After all those years when she never got her name in lights, when she was a magician’s assistant, and later, a backing singer, Paloma Faith must be thrilled to have become a bona fide superstar in her own right.
But while she comes across as an ultra-confident performer, it turns out that the flame-haired one is a different character entirely to the image she projects for her fans.
“I feel so much more at ease on a stage than I do in normal existence,” says the half-English, half-Spanish singer. “I’m an introvert pretending to be an extrovert.”
Faith also admits that she’s terrified of performing in big venues - but she’s taking inspiration from country music legend Dolly Parton.
“I’m more frightened of those big venues, like the O2, because I’m used to the smaller places,” says the Hackney-born entertainer, who visits the Usher Hall on Tuesday night. “I know what I’m doing, and now I’m worried that I’ll have to act differently on stage.
“Then I went to see Dolly Parton and she didn’t do that - it was like you’d gone to her house, so I should stick to what I do normally.”
The 27-year-old, who is nominated for two BRIT Awards this year, would also like to play with a big band in the future - but is worried the result would be ‘cheesy’.
“I’d like to but I’m worried about it,” she admits. “I’ve always been interested in jazz and that’s what I love, but quite a lot of the time commercial or successful artists do a big band or jazz album and it’s cheesy, if I’m honest.
“If I did it in a way that wasn’t cheesy, like a Christmas record, then I would love to do something,” she adds. “I don’t want it to look like I’m just dressing up; it’s tacky.”
Faith burst on to the pop scene in 2009 with debut single Stone Cold Sober, then followed it up with her debut album, Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful, which stayed in the Top 40 for almost an entire year and spawned a slew of hit singles including New York, Upside Down and Smoke & Mirrors.
The singer followed with a second album, Fall To Grace, last spring, repeating the impressive sales success of her debut and scoring her highest charting single to date, Picking Up The Pieces.
“It’s about being in a relationship with somebody who you think might be on the rebound but is going out with you but you’re not sure,” she says of her biggest hit to date. “They’re recovering from the past relationship and what it’s like to be in that position when you’re doubting yourself and your role in their life.”
As well as singing, Faith is known for her acting skills, having starred in the recent St Trinian’s remake and in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that she took a more cinematic approach with the second album?
“It was a conscious decision but it wasn’t really that I wanted to combine it with my love of acting,” she says. “It was more that I wanted to combine it with my love of film as a viewer.
“I watch a lot of films all the time, so I wanted to somehow cultivate the atmosphere of films into this whole album and everything we put out.”
Last year, Faith was also seen on TV screens as she acted as a mentor for Team Danny on BBC talent show The Voice. A rabble-rousing entertainer herself, rather than the usual vocal coaching, she instead focused on the art of performance.
“I think the main piece of advice I was giving them was about performance and how I think it’s not enough to just stand on stage and sing the song,” she says. “I just feel like, to me, it’s important that we have something to look at, so I focused on that.”
Being on the show with a bunch of talented wannabes made her realise just how lucky she is to have made it to the top of the pop pile.
“I learnt how much talent there is out there, and how it’s a really strange industry as, at the end of the day, not that much talent breaks through,” she adds.
“It’s unbelievable sometimes when you just take a minute to think ‘actually, there’s loads of people who could be wearing the exact same shoes that I’m wearing’. It makes me feel grateful for what I’ve got and what I’ve achieved.”
In the Capital next week, Faith’s set will draw mostly from Fall To Grace, though fans can probably still expect to hear the likes of Stone Cold Sober. “I’m going to do all of Fall To Grace, with just a few from the first album at the end,” she says.
“We’re going to do different versions of the songs and vary them at each show, so nothing will be the same at any show.
“It’s really nice to play with the different versions we’ve done, whether it’s three-piece, five-piece or full band.
“It keeps it interesting for me, and for the handful of people who come to every show. And there are a few.”
• Paloma Faith, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, Tuesday, 7pm, £19.50-£22.50, 0131-228 1155
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