What Pixie did next

Most peo­ple know Pixie Geldof’s fam­ily his­tory, but what they aren’t aware of is her mu­si­cal chops and her re­mark­able abil­ity to ver­balise loss. She talks to Louise Bru­ton about songs as ther­apy, the beauty of Bieber and why she’s madea coun­try record dis

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY -

There was a sec­ond where I wasn’t go­ing to put Twin Thing on the record. Then I re­alised there had been songs that have helped me very much, and peo­ple that have made me feel con­nected

With a name de­signed for star­dom, Pixie Geldof was al­ways go­ing to be in the lime­light. Along with her older sis­ter Peaches, she was known for be­ing part of the Cam­den Scene in Lon­don, mix­ing with Alexa Chung and mu­si­cians from the nu-rave wave, but now, with the re­lease of her de­but solo al­bum I’m

Yours, the 26-year-old is ready to re­claim her name as a singer.

Geldof’s voice fluc­tu­ates when she speaks, us­ing dra­matic voices when she’s be­ing sar­cas­tic and very def­i­nite caps locks when she’s ex­cited. So when we dis­cuss peo­ple not lik­ing her al­bum be­cause of who her dad is, she be­comes a car­i­ca­ture of her­self. Fam­ily­busi­ness “I don’t want some­one to dis­like it be­cause ‘Ugh. Geldof. Can’t be both­ered. She’s prob­a­bly shit’,” she says in a deep guf­faw. “But that’s funny. It doesn’t ex­ist in many other ca­reers. If your dad is a po­lice­man and you be­come a po­lice­man, it’s not weird. Peo­ple wouldn’t be like ‘well, he can’t be a good po­lice­man’. You go ‘Well, of course he’s a po­lice­man. His DAD was one’.”

“In the same way, if you don’t like a mu­si­cal artist’s pre­vi­ous work, you’re not go­ing to buy their next record but then you might hear it and you might re­ally like it and you go ‘but I HATE that per­son’. And you have to give in and like it,” she says, us­ing her new­found love for Justin Bieber as an ex­am­ple.

I’m Yours will prob­a­bly go against ev­ery­one’s ex­pec­ta­tions of a Geldof. Pro­duced by Tony Hof­fer (M83, Gold­frapp, Belle & Se­bas­tian) and recorded in LA, it’s a coun­try record dis­guised as a pop record, re­sem­bling the melan­cholic na­ture of Lana Del Ray and the soft­ness of Mazzy Star.

Even though she pre­vi­ously dab­bled in grunge with her band Vi­o­let, I’m Yours is a trib­ute to Amer­i­cana: hope­ful melodies tinged with sor­row, each song with a story to tell, and Geldof’s story is one that we are fa­mil­iar with.

“A lot has gone down,” she says, re­fer­ring to the deaths of her mother Paula Yates, who died in 2000 from a heroin over­dose on Geldof’s 10th birth­day, and her sis­ter Peaches, who died two years ago at the age of 25, also from a heroin over­dose. Their names are never men­tioned but when she talks about them, she speaks softly.

“I said about the record that it was about all of the peo­ple I’ve ever loved and in many dif­fer­ent ways, and it’s very true,” she says. “There’s not re­ally one song, apart from Twin Thing, I guess, maybe a cou­ple of oth­ers, where they’re all about one per­son or one story.”

Twin Thing is about Peaches, and the lyrics cap­ture the close­ness of the sisters, who were born 18 months apart: “Wish I’d known you like my own skin/ So I could feel the hurt that you were in/ Wish we had that twin thing”. The day that she recorded this song, ev­ery­body in­volved un­der­stood its im­por­tance. Un­spo­ken mem­ory “It was un­spo­ken that we knew it was quite pre­cious and it was un­spo­ken that we would work on it un­til it was per­fect,” she says in a hushed mat­ter-of-fact tone.

“There was a sec­ond where I wasn’t go­ing to put it on the record and then I re­alised that there had been peo­ple who had writ­ten songs that have helped me very much, and peo­ple that have made me feel con­nected when I’ve felt very un­con­nected.”

Af­ter Peaches died, peo­ple stopped ask­ing how Pixie was and this added to her grief, which she de­scribes as a very lonely state. “It ex­plains it for peo­ple, so they can un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing in their brains and un­der­stand that there is so many dif­fer­ent, crazy things that hap­pen in your brain and you can just start freak­ing out.

“And that all of those things are ab­so­lutely go­ing to hap­pen and that’s ab­so­lutely fine and you’re not go­ing mad. And it won’t last for­ever.”

While song­writ­ing comes nat­u­rally to her – tracks such as

Rain Comes Down and Wild Things Go were writ­ten six years ago – per­form­ing solo is new ter­ri­tory.

In Septem­ber, she played her sec­ond-ever show in Dublin at the in­ti­mate Ruby Ses­sions in Doyle’s Pub. It was a sub­dued af­fair, and be­tween the moody

Sweet Thing and se­duc­tive Poi­son Ap­ple, she’s giddy but when the mu­sic kicks in, she is still.

“I’m still quite shy on stage. I’m quite re­served. I tend to gig­gle a lot, which is prob­lem­atic when you’re try­ing to make peo­ple go into this other world,” she says.

“I sing very qui­etly and the main rea­son – I mean, a lot of the time, not the en­tire record – but one of the main rea­sons is I like you to have to . . . ‘what are you say­ing?’ I like the lean in. I think it’s im­por­tant so I will al­ways make that. It will al­ways be quiet and sub­tle in that way.” Ver­bal­is­ing loss Our con­ver­sa­tion is an­i­mated and it weaves be­tween her time in LA, her love of coun­try mu­sic and Ri­hanna (“I could talk about her all day!”) but we al­ways re­turn to one thing. Geldof’s abil­ity to ver­balise loss is re­mark­able and while she’s hes­i­tant to use the word ther­a­peu­tic, she knows the ef­fect that mu­sic can have when you are in mourn­ing.

“I didn’t lis­ten to a lot of mu­sic af­ter­wards. I didn’t want songs to re­late specif­i­cally to that time. And I was right. The songs I did, I don’t lis­ten to any more. At all. And it took, to the point where I will change the ra­dio very quickly.” But when she re­turned to mu­sic, it was the brief com­fort that she needed. “You hear com­pletely dif­fer­ent things in these songs that you just never thought of be­fore at all. It was so . . . free­ing for a minute.”

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