It’s a Thursday afternoon, and Popjustice joins Lily Allen high above the streets of London.
For this chat we have agreed to do an interview based on questions tweeted in by Popjustice readers. It is agreed by all parties that this will be jolly entertaining.
A tweet is sent, alerting people to the existence of an interview scenario, and while we wait for questions to come in we start things off with some general chitchat.
This is how it all unfolds.
How ambitious are you? Sometimes you seem like you don’t give a fuck.
I do give a fuck. You know what, my new mantra is this: ANT AND DEC. Ant and Dec. I might get their names tattooed on each wrist. Because they smile, and they never complain, and it seems to work for them and I wish I could be more like that. My other mantra is that I don’t seem to have any long term goals, it’s not about world domination, I just want enough people to buy this record for my record company to let me do it again. It’s a great job and I really enjoy the process of making music. And if I can keep doing that then I’ll be really happy.
But you do see it as a job, rather than as some sort of calling or a thing you feel emotionally or spiritually compelled to do?
Well I think we all have to work. Just for our own sanity – we have to get up in the morning and do something. And this is the only thing that I know how to do. So yes I do see it as a job in a simple sense, but I also know that I’m really lucky to be able to do this for my job.
There’s quite a lot of complaining on the album.
I didn’t really notice that until I did a track-by-track interview about it. (Laughs) “And this is ANOTHER one where I’m really grumpy and hate everyone…” I’m probably more moany on this record than I have been on past records because I wrote the majority of it while I was pregnant and hormonal and feeling a bit miffed at not seeing any of my mates, and none of my mates coming to see me. And having gone through some pretty shit stuff. So yes, I felt pretty moany.
Do you think it’s interesting that one of the first popstars who arrived through the wonders of social media…
Well, more that it seems like you live through social media, and your only connection with where you came from is through other people’s Instagram and Twitter accounts? Is it quite tragic?
Yes it is tragic… But I don’t think it’s necessarily true. These days everything is driven by the internet. But there’s just so much shit on there that’s not real, you know?
What’s your favourite least favourite Lily Allen fact off the internet?
I can’t think off the top of my head. But, like, Wikipedia is not a real reference. Just because something’s on Wikipedia, THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT REAL! That’s what makes me come across as a cunt! I sit down in interviews and people go “YOU SAID THIS!” and I’m like, “no! I didn’t say that! I was misquoted!” And they go “OOOH, ANOTHER ‘MISQUOTE’!” And I go, “but it WAS a misquote!” And so it continues.
Is there anything you’d like to set the record straight on in this interview?
No! I don’t care any more! But I just find it odd. Odd and funny. And you say that I only exist in social media, but no. What you see of me only exists in social media. It’s the only place where you can see me.
So are you saying the image you put across of yourself is dishonest?
No, but if you saw me in my house, then you’d see that what I put across on social media is perhaps 20% of my day, and the other 80% is changing nappies and doing bathtime and making dinner for my babies. I don’t tweet about that because some things should be left untweeted.
But your big thing as a popstar seems to be “I am honest, this is me, I am very much on the level with my fans”… So is it therefore dishonest if you don’t show parts of your life?dishonest if you don’t show parts of your life?The reason I leave that stuff out is that there’s a sort of grey area within British media and the press: I don’t know where the line is drawn where my children are concerned. So I don’t mention their names in interviews, I don’t put pictures of them online and I don’t talk about them on Twitter. Because I don’t think it’s my right to say that they’re for public consumption. It’s their lives. We all know that when children turn into teenagers they’ll throw any fucking thing at their parents, and I don’t want to be responsible for them screaming at me going “WHAT FUCKING GAVE YOU THE RIGHT TO MAKE ME FAMOUS?”
The reason I leave that stuff out is that there’s a sort of grey area within British media and the press: I don’t know where the line is drawn where my children are concerned. So I don’t mention their names in interviews, I don’t put pictures of them online and I don’t talk about them on Twitter. Because I don’t think it’s my right to say that they’re for public consumption. It’s their lives. We all know that when children turn into teenagers they’ll throw any fucking thing at their parents, and I don’t want to be responsible for them screaming at me going “WHAT FUCKING GAVE YOU THE RIGHT TO MAKE ME FAMOUS?”
Maybe they’ll be annoyed that you chose not to make them famous!
Maybe they will! And I can say, “if you want to be fucking famous go and do it yourself like your mum did.”
What’s the best song that didn’t make the new album?
A song called ‘I Don’t Mind Babe’.
What’s that about?
No. Bullying bitches. Nasty girls. Like school bullies, but grown ups.
Which brings us to one song that is on the album: ‘URL Badman’.
