She may have sold more than five million units of her debut album, “Rockferry,” but triple-Grammy nominee Duffy still feels like, well, herself.
“Apparently now I’m famous. Make what you will of that statement,” she says with a self-deprecating laugh, calling Hitfix from New York. “I don’t feel famous. I’m sitting in the office of Universal [Music Group], with a cigarette, with a can of Diet Coke and eating some edamame. I fell like member of staff, I feel like I should be making coffee.”
No doubt a strong cup of joe is what she needed when she heard about her Grammy nominations at 7 a.m., a few hours after they were announced. The lass from Wales is up for best new artist, best female pop vocal performance and best pop vocal album. “I was in the bath, in Newcastle. We were doing a U.K. tour and I got a text from my manager. The night before we’d been thinking it through and I purposely didn’t call anyone. My manager was like, ‘You got three!’ I was screaming and splashing water all over the place.”
It’s easy to see why “Rockferry” has struck such a chord. Duffy sounds like a modern-day Dusty Springfield- a comparison she dislikes, but is true. Plus, she sings about heartache and yearning in a way that seldom positions her as a victim of love, even in her breakthrough single “Mercy.”
“I never wanted to be like a victim, I apply that to my life. [Songwriting and my life] are kind of intertwined,” she says. “Once, I heard a really great quote that you are what you do. It’s really important to reflect myself in what I do. It’s inevitably a reflection of what you are.”
Now back to those Springfield comparisons. They were paired with suggestions that Duffy was also a Amy Winehouse clone– minus the hot mess that is Winehouse–since both singers favor a sound based upon ’60s girl groups and have big voices drenched in soul. All Duffy was doing was trying to make it on her own. “I get it,” she says of the comparisons. “But I felt like with Dusty Springfield, it was just so massive for me. It was like I was the new Dusty Springfield. You can’t replace anything. How can I, at the mere age of 21, claim to be standing next to someone like that? The weight was intense. People were telling me who I was.”
Slowly, she’s adjusting to the star-making machinery, including the weirdness surrounding making music videos. “It used to feel like I had a gun pointed at my head when I started [making videos],” she says. Now, “It’s like faking good sex,” she says. “You’re pretending you’re feeling the same emotion as when you wrote the song. I’m not trying to have pretend good sex, I’m trying to have good sex.”
To that, we can only say “Mercy!”
Duffy is nominated for three Grammy Awards including Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album. Get all your Grammy Awards news as it happens this Sunday on HitFix.
Check out the video for Duffy’s latest release, “Rain on Your Parade.”