Monday, May 4, 2009

Nancy Fortune: Getting Crystallised

IFM, May 3, 2009

Nancy Fortune could be called the female voice of the nu-Italo movement, but she's more than just pretty vocals and a crystal ball. The disco nightingale (real name Julie Fedida) has also been hard at work in Paris creating and producing tunes. The fruit of her labor has just hit the streets this week in the form of her first full-length album, Crystallised.

Since 2000 when Fortune appeared on the Parallax Corporation's track "Crocodiles in the Sky," her regular guest appearances on a host of disco and electro albums have brought added depth to tracks by artists whose usually eschew vocals. Since then, her ethereal vocals have been like cherries on the ice cream sundaes of tracks by Mr. Pauli, I-f, Syd, and Alden Tyrell.

Fortune's spidery vocals may be at their best when paired with the Dutch electro producers, possibly because their tracks give more attention to the vocals than most of her own do. On Mr. Pauli's excellent moody electro disco song "Questions"--which sadly isn't included on Crystallised--Fortune spars with Fred Ventura, her haunting, retro vocals underscore the female desperation in Pauli's lyrics and contrast beautifully with Ventura's powerful, dismissive vocals.

Crystallised features eleven tracks of both old and new solo material as well as Fortune's vocal features with other artists. "Analogically Reacting," which was previously released on The Secret Life of Nancy Fortune, is a dark electro track that sounds as if Fortune is underwater or possibly emerging from a psychotropically-induced breakdown. "Discomanic" is, as the title suggests, an intense dance track that features Fortune at her best--she’s the slightly mad party girl that all the boys want and all the girls want to be.

The album's other tracks are, for the most part, hauntingly dark and make good use of Fortune's Kate Bush-esque vocal stylings which are often hyper-manipulated, adding to their unearthly quality. "Caur Synthetique," a pure electro-pop song in which she sings in her native French--sure to please the art-haus crowd--and "Electric Signal," a bristling electro jam punctuated by tense vocals and eerie pads, are two standouts from the album. Although still danceable and usually edging towards disco, Fortune's work has a sinister side that harkens back to the days when dark wave was king and strong female vocalists could knock your socks off.

For a first album that was years in the making, Crystallised doesn't disappoint. I badgered Ms. Fortune via email for a short Q&A.

Of your musical work, what are you most proud of?

I'm very proud of all the featurings and work collaborations I did, really. :)

I have a special crush for Pauli's composition, and to duet with Fred was a dream coming true-- expect a video clip pretty soon by the way!

How did you get into disco?

Well, passion for music was always there, it was starting in my early years. Once I-f decided to press play on the Disco Button in me, and then under true belief and passion disco revealed it all to me.

What was the last song you listened to on repeat?

"The Sun Can't Compare" by Larry Heard & Mr. White

What vocalists do you admire?

That would be too long! Well, let's line it up--from Chaka Khan to Kate Bush, passing by Alisha, Gwen Guthrie, and absolute greatest divas like Jocelyn Brown and Loletta Holloway...

Your release on Viewlexx was called the "Secret Life of Nancy Fortune" and in general, you seem to be a bit mysterious. What are you hiding from us?

A lot of Love... :D

I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing you perform. Do you ever play live?

I did play live all around, ‘cause I had really the feeling of it, especially with working on special live versions of my tracks, to deliver a variation of the studio work. What a blast! I'm really keen on singing live, and stage is home. (Never meet me before a live set btw...You could have strong nightmares then!!)

What can you tell me about the new album, Crystallised?

My album is about Crystallisation process on all possible level of interpretation. After The Secret Life / Let's Crystallise the Rage!, times were changing a lot to me and I worked a lot finding out with music how to express it best. Working on featuring and collaboration was definitely opening myself to more understanding of music, but also on life. :)

I have to say that it was such an adventure to re-work on music I did, with new sound material, and new sound knowledge of today...transporting a real flow of emotions here and there, which is not always the easiest part.

We made it with a bunch of very patient sound improvers-engineers, brilliant people like Sebastien Fouble, Jean Philippe Hauray and Alexander Mueller.

We did a long work of sound remastering of the tracks you already know, and then we found space to introduce my new tracks, which was essential to me, because they correspond to the 12"s all of you were asking me so deep for all this time till today.

The artwork is just incredibly magic, and it also had a strong impact on me. Sean Mattison, Tommy Blackburn from understood pretty good the dimension, and by very intense, daily work they helped me out to release images from my mind.

That was the missing element of my work , the visual. Now Hazel Hill and James Weigel are joining and we are booming with ideas for

Keep tracking it! We are crystallising all of them with all our care for u!