The London musician has finished her debut album, made all over the place but intrinsically tied to the Cornish coast and a place of introspection
The night before, the storm hit hard. In the darkness, the waves hurled themselves against the seawall, sending great arcs of water inland drenching roads and shop fronts. A bus shelter cowers, rubbish is whisked down the street and small boats rattle on their moorings. As a defence, umbrellas are all but useless. The morning after, and the temper has gone. The Cornish town of Penzance is tranquil once again. It’s a weekday in early November, and the atmosphere is fresh. Like the wash has reset the place. The promenade slowly begins to dry as stoic ramblers emerge from their old fashioned B&Bs with walking sticks and flasks of tea heading for the coastal path. Overhead, a grey sky – brittle and fractured. The sun finds odd pockets to peer through and throws shafts of light shaped like UFO tractor beams onto the flat sea surface. A single fishing trawler bobs on the horizon.
Until the next shower, the view from Penzance headland is clear. To the west is the adjoining town of Newlyn. Curve around the coast from there, and the UK’s big toe (Land’s End) is just 10 miles or so away. From there it’s out to the vast expanse of the Celtic Sea, and further still, the Atlantic Ocean. Look east, and the bay curls away to reveal St Michael’s Mount, a castle island out in the water, only accessible via causeway when the tide is out. Set against the charcoal clouds its ominous silhouette looks like a mythical construction described in the pages of a Tolkien novel.
To the south, out to sea, are the Battery Rocks, a jagged family of boulders, still covered in a slippery membrane from the angry waves. Next to that, Jubilee Pool – an art deco lido. In the summer months this triangle basin sees hundreds of bathers set their towels out around its edge. Today, it’s closed and deserted, just like the day Nilüfer Yanya filmed part of her video for 2017 single ‘Baby Luv’, where the songwriter floated around on a lilo, sipping a carton of juice and strumming a pink inflatable guitar. It encapsulated a kind of uniquely bleak English glamour.
There are no crowds right now. In fact, there are few noticeable locals. At this time of year the takeaways only open part-time, tearooms are sleepy and the tourist stores selling plastic are packed away. A worker at Jubilee Pool (who kindly allows us to take some photos inside) explains that from October onwards Penzance enters hibernation.