East London born and currently based in Paris, European artist Flora Hibberd is one of the foremost faces of a rising movement in contemporary folk music. Skating eloquently between influences like Joan Baez, Nick Cave, Jason Molina, and Cat Power, Hibberd’s is a tempered, innovative folk style tucked snugly somewhere between genuine emotional sentiment and modern-day ingenuity. Each song flows out like true, blue poetry, delivered with an innate power awakened by her captivating, textured vocals.
Needless to say, For Folk’s Sake was privileged to receive answers to our ongoing ‘FFS 5’ series of interviews from Hibberd. All of this is hot on the heels of an incredible debut single, ‘The Absentee’, and precedes an EP set for release sometime this spring.
Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?
I grew up in East London. My parents were pretty instrumental in setting me on the music path – my dad bought me Beatles CDs and took me to classical music concerts, my mum loved Nick Cave and Antony & The Johnsons and Sinéad O’Connor. I remember sitting in the backseat of the car on family holidays with Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen full blast on the stereo. When I was eighteen I moved to Paris, and stayed for a while at Shakespeare and Company, an English bookshop. I’d never really considered I might be able to make music for a living, but meeting writers and artists and musicians who were actually living that life changed my mind.
As an artist, how do you define success?
Having the time and space to devote myself to writing music.
What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?
Self-promotion makes me cringe. In private I’m (more than) happy to talk about myself, but in a promotional context it feels horrible.
If you could only play ONE of your songs for the rest of your career, which one would it be?
Oh no! Can I choose someone else’s? I always come back to Leonard Cohen’s ‘One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong’. I don’t know why, I don’t think it’s his best or anything, but I love to play it. Or ‘I’ll Be Here In The Morning’ by Townes Van Zandt. So simple but so beautiful. It always makes me happy to play those songs. If I have to choose one of mine…it would be a song called ‘Brother, Why Do You Show Me Your Palm?’ It’s not out yet! It was partly inspired by a poem by Marina Tsvetaeva, and it captures how I was feeling when I wrote it pretty well.
Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?
I love drawing and painting. When I left school I wanted to be a visual artist, and it’s still a welcome break from writing music. Seeing other artists at work, seeing their art, reminds me to be diligent. I have a few friends who are painters or writers, and they inspire me to take my work seriously.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)