It can get mighty lonely in an ivory tower — just ask British pop singer Paloma Faith, who parlayed a master’s degree in theater directing and design into a bustling acting career — in films such as “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parmassus” and Paolo Sorrentino’s upcoming “The Early Years” — and an even busier musical one, with two overseas-chart-topping albums, the 2009 debut “Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?” and 2012’s “Fall to Grace.” She had everything, it seemed. But in truth, all she really wanted was some stimulating, intellectual conversation.
Attending all the A-list parties, art openings and fashion shows might appear like a world rife with extraordinary personalities. It wasn’t so for Faith.
“It’s an alternate perception of what incredible people are,” says Faith, 33, who plays an intimate gig at Slim’s this week to introduce her new album, “A Perfect Contradiction.” “I would go to loads of parties with loads of people that are considered celebrities, but it wasn’t celebrity that I was concerned about. I wanted to meet people that inspire me, that I truly value. And I just hadn’t yet.”
So, a year ago last New Year’s Eve, Faith made a list of brilliant minds she wished to share thoughts with, which included director David Lynch, writer Jeanette Winterson and proto-punk Debbie Harry, whom she recently met.
The top name on her roster was 59-year-old “The Buddha of Suburbia” author Hanif Kureishi, who wasn’t as elusive as she imagined. A journalist friend introduced them, Kureishi was also a fan of hers, and they’ve been buddies ever since. “And I don’t know if many people in the pop world would even know who Hanif Kureishi is,” she says.
The relationship turned more mentor-and-student than Faith expected. After bemoaning the travails of celebrity to him, he stunned her by telling her to stop playing the victim.
“It was quite a harsh truth at first,” she says. “But it stayed in my head and it’s changed the way I view everything. He said ‘Paloma, if you don’t want to do an interview or a photo session, don’t.’ And I suddenly thought ‘Oh. My God — it’s my fault! I’m only as much of a celebrity as I allow myself to be.’” The revelation eased Faith into “Perfect,” which she penned about the new beau she’s been staying home with, employing top-flight co-writers like Raphael Saadiq, Pharrell Williams and Ben “Plan B” Drew. Now, she has methods for weeding out shallow-chat halfwits.
“If the person is still standing there after I’ve told them, say, that I want to invent a human-flavored potato chip?” she says. “Well, they just might become a great friend.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., S.F.</p>
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 6
Contact: (415) 522-0333, www.slimspresents.com