Paloma Faith: ‘Kindness has become very uncool. But the world needs empathy right now’

The singer, 36, talks about being a shy child, how her mother taught her about empathy and why life is all about phases

Motherhood is the best and the worst thing I’ll ever do. The beginning is awful. Your body gets turned inside out and there’s no gratitude for it afterwards. But after six months, it’s the most amazing thing. I have a problem with breastfeeding though. Your child won’t even look at you. It’s so rude. They don’t look at you adoringly. They’re just: “Shut up, bitch, give me your tit.”

I was a very insular and shy child. Every extrovert is a closet introvert. When I was 15 I decided I’d had enough of being manipulated by other people and being what other people wanted me to be, and I decided to change everything. I’d accept invites to parties I wouldn’t have had before. I’d volunteer for stuff in class I hadn’t before. It was a conscious effort. I felt like I was dying inside. I had to force it, but then it became very natural.

My mum is a socialist and I had that drummed into me as a child – the idea that everyone deserves to live a good life. I’m not very religious, but before bed every night, she’d make me pray. She’d tell me to say goodnight to all the dead relatives, to the trees and the sky, and then she’d put bits in from the day to thank people who’d invited us for dinner, or to think of the person we’d seen on the street asking for money, or the person on the news dealing with something. That taught me about empathy.

Kindness has become very uncool. But I think it’s the coolest. The world needs empathy so badly right now because nobody is immune to any problem. People can become homeless so easily. People’s lives can fall apart. If someone in this government made a very bad decision, we could be seeking asylum in another country. We need to close the distance between people.

#MeToo is complex. There are far too many issues to deal with in one hashtag. There are two major problems. One is everyday sexism. There is inequality between men and women, and there are sweeping statements made about women that are incorrect based on socially cultivated prejudice. And the other is much more extreme – where people have been raped, or abused, or had other horrendous things happen to them by powerful men. I think it’s really difficult to have a conversation about those things when you lump them all in together.

I’m a decent cook. Paella is my specialty. I’m half Spanish so it’s a nostalgic food for me; it reminds me of childhood. Also, not a lot of people can make a proper paella, so people find it impressive when I serve it for them. I normally just follow Jamie Oliver’s cookbook.

My baby has taught me I’m capable of anything. I think that’s why many women have children and come back and do better than they have before. I’m much more confident about my inadequacies. I don’t care about them any more.

Life is hard, having a child with someone is hard. But I’ve realised that life is all about phases. If you hang in there and do the work, you will get out the other side. You’ll survive. There were times after I had my child when I thought: “This can’t be for ever!” But then you come out the end of the year and you realise: “Oh yeah, I do love you!”

I’ve always been a piss-taker. I think people take life too seriously. I bumped into an old teacher of mine the other day, and he said: “Paloma, you were always capable of fitting into any subculture,” and I think it was just because I liked a laugh. There are things that are serious, but a lot isn’t.

Paloma’s new album, The Architect, is out now. For tour dates, go to


James McMahon

The GuardianTramp

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