music.’ By retreating, she says, she saved her sanity. ‘I think I’ve almost managed to somehow make myself slightly unfamous again,’ although she regrets bowing to the pressures of conformity. ‘I wish I hadn’t sought to hide myself. Even if I was drunk, I don’t want to shame myself for it. Do you know what I mean? I want to tell young women, you know, you don’t have to do that.’
Cralk tells Welch how uncomfortable she was a year ago, when the star insisted that journalists at her press meet put away their phones and hold hands.
Changing the Energy
“I love telling people to hold hands, especially in London, because you want to break the cool,’ the vocal artist responds. ‘When they join hands, there’s a sense that we’re all connected, we’re all here, we’re all part of something bigger.”
“The worry with phones is that they’re a very good way of shielding you from intimacy. If I could have my phone on stage I probably would. So it’s as much that I’m telling myself as the people there. I can hear people audibly groan,’ she laughs. ‘Some say, “Oh f***,” which is my favourite. Then when people actually come together and feel connected, the whole energy of the room changes. You can feel it.”
“So much of what we are trying to do with the shows is create a totally safe place for people to release and feel big feelings, be emotional. I never realized there’s such a big part of me that wants to make people happy. I analyse myself: “Is it because you’re a child of divorce?” [Her parents, Nick and Evelyn, divorced when she was 13.] It’s almost like in that moment, when I’m looking around at everyone telling each other they love each other, I’m like, “I made it better. I did it, I made it better.”’
In honing her own gift to channel personal insecurities and anxiety through music, Florence Welsh finds that she’s delivering on a keen desire to spread her own vision of self-love to her supporters at a time when anxiety is sky-high across the world. It’s as if her sobriety gives the star the ability to see the societal train wrecks ahead, holding a soft light in her solid-state lantern.