"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent ... 'It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."
"It was probably the best night of my life and I can't remember any of it." Florence Welch is desperately trying to recall the details of a tequila session with Beyoncé at the Yankee Stadium, well before Blue Ivy Carter appeared on the radar. Following the huge success of her debut Lungs, the Camberwell-born singer's star-status has become firmly cemented with the success of her stunning second album Ceremonials. Here, she talks to GQ.com about tattoos, tribute gigs and the dark arts of "Floetry"...
GQ.com: Who's better at holding their drink - you or Beyoncé? Florence Welch: I think Beyoncé might be. I was so drunk that night. Apparently we had a really long conversation, but I can't remember any of it. We met her again at an event just before the VMAs, my sister was with me and Beyoncé said "Hi Grace! I've heard so much about you!" So I must have been talking about my sister, but God knows what I said.
In your Vogue shoot by Mario Testino, is that a new birdcage tattoo on your finger? I got it done in Austin, Texas, at the Black Cat Tattoo parlour, where I got my first tattoo of a heart and a bird. I got it done at 2am by some massive guy with flame tattoos on his skull called Animal. It was a proper tattoo experience but it hurt so much.
What is the strangest rumour you've ever heard about yourself? That I was planning to build a forest inside a church for a show. That was quite odd. I felt bad for people, because I thought they'd come just to see this forest....
There's rumours that you're headlining an Amy Winehouse tribute gig this summer - have you confirmed it yet? People have been asking about that but I haven't been approached by anyone as far as I know. I've got tours booked in for the next foreseeable future but if I was available, of course I'd do it. My favourite song? "Back to Black."
You came to GQ's event for Brett Easton Ellis last year - which is your favourite book of his? I liked The Informers a lot. I'm also a big fan of Legend Of A Suicide by David Vann; he's got a new book out called Caribou Island. At the moment, I'm reading a biography of Wallis Simpson - she's such a fascinating character. I'm going through a real Wallis phase, looks-wise. I've been rocking the centre-parting for a while.
What is your hangover cure? I've got a little bit of a hangover today so I've decided to conduct meetings in my pyjamas. So a pyjama day is a good hangover cure - just start again the next day.
What's been you strangest fan encounter? I've got some incredible fans actually - so loyal and they make me birthday cards and Christmas cards. I got this package of poems and artwork based around the songs. They've got this thing called "Floetry" where they all have to put in artwork. They've set up their own competitions and stuff which is kind of amazing…
Have you ever stolen anything? We stole a massive MTV Base sign from a festival once; it was attached to a railing with big wire clips. It was a big feat to get it down and it took ages. We even had to get equipment to cut the wire. It was the most unsubtle robbery but I'm not sure if we were in a fit state to be stopped.
What's the last thing you saw in the cinema? I saw The Artist. It's really beautiful and it's all done to the letter with all the silent film techniques. The costumes were amazing and the dog is so good.
When was the last time you got in a fight? I get in fights with my sister all the time. She comes on the road with me and we fight - like sisters do.
Have you ever had a near death experience? Not really but when I was a kid I thought I could breathe underwater - I think it was a dream, but when you're a kid it's hard to separate dreams from reality. I kept nearly drowning. I'm a really good swimmer now though. I'm a freak, I can hold my breath for so long. We timed me - we did it in the pub the other day - and I held my breath for about two and a half minutes. I'm a freak.
What lyric are you most proud of writing? Probably the lyrics to "Shake It Out". They're cathartic for me to sing. Some songs just appear and you're not sure where they've come from. I've always been able to just concoct a melody quite easily - it's just kind of instinct really. You've got to channel your subconscious.