In a few days Lily Allen releases her new album, a fourth. Eleven years ago she wasn’t sure there would be a second. She wasn’t sure she wanted more, or that we might. “I can't sing about how awful my life being famous is because no one wants to hear that,” she said.
In this interview conducted shortly before she came to Australia to perform at the Big Day Out she makes it clear the only thing she is sure of is she wants to get away and hide. And this was before the real drama in her life hit!
ALRIGHT, STILL? JUST. FOR NOW.
"I'm so tired. I can see the finish line now and running towards it."
Lily Allen has just about had it. She knows she is coming to Australia soon, she knows that pretty soon the cheques will be coming in making her a wealthy young woman, she knows she's got it good, but it doesn't matter. All she can think about is that it's only a matter of days until she can hit the road (or air) to Jamaica and have her first proper holiday in a couple of years. Away from everything and everyone.
As she takes this call on her mobile in Seattle, amid an over-eager, over-loud, carol-playing pianist in the background while she is doing her Christmas shopping during the only spare minutes she has between appearances, Allen is polite but distracted, literally counting down the days until she is out of here.
" I'm leaving in two days, I've got three days at home and then I'm going to Jamaica with my boyfriend," she says. "I've never had Christmas in the sun before. I'm excited about it."
It's not a bad way to end one tumultuous year, a year in which she moved from Internet star to million-selling artist, from the daughter-of (in this case comedian and actor Keith Allen) to name-brand. Alright, Still, her debut album of often funny, often acerbic takes on being a Londoner in the new millennium (featuring sex, drugs, revenge, street robbery and a dope smoking brother) set to a part white girl reggae/part pop soundtrack didn't just occupy the charts and tabloids in the UK but also tickled our fancies in Australia and made American Rolling Stone's top songs of the year list.
"In my head you know I'm still the same person I was two years ago but everyone else claims I'm not, I'm someone else," she says. "It's going to take some time to get used to that - unless it all ends tomorrow, in which case it will be fine."
It's one thing Allen has said from the start, that she is fully prepared for this music lark to end as quickly as it began. This is not some hugely ambitious five-year plan in action.
"It all depends on if my second album is any good and I don't know if it will be. I've only been writing for two years so I don't really know what's going to happen," she says with refreshing, typical, honesty. None of the standard English rock star declarations that "I'm the future of rock and my next album is genius" here. "But I don't think anyone can tell [what's going to happen]. I don't play any instruments well enough to be able to write things on my own and I haven't got enough material to go into the studio and start recording anything. I have no idea what I'm going to do but I don't work that way anyway."
Is there a small part of her thinking one of the reasons why people liked that first album is because she just talked about her life to us the way she would have to her friend down the street, but next time around she might sound too contrived if she pretended she was just the same but sound like a wanker if she stars singing about shopping in Seattle?
"Umm. I don't know, I can't say," Allen says after a pause. "I think I'm aware of myself and too grown-up to know that I can't sing about how awful my life being famous is because no one wants to hear that. I still experience the same emotions that everybody else in the world does and I think if I concentrate on those emotions on going to be natural, and then it will work.
"I'm not worrying about it. All I can do is be me and annoy people just the same [she giggles] until they find something else. But you know what, all this thinking about it is freaking me out. I want to go on holidays," she wails.
That would be the Jamaican holiday where she and her boyfriend will be going to a private resort ("No one will see us anyway.") Well that's what people "like her" do now. Next she'll be staying at Sting's place or getting married at Elton John's.
Allen laughs. "Hmm, maybe not. If I did I'd have to kill myself."