Portuguese, Spanish and English. No, she is not a teacher, an air hostess or a tourist guide. Nelly Furtado is a Canadian singer who started her career making a duet with her mother in Portuguese.
But she also performed in Spanish; she is known in our country, Argentina, for the duet she made with Juanes in the song “Fotografía”.
In 2009 Nelly also released her Spanish album called “Mi Plan” and she has the best memories from the time she had in South America.
From her tour in Canada, Nelly spoke to The Outsider Argentina about the released from her new album “The Spirit Indestructible”, her international music and the idea of making more CD’s in other languages.
How did you start doing music?
I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. The first time I performed I was four: a duet with my mother in Portuguese, so I was singing in Portuguese before English. I started writing songs when I was about 12. I was infatuated with urban music, I wrote books and books of R&B kind of songs. I had my room plastered with WordUp! and Rap Pages magazine. The first musicians I came into contact with were hip-hop musicians, MCs and DJs.
What is your inspiration when you write your music?
I write in two different styles. One style is, again, very stream-of-consciousness. I’m very inspired by the Beat poets, like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. I’m very influenced by modern Brazilian artists, like Caetano Veloso and Tom Ze — Brazilian music in general. The instrumentation is so diverse. And Asian Dub Foundation and Cornershop, which I love as well. The lead singer combines his East Indian heritage under a pop umbrella, but there’s a slight political thread running through it. Jeff Buckley’s a huge influence. In the way that he used his voice as an instrument. I listened to Mary J. Blige, religiously, all my life. Mariah Carey I listened to a lot when I was about 12, 13, because, technically, she’s a great singer, and not having lessons or anything, I’d flip the tape over and over again and memorize the licks. Portishead was a huge influence, too. When I was 17 and I first moved to the city from the small town of Victoria, Portishead complemented those teen-angst depression years quite well.
What is “The Spirit Indestructible” about?
I began writing songs for SI around the time I released my Spanish album Mi Plan. I was in a great headspace, feeling refreshed and ready to really deliver in English again. This album is all about positivity, youth, good energy, and the relentlessness of the spirit. I want people to live this music the way we did when we wrote it. I want them to jump, dance, scream, laugh, cry, love, and vibe to it, and to turn it up very loud everywhere.
Where are you going to present your CD?
I am currently on tour in Canada and then we are off to Europe. I really want to go back to South America, I had an incredibly time touring with Mi Plan.
How was the experience recording a CD in Spanish?
I had to really pay attention to song themes in Spanish. The approach to metaphors and frame of reference is totally different. You can’t be quite as subversive as one can be in English. I learned how to create a song with a very defined subject matter and have a song really make a point. It was fun and educational. I got so much joy out of recording this Spanish album; for me Mi Plan was not a Latin album but music in Spanish for the world.
How did you come with that idea?
Everything I do is natural. As an artist, I always follow my gut. I don’t really follow commercial trends or sales trends. I just kind of go with what’s right for me as an artist and what is going to keep me happy and healthy, so Mi Plan felt like the next phase and that moment. The language was the right one for this album to best express my place in life at that moment. It just felt right for me to write in Spanish. It felt good, it felt like I could express other emotions. There are so many talented Latin artists that I really wanted to collaborate with so Mi Plan was the perfect moment to do this.
What was the repercussion in the argentinian’s audience?
It was great! They were really supportive. Now I have a bigger fanbase in Argentina and I feel they relate more after Mi Plan tour.
Do you want to come to Argentina again?
Yes, it would be amazing to visit South America again. People are very warm and charismatic. The support I have received from the fanbase has been incredible and I am really thankful.
How is it like participating on others singer’s CDs?
Mi Plan was purposely collaboration-heavy, just because there are so many amazing artists in the Latin world that I wanted to work with. Also, I wanted it to sound like a community effort. I wanted it to have all those layers of experience.
What does the music mean in your life?
There have been plenty of moments where I really don’t understand what’s going on in my life until I write a song about it. I think it’s really a means of communication for me, because it’s so organic that it’s impossible for me to plan it. I just kind of follow what my interests are at the time. It’s just like life. Life is full of surprises, so I guess that’s why my music is, too.
What are your projects for the future?
I would like to record a Portuguese album, another Spanish album and maybe an English one. But for that I might need to put a studio in my tourbus. My immediate plans are just dedicating myself to the tour and promoting this album which I’m really passionate about.