Having apparently quit the music business on more than one occasion, Lily Allen seems to be true to her word to a certain extent this time – although she has launched her own record label. Currently the subject of a Channel 4 documentary series on the founding of her clothing business Lucy In Disguise, State met her in 2009 and found that her dissatisfaction with the trappings of fame was starting to show. It was an interview that provoked a fair degree of reaction…
Gossip magazines, tabloid fodder, cursing on Today FM, believing your negative publicity, loving The Smiths, enjoying X Factor. It’s all in a day’s work for a modern pop star. Today, the lights are on in Lily Allen‘s world. And boy are they on. When State arrives for our chat, she is literally in the spotlight. Dressed in jeans and a sweat top, she cuts an oddly waifish figure next to the towering, made up Glenda Gilson. Then the lights go off and it’s our turn. With the cameras gone, she seems to visibly relax.
This is Lily Allen’s world, a world where there is an at times deeply uneasy mix of being a celebrity, a musician and a normal young woman. Oh…and housework. Flicking through the TV on the night before we meet her, State came across an advert for a triple CD of the best songs to do housework to…ever! or something and there, nestling amongst Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free’ and ‘It’s Raining Men’ was ‘The Fear’, a subtly raging admonishment of the nature of celebrity culture.
We feel the need to bring this to Lily Allen’s attention. For a moment she looks bemused, then laughs. “That’s odd. I wonder if they had to get permission, although it’s probably an EMI album. To be honest, I don’t really care about things like that.'”
Not at all, what’s important to me is that things that do have my name attached to them, like the tour, like the merchandise, like the record, are true and honest. If someone else wants to put a record out with my music on it, that’s something else, as long as it’s not sold as a Lily Allen album.
For a record with a message such as ‘The Fear’ to achieve such mainstream success was quite something.
It was amazing and brilliant but at the same time, it never really connected with me what it actually meant. I wasn’t in the country at the time, I was in America, so I didn’t get to enjoy the experience and go out on the lash with my mates or anything like that. ‘Smile’ went to number one for a couple of weeks but that was completely different thing. This time round, I really expected people not to like what I was doing.
I started reading all those gossip mags and websites. All that is very negative. If you’re only ever reading negative things about yourself, then you start to believe it and I was just terrified that it was going to be awful and everybody would hate anything I did. Then it started doing well and it was like, -wooh!’
Perhaps it shows that the people who read the tabloid stuff care and have little to do with music, and vice versa?
What it proves is that although people consume this negative bullshit, they don’t actually take it on board. The gossip culture and industry is vast but people just skim over it, they maybe don’t take it all in, which is good. That’s what ‘The Fear’ is about, being scared of getting to the point where you do actually believe it, so there was a sweet irony of it doing so well.