The VICE Interview: Charlotte Church
The Welsh singer and activist talks fingering, calling out racists and the heinousness of Piers Morgan.
She only turned 30 in February, but Charlotte Church already feels like a kind of alternative national treasure. We saw her sell a ton of records before she'd had her first hangover, then become the tabloids' creepy obsession as she grew up and started behaving like a normal young woman who liked a few Cheeky Vimtos every now and then. Somehow she kept her head through all of this and spoke eloquently about the impact a newspaper's persistent phone-hacking had on her life during the Leveson Inquiry in 2011.
Now a mum of two, Charlotte has emerged as an increasingly political voice of reason – call her a prosecco socialist if you like, she's not bothered – who's also enjoying an unlikely musical comeback. Her "Late Night Pop Dungeon" gigs, where she belts out everything from Destiny's Child to Rage Against the Machine, are fast becoming notorious.
She's a tricky woman to pin down, but when I finally got hold out of Charlotte on the phone she was every bit as funny and sweary as I'd hoped.
VICE: What would your parents prefer you to have chosen as a career?
Charlotte Church: Probably an opera singer – even before I was selling records and all that jazz. I went to singing lessons from when I was nine and I had this crazy operatic voice for a littlun, so they were saving money for me to be able to go to university and study music and all the rest of it. If I'd have properly put the time in and trained I reckon I could actually have been an opera singer. But you know, life got in the way, and so did loads of fun and parties and all that jazz. If you're an opera singer you can't drink and smoke and party like I did.
What was your worst phase?
I've been alright. I'm pretty robust in general. But when I was about 14 I was travelling a lot and I really missed all my friends. I'd go back to school and they'd all give me the latest goss on what had happened and who had fingered who, and I felt like I was totally missing out. At the time I was singing for presidents and stuff, which has its own appeal, but I definitely felt a bit isolated from them. I suppose as a 14-year-old, as well, I was just so pissed off with the world. You sort of feel like everything and everyone is totally against you, don't you?
Complete this sentence: The problem with young people today is...
That nobody's listening to them. In marketing and capitalism in general, youth is king – it's the looks and charm of the youth that's used and abused to sell stuff. But in terms of their stake in the future, many of the older generations are too caught up in the past and how it was and how it should be and this idea of national identity. They see the youth as disrespectful, maybe – or even a threat.
And look at the education system: Why do we still think it's fine to spoon-feed kids all this information about shit they don't necessarily need to know? We need a system that works for the individual. At the moment it's creating a shitload of problems for young people who grow up not knowing who they are or what they want to do because they've been treated so uniformly by the system. In this day and age, we need to be able to harness people's innate capabilities and creativity and show them a way they can do things that they enjoy while moving laterally through the job market. That's a specific point to do with education, but I think that young people need to be listened to across the board. Because it's their future that everybody else is fucking up.
You're having a conversation with a family friend and they say something unequivocally racist. What do you do?
Immediately call them out on it and have a massive argument. I think all of us experience this at some point in our lives, and you've just gotta call it out and have that argument. And if you don't manage to change their minds by the end of it, you try again. I think this is part of the reason why all these fucking right-wing fruit loops are gaining traction. At some point in the not-so-distant past, it was really fucking uncool to be bigoted or racist or misogynistic or homophobic, and then you'd hear people complaining about "political correctness gone mad".
But with "political correctness gone mad", at least people weren't being complete fucking fuck-wits to each other. Unfortunately, I don't know how we've quite got into this situation, where now it's OK to shout loudly all your bigoted, venomous, hateful shit.
Who is the worst person on Twitter?
Piers Morgan is a complete fucking twat. It's what I was just talking about. He think it's OK to spout a load of venomous, hateful things, which he then tries to back up with statistics. I really, really don't like Piers Morgan. And also, through that whole hacking thing, he got away with murder. I just think he's a bit of a heinous human being.
What have you done in your career that you're most proud of?
Grown. More than one specific time in my career or concert, or whatever, I'm proud of the fact that I've been able to transition. And even though sometimes that's been really difficult, and some of the time hasn't been very successful, I'm happy that I've kept going forward and kept growing. Eighteen years, I've been working now.
What have you done in life that you most regret?
I don't really regret much, to be honest. I know it's a really fucking new-agey thing to say: "Oh, it's made me who I am today." But I just think it's easy to wallow, do you know what I mean? And I've definitely learned from shit. I go "whoopsidaisy" and try not to make the same mistake again. I think not taking anything too seriously is one of the ways I've managed to stay reasonably sane. Life is chaos, no matter how much you try to plan and schedule and organise it, so I think not taking it all too seriously can be helpful.
What would be your last meal?
Well, I hope in the next few years to stop eating meat. I'd like to become vegetarian and maybe even vegan if I could do it, which of course I could, if I set my mind to it. So what it would be? I suppose, if I'm a vegan, I can't have any chocolate, can I? I'd probably have massive, massive chocolates dipped in chocolate. Vegan chocolate.
How many people have been in love with you?
Oooh, that's difficult. I'm gonna say quite a few! But it depends if you mean romantically or if you mean platonically. I mean, platonically I've got a fucking massive group of friends and family who I absolutely love dearly and who I know love me as well. Fucking loads of people love me, and I love loads of people because eventually that's what life is all about.
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