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But the intensity remains, and their chemistry is undeniable: at one point as Mosshart postures at the edge of the stage, Hince, like everyone else, looks on in admiration.
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Well, Beth Ditto is real, and on a dreary January afternoon she’s reclining sculpturally on a white Eames chaise in a hotel room in central London, having her photo taken.

She’s only about five feet tall and has the most abundantly cartoonish curves I’ve ever seen.

Not even trash-loving cult film-maker John Waters could have imagined a counter-cultural icon as perfect as this: an overweight girl from impoverished rural Arkansas, the loudest singer in the church choir, who shoots and eats squirrels for supper, grows up to become the most famous – the only famous – fat, lesbian, feminist pop star in the world.

Along the way she walks the runway at Paris Fashion Week, teaching fat-phobic fashionistas the error of their ways, poses nude on the cover of NME, then for the fashion glossy Love and writes an anthem about the righteousness of same-sex marriage – Standing in the Way of Control – which is bellowed in bars by boys who call things “gay” as an insult.

It's tempting to set up a grand introduction for Beth Ditto on the occasion of her solo debut after disbanding the Gossip, but this native Arkansan can say so much in a few swaggerful lines over a pounding kick drum and bone-rattling bass guitar: "Two sisters, four brothers/Hard worker, like my mother/Not bitter, so sweet/Strawberry ca-ca-canned peach!

" Those lyrics (from the Jacknife Lee cowrite "Oo La La") contain the fundamentals of Ditto's album Fake Sugar: family strength, punky grit, unabashed Southernness and the rural-rags-to-rock-royalty story of our hostess, who here turns strive and strife into music that is honeyed and familiar.

Although she seems fragile, she’s got a reserve of Southern courteousness to draw on, offering, for example, to help the photographer’s assistant when she sees her struggling with various bits of kit.

This is, however, the morning after the night before.

She’s been in the studio recording her fifth album with her band Gossip (previously known as the Gossip – the definite article was coolly dropped for their last album – they’ve been together since 1999), but she’s also about to bring out her first solo EP.

Where the stripped-down three-piece Gossip play propulsive, garage band blues, Ditto’s own stuff is melancholic, soulful dance music, inspired by “Eighties disco soul jams” that she loves, and the up-tempo pop-R&B of I Wanna Dance With Somebody-era Whitney Houston.

“I’ve never been, like: ‘It’s all about the music, man’,” she says, “but this is pretty wild.” She became beloved of the tabloid press largely because of her willingness to slander celebrities (on Victoria Beckham: “Posh Spice is an absolute joke.

Your previous band, The Gossip, recently ended after being together for over 17 years. When we started The Gossip we were just punk kids and after so many years together we didn’t even really have to talk about things, we just did it. I somehow just didn’t want people to hear what I had to say. Most people would probably assume the opposite, that being an outspoken front person for a punk band is all about “I have something to say, and you’re all going to listen to it!

What was it like to create music with new people after having worked in more or less the same way for almost two decades? I actually don’t like to sing in front of people, at least not in a small closed room with people that I barely know. I wasn’t self-conscious because none of us ever knew what we were doing. Also, we were just trying to make what we thought were punk songs. ” I could say it out loud—or in front of an audience—but writing it down was so painful.