Star speaks out about battle with alcoholism and being 'saved by a stolen cagoule'
Andrew Trendell

10:12 5th May 2015

Florence Welch has spoken out about her battle with alcoholism and depression, adding that a stolen cagoule 'saved her life' during a nervous breakdown. 

The Florence + The Machine frontman is gearing up to release her new album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. But prior to the making of the record, she went through a deeply 'chaotic' and 'unhappy' period while taking a year-long break from the music industry following the breakdown of a relationship. 

"There’s a real down," she told The Sunday Times, “with everything there has to be an opposite. I can go way up there, but I get really sad.”

She continued: “I have a therapist, she’s known me for years. She helped my little sister as well. She’s so rational, it’s good for me, because I see everything in extremes. She’s like, ‘Maybe it’s about coming to a more moderate place?’”

Since then, she's stopped drinking and been dry for a year. 

“It [drinking] wasn’t coming from a place of fun and joy. It was coming from a place of wanting to cover and hide. But, actually, if I did want to go back and enjoy drinking again, then that’s a choice...I was so sad. And I’ve never been that interested in having a glass of wine, I’ll have a shot of tequila, it’s always been about the end result.”

Following that, Welch admits she spent time 'living like a monk' wearing just “leggings and this cagoule, which I stole from someone at a New Year’s Eve house party".

"I wore it for a year," she said. "It saved my life. Clothes to me are a way of distracting myself and I had nothing left, I wanted to be identity-less.”

Elaborating on how she uses her artistic image as a shield, she added: ''As I got more famous, a reaction to that was the eyebrows went bleached, the hair got redder. I wanted to become this fantasy creature. It was good because it kind of protected me. But I've spent a year or two unravelling all that stuff.''

Florence on stage at Coachella. Photo: WENN

Florence + The Machine is set to release her third album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful on 1 June. She will perform at a string of world festival dates this summer, including Radio One's Big Weekend and Glastonbury in the UK. 

  • Welch rose to fame due to Mairead Nash. She cornered her in a bathroom and sang Etta James's 'Something's Got a Hold on Me'. A week later, Welch received a phone call asking her to perform at a club night.

  • Welch has huge fashion influence, Gucci designer Frida Giannini has said that Welch served as an inspiration for the house’s winter 2011 collection; Giannini also created the outfits for Florence + The Machine’s most recent US tour.

  • 'What the Water Gave Me' was inspired by a Frida Kahlo painting. Describing the painting in question, Welch said: "that one where her feet are in the bath and all of her nightmares and dreams are in the bath with her. It got me thinking about the water and the sea. When I was growing up, there were these news stories that kept popping up in my life about children who would get swept out to sea, and the parents would dive in after them. I%u2019d seen these news stories crop up again and again, and it made me think of this idea of the sea being this entity that needs a sacrifice."

  • Welch was terrified throughout her teens, "If you asked me to go back to being 14 or 15, I couldn't %u2013 it was a terrifying time. I was so awkward in my own skin. I used to hide behind my hair because I was so ridiculously self-conscious."

  • Welch travelled around her first tour (supporting MGMT in 2008) with her dad in a camper van because she didn't have any money.

  • Florence once locked eyes with Paul McCartney and sang, "Rebel rebel, how could they know? / Hot tramp, I love you so . . . " during a David Bowie cover at an Alexander McQueen tribute gig. She'd never met him before.

  • Welch received her education at the Camberwell College of Arts before dropping out to pursue a musical career.

  • Florence's mother was Evelyn, a professor of renaissance studies and academic dean of arts at Queen Mary, University of London. She doesn't listen to music.

  • Welch has described love as a 'sickness': "Love is horrible, though, isn't it? I mean, when you’re in love, it’s like a sickness. Such madness."

  • She has said she was really in to witch craft as a younger lady, "I made mini shrines in my bedroom with candles and tried to cast spells to make the boy in the next class fall in love with me. I don’t think he did."

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Photo: Splash