by Francis Andrews in New Music on Wednesday 6 February 2008

If Dusty Springfield and Bryan Ferry had a love child, if their paths has crossed ever so briefly in some sketchy Soho warehouse, it would be Welsh chanteuse, Duffy. We sat down with her recently to see what makes her tick, tick, tick: Bar a few bands, Wales isn’t renowned for its music. How did you develop an enthusiasm and confidence without that solid bedrock that would drive artists in places like Manchester, Liverpool and London? ‘Just out of desire. I really wanted to do it, but I’m still trying to find confidence. I just wanted to make a record and be a part of the music culture. But where I grew up, I felt I had to keep all this to myself because other people were only going to disagree. I prefer to never tell somebody something than have them disagree with me’. You’ve really built your sound on classic 50s and 60s soul. Did you see it as a risk considering a lot of artists today borrow elements from old genres and fit them in to very contemporary sounds? ‘For me, the sound is the science. It’s all in the sonics, and I delivered what I wanted to deliver, not what I felt others thought I should. To be honest, I’m not influenced by that era. I’ve grown up listening to Bowie and Richard Hawley, not Dusty Springfield who I get compared to a lot. Therefore it’s difficult to relate to that soul bracket because I don’t know it; it’s not what I think I am. The whole process of writing and recording the album was very organic, not preconceived’. You’ve hinted before at your musically-isolated upbringing. How much is the purity in your style down to this? ‘Well, of course I had radio and TV, so to some extent kept up with new releases but current trends just didn’t play a massive part in our society. I still have friends who don’t own records. I guess my sound isn’t necessarily influenced by other sounds but by my imagination and my surroundings. When I first got to the studio, it was quite intimidating because I didn’t have any solid reference points in that sense’. There’s something so timeless about both the songwriting and, particularly, the production. How much of an influence was Bernard Butler on this? ‘He played a huge part in the sonics but the record really chose its own direction. It wasn’t a contrived thing; I built it up over the course of four years so it’s a real mix of sounds. I wanted to make a modest a sincere record and that’s why I don’t like comparisons. Production-wise, we both wanted it to be dirty and rough, but he wasn’t at all forceful, and no-one pushed me in a particular direction’. Introducing the track, Scared, at a gig recently, you said the song confronts some very painful issues. Is songwriting and performing very cathartic for you? ‘No. I don’t write songs from a personal perspective — I try to stay away from being indulgent although there are times when there is an element of personal truth in them. Everyone knows rejection and fear but I don’t like my own experiences to be exposed’.