ILLUSTRATED: Hunger TV
On stage you can't take your eyes off of Lisa Marie Presley; she has a huge presence, and a smouldering gaze reminiscent of her father. Performing songs from her amazing album, 'Storm & Grace', she delivers raw emotion, and is not only comfortable in her own skin, but also shedding it to bare her soul with lyrics about loss, trauma, joy, love and self-destruction. On stage she flirts; off stage she's amazingly self-contained and shy. Sometimes, she only gives one word answers, but those words reverberate with truth and pain.
Lisa Marie now lives in the East Sussex countryside, where a flock of sheep manicure her 50-acre grounds, and where she loves going to her local for pints of draught Guinness. She likes the sense of community and the simplicity of it. It makes you think of Elvis and his love of simple things that somehow got distorted, but was always there.
Three years ago Lisa Marie abandoned her Californian life and all of its hangers-on, and moved to Richmond, Surrey, with her fourth husband Michael Lockwood, who is her co-writer and also in her band. "I lived very anonymously, renting a house. That's where I got the feel for life here."
Her son Benjamin and daughter Riley travel back and forth, and her twins Harper and Finley are part home-schooled. Why does she think she's embraced British country life so earnestly? "It's a way of life that I never experienced before. It's good for my children. It's so different from California; it's a lot simpler, and I find that charming. I didn't grow up with seasons, so I wanted to have that for my kids."
Is the process of writing cathartic? "Yes, it is," she says, and goes on to explain that it's not a spontaneous process. It's organised, almost in the Nashville songwriter tradition. "I'll schedule an entire day to sit with someone, and come out with a full song. The writing is whatever is going on with me at that moment in that day." She worked with British singer-songwriters Richard Hawley and Ed Harcourt for the album. Why did she call it 'Storm & Grace'? "I wrote it for my son, about my son and inspired by my son. "Storm & Grace" was the last song I wrote, and it just seemed to put a lid on the whole record, and describe it well. It describes my son perfectly."
"He's a musician, but I think he's going to be taking his time to figure out what he's most comfortable doing. It may take a while, but when he's ready to do something, he'll do it." Perhaps he's an all-or-nothing kind of person? Perhaps that runs in the family? "Yeah, perhaps it does."
Her daughter Riley has just finished Mad Max: Fury Road with Charlize Theron in South Africa. "It was a six-month shoot. She was exhausted."
"The twins are very artistic, and we're looking for the right place for them to go to school. I was not academic; nor are any of my kids. We are all 'head in the clouds' artist types."
It seems like all your children have music in them; it's in their DNA. "I guess so, for better or for worse. They all have a pretty good bullshit detector, and they don't like things that don't make sense. They're really straight. They're not like me in the sense that they don't rebel, and not know why they're rebelling. As for the bullshit detector? Sometimes it needs some polishing. Sometimes it gets rusty."
She mentions a recent tabloid article that claimed she was fighting with her mother because of Riley's excessive partying. "That is ridiculous. If the three of us go out, my mum can outlast Riley and me." Lisa Marie had a complicated relationship with her mother when she was growing up. They didn't have an easy emotional connection. "Now we're the best of friends," she says, "but it took us a long time to find our way to each other."
Her first marriage was to Danny Keough. It seems they both went off the rails at different times during their marriage, but they're friends now and responsible parents to Benjamin and Riley.
She was also briefly married to Nicolas Cage and famously to Michael Jackson; it has been said that MJ reminded her of her father. "Without question I look like my dad 90 percent of the time." Does she mind seeing his face in the mirror? He was, after all, a beautiful man."Yes, he was," she says, heartfelt.
Would he like this album? "I would hope so." Does he still cast a huge shadow? Is he still the biggest musical influence? "His was the first music I had ever heard, and it was around for most of my childhood years. That was what I was exposed to, so it's always going to be in me."
She was only four when her parents separated, and she stayed on at Graceland with her dad. He would sit up in her bedroom watching TV with her. In the middle of the night she would wake up, and he'd still be there, still watching TV, because he wanted to be close to her. He died when she was nine. She was a daddy's girl. "Yes, that is correct. I was."
Does that mean he was a tough act to follow? Did he influence your choice in men in the sense that you were looking for him in partners? [She pauses] "I wouldn't rule that out." She and her current husband write songs together, perform together, and seem wholeheartedly together.Does that seem too much together?
"No. If we have to be apart at all – like when he had to Christmas-shop, and we had to be apart for a few hours – we both panic. We've never spent a night apart. I don't know if that's good or not, but that's how we are. It's been nine and a half years, and that's what it is. We're attached at the hip." After so many years of fragility, instability, drama and death, such a strong partnership seems remarkable. Every sock finds its shoe. [She laughs] "It does."