Ruislip & Eastcote & Northwood Gazette


Florence +The Machine’s latest album draws on some unsettling inspiratio­ns. Singer Florence Welch talks to MARION McMULLEN


FLORENCE+THE Machine singer Florence Welch says she became fascinated by ghoulish stories from history of thousands of people dancing wildly to the point of collapse and even death.

The Renaissanc­e phenomenon known as choreomani­a and the imagery of it all strongly resonated with the 36-year-old, who had been touring non-stop for more than a decade.

“A friend of mine told me about this sort of plague that had happened in the 15th and 16th centuries in Europe, where people were just dancing themselves to death,” she says. “There’s a specific one in Strasbourg where it mainly affected women, 400 women danced themselves to death.

“I just felt it so deeply. It’s quite unexplaine­d, it could have been from grain that had gone off and so had a hallucinog­en in it. I’ve spoken to a virologist about it and it could have been because viruses come and go all the time, as we know now, but it could have been a choreograp­hic virus that had just died, came and spread and then died out.

“But the thing that I related to most is that it was caused by collective stress, that actually it’s a psychologi­cal phenomenon, that’s possible as well. It was such a hard time to live and before choreomani­a, people had been through so many other plagues, wars, and complete civil unrest.

“I related so much to the idea that you just got so stressed, all you could do was dance in the middle of the street.

“I also think the thing I related to the most was the inability to stop moving, I related that to my inability to stop touring. Sometimes it does feel like a death drive of like, no, it’s not enough, keep going, keep going.

“Before the pandemic hit, I was thinking that I would make a whole concept record about this plague. And then the pandemic hit, and I went, that is way too much. Just a little bit is enough.”

Londoner Florence arrived in New York in March 2020 to begin recording Dance Fever with producer Jack Antonoff when Covid-19 forced a retreat to the UK.

“We had one week,” she remembers. “We got one week where we were free... then I had to go home.”

Holed up at home, the songs began to transform, with nods to dance, folk, 1970s Iggy Pop, Emmylou Harris and more.

Lyrically, Florence drew from a wide set of influences. She took inspiratio­n from the tragic heroines of pre-Raphaelite art, the gothic fiction of Julia Armfield and folk horror films such as The Wicker Man, The Witch and Midsommar.

She says that period after her return to London was a difficult one, adding “Basically I got home and my whole family was sick,” she says, “It was just really scary because nobody knew [what Covid’s impact would be]. I came home and my sister, my niece who was three at the time, my brother, and basically everyone who lived with my sister had Covid.

“The thing that scared my brain was when we didn’t know how far it could travel, I was standing like a street away delivering them some groceries and my niece tried to run to me. My sister had to stop her.

“I think that was one of the hardest moments for me in the whole pandemic – this little girl running to me and her mum stopping her. It kind of broke me that bit.”

Florence says audiences might recognise a Miss Havisham look from Dickens novel Great Expectatio­ns in the stage sets and designs on the forthcomin­g Florence+The Machine tour.

“Yeah, one of our references is Miss Havisham’s feasts,” she says, “the candles covered in spider webs and, lace was a big reference for us.

“This idea of beauty that has been bedraggled and broken, I think this idea of everything that [the world] has been through, you can’t help but be a different creature on the other side, something slightly more cracked.

“I don’t know if I can afford to get more cracked but it happened, we wanted to represent that.”

 ?? ?? GOTHIC GRANDEUR: Florence Welch
 ?? ?? Films like the Wicker Man helped inspire Florence
Films like the Wicker Man helped inspire Florence
 ?? ?? ■ Dance Fever is out now. The tour starts November 16. Visit florence andthemach­ine. net for details
■ Dance Fever is out now. The tour starts November 16. Visit florence andthemach­ine. net for details
 ?? ?? MACHINE READY: Florence is heading out on tour
MACHINE READY: Florence is heading out on tour

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