I was never academically driven in English, but, again, Tom Waits is a perfect example of an influence. He writes so immaculately and paints so perfectly a world and the characters within it. There are writers like that who are my influences: vivid and gifted storytellers.
It's a very, very interesting experience to be talking to people who are such icons in their own right. When Adele came to a show, I was just talking to her, and at the time, I thought, 'I'm just having a chat with somebody.' But then I heard myself say, 'Oh, I was talking to Adele the other day,' and it's as strange as you'd imagine.
I love making music, but if you make something that inspires somebody else to make something, without getting too airy-fairy, you've contributed to the zeitgeist in some way, and that's just an amazing feeling.
I had a fascination with the roots of African American music. That would have been my first education in music. I had a real passion for it. I wanted to play it, sing it. I could sing at a young age, but I started to teach myself bass guitar and started writing when I was 15.
It was amazing for me to even perform at the Grammys, but to do so alongside Annie Lennox was a truly incredible honor.
One of my first festivals was Oxygen 2006. It had this amazing lineup with the Arctic Monkeys on their first or second album, the Strokes, Kings of Leon, the Magic Numbers and then the Who and James Brown. I waited in the pit for a good eight hours to see James Brown.
When I first started to sing, I just swung at it with an axe.
Truth be told, I'm not all that comfortable with celebrity culture. That was always something that baffled me, the obsession over fame. I don't think that's a reason why anyone should get into making music.
I'm not cross about the idea of baptism; I just think the idea that when a child is born it is inherently sinful and carries sin and needs to be cleaned in order for it to be all right and all good with its creator, I just think that's an absurd notion.
I found the experience of falling in love or being in love was a death: a death of everything. You kind of watch yourself die in a wonderful way, and you experience for the briefest moment - if you see yourself for a moment through their eyes - everything you believed about yourself gone. In a death-and-rebirth sense.
You grow up and recognise that in an educated, secular society, there's no excuse for ignorance. You have to recognise in yourself, and challenge yourself, that if you see racism or homophobia or misogyny in a secular society, as a member of that society, you should challenge it. You owe it to the betterment of society.
You grow up and recognize that in any educated secular society, there's no excuse for ignorance. You have to recognize in yourself, and challenge yourself, that if you see racism or homophobia or misogyny in a secular society, as a member of that society, you should challenge it. You owe it to the betterment of society.
One of my favorite books is 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' by George Orwell, and 'Catcher in the Rye,' obviously, is a big influence and is one of my favorites.
There is no singer I can think of who can touch Ella Fitzgerald. And when Billie Holiday sings, she's merciless about it. Her voice has just this immaculate sadness - even in happy songs, there was something that was so broken about it.
I'm influenced a lot by Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, even Paul Weller - Billie Holiday as well: People who wrote and sang songs that were reflective of their times. I quite like that. I quite admire that.
The best vocalists I can think of are female. There is no singer I can think of who can touch Ella Fitzgerald. And when Billie Holiday sings, she's merciless about it. Her voice has just this immaculate sadness - even in happy songs, there was something that was so broken about it.
I'd love to do something with somebody like James Blake.
I love Muddy Waters and Nina Simone. I also watched 'The Blues Brothers' movie over and over.
I had just discovered jazz, and I started singing in a kind of blues cover band at the age of 15. We called ourselves - it was a terrible name - the Blue Zoots. We couldn't actually get our hands on zoot suits, nor did we dress in blue. We did covers of Screamin' Jay Hawkins and kind of Blues Brothers repertoire stuff.
One of my biggest influences of all time would be somebody like Tom Waits. David Bowie is another huge influence. I'm also a big fan of St. Vincent and Leslie Feist.