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Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008
Florence & The Machine win a Brit

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

Fearless fantasist Florence Welch is a one woman whirlwind, drum banging banshee from Camberwell who isn't "scared of anything". She has won the Brit Awards' Critics' Choice prize for the new act most likely to be big in 2009.

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Watch: Florence performs Dog Days Are Over live for BBC Introducing

Playing table football with Klaxons in a rusting aeroplane cockpit at midday in the depths of Glastonbury's Shangri La hinterland, Florence Welch, aka Florence And The Machine, is lost in her own world.

That was last summer but it's not an entirely unusual position for the Londoner.

She does, by her own acknowledgement, spend most of her time engrossed in her own psychological warren.

Indeed, anyone who's already heard the 22-year-old's debut single Kiss With A Fist and follow up Dog Days Are Over will know she lives her life, like she writes her songs.

That's in a dreamy vortex caught somewhere between the characters of Enid Blyton and Lewis Carroll.

"I can imagine myself walking into the song and becoming part of it, seeing what's happening in it," she explains. "You can close your eyes and step into it and become part of it - part of the fun."

Welcome to Florence's existence, where she'll lose whole weekends seeking "adventures".

"I woke up in a graveyard covered in scratches because I'd jumped over a bush," she recalls of one recent escapade. "I was just covered in scratches, bruises and cigarette burns. It was really terrible."

Florence, the facts
WHAT: Other-worldly crash bang pop from Camberwell
FOR FANS OF: Lily Allen, PJ Harvey, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kate Bush, The White Stripes
DOWNLOAD: Dog Days Are Over
LIVE: Florence opens 2009's NME Awards Tour beginning in January

Dog Days

Take one look, or a listen, at Florence's current single Dog Days Are Over and you'll notice that Florence has a vivid imagination.

Right now that song is receiving universal acclaim and looks like pushing her status skyward.

"It just feels bizarre," admits Florence of the track. "It was just a song that I did at my friend's studio in Crystal Palace [south London].

"We didn't have any instruments and we were in a studio the size of a loo.

"All the drums were done by like banging on walls and endless vocal tracks tuned into this big screaming mess.

"The journey from Crystal Palace to the ears of someone on the motorway or another city… it's strange."

Home-grown

Odd yes, but not as strange as many of the characters who Florence grew up surrounded by before discovering music in her native Camberwell, south London.

"There was this guy who used to walk around Camberwell and he had two pet rats - one on each shoulder," she giggles. "A yellow rat on one side and a black rat on the other. He had a feret as well."

And there's more.

Florence: "There was this guy who used to talk to the bus stop.

"I haven't seen him in a while actually, I'm worried about him. Maybe he actually got on the bus.

"And then there was this woman who had hair which went down to her knees who'd take all of her clothes off outside the hospital."

Wimpier people would have run a mile.

Florence and the Machine's single Dog Days Are Over

"I'm not scared of anything, ever," says Florence. "Except for the dark and ghosts."

Of course, Florence being reared amongst the 'interesting' characters of south London was more concerned with listening to Kate Bush and The White Stripes - strains colourfully evident in her music.

"I just think they're incredible," she shrieks on the subject of her favourite band. "I got really into them when I was at school.

"Meg White: she's the best drummer, really visceral.

"I used to be my own drummer. So that's why I have a drum."

Real geek

Aside from a fascination with Jack 'n' Meg and graveyard sleepovers, Florence can often be found with her nose in book.

"I'm a real geek - I got really into like Philip Pullman and then a lot of ghost stories," she muses.

"Edgar Allen Poe too. There's this story about this artist where he became so obsessed with painting his muse he made her sit for like a week and she died and then her ghost moved into the painting.

"That kind of stuff I was really into as a kid, sort of grizzly tales for gruesome kids."

Indeed, with her debut album pencilled in for late spring, Florence might be one of 2009's hottest properties. But she still has difficulty dealing with the frosty mornings like everyone else.

"Getting out of bed this morning was like the hardest thing," she says.

"The winter creeping and wrapping itself around me - it's horrible," she shivers. "It's just like, 'ooooowww get back in the duvet'."

With her bubbling enthusiasm, limitless imagination and arsenal of feral tunes don't bet against Flo herself covering next year like a woolly blanket.

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