Florence + the Machine is the recording name of the English musician Florence Welch and her backing band. Welch first used the name during a teenage collaboration with her younger sister's babysitter, Isabella "Machine" Summers. The pair performed together for a time under the name Florence Robot/Isa Machine before shortening it to Florence and the Machine as it was felt to be too cumbersome.
Florence Welch grew up in Camberwell, south London, the eldest daughter of parents is the daughter of Evelyn Welch, a Harvard-educated Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, and Nick Welch, an advertising executive. Her upbringing was privileged but in her early teens they divorced, and her mum started a new relationship with a neighbour. Florence was still living at home with her family when she released her second album Ceremonials in 2011.
Florence is not the only well-known name in her family. She is the niece of the satirist Craig Brown and granddaughter of former deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph and former Daily Mail parliamentary sketchwriter Colin Welch. Another uncle is the actor John Stockwell, who played Cougar in Top Gun.
Welch was educated at Alleyn's School, South East London, where she did well academically. Gifted at art and singing she often got in trouble for singing her favourite hymns too loudly. She has been diagnosed with dyslexia and developmental dysphasia, which fortunately has not gotten in the way of her songwriting and singing.
Florence has become a fashion icon, noted for her red hair (although she is naturally a brunette). She started dying her hair red since she was nine years old.
Welch had a relationship with literary editor Stuart Hammond from around 2005. Their temporary split three years later provided inspiration for much of her debut Lungs album.
Before she'd ever recorded any music Welch met Isabella "Machine" Summers, an aspiring Hip-Hop DJ from the Suffolk seaside town of Aldeburgh. Summer had access to a small recording studio in Crystal Palace, south London and the duo began working together, challenging each other to write a song in ten minutes, or make music that didn't involve guitar, bass or programmed beats. Speaking to The Guardian, Summers recalled that they'd both been "messed around by boys and we'd lock the doors and turn the sound system up and listen to Madonna." Welch added that in those early days they wrote sitting back to back in the tiny space, composing music, "on a £100 Yamaha keyboard and half a stolen drum kit."
By the time Island Records had signed Welch up in November 2008, she had added a backing band, retaining the name Florence and the Machine. By the beginning of 2009, before Lungs had been released, they'd won a Brit award, the critics choice prize given to the new year's most promising artist. Lungs was released in July 2009 and went on to sell over three million copies winning the coveted BRIT award for Best British Album at the 2010 London ceremony.
Welch specializes in writing songs with dark, gothic lyrical content. She told The Independent June 27, 2009: "I've always been attracted to dark imagery. I used to believe in vampires and werewolves. I get night terrors, panic attacks. Even as a kid, I'd be more inclined to write about a flower dying than blossoming."
Florence Welch and Taylor Swift are good pals. Here's what the "Shake It Off
" singer told Billboard
magazine about their friendship:
"She's the most fun person to dance with at a party, but then five minutes later you find yourself sitting on the stairs with her having an in-depth conversation about love and heartbreak."
"Every time I've been around her, she is the most magnetic person in the room - surrounded by people who are fascinated by the idea of being near her. But when she meets people, she pays them a warm compliment and immediately disarms them."
"There are very few people I've met in my life who are truly electric, and Florence is one of them."
Florence + the Machine is managed by Mairead Nash (one half of the DJ duo Queens of Noize). The act first came to the attention of Nash when an inebriated Welch sang Etta James' "Something's Got a Hold on Me" in a club bathroom and her voice reverberated off the walls. "I went to one of Mairead's club nights and we were in the toilet talking about boys or something, and I was pretending that I had a band," Florence revealed to Nick Grimshaw on MTV UK's show Relentless Ultra Presents Soundchain.
"I was basically fronting, I was no band, at all," she added. "I sang a snippet of an Etta James song. I was like 'I can sing!!' I was pretty drunk."