Nelly Furtado back where she belongs
When The Ride - also the name of Nelly Furtado's first album in five years - got too fast, the singer had to jump off.
The 38-year-old, whose last album was 2012's The Spirit Indestructible, says it was a necessary manoeuvre to find her muse again.
"I just kind of wanted to slow everything down and just live a little bit" says Furtado leading up to The Ride's Friday (March 31) release on her own Nelstar label via Sony distribution.
She recalls, "I travelled for fun. I took some playwriting classes at the University of Toronto in their continuing studies. One time, in the last couple of years, I called my friend, because he runs a record store. And I had spent some time there in the past and it brought me a lot of joy so I asked him if I could work at his vinyl shop. So I worked there for a couple of weekends - Cosmos Records on Queen. It was kind of interesting. You buy a record and it's me checking you out [at the cash]." In the end, Furtado's experiences paid off. "It was really l me soul searching and trying to find my way again in terms of loving music again, which was important to me," she shares.
"I missed the girl on her guitar, just quietly writing a song in her living room. And luckily she came back."
We caught up with the Victoria-born, T.O.-based Furtado when she visited 24 Hours' Toronto HQ recently.
What was going on with you while making The Ride?
I wrote [the new song Phoenix] because I was going through a time. I was a little bit lost. I had kind of broken up with this long-term business relationship. I made a good choice, but I was also really scared about what lay ahead and I knew I had some hard lessons to learn. It's so easy to take the easy road, not face your demons and not have to think about that stuff but I'm a little bit extreme. Sometimes I force myself to take a look at those hard things. It's kind of the nature of my personality. I think I'm kind of an all-or-nothing kind of person.
The Ride has a funkier indie sound. Do you attribute that to your Dallas producer John Congleton (David Byrne, St. Vincent) who comes from that world?
He's very much an alternative producer. He comes from the punk world. [Mine] was the first pop album really that he had ever produced. So we had to kind of meet half way. It does have kind of a particularly funky, angular sound. I think that's because Dallas has a sound. Musicians from Dallas, they grow up playing in church, they grow up playing a lot. There are organs, clavinets, moogs [synthesizers], mini-moogs, piano and lots of fun sounds. Great rhythm section. And this is very much that sound.
Were you intimidated by him at all?
In the studio with John, I felt terror and I loved it. I thought he would judge me or maybe I wouldn't be good enough. Like I thought, 'Maybe my songs wouldn't be good enough for a producer with that much credibility and critical acclaim. This is like an audition. I've got to swing this out of the park.' It's nice to feel that way, right? I've been doing this for 18 years so I'm in search of those feelings. I'm in search of my heartbeat racing in the studio and wanting to really make some magic out of the chemistry.
Who inspires you musically?
I did a radio special about Mary J. Blige's debut because as a child I had Mary J. Blige's poster on my wall and I also thought she was beyond gender. She really was. She was a voice. She was just a voice of humanity. She wasn't just a female voice. She was a human voice. And her music had its own sound. And she didn't let gender get in the way of what she wanted to express.
What are your tour plans for The Ride?
We've got festival dates. They're being announced as the festivals announce but they're booked through spring and summer. Right now, we're routing a European tour for November, to be confirmed, but that's where we're starting. [I'll tour] Canada probably in 2018. I'm really obsessed with doing a club tour for this album. I'd like to do a very small club tour 'cause I started off that way. I think it'd be really fun. I want to play small places that I've never been. I think it's particularly stimulating and different.