I would describe myself as… complicated. I think I have a strong character and I’m opinionated, and capable. I have likes and dislikes, I’m passionate about things. I love to learn and be engaged. But emotionally I can be quite sensitive. There’s a fragile aspect, which helps me do what I do. I pick up on things and maybe I need to do that, to condense emotional experience into something poetic, with honesty.
Music changed me… because it saved my life. Had I not had my piano from age nine to eleven, when I started writing… it’s such a cathartic emotional medium. I had a tough childhood, at that time, and music helped me escape. It transported me and was a balm to all kinds of things. It’s still a mystery. The language of the soul?
My biggest vice… is whiskey sours. I was living in Islington a few years ago and me and my friend would go to Zilouf’s cocktail bar, and I got obsessed with whiskey sours. I make them simply, I can’t be faffed with egg white.
The last time I was embarrassed was… at a show in Los Angeles. I’d bought this really nice long black skirt but I hadn’t quite come to terms with how light the fabric was. When I flung it around, it ended up over my head and the whole audience saw my pants – there was a sharp intake of breath! I carried on as if nothing had happened.
“I cry quite easily… it’s healthy, I think.”
My formal qualifications are… a BA Hons in music with visual art, and an NVQ in childcare. I was a nursery school teacher and I worked with youth groups. I loved that job. It was exhausting but you got a lot back – all their purity and insight and innocence is so on the surface, and they’re so unrepressed, they’d really scream at you and then give you a massive kiss. I remember one little boy telling me, ‘My cat died yesterday, he just blew up.’ I never found out what happened.
The last time I cried… was when somebody I know’s mother died. I cry a lot when I feel empathy. I can feel heartbroken by life and I cry quite easily, sometimes for no reason. It’s healthy, I think.
Vinyl, CD or MP3?… vinyl and mp3. I’ll buy something on iTunes and if I really love it I’ll back it up with a vinyl copy, I just did that with Tame Impala’s record.
My most treasured possession… is my home. I live in a Moomin house in East London which I fill with blankets and nice crockery and get people round for dinner. When you travel a lot you feel rootless and adrift – this is my sanctuary, where I can breathe out.
The best book I’ve read… it’s very hard to choose. I could say Last Exit To Brooklyn, Raymond Carver’s short stories, Patti Smith’s Just Kids… I could’ve chosen the BFG! It’s like a web or a DNA structure, it all interconnects. They’re all facets of one thing.
Is the glass half-full or half-empty?… it’s half-full at the moment; it changes throughout the day. I’m not one of those happy people looking on the bright side all the time, but I’m not a miserable old bastard. I’m trying to swing not too wildly, and to teeter between the two.
My biggest regret is… no regrets. When I look back, things that seemed bad actually turned out well in the end. If I didn’t have children I think I’d regret that, but there’s still time.
When we die… I don’t profess to know what the hell happens but I think there is a logic to the universe. We are bits of energy floating about in various guises, and when we die we rejoin the big cosmic soup of the universe.
I’d like to be remembered… fondly. As having done something thoughtful and good in the world.