Charlotte Church: ‘Each time I put my head above the parapet I’m made to feel stupid’

The singer and activist, 36, on checking emails incessantly, the secret to a happy relationship and coping with fame as a teen

As a child I was in my own world a lot of the time. I was an imaginative kid, spending hours playing alone, lost in my creativity. It’s where I was happiest.

It takes a village to raise a child. I grew up surrounded by extended family, and I’m raising my own family with a community, too. For the young it means strength and depth in their care. Parents can avoid isolation. Having kids is a big job – sharing makes it more joyful.

Fame was hard to cope with as a teen. The majority of it was unpleasant. Staying in Wales, among my people, is how I survived. Everyone wanted me to move to LA. It would have changed the course of my career. I’d have had a different life. But I was resolute about remaining in Wales, and will never regret it.

I have total faith in humanity and always will. I’m not naive. I know darkness and pain. But I’ve seen what’s on the other side of it. It’s why my total commitment to trying to save the world knows no bounds. Everyone has the capacity to evolve and change, it’s the only constant.

Checking emails incessantly is a bad habit of mine. It used to be worse, I was compulsively on my smartphone. For a while I switched to a Nokia 3310 and from my mind a white noise lifted. I reclaimed time, space and energy for my own ideas again. Still, I’m a work in progress.

The secret to a happy relationship is awareness. If you are stuck in a rut and keep pissing each other off, it’s likely you’re not seeing through your partner’s eyes. Rubbing awareness on a situation helps. Tune into their perspective. It’s worth it.

The secret to getting through a breakup is wine.

Speaking truths that challenge the mainstream is a risk, whether on feminism, the climate crisis, anti-austerity, or anything. Each time I place my head above the parapet I’m mocked and made to feel stupid and small. Being compliant would be easier, to mind my own. But that’s not what I’m on this earth for.

Losing people terrifies me. I’ve created ceremonies and rituals to help me honour, move through and let go; spaces in the forest and garden where I can mourn, cry and remember. But however hard I try to think beyond my own fleshy prism, it sucks. Nature’s abundance is soothing.

I feel powerful when I sing. For a long time I didn’t connect with my voice. I’d almost switch off, microphone in hand, and think about other things, waiting for it to be over. Today I feel music in a different way: it’s elemental and soulful.

If I could give a piece of advice to my teenage self it would be this: “Don’t stress about those boys, they’re dickheads.”

Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads. I want it to be my funeral song. It’s the track I’ll play to start a party. It’s deep, casting a lyrical spell. And it’s funky as fuck, that sparkling baseline. Whenever I hear it, I want to open my arms and spin.

I’ve been a caged bird for too long. It has taken a lot of work to break loose from so much conditioning. I’m nearly ready to embody the wild woman now, she’s bubbling inside me. I’m not quite sure who she is yet, but I can feel her rising up through my belly.

Charlotte Church’s Dream Build is on Really from 9pm 5 October, catch up on Discovery+


Michael Segalov

The GuardianTramp

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