Lucinda Chua is a photographer, who has taken photos of Charlie Brooker, Metronomy, and Germaine Greer.  She has also just released her debut album, You Are The One I Pick, with her band Felix. ASHLEY PARTRIDGE went to her house to look at her stuff.

Lucinda Chua does not like people stealing from her fridge. So much so, that she’s left a strongly worded note in it: “Take my food again and I will fucking kill you. No joke.” I’d like to point out that her fridge is made up of the space outside the back door of her flat in London, because she doesn’t have a kitchen. Or a bathroom. Or a floor.

I ask her to give me a tour of her (very) humble abode. Carefully moving the dresses hanging on the bar the makes her wardrobe, she reveals a door to the back patio. “This is where I put my milk and cheese out because there’s no fridge” she begins, “I think there are some people who come past because I had some cheese in a box, a scotch egg and a strawberry milkshake and they took it.

“It made me so angry that I wrote them a little note.” She shows me the aforementioned death threat. “I don’t think I could actually kill someone though. For some milk, I think it’s taking it a little bit far. So I watered it down with some figs from the tree” she delights in telling me.

She’s only here temporarily and uses the empty office-cum-bedsit for basic purposes. The rest of her time is spent working as a photographer or, more importantly, on her band Felix, in which she sings and plays piano. In just a few weeks, their debut album will be released on Kranky Records, entitled: “You Are The One I Pick”. Coincidentally, it comes out on her birthday. “I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll be a nice present” she says.

Though she’s written some new material here, the songs on “You Are The One I Pick” were created over the last five years, dating back to her time at University.  “I guess it’s kind of a snapshot of the period,” she explains, “and it’s been a collection of writings over a really long time.

“The lyrics are just little stories and events I’ve picked up. There’s a cross-over between stuff that’s really happened and stuff that I’ve imagined. It’s like looking back at something you’ve written down and then it means something completely different. Stuff gets distorted or exaggerated.”

Musically, Lucinda and Felix are complexity wrapped in simplicity. Hushed vocals layered underneath sparse bits of piano, cello and guitar. The songs are kept short and immediate before moving on. Really, it comes as no surprise that she’s started work on a second album so soon. What does surprise me, however, is one of her aspirations: “Part of me really wants to write a pop record. I’d just love to ghost write for Cheryl Cole or somebody” she giggles.

Lucinda tells me the lyrics are a mix between fantasy and reality, finding bits of order in chaos. Looking around the room, you can see where she might get that idea: giant playing cards neatly strewn across the floor, oranges arranged by size on the desk that makes her kitchen and precious things tucked against the wall as a defiant statement against shelves. All of this in a one-windowed room with no carpet.

The boiler next to her bed leaks but because she doesn’t have a carpet it’s ok. “I haven’t got a TV but I had a radio”, she points at the old-fashioned wireless on her microwave, “I listen to Radio 4 a lot”.
For a room with seemingly not a lot going on, there’s so much to take in. Perhaps that’s a wonderful reflection on Lucinda herself: she lives alone in an abandoned office, keeps her fruit well organised and listens to Radio 4. Get to know her and you find out that she leaves death threats for milk thieves, writes songs about dragons and takes photographs of famous people. A perfect example of structure in chaos.