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Joséphine de La Baume on training herself to forget her greatest loves

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Ellie Norris
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Five Minute Philosopher is a weekly series in which Stylist gets profound with people we love. What will the singer and actor make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of life?

Love. And experiencing as much of it as possible in a lifetime. That doesn’t mean just romantic love. Also, creativity, but I think any sort of creativity is made more meaningful with love.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

A lot. 

Where is your happy place?

In the mountains in Switzerland where I used to go with my grandmother. It’s nostalgic because I no longer have my grandmother around. It is very picturesque.

Nature or nurture?

Nurture, especially if you go back to the first question, I think you can equate the meaning of life to nurture.

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

To be respected. Not everybody can like you and you can’t like all people. But everybody should have manners and respect.

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

That I was a really understanding, warm and present friend, daughter, lover and, one day, a mother.

Who or what is your greatest love?

Great love comes with great pain. I have trained myself to forget about my greatest loves… for as long as my subconscious will let me.

When did you last lie?

I might have omitted a couple of cigarettes when asked at the doctor how many [I smoke] a day… but I haven’t smoked for a week now so by that calculation, it’s no longer a lie.

Does the supernatural exist?

I’ve definitely seen a few strange things happen in my lifetime.

Are you fatalistic?

I wish I were more fatalistic because it’s dramatic. What is your greatest fear? Dying in a stupid accident. I wouldn’t mind if it was theatrical or simple and peaceful, but I’d hate it to be a silly death. Animals or babies? Both! But if I had to pick then babies.

What talent do you yearn for?

I can play piano but I wish I had been an incredible jazz player.

Joséphine says Millers book describes the Paris we all dream of.

Do you like to be complimented?

No, I get really uncomfortable. I always answer “really?” so it looks like I’m actually pushing for another compliment but I’m just uncomfortable. 

Do you have a high pain threshold?

I’m quite contradictory on that because I really can [handle pain] but I’m quite a hypochondriac.

What book do you recommend most to others?

Pretty much anything Henry Miller. Quiet Days In Clichy is one that is both sensual and adventurous. It describes a Paris we all fantasize about told from the point of view of a writer hungry for and amazed by all the beauty unfolding in front of his eyes. All the passages about his various intimate moments with different women are either extremely poignant or incredibly charming.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

To respect people’s decisions, even if they’re different from yours. 

What food sums up happiness?

Chocolate, it’s heaven in your mouth. It’s an experience and the most indulgent dessert ever made. If you share it, it’s an even better experience. 

What have you never understood?

Inequality.

What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

If I had lived life to the fullest and laughed enough.

Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die?

I’m not scared of dying but I’m scared it will be too soon or too sudden. I’m scared of it being accidental. 

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Quinoa or Quavers?

Quavers! It’s actually really bad because I will eat a whole bag really early in the morning.

Joséphine De La Baume’s band Film Noir’s debut EP, Vertiges (Men Of Glory), is out now.

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Photography: Rex

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