With a deep, rather filthy laugh, Paloma Faith tells me she is in the business of “bursting bubbles”. On the day we speak, the singer has done just this, posting a picture on Instagram of her baby bump. She is expecting her second child with her boyfriend, French artist Leyman Lahcine, after six rounds of IVF. “Pregnancy diary,” she wrote in the caption. “This week heartburn, indigestion, sciatica that paralyses me, two different UTIs and loads of kicking! This baby better be a nice person at the end of it all!”
“I had a great response to that picture,” Faith says. “I think lots of pregnant women get scared about what is happening to their bodies and don’t get to express it. Society teaches us that we are meant to suck it up and not say how difficult pregnancy is but it can be quite isolating, as can being with a newborn, so I thought I would change that.”
Faith took three years to reveal the gender of her first child, a daughter who is now four. “I just want them to be who they want to be,” she said at the time. Will she tell the world this baby’s gender? “It depends how I feel mentally. I’ll play it by ear. When I had just given birth to my daughter I didn’t feel very well. I just wanted to protect my child from any attention and I didn’t really want to talk about it but it might be different this time. Back then I was super scared all the time and really unstable because I had never done it before. Now my daughter is four and I know that she is OK I don’t feel as worried.”
Her daughter is just starting to realise that her mother is famous. “She said, ‘When you are at work you are Paloma Faith and when you are home you are just Mama.’ She asked, ‘Do you like playing with me best or going to work?’ I told her that I love my work so much but I love playing with her best. I am firm about trying to leave work in time to put my child to bed. Obviously there are exceptions sometimes, but everyone in my team is aware those are not to my liking and it can’t become a habit. I don’t have much me time if I’m honest.”
Faith says she has “workaholic” tendencies - to prove the point, she has squeezed in our interview on her car journey back from the set of Batman prequel Pennyworth, which has just started filming a second series (the cast are tested regularly, wear masks when they aren’t filming and aren’t allowed to eat together), because she wants to talk about her fifth album, Infinite Things, which she produced herself in lockdown and came out last Friday.
The album started out “quite up-tempo and celebratory”, but then the pandemic hit. “I became introspective and started to work out what was important to me. I was very much part of an outward world of celebrity culture and the treadmill of just generating music and putting out. Lockdown was like a return to my art school roots.”
Staying at home was easier because she had the album to focus on. “I love work,” says Faith. “It is an addiction. I am very aware that I thrive on the validation of the public, but I need to be careful sometimes not to attach that to my happiness because it is fickle and unpredictable. But I liked the structured life I had in the first lockdown - if they said the only thing you are allowed to do for the next five years is work and stay in I would be much happier with that than no work. I don’t miss going out and socialising.”
The one thing she did want, though, was to see new places. There’s a song on the album called Me Time about that. “I was feeling suffocated by these parameters we are in,” she says. “In order for us to have successful relationships with our children, or partners or friends, we need variety to keep those things vibrant. When you take that away and you feel like your family are there all the time you can feel yourself becoming a bit unstable. I need to be on my own a bit.”
There are also songs about her boyfriend, “who people tell me is such a good man”, she says. “He is a good man but he is also a parent who is caring for a child,” says Faith. “Men should do a bit more, it is weird that people put it all on women and say you are a bad mother if you don’t do certain things, I find that quite strange.”
Faith feels she has finally cracked what love is. Her parents separated when she was two years old and divorced when she was four, which influenced her view of relationships. She was married to chef Rian Haynes for eight months in 2005, but has called that “a young, frivolous thing”. They are still close.
“I used to ask older couples who have been together for years how they had done it,” she says. “They said it takes a lot of work, but you don’t know what they mean until you are in it. We have been in places where maybe when I was younger and more naive that was going to be the end. Then we would look at each other and say, ‘What are we going to do if we do break up because I don’t think there is better than this.’ So we decided to give it attention. It is about acknowledging the negative side and still being there. My boyfriend views our love as unconditional – I can acknowledge things about him that frustrate me but still say I love him. That’s what love is, not just hearts and sentimentality. When you have a child with someone you owe it to your children to look after your relationship.”
She is pained that her due date (which she won’t reveal) clashes with the filming of the next series of The Voice Kids, which she is a very spirited judge on. “I am upset because I love The Voice,” she says. “I spoke to the producers, but they couldn’t move their schedule.”
There will also be no tour this year for the album, with the dates being postponed until 2021. “My heart breaks that I don’t have anything to offer the team who would be working on the tour. Normally at this time in a campaign they would be working all the time and making an impact and right now they can’t, and they can’t get support because they are self-employed and not on PAYE.” Is the government doing enough to support them? “No. I feel bereft for them because I am powerless.”
Faith reflects on the music industry on the album in a song called Monster, which I assume is about a relationship. The lyrics are “you build me up and break me down… I’m better off alone”. But Faith corrects me.
“I have been in the public eye for nearly 12 years,” she states. “Not a lot of people do have long-term careers any more in music. At the beginning lots of people were asking me to do things and I would want to do another thing. There is this tug of war you always feel you are having.”
Even though she is established, she says there is, “that feeling constantly that you are just standing on a big lake on very thin ice and any minute now you will be disposed of. Every time I put an album out it feels like I am starting my career again and I might be dropped or be unsuccessful.”
“I’m the monster,” she cackles. “When I started out I was so unmaterialistic, I could live off a loaf of bread for a week, but now I’ve got to the point where I have learned to live in a certain way, like a monster. Art school student me would probably hate me now.” Listening to the album and the heartfelt way she considers her relationships, I am inclined to disagree.
Infinite Things is out now on RCA