I am impressed when music matters, when genres are broken, when spirits are lifted, when people make a difference, and when people are true to themselves. I am impressed by: Leonard Cohen, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Woodstock, Free Tibet, free shows for tens of thousands, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, De La Soul, good films, visual art, Andy Warhol, jazz, improvisational anything, artists who I watch perform and they bring me to tears, Jeff Buckley, going to a rave, writing poetry about the city, tripping out on a good book, traveling to a foreign city and not knowing anybody...the list goes on and on.
I have always been in awe of nature and all things innovative. Although I grew up in Victoria, B.C, a mere suburb of a city, I know what independence is, I know what soul is and I know what God is. I know what it feels like to sing on the top of a mountain as if God is pumping Abraham straight into me from heaven. I was performing in both Portuguese and English by age four, and playing ukulele and trombone through ages nine to eighteen. I played the trombone in a jazz band, concert band and marching band, and sang and danced in musicals.
I've seen lots and grown lots in my short life span. I have been the bully, I have been bullied, been insecure, been precocious, been lost, been found again, been praised, been heralded, been shamed and been alone. I am not sheltered and I have never been, although family is very important to me. I am quite street smart and my pain often fuels my passion, but more often my spirit does. I aspire, like anyone, to do great things with my life. I want to be Jack Kerouac, Mona Lisa, Ghandi and Mother Theresa all at the same time. I want to inspire people but not in a cheap way. There is an artist in me. I see art everywhere I walk. I believe I was born to sing and to create music that emotionally connects. I was born to document the way I see the world and the experiences I've had in it.
Considering my musical heritage it seems inevitable that I would pursue this musical dream. In S. Miguel, Azores, my late Portuguese grandfather played several instruments. His brother, my great-uncle, was a famed marching band score composer or 'maestro' in his village who today remains somewhat of a legend to the towns people. To this day, even after his death, hundreds of his musical scores remain under lock and key in his basement despite several attempts to confiscate them by local music-lovers. My mother sings in the church choir and my father also enjoys casual singing and has a deep interest in the Portuguese style of music 'fado', or 'fate'. These Portuguese elements and influences are very much a part of what I like to call my 'musical hardrive'.
I received my first tape recorder at age eight - I sang into the microphone and recorded songs myself. I received a keyboard with a built in scratch effect at age eleven. I was writing rhymes at age fourteen but that was a phase which only lasted a couple of months because the hip-hop culture looked so appealing to me then.
I've always been obsessed with new music. I'm nineteen years old so I can't say that my influences are Pink Floyd and Kate Bush, because they aren't. I wasn't even born. I was listening to a haunting Paris sample or a PM Dawn song with a sampled Spandeau Ballet chorus hot off the radio. I was into anything sensational and loud. It was somehow so refreshing to my young ears. Ice T, LL Cool J, Salt n Pepa, Bel Biv Devoe, New Edition, High 5, Jackson 5, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Pharcyde 'passin' me by', Del, Hieroglyphics Crew, TLC , Janet, Word Up Magazine, anything rap and R&B, DJ Quik, Young MC, Diggable planets, Tribe Called Quest or anything I could get my hands on be it a bootleg off the radio or a friend's mix tape. Prince stands vitally, somewhere in the middle.
Anything that was created using a drum machine or a sampler - at ages 14-16 I was there with bells on. The culmination of these listening experiences led to my first studio recording at age 16, belting out full-fledged R&B vocals for a friends Toronto hip-hop group.
New influences came to me as I got older and started listening to my older brother's CD player. I also went to Portugal for a summer vacation and opened up to rock influences like Radiohead, Smashing Pumkins, U2, Pulp, Oasis, and Sarah Maclaughlin. Next came the discovery of Portoisehead, whose style had a significant impact on my writing and production experiences from that point on. Especially intriguing was Beth Gibbons haunting vocal style, which I could mimic to a tee for a good year following. With this wave of influences came Madredeus, Sade, Pedro Abrunhosa, Cornershop, Amalia Rodrigues, Tricky, Prodigy, Bjork, anything Brazilian especially Bossa Nova, Hindu music, and techno in all musical forms, especially drum and bass. Throughout this period I also discovered the greatest hits collections of the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel. From this point on, the door had been opened up real wide, and it only gets wider each day.
Flashy urban music of the early nineties gave me a love for sampling, technology and hip-hop. It taught me how to be a bold singer, and how to sing with attitude. The later wave of influences taught me passion and meaning. They taught me how to express emotion and melancholy, how to write songs from the heart, develop a personal style and edge to songs and how to develop a signature vocal style.
All of these influences and all of the life experiences I've had that fuel my lyrical content come together to make me, as an artist, urban folk alternative, if that helps any. Through all of my recording experiences I have held good songs in a very high place. I believe in the power of words and the mystery of a good melody. What is music until you make it anyway?
-from the official Nelly Furtado website
--- from the official Nelly Furtado website