Entertainment & Arts

Duffy returns to limelight after two year hiatus

Duffy
Image caption Duffy came second in the BBC's Sound of 2008 survey

After two years away from the limelight, Welsh pop star Duffy is back.

The singer-songwriter, who shot to fame in 2008 with her chart-topping single Mercy, is about to release her second album Endlessly.

The bubbly 26-year-old is immediately engaging and is full of smiles and chatter.

"I'm an open book," she explains. "I wouldn't write songs if I had no intention of sharing the experiences that I went through."

A two-year hiatus gave the singer - full name Aimee Ann Duffy - a chance to "take stock" and think about her next move.

She laughs off press reports that she suffered a breakdown during that time, calling it "too dramatic and too much like a Hollywood movie".

She does admit, though, that becoming an overnight success did take its toll.

Image caption Last year she won a Grammy for best pop vocal album

"It was a wild, fun, exhilarating experience and at times it felt as though I was falling apart at the seams," she says.

"I did have hold of the reins," she continues. "I did feel like I could keep things together - just about.

"But it was the right time to go and make a new record. Trust me, I was ready for that."

Duffy retreated back to Wales for a rest, squeezing in a debut acting role in independent movie Patagonia.

Despite having been offered several Hollywood parts, she chose the predominantly Welsh-speaking film "because it was a little homage to the girl I used to be".

Although proud of the film, she is not certain whether she will continue with acting.

"I'm about to say something that I probably shouldn't say, but I really don't know what's ahead of me," she laughs.

"Media training would want me to say that I completely know what I want for the future, that I'm a calculated young woman, I'm clever and I've got it all together - but I have absolutely no idea."

Bad habits

Last year Duffy's debut record Rockferry won her the Grammy for best pop vocal album.

Even now, though, the singer - who grew up in the small Welsh town of Nefyn - still has "weird moments realising that people know who I am".

It's a far cry from her early years when she was asked to leave the school choir.

"I was about eight years old and I remember thinking to myself: 'I think you're going to regret that, Mrs Roberts,'" she laughs.

Duffy has achieved a level of success that most artists would envy. Yet she does admit she has picked up some bad habits along the way.

She never warms up her voice before singing, enjoys spending hours in the bath and has a fondness for the occasional tipple.

"It's good to get drunk and to go out and let your hair down," she says.

"I sometimes enjoy a hangover. That kind of hot flush where you feel like you're having palpitations makes me feel slightly alive."

For the time being, though, socialising will have to take a back seat while she promotes her latest record.

Comparisons

The first single off the album, Well, Well, Well, was released earlier this month.

Asked what her expectations are for the record, Duffy admits that chart success may take some time.

"I'm aware of wanting a slow start and a way of easing myself back into everyone's consciousness," she explains.

"I hope I get a few months to wind up. Well, Well, Well is something I want to sit out there, reminding everybody of my return."

Image caption The 26-year-old started dating Welsh international Mike Phillips last year

Nor does she seem overly concerned by the continual comparisons made between herself and some of her contemporaries, such as Amy Winehouse and Adele.

"I still get the Dusty Springfield comparison daily," she says.

Another person to whom the star is regularly compared is singer Charlotte Church.

They are both Welsh singers who have enjoyed enormous success. Like Church until recently, Duffy is also in a relationship with a rugby player.

But Duffy sees no similarities. "It's really only here [in the UK] that we are compared," she says.

"In America they don't really know what rugby is. All they know is that I've got a yum, six foot tall, dark, handsome squeeze."

She is not, in short, a woman to fret over what is written about her.

"You won't really get me worrying about things," she says.

"You don't really have any control over anything, good or bad, I am a victim of circumstance as we all are."

Endlessly is released on 29 November.

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