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We Got Duffy Begging Us For Mercy

With her debut album Rockferry getting rave reviews and her single ‘Mercy’ topping the charts everywhere, you should be thinking Duffy will be jumping up and down with joy. Instead, in a true young, bright eyed, immensely talented innocent fashion, Duffy simply said “You know what? I get more excited about finding a discounted pair of designer shoes than I did when I had the number one!”

Standing barely 5 feet tall, Duffy who hails from a small town called Nefyn in Wales, moved to Pembrokeshire at age of 10 when her parents got divorced. Her first experience with music came in a form of her father’s old vintage videos of ‘Ready Steady Go’ and ‘Top of the Pops’ which featured the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield, to whom she was always compared to, although she just shrugged it off as an exaggeration.

The 23 years old started singing when she was 6, always carrying a small notebook to scribble lyrics, but things did not always go smoothly for the petite Welsh lass. She was dismissed from the school’s choir for having too big a voice and couldn’t fit in. In 1998, when she was 11, the whole family was forced to be transferred into a safe house after her step-father’s ex-wife put a bounty on his life. Eventually, the ex-wife got arrested and sent to jail but died soon after due to alcoholism. Duffy’s refusal to indulge in drugs and alcohol may stemmed from that experience although one may not expect that she is all this naïve little lady from Wales.

"All it meant was that I took a long, hard look at myself."

During her teens, she had her tongue and eyebrows pierced, dyed her hair red, made her own clothes and have a thing for rouge boys and older man. Having gone through those entire usual teenage angst things, eventually she enrolled to Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor in Dolgellau, North Wales before transferring to the University of Chester in England. Duffy always felt that singing was her greatest passion, and campus life just didn’t suited her very well, so she decided to quit and return to Wales in 2003.

At around the same time, she was invited to appear in Wawffactor, a sort of Welsh version of X-factor or American Idol. She was expected to win but came out second place. For some, this might prove a disastrous blow to their career but Duffy take it in stride and said "All it meant was that I took a long, hard look at myself." Opportunity beckons when she was spotted by Jeanette Lee and Geoff Travis, the founders of Rough Trade Records. Jeanette persuaded Duffy to move to Crouch End in London and introduced her to Bernard Butler, Suede’s ex guitarist. The two hit it off great musically and the rest is now a history in the making.

Contracted to A&M Records, Duffy began her appearance to the public by performing various British TV shows such as Later With Jools Holland, Hootenany and The Culture Show. She also performed with the legendary Eddie Floyd. By January 2008, Duffy came second in the Annual BBC News website poll of industry experts Sound of 2008 for emerging acts to watch.

Outside the British Isle, Duffy was at the top of the Pan-European Album chart for Rockferry and the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles chart for ‘Mercy’. In North America, she was seen as part of the ‘British Invaders’ recent wave consisting of female singers with peculiar song writing skills and performances. The last such ‘wave’ that had such an impact on the American shores was during the Beatles and Rolling Stone era. In March 2008 saw her first American performance at the SXSW in New York City. Last month, her single ‘Mercy’ received heavy rotation on VH1 and a hot Adult Contemporary radio hit. ‘Mercy’ was also featured in TV shows such as ER, Smallville and Coronation Street. Duffy released a remix version of the song featuring rap artist The Game to coincide the American release of her album.

A lot has been talked about the meaning of or the ideas behind the songs in Rockferry. Duffy admitted that ‘Rockferry’ is written about a place called Rock Ferry on the Wirral which was where her biological father came from. Both ‘Stepping Stone’ and ‘Mercy’ is autobiographical with the former delving on the complexity of not expressing her feelings to a person that she fell in love with and ‘Mercy’ about a tale of betrayal, lost love, and of finally learning to stand on her own two tiny feet.

So who was the song “Mercy” for?

"I''ve never ever said this. I don''t know if I can!" she glees. "But it''s about a gorgeous guy that I met. He was a very sexual character and I was very tempted, but my morals got the better of me."

Rockferry is available at a music store near you.

( Republished with permission from FACES. To check out more reviews and event updates, visit www.faces.com.my )

MySinchew 2008.07.01


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