“I think there comes a time in your life where it’s good to dream and it’s good to have goals; then the goals don’t end there. It’s not like a ladder where you climb to the top of the ladder and just sit there and look at the rooftop,” says 33-year-old eclectic Canadian singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado to host Casey McCabe. “It doesn’t really work that way.”
It’s been six years since the release of Furtado’s hit 2006 album Loose; Furtado has grown up a philanthropist, an entrepreneur, and a mother ready to show off her new Spirit Indestructible in 2012.
A mother who says that she can make a “mean banana bread with chocolate chips.” Furtado has spent the last six years embracing and enjoying the role of motherhood, working on her Spanish album Mi Plan, starting her own record label Nelstar, and becoming an ambassador for Free the Children–a charitable organization to whom she purportedly gave $1,000,000 for building schools in the Masai region of Kenya.
Ten years ago, when Furtado’s breakthrough hit single “I’m Like A Bird” came out, the brunette songstress might not have known where “her soul” was or “her home” was, but in the last decade, especially the last year, Furtado has come into her own.
Performing a four-song set at the Red Bull Sound Space at AMP Radio including “Maneater,” “I’m Like A Bird,” “Say It Right,” and “Big Hoops” from her forthcoming album Spirit Indestructible, Furtado showed just how much of a powerhouse she’s become.
Having four albums in her musical trousseau hasn’t made Furtado feel any less lucky; she told the audience that she feels like “it’s day one again” and that she’s “in the same place” from when she first started her career. The Furtado of the present has spent a lot of her maturing process reminiscing on the past–the “real fun stuff” and otherwise.
“I think some of the funnest times in your life sometimes are when you’re like 13/14 hanging out with your friends in a parking lot,” explains Furtado. “You know, I have a song called ‘Parking Lot.’ It’s about hanging outside the 7-11 with your friends drinking Slurpees and then I have a song called ‘Big Hoops’ which is about rocking my big hoops downtown.”
“So then there’s a song called ‘High Life’ about living the dream, but the dream before that. Then making your dreams come true; then afterwards kind of having the aftermath of that.”
Her young daughter, whom Furtado says is also musical but not a “ham,” may be a huge influence on Furtado’s nostalgia. The performer said that a huge part of her current life is motherhood. That she’d take her daughter and tour the “world like gypsies,” but when her daughter needed to go to school, Furtado realized she wanted to have a normal life for a bit.
And it makes sense to the singer-songwriter’s creative process; Furtado has always felt positively about the upbringing her working class Portuguese parents gave her. She recalls a time when she was a chambermaid during the summers cleaning motel rooms with her mom.
“Back in the day I used to write songs while cleaning motel rooms…they had these chamber maid’ing reports, these little pieces of paper. What I’d do at the end of the day, if you’d see my basket, it’d be full of songs,” Furtado explains. “I’d write the songs; I’d just write all day. I’d get my work done though.”
She still works just has hard. Furtado’s break from the English-speaking music world didn’t mean that she was sitting still. Furtado enhanced her creative side with Mi Plan–an album with “just songs about love, songs about falling in love,” and “family life.” She had Mom time during the week while coming out to L.A. on the weekends to “get freaky again in the studio and “just kind of go wile out with Rodney[Darkchild].”
Furtado has never, really, wanted to “take a break.”
“There’s times when I slow down but it’s more just to pursue other artistic endeavors,” she says. “Like I really enjoy developing this artist on my label and then, like, geez, learning new hobbies. Like, I’ve been playing basketball lately. I’ve been having fun doing that.”
“So, sometimes it’s fun having a career, but you have to have a sense of balance when you’re a writer because you kind of have to live like normal experiences to engage people with your songs,” Furtado continues. “I never want my songs to be boring and people not to feel like they can connect with them. I want everybody to be able to connect with my songs.”
Furtado–who says she has a “natural love of music” and professed her love of St. Vincent, the Tune-Yards, and Grouplove–is developing an artist named Dylan Murray on her label NelStar.
On Spirit Indestructible, she’s collaborating with a few artists and producers including Darkchild, Mike Angelakos from Passion Pit, Tiesto, Nas, Sara Tavares from Lisbon, 16-year-old rapper Ace Primo, and reggae-tinged producer Salaam Remi. The Kenyan Boys Choir are also featured on Spirit Indestructible; the title-track of the album is her favorite song.
“That song is just about everyone I’ve met…Like the last year of my life was really life changing,” explains Furtado about “Spirit Indestructible.” “I mean, I became an ambassador for Free The Children which is an organization that builds schools around the world; I went to Kenya this year and last year working in communities and building schools.”
“I met a lot of inspiring people and just in life in general. I just kind of felt really rejuvenated when I wrote the album and “Spirit Indestructible,” it’s kind of cool because it’s positive. It’s a positive song but you can also totally thrash your body around to it. “
“There’s excitement when I’m out there doing my thing. This is great. I love performing. I love tapping into that wild creative side. “
–Nadia Noir, CBS Radio Los Angeles