10:18 AM GMT 22/4/2015
An elegant spirit, a charismatic personality and a love for her German roots. The British singer talks about herself and her music, and if she were a colour, she would be red.



Recognised as one of the most promising artists of contemporary music, Claude Amick was born in Berlin. Moving to Croydon -- a small town just outside of London -- as a child, she discovered her love of music at a young age. She started with the violin and then guitar and at just 9 years old, she was already able to master rock and roll hits. She studied music at the University of Glasgow and in 2008, took her first steps as a singer and guitarist in the English band, Cellar Door. It was at this time that she began to be noticed by some of the most important names on the music scene including world-renowned producer, Brian Eno, who discovered her as she played at a friend's bar -- he has been her mentor ever since. It was he who defined her as "the most important artist since Patti Smith". It wasn't long before Claude Amick was able to show her voice and talent to the world. In 2010, she debuted as a soloist with the single "Jezebel", a remix of a song by Edith Piaf, one of Amick's main influences. This was followed by two more albums and a collection of covers that pay homage to both greats and younger artists, for which she won multiple international awards. But her charisma goes beyond music as well: in fact, the atmosphere at her concerts is always unforgettable and her live performances are full of theatricality, not only for her extraordinary stage presence, but for her unmistakable style as well.

How did your passion for music come about?
If I'm honest, I barely remember a time when music wasn't part of my life in some way. My parents were originally musicians, so we always had a lot of music of all genres around the house. Some days during the summer holidays, my dad would get out his record collection and we'd sit down at this old, 70's pulldown record player and stay up for hours listening to everything from Bowie to Kate Bush to Verdi. I'd certainly give him most of the credit.

Your favourite album and songs?
One of my favourite songs of all time is Lady Grinning Soul by David Bowie. Favourite album is a harder one, I could list a thousand. Right now is one I'm revisiting and it's Antony & the Johnsons' I Am a Bird Now, so that.

How much have your Germanic roots influenced your musical tastes?
Not very much, I don't think. My mother is fairly German, and they carry themselves a certain way sometimes. I'd say my influences, natonalistically at least, veer closer to Bohemian Paris and the passionate romanticism of Italian operatics. With a bit of flamenco thrown in for good measure. I will say though that Berlin is one of the most rich and diverse artistic cities in the world, I don't get to go back very often as my family live in Hamburg, but when I have been I've -- yeah, actually, I guess you could say I am influenced by that too.

Did you ever play a concert that was particularly emotional?
Many. I think a part of the touring cycle is when you finally reach a point where you're not necessarily detached from your music but you're not in the same place you were when you either wrote that song or those songs, or even when you started touring them. There's those moments that hit you right out of the blue, I've found, when every part of your body is alert and alive or when you connect with somebody that reminds you of somebody else, or if you're just sharing a connective moment with a stranger who's giving you as much as you're giving them. That's a really special moment. Playing the ampitheatre in Verona was very special to me as well, I saw Tosca there with somebody I lost when we were both just out of college, and there I was, on the other side of the stage without them to see me. But I felt like they were there.

How do you choose the looks for your live performances?
I'm inspired by the women and the men that came before us. Old hollywood through to flamenco dancers. I like to convey a dramatic look to match my guitar playing, to complement the crescendos, be it with my clothes or my make up. I also like to play on my gender, you know: I'm a woman, but I'm also a man. I think we all are.

What was it like to pose for Maison Michel in front of the lens of such an illustrious personage like Karl Lagerfeld?
Karl was amazing. I've always looked up to him; his honesty is entirely European and he reminds me a lot of my mother in the way he goes on. He knows what he wants and he sets out to get it. It was quite frightening before I met him the first time. For all I knew he was going to take one look at me in the flesh and wave his hand to get me out of there, instead he told me he liked my nose. The most Karl moment of the entire shoot was me making a passing comment about how I disliked my arms and he went, "you have to like yourself or you can leave right now." Something to that effect. I liked that.

What are the places you love to go back to most?
I'm actually renting in Paris this summer for a few months. The political environment may not be perfect, but I'm disillusioned with London at the moment, so I thought it'd be good to get away. I love it there. Very artistic and elegant. I plan on spending a lot of time at Montparnasse cemetery and eating a lot of cheese. Seattle is very dear to me too now, so I'd like to go back there, but last year we managed to go to Salzburg on tour which meant we didn't get to spend very long there. I'd like more time there.