Charlotte Church should be the ultimate f***ed-up, smacked-up fame casualty; a young Norma Desmond disintegrating before our very eyes on Celebrity Big Brother, a meltdown of mascara and ego.
By the age of thirteen she’d sang for presidents and the pope and been essentially blackmailed by Rupert Murdoch into performing at his wedding. Her sixteenth birthday was met with feverish excitement by dirty old scrotes, with one of them – Radio 1’s Chris Moyles – offering to take her virginity live on air to millions. It was around this time her phone was first hacked, the tabloids callously targeting her mother who suffered from complex mental health issues.
Her relationship with a sporting hero led to a sustained Posh ‘n’ Becks media hounding where every stolen cigarette and routine row was plastered across the nation’s breakfast tables and up to this point we’re still only in her teenage years.
From adolescence into adulthood Charlotte’s career traverses an era where we’ve all become beholden to the cult of celebrity and completely lost our minds and morals.
Yet instead of seeking out the attention of the trash mags to witter on about her latest dead-beat conquest who is ‘the one’, or offering countless exclusives on fluctuating weight – yes I’m looking at you Katona – she has quietly started dating again and retains a healthy perspective on appearance that I hope to Christ any future daughter of mine has too.
After her second pop album Back To Scratch merely scratched the charts she didn’t use her name and fortune to carpertbomb the chat shows, but instead formed a ‘collective’ of musicians and mates to release interesting output such as the sublime Glitterbombed. With enough money to forever lounge on exotic beaches this multi-millionaire is now concentrating on making music that challenges and excites her before going home to her two kids.
She is, in short, a rare – perhaps even unique – example of someone who has been chewed up and spat out by the monster of fame yet remains one of us. Which makes this very subject a fascinating one to explore when I meet her ahead of an ace gig in her native Wales…
People aside what glitter bombs you?
Music obviously is just something that floors me and fills me with lots of different emotions. My kids. Having fun…I love having fun. I seek it out.
When was the last time you sang Ave Maria?
Probably about seven years ago. No actually at my parish priest’s leaving do. I don’t think he wanted to listen to much alternative stuff.
You’ve spent most of your life in the limelight yet have remained normal and grounded. How have you avoided becoming a showbiz knob?
I think it’s basically because I keep myself in check. I’m quite an empathetic person so I’m constantly looking around at the people around me. There is a recession on. Life is tough. I’ve always had a good perspective since I was little. A lot of this stuff didn’t really matter to me, all this fame…
As someone who has been famous since the age of 11 and experienced the worst of tabloid intensity do you see the youngsters today desperately craving fame for fame’s sake and think ‘be careful what you wish for’?
I don’t think that. I think you poor, poor people. All of them - not just the youngsters - even though it’s much more difficult when you’re young because you haven’t a f***ing clue what’s going on. But people who go on Big Brother, I just think ‘what are you doing?’ It’s a horrible world, especially when you haven’t got any…I wouldn’t necessarily say talent but…passion to pursue for the reason you’re famous. So if you’re just famous for the person that you are that is real tough.
You get the impression sometimes they have no protection…
Absolutely, they just get picked apart. Fame in general is a really weird psychological process. It’s a very unhuman thing, it feels quite unnatural, so yeah people getting thrown into that it’s exploitative basically. I don’t watch any of that reality TV stuff.
It’s exploitative of the people who are on it and it’s manipulating of the audience watching it so it’s just cynical and bad all the way around.
One of the strange aspects of fame is that the public assume they know you. What would surprise us about you?
I’m a bit weird. I think I’m a bit weird.
At the height of the tabloid scrutiny did you ever read the stories printed and it feel like they’re talking about someone else entirely?
No it doesn’t feel like someone else, it feels like a whole pack of f***ing lies. Like somebody has got a bit intense with the creative writing.
Where are you now with your music and is it possible to plan the next progression or does it happen organically?
It just happens as it happens as we grow and get better and change. It’s year by year, f***ing week by week. Because we’re much more like a collective then the whole chemistry, the apothecary, is dependent on every single element of the band.
We’re here at Focus Wales which is a celebration of Welsh music. Do you think it’s true to say us Welsh share a certain don’t-give-a-f*** irreverence and that attitude comes through in our music?
I’d like to think so definitely and if you look at famous Welsh people from the past, not necessarily Shirl and Tom Jones, but the rock movement that came out…the Super Furrys, the Manics, Catatonia…I mean Cerys, we were listening to Equally Cursed and Blessed recently and she just doesn’t give a f*** on that, the way that she sings is incredible, what a voice! Totally awesome. To be truly artistic it’s about being totally uncompromising and I’m not saying I am but the way we work as musicians together is totally uncompromising.
Musically what excites you at the moment?
Deerhoof. I’m loving Deerhoof right now. James Blake’s new record is just amazing. I’m listening to a bit of Messiaen and Schoenberg (classical composers). All we do is listen to music.
What would be your perfect night out?
Having some time to get ready would be novel rather than just chucking my hair back and putting some gladrags on. And I suppose going for a really nice meal somewhere and having good wine. And then going to some awesome place that ideally has an outdoor stage on a summer evening where you can see a badass band. If Deerhoof could be there playing that would be great. And I’d have Daft Punk DJ and then maybe James Blake could do the one o’clock set. And everybody could be getting super-groovy and soulful. Oh, and a kebab.
Final question, my dad would like to know if you’d marry him?
Aww I’m sorry I don’t believe in marriage.