Interview: Nelly Furtado

Nelly Furtado first sang “like a bird” into our hearts back in 2000 with Whoa, Nelly! and teamed up with Timbaland to bring hit after hit single with her album Loose. Now Nelly is bringing her “Plan” to Ravinia.

Gozamos: Hi, Nelly. What are you up to now?
Nelly Furtado: I am just having a little time off. This is my summer vacation.

Gozamos: I have always wanted to ask you how many languages you speak.
NF: English, Spanish and Portuguese as well and that’s about it. Some people think I speak Hindi but I actually only know a couple of songs of Hindi. I don’t actually speak it.

Gozamos: Well, that is pretty impressive.
NF: I guess it is from growing up in a multicultural house. My parents are from Portugal so…

Gozamos: It’s a very good influence for your music.
NF: Yeah, for sure. It has been a huge stamp on my sound. I have always been interested in fusion. I like different styles of music, such as pop songs. I have tried to fuse those things when possible.

Gozamos: The new album is going to be called Lifestyle.
NF: That is the one I am working on that is in English. The last one I put out was Mi Plan. It is all in Spanish.

Gozamos: I love that CD.
NF: Oh, thanks.

Gozamos: How was it making Mi Plan? You were able to pick who you wanted to work with, correct?
NF: I grew up listening to a lot of Latin pop music. I started recording in Spanish shortly after I put out my first English full length. I did a track with a Colombian Artist named Juanes. It basically snowballed from there. I did features on Spanish tracks. I included two Spanish language tracks on my third album Loose. I wanted my Spanish album to be eclectic as usual. I wanted to feature some really great talent. In the Latin world there are just so many superstars and amazing voices. I was lucky enough to get a lot of great people on the album. I also threw in Josh Grobin for good measure.

Gozamos: That’s creative.
NF: He was really excited to be part of a Spanish track. This was all a learning experience. I think that singers who sing in Spanish approach their vocal very powerfully and passionately. There can be a lot of ebb and flow. It was exciting to be in the room with those men and women.

Gozamos: I can imagine.
NF: The main thing was that I was writing with Alex Cuba. He is a really talented indie artist who is originally from Cuba but resides in Canada. He has his own sound. It is really hard to describe so you have to check his music out. Him and I had a really great writing connection. I think all my albums start off with some type of nugget. We just met and clicked, two songwriters working together. All my albums are like that, happening from some moment.

Gozamos: I was not familiar with Alex until I heard your album. I do love Julieta Venegas who you sang with on Mi Plan.
NF: You like her? She’s my favorite Latin artist. She has a really unique sound.

Gozamos: She does. I just went to her concert not too long ago.
NF: You did? How was it?

Gozamos: It was a smaller venue but packed. She was very pregnant this last time that I saw her.
NF: She is probably like six months now, right? She has a little baby bump, how cute.

Gozamos: Yes and somehow dancing the whole time.
NF: Yeah, she just loves music.

Gozamos: I watched the video on the duet with Julieta called “Bajo Otra Luz.” You dress like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Is this a homage for your gay fans?
NF: (bursts out laughing) You got it! That’s funny that you mention that. I have been getting back into Rufus Wainwright recently. I love him and I have been a fan since he came out. We were label mates at Dreamworks. I was listening to my old Rufus albums and realizing he is such a treasure. He is going to be around forever. He is one of those classic voices. But yeah Judy, Dorothy, sure!!!

Gozamos: You basically get to work a runway with different looks.
NF: I wanted a video that would remind people of when they are little and not caring so much, dressing up and putting on fashion shows for fun. That was the spirit behind making “Bajo Otra Luz.” Making the song was very fun with the girls, Julieta, Mala and me. It wasn’t so much about the song but us having fun in the studio. Julieta wrote that song for me. I was taking on different roles and furthering the metaphor in the video.

Gozamos: What is the song about for all of the English speakers out there?
NF: The song is about when you are in a relationship and you are under a light. You feel like something is glowing on you and there is something different about the world. You can’t put your finger on it. I though dressing up in costumes would be a good metaphor for that and you can be anybody sometimes. You can try on different hats.

Gozamos: I spoke with Rufus Wainwright recently and he said he would like to perform with Bjork one day. Who would you like to perform with but haven’t?
NF: Ohh, the two voices together, wow. I want to hear him on a hip hop track. I want to hear his voice with some crazy heavy beats. I would work with Rufus. I still want to work with Eminem. Madonna would be fun too.

Gozamos: Oh, yeah, who wouldn’t? I liked Esthero and you together.
NF: Her voice is insane. I did a collaboration with her called “I Feel You.” We did that track in 2000, I think. I purposely turned her voice up as loud as possible on the mix board because I just wanted to hear it. I thought if I have her on a song, I want it loud.

Gozamos: Congrats on the Canadian Walk of Fame.
NF: Thank you so much. That is kind of nuts. That definitely put things in perspective for me. It made me feel quite ancient (both laugh). It was cool. They do that for people that have been in the industry for at least ten years. I was there last year inducting Robert Munsch, a really famous children’s author, which was really fun.

Gozamos: You are coming to Rivinia for the first time. It is a pavilion and lawn venue where people bring wine and picnic baskets and sit outside.
NF: So everybody brings their own wine? There will be a good ol’ moshpit in the front right?

Gozamos: Well, I will start one! We have to keep it lively for you.
NF: That sounds so fun. Hopefully there will be good weather.

Gozamos: Will you be playing the new stuff or is it still in the works?
NF: I am thinking about it. A couple of my songs got leaked. I don’t know if they are going to be on my album anymore. We might just throw them in the show for fun. I think fans want it at this point. Especially when you are in between albums, they can handle one or two new things.

Gozamos: I heard you even have a reggae song.
NF: I do have a reggae track. What I might actually do is put out an album between this one and Lifestyle. Honestly, I have so much material and so many songs that I have not released. I am so picky about what I put out. I want to catch the fans up with b-sides and things I never released.

Gozamos: That sounds good.
NF: What happened was that I went on my Latin tour and got so invigorated. I decided to promote my Spanish album for a while longer. I put a lot of work into that album. My show is a mix. It is Spanish, English and all the hits.

Gozamos: I went to your concert at The Vic years ago for your Folklore album. You met me after the show and many artists don’t meet fans after the show.
NF: Of course, I love my fans. They are very supportive and into the music. They are just great.

Gozamos: We will be there to support you at Ravinia,
NF: It is my first show in the United States in about four years, so we are excited!

Nelly will “Say it Right” at Ravinia, 200 Ravinia Park Rd, on September 3rd, at 8:00 p.m. Visit for information and tickets.

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