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Nelly Furtado doesn’t need any introduction. With five studio albums, over 20 chart-conquering singles, and multiple gold and platinum plaques, the Canadian songstress seems to have achieved everything in this rough industry called the music business. Despite her global success, her creative thirst has not been satisfied yet as the 33-year-old Vancouver native has just released her latest full-length project The Spirit Indestructible – an album she intends on promoting for at least two years while embarking on a tour. While she has simultaneously begun work on her next full-length Portuguese album – as a followup to her Spanish effort, Mi Plan – the album conveys an empowering message that has been inspired by recent global political developments. It has also been effected by what she refers to as “intense personal growth.” Transcending this universal, empowering energy, The Spirit Indestructible is a “tribute to humanity” which boasts a catchy melange of urban music, reggae and alternative music. It also finds her working with prominent producers like The Neptunes, Tiësto, Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, among others, as well as collaborating with Nas and Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos.
What does the title The Spirit Indestructible mean and how did it come about?
I wanted a really strong title for this album because I was feeling very empowered, very spiritual, and very positive about life and about the world in general when I recorded this album. A lot of great moments in history have happened just in the last 12 months from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movement to financial crisis, natural disasters, different historical things and times were people have had to triumph through the strength of spirit. So it was a fitting title.
What is the overall tone/theme of TSI?
The overall tone is definitely rebellion, sonically and thematically; and also positivity, youth, celebration, love, joy. It’s really joyous, I would say joy – I think it’s joyous and it celebrates the realness of life and the fun of life.
You worked upwards of three years on it. Was this duration planned and how did your personal growth over this time influence the album?
Well I thought it was a great experience, having so much growth to write about and really expanding the writing process to three years. First of all, it gave me a great amount of material to choose the songs from. About 60 demos, from that I chose about 12 songs. Second of all, you do a lot of writing in that time. I took long breaks; I did a Spanish album, which taught me a lot about theme in writing and metaphor. The whole process really paid off for me creatively.
What inspired the album’s eclectic concept and where do you see it standing compared to your previous releases?
This album, you know, I think will almost be like a rebirth for me; I feel like I have come full circle. It is my fifth album. I just feel fresh, fresh and renewed and very much like my batteries are recharged. I was able to really pull a new creativity from deep within for this album and from all the influences around me. So I am really excited about the future, I think it’s only going to get better, and more creative and more inspired. I am more in love with music than I have ever been.
Let’s talk about your collaborations. What can you tell us about your collaboration with Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos?
The song I did with Mike Angelakos is one of my favorites on the album; it is called “Circles.” It was written pretty early on in the process. I wanted to write with him because I was a fan of music and we had a mutual friend. We got together and it was great. Mike was the first current artist that told me in the middle of the session that Whoa Nelly was his favorite album when he was 10 years old so that was an epic moment for me. A real “ah-ha,” wow – I am a veteran and there is no turning back sort of moment. He also shared a lot of great music with me that day and it was like a real connection between the past and future for me.
How was it working with Nas?
Nas is one of the greatest ever. Salaam Remi who produced that track is very close with Nas and we always thought Nas would be perfect on the track because it really has a classic hip-hop vibe for the real hip-hop lover, so we thought let’s put everyone’s favorite on it: Nas.
How does the preparation and recording process differ when doing an English or Spanish/Portuguese-speaking album? Does the theme/tone of the album automatically change once it’s in another language?
The main difference for me is that when I was writing the Spanish album I was co-writing the lyrics with different collaborators, mainly with Alex Cuba. It was kind of like I was co-writing for the first time lyrically so I was forced to think about metaphor and symbols and theme, and of course it was in another language most importantly. So, I kind of came back into the English album with this renewed sense of poignancy in the writing and I really felt like wow, I paid attention to lyrical details like I never have on any of previous English works. So I am really quite proud of that.
How would you describe the average Nelly Furtado fan?
The average Nelly Furtado fan loves life, is an individual, and has a free spirit.
With over a decade in the music industry, what was your most important lesson learned and why?
The most important lesson I learned is following your heart creatively, staying true to your musical path, looking at the big picture and you know, not taking yourself too seriously.
Any final words?
Check out my latest album. Follow me @nellyfurtado on Twitter, www.nellyfurtado.com and please check out my work with Free the Children. I am an ambassador for them and we’re selling a beautiful tank top for The Spirit Indestructible in support of Oleleshwa High School in Kenya, and all the proceeds towards girl’s education.