The Conversation: Charlotte Church on her love of physics, curtailing the swearing, and why she won't let her children watch Katy Perry videos


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The Independent Online

How would you describe your new sound to the uninitiated?

I really struggle with this. It's odd. It's really different. It's quite futuristic. And hopefully, it's quite original.

The LP cover features Barbies floating face-down in a bathtub. Should we read any deeper meaning into that?

A friend took that – he was annoyed with his daughter's dolls. When I saw the photo I thought it was amazing. I suppose it's about the mainstream and commercialism and the way that that's gone.

What steps do you take to guard your children from that sort of thing?

I just try to make sure they don't see any silly Katy Perry videos. But they're so good with their computers now, it's hard to shield them from it. They're proper digital natives. I was watching this lecture by Ken Robinson and he said that if you ask people if they wear a wrist watch, most of them [who do] will be over 30.

Are you big on self-cultivation then?

I've always been massively into learning and I do want to go back to education. I might go this year and do two A-levels in physics and maths. I would really love to go to university and, if I can hack the maths, do a degree in some area of physics. Not necessarily for anything – it's just good to keep your brain ticking over, as you get old.

How much of your classical training do you still use?

Loads! I'm quite specific about what tone I want and I mess around with vibrato and making it faster or slower.

And do you still listen to classical?

A lot. My partner's writing scripts about composers so he's listening to Stravinsky and Schoenberg and Mahler. It's amazing for the kids because they're around different music all the time. Sometimes it's improvised jazz, sometimes it's David Bowie, sometimes DJ Shadow.

What are the kids into?

They both love ELO. One summer we listened to them a lot, and with the sunshine, it seems to have stuck.

Do you let them listen to pop?

Pop music is totally fine, as long as it's good. But lots of it enhances stereotypes that I don't agree with. And also loads of it is just totally crap. "Gangnam Style" was an absolute nightmare.

Have you toned the swearing down around them?

Absolutely. I've tried to tone it down in general because I've grown up and don't think it's that cool any more. It doesn't really bother me that much, I just think, 'Whatever, they're only words'. But socially, it's rather unacceptable to have small kids running around swearing.

Classical isn't the coolest of musical genres. Did you care about that growing up?

Of course. I was gutted I couldn't get my peers interested. In anything you do, you want it to appeal to your peers. I suppose that's why I've gone down this avenue.

You performed for the Pope, the Queen, Bill Clinton. Did you enjoy those big showpiece gigs?

I didn't care. I was young and fearless. What was important to me was who was snogging who back home. I was a teenager so I was like, 'Oh yeah, whatever, we're here at the White House. Again'.

And do you still have a favourite profanity?

I quite like fuck-a-duck.


Charlotte Church found international fame, aged 11, when she sung ‘Pie Jesu’ on the TV show, ‘This Morning’. Now 28, she lives outside of Cardiff with her partner, Jonathan Powell, and her two children. After branching into pop and rock in 2005, her new album, ‘Four’, is released on Monday