Paris Paloma was a name that spread like wildfire earlier this year, thanks to breakout single, 'labour' which echoed and called upon the intertwined feelings of women living beneath the heavy weight of a patriarchal society. At only 23-years-old, the British alternative folk singer has her name on the Top 30 in the UK charts, Billboard's Hot Alternative Songs chart, and Billboard's all-genre Digital Song Sales chart-- all while amassing a soaring number of streams on both Spotify and Apple Music. It was her lyrical power and her fiercely stirring yet pleasantly tender vocals that drew in such an immense crowd in such a short period of time.
As Paloma continues to rise to the top, we can see more brilliant artistry unravel. Her most recent single, 'drywall' echoes similar sentiments to 'labour' yet the sound stands very much on its own. Her haunting vocals emphasize the immense power she claims or rather, is reclaiming. For Paris though, this is very much only the beginning.
Tonitruale got the chance to speak with Paris about her songwriting process, the importance of visual artistry in her work, new music, and more!
Your March 2023 single, ‘labour’ skyrocketed to the collective conscious of the feminine experience, personifying female rage, and causing an outpouring of love from fans who relate on a very heavy and intimate level. Beneath all that intensity, what does this song mean to you on a more personal level?
The song originated as a form of catharsis for me, as much of my music is - because songwriting for me is such an emotional outlet. It felt really personal, but I had this awareness that it was something that was part of a collective mood but couldn’t have imagined that it would reach all of the people it would. It was definitely a song written at a time when I felt this pent-up frustration and needed to feel heard.
Many of your singles have cohesive yet unique artwork that highlights how powerful and whimsical each track is. Where does the inspiration for this come from?
My background is in visual art anyway, and I think I’m just a very visual person, so I tend to have such a strong idea of the imagery around and in my songwriting, as a result the accompanying artwork comes quite naturally when I sit down to make it. It’s quite a meditative and solitary process, trying to distill the song’s imagery into one artwork, but I try and make sure that it’s serving the meaning of the song in a multifaceted way.
The lyrics in your latest single, 'drywall' contain sentiments many women hold but are not often verbalized. Why was it important to you to spread this important message in such a cathartic way?
Drywall definitely feels a bit like a continuous inner-monologue to me. I meant for it to be a little satirical, a bit funny, as I think a lot of the behaviours of toxic masculinity are inherently hilarious - but they are also potentially very dangerous. As a woman, male fragility - for all its ridiculousness and stupidity - can result in violence against women. It’s also the idea of joking about trauma isn’t it - you can do it once you’re out of the danger and have some distance. I think that’s something that a lot of women relate to, once they are cleared from really destabilising relationships, many women look back on very potentially dangerous situations and laugh, because they’re safe now, and safe in the knowledge that they are far more mature than the party who mistreated them.
The music video for ‘drywall’ is incredibly stirring and profound, with fierce moments expressing the fierce emotions of the song effortlessly. Could you describe the process of putting it together and how you feel now it’s out?
The drywall music video shoot was a uniquely rewarding day, Matt Grass (director) and Matt Butler (DOP) are both such incredible creatives and completely threw themselves into collaborating on the concept with me. Matt G and I researched paintings by John Singer Sargent, John William Waterhouse and the pre-raphaelites, and used them to form a visual language and colour palette for the video. I also knew I wanted to bring Henry Hayward back to create a parallel to his role in the “labour” music video; Henry steps into his role so seamlessly, he’s such a true actor, in a way it's a shame that music videos are so short, as he gives such informed, intense performances I don’t think Matt wanted to call ‘cut’. The scene dancing in the attic was a complete choreomania situation; we’d been going for about 20 hours at that point, it was nearly 1 o clock in the morning, I hadn’t had much sleep, and I was dancing in the dark doing take after take, we were all so tired that we were laughing at anything - it was a really intense emotional experience but also weirdly the most hilarious shoot I’ve been on. I know we’re all so proud of it, and it warms me so much reading all the wonderful comments people have for it.
Your lyrics are a prominent part of what draws fans to your music. Can you guide us through your songwriting process?
Writing happens with my mood, and in a way my writing process is very inconvenient - the words come whenever, and I have to stop what I’m doing and make a note and run with it whilst the inspiration is flowing. It will generally start with a phrase of rhyme, and I will continue singing it out (I rarely write lyrics and then apply melody later, melody and lyrics come hand in hand, and I try to instinctively feel each one out as they inform the other) until I have a loose structure, then I can revisit to amend and hone a concept or specific lyrics. In truth I’m probably not incredibly disciplined in my writing style, I rarely sit down and decide I’m going to write and then write - the writing happens whenever it strikes.
I love the visuals from the ‘labour’ music video—they very much highlight, with its period-piece theme, the archaic and outdated view that many men have on women. Where did you get the idea for this and what was it like to film?
The moodboard for the 'labour' music video, from what I remember, was mainly stills from the Lord of the Rings, the scene in which Lord Denethor is eating in a rather disgusting way whilst Pippin sings to him. Adam Othman (Director) and I wanted to create this claustrophobic dinner-scene, with a heavily laden table and so many candles that we had to have someone with the specific job of making sure nothing caught fire. I kept referring to the concept as a “bottle episode” where its only focusing one place so that the characters’ dynamics and expressions are really placed under the microscope. Adam and Henry did such a great job of creating this wonderfully tense mood that I think feels really contemporary, whilst in this really archaic setting; it felt so much like dress-up, with all the props and set and costumes feeling so rich and indulgent, with this bounty of food and colourful preparation that sort of contrasts the threadbare love and overwhelming absence of care that exists between the two figures. That was sort of the line we were walking, it was a very intense day. Poor Henry ate a lot of food.
This is only the very start of what clearly is going to be a long and exciting career. Where do you see yourself going from here or rather, what direction do you see yourself taking in upcoming projects?
I have so much music I want to get out. I’ve just not stopped writing, I’m so grateful to be moving forward now in my career with an audience that wasn’t there before, whilst still having listeners who have been there since day one. There are some projects and songs that have been a while in the making that I’m so excited for my listeners to hear, both songs about womanhood and the female experience but also some more introspective works that are a reflection of my growth over the last few years, intensely personal things which I’ve only just figured out how to write about. It definitely feels like the opening of a new era!
What can fans expect to hear or see next from Paris Paloma?
All I can say is a lot of new music!