Have you heard it? (Bursts out laughing) It’s not about you, honestly.
It’s a dismissive song about online commentators – there’s a line spoken from their perspective, “it’s not for me, it must be wrong”. What’s the difference between you ‘just being honest’, which seems to be the ultimate defence rolled out by people when they’re being fucking rude, and the people you dislike also ‘just being honest’? Is having an opinion only alright if you’re Lily Allen?
Well they’re just being driven by something else, which isn’t honesty as much as it’s about [website] hits. I’m already famous, I don’t need to pull people in. I don’t need to make a shock or a song or a dance about everything.
If you were a successful artist returning to the world in 2006, and you saw new artists like Lily Allen coming through social networks like MySpace, you would probably have been a bit “I don’t understand this, what’s going on, I can’t get my head around it and these new artists completely get it”. And now it’s you coming back into a pop landscape that depends on an even more advanced version of all that. And I wonder if you look at artists who are digitally native pop acts… Well, do you feel separated from the pulse of pop in the same way an older artist might have in 2006?
I always found insincerity a bit difficult to sit with. When I look at other people’s Twitter feeds there’s a lot of that… Listen. I love my fans. They bought me my house. They pay for my children’s existence and I couldn’t be anything but grateful for everything they’ve ever given me and the opportunities they’ve let me have. BUT. There’s something a little bit patronising about telling people that all day every day. ‘Retweeting’ this, ‘favourite for this, retweet for that’. Who’s got the fucking time. Who’s actually got the time? And is it actually the person it seems to be?
It’s the social media manager at the label.
What’s the main difference between this album and your previous two releases?
The difference is that on my first two albums when I’m angry on those records it’s generally directed towards one person. Specific people who’d pissed me off, usually in the ‘love arena’. And happier and cheerier songs were on a larger scale – songs like ‘Everything’s Just Wonderful’ were directed at the world. Whereas this time round the happy songs are directed at my husband and family, and the angry songs are directed at the world.
Who do you think is actually fine?
My husband. And Adele – I think she’s incredible, and I love the way she does things on her own terms. She did that before she was successful, actually – I have a lot of love and admiration and respect for her. She’s not scared of losing anything, you see – it doesn’t mean anything to her. She’s not materialistic.
It would be quite good if she beyoncéd an album.
If she what?
Beyoncéd an album. Just suddenly released it.
I think she will do that. I have an inkling.
Just a hunch?
Just a hunch.
Based on nothing?
Based on nothing.
What’s Adele’s new stuff like?
I have no idea.
How many songs have you heard?
I… Haven’t heard any. (Laughs)
It’s very difficult, in this post-Beyoncé landscape, for a pop fan to go to sleep at night. Is it safe to go to sleep tonight?
I think you can overthink these things. What Beyoncé did was amazing in a lot of ways just because it got everybody in a tizz. I have to say, I only listen to ‘Drunk In Love’. They spent a lot of money on that album and people spent a lot of money buying it, but I’m only listening to ‘Drunk In Love’. It was very clever.
Apart from your husband and Adele, who do you like?
Who else do I really like and think is doing great? I’ll tell you who’s been getting a hard time: that Michael McIntyre. I really like his chat show.
I enjoy it!
Are you just saying this because it makes you feel better about your own chat show?
No, I just think… Well, I sometimes peruse the Daily Mail of an afternoon. And I can see when people are gone for, just because viewing figures haven’t been ‘successful’ even though they don’t work in TV and have no real idea what a good viewing figure is. People who are good at what they do, they’re just getting on with it… There’s something about us as British culture that we like to just drag those people through some shit.
So you like your husband, Adele, and Michael McIntrye?
That’s it! Everyone else is a cunt! Oh, I like Beyoncé as well.
You mention Beyoncé on your album, in ‘Come On Over’.
A few people have said to me, “you’re going to piss off so many people by namechecking this person and that person” and I think, “well, yes”, but I’ve always made a thing of social commentary and commentary on pop culture, and I don’t think you can do that unless you namecheck the people at the forefront of that culture. Actually I still need to write letters to Rita Ora and Cara Delevingne. In actual fact the song where I appear to slag off Rita and Jordan ['Insincerely Yours'] is very much the same premise as ‘Cheryl Tweedy’ all those years ago. It’s not about them, it’s about the idea of them – how the media perceive them. It’s about how the way the media perceive them as entities and how that actually has nothing to do with how they are in real life. And Delevingne rhymes with magazine.
You’re actually going to write a letter saying no really, it’s fine, your name just rhymes with magazine?
Shall we have some ‘reader questions’?
You can see the reader question here at the source, because this post is quite long enough already