Delicate and ferocious, powerful yet vulnerable, 80's riot girl meets '90's Lilith Fair, Florence and the Machine's music can go from one extreme to the other in an instant of juxtaposing sounds and emotions driven by front woman Florence Welch's voice. The easiest way to describe them: pretty with a punch.
The British band's debut album Lungs on Universal Republic has been a huge breakout, spurring buzz in both the U.K. and the U.S.. They've recently embarked on their first U.S. tour, starting in New York with two sold out shows at Le Poisson Rouge and Terminal 5 this week (tickets were going for $130 on Craigslist, to give you perspective of just how good they are) and playing across the country with a stop at Coachella Music & Arts Festival.
The album was put together over the course of several years, beginning with the first song at age 18, another at 22. Describing the final product to Music Unites, she says, "It comes from so many different places. It's fragments like a patchwork quilt of pieces. It all came together when I came up with the first title -- I knew it was the right one."
Florence's love for music started at a young age. Though you would never know it now, she admits that at first she wasn't always so comfortable on stage.
I was always obsessed with music and singing and I knew it was something I wanted to do. I just never knew how to go about it. I was a chubby kind of kid. I wasn't a born performer, just performing live around London in different places, just me and the acoustic guitar.
Times have changed though. She's already performed at major festivals and venues around the world and has shared the stage with her idol, Jarvis Cocker. The most important thing to Florence in breaking into the U.S. market is to have people come and see the live shows.
"I think it's important to connect with you audience in your stage performance," she says. "Just take people to the feeling that you get from making your music."
Her unexpected and eclectic taste for music includes PJ Harvey, Bjork, Liars, Wolf Parade, and TV on the Radio. Florence also loves the band The Big Pink, and listens to them to make her less nervous when flying.
"I get inspirations from all over the place," says Florence.
However, her music idol of all-time is Stevie Nicks.
"I'm pretty obsessed with Stevie Nicks from her style to her voice. I like watching her on YouTube and her old performances, the way she moves and everything," she says.
When it comes to music she's listening to right now, Florence is excited about several bands including The XX and Yeasayer's album Odd Blood.
"My favorite album right now is Yeasayer's Odd Blood -- I really like it because it's its really joyful, offbeat pop music that has a really alternative sound to it. Which I really like and it makes me want to dance." Some emerging artists she has on her radar includes Nicki Minaj and Esben and the Witch.
She is also a fan of Rihanna's song "Rude Boy." Like everyone else, she's also gaga over Lady Gaga especially with Telephone.
I've been watching the Telephone video with Beyonce over and over again," she says. "I think she is amazing. I've met her once and she was very sweet. I was pretty star struck with her. She was really lovely to me she said she likes my stuff.
Perhaps there is a duet in the future? On her wish list, Florence cites Jason Pierce from Spiritualized, Tom Waits and Justin Timberlake as people she would like to work with. "Jason Pierce has such an amazing voice, but I'd definitely would want to dance with Justin Timberlake if he asked me to. I just really like him."
By Michelle Edgar and Mara Siegler