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Soul-pop sensation Delilah is all ready to face stardom square in the face, she tells TIM HUGHES.
Delilah as an artist who is wiser than her years.
Though still only 21, the soul-pop sensation has had the kind of success that most aspiring singers can only dream of.
Her breakthrough single Go, a reworking of Chaka Khan’s anthem Ain’t Nobody, made 130,000 sales, she has scored more than five million hits on her YouTube channel, and she has already worked alongside the likes of Chase and Status, Maverick Sabre and Plan B.
Yet that talent was forged early. New single Breath was written while she was only 15 – by which time, she tells me, she already knew she was going to be a star.
“I come from a very musical family,” she says, talking at home in East London’s trendy Shoreditch.
“I wasn’t classically-trained, but every day there was music blaring out of some window or another.
“I grew up on an estate where it was a real competition to see who could play their music the loudest. And when I was young my stepfather would DJ and take me with him.”
Her late stepfather was a drum and bass DJ and promoter, and as a child she frequently found herself beneath the decks, or mingling with clubbers.
“The people I met there became my extended family,” she says. “My upbringing was definitely more Bob Marley than Hannah Montana!”
It was her stepfather, too, who also encouraged her to take her first steps as a singer-songwriter, finding an old abandoned piano, getting it tuned, and installing it in her bedroom – where she painted it with glitter.
“I love the way I was brought up,” she goes on. “It was very cultured and it prepared me for the music industry without even knowing it. Being aware of my surroundings has really helped me.
“As a kid I was always the one in charge of everyone. I’m outgoing and still like to have fun, but only take calculated risks.”
Delilah was actually born Paloma Stoecker, in Paris. When her parents split she moved to London with her mum. Delilah was her great-grandmother’s name – which she “borrowed”, she says, because fellow singer Paloma Faith was using hers.
“Paloma was already very big and people kept getting us confused,” she says. “People were going to her thinking she was me, and the other way round. So I decided to make things easier. I wanted one name I could relate to. I did have a few people saying ‘why don’t you pick my name’. But this name fits and I’ve grown to love it.”
As well as being a singer in her own right, Delilah has also earned the chance to work with many of her musical heroes.
“I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing artists,” she says. But when I ask who has been the most impressive, she becomes surprisingly discreet.
“Well, a few were memorable for the wrong reasons,” she giggles.
“I can’t say who, or why, because they’ll never speak to me again, but artists are known for being creative, whacky and strange. And some are particularly eccentric – with strange rituals and routines.”
“Like doing handstands while they write... literally every time they have an idea. Others like to have their entire families and all their friends in the studio. I’ve had 50 or 60 people in one at the same time.
“I've seen lots of strange things – and some debauched things!”
But she again turns coy when it comes to details.
“You know what,” she laughs, “I can’t remember! But there are lots of great after-parties, and as the only girl on tour I’ve had to become one of the lads. I have woken up and thought ‘was that real’ and ‘did that happen’.”
Delilah began writing songs at the age of 15, at first teaming up with her guitar tutor. Going on to her local FE college, she studied entertainment law and media technology, theory and performance, before cutting her first demo at 16, and, shortly after, signing to Atlantic.
Though, she admits, it is only recently she gained the confidence to make it as a star – and is looking forward to making an impact.
“This is just the beginning,” she says. “I’m giving people the foundation of what I’m about.
“I’m really confident in what I’m doing and am really ready. I feel I’ve been waiting a long time and am really proud that my time has come."
* Delilah plays the O2 Academy Oxford on Tuesday. Tickets are £9 from ticketweb.co.uk Doors open at 7pm. Her album From the Roots Up is out this summer.
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