ARJAN TIMMERMANS | 6.1.2006
IF NELLY FURTADO HAD HER WISH, she would have her very own float in Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade. “We’d have lounge chairs and a little kiddy pool,” she says. “And we could all dance around and throw champagne on each other.”
But, alas, the dream won’t be coming true this Pride season. The spunky Canadian singer will be jetting all over the globe to promote her much-anticipated new album, Loose. Recorded with studio whiz Timbaland in Miami, the new CD is a serious departure from Nelly’s earlier sounds. After tapping into her youthful spunk on her invigorating debut, Whoa, Nelly!, and embracing her ethnic roots on Folklore, the Grammy-winning singer adopted a bootylicious hip-hop sound for this latest effort. But, even though the sound is different, the music is still distinctly Nelly’s—with her emphasis on individuality, sexual tolerance and diversity.
And Furtado fully expects that queer fans will appreciate her new album. “I hope gays don’t mind the hip-hop sound. I don’t think they will, because the same individuality is there,” she says. “And...I will be dancing a lot!” You go, girl.
How did your collaboration with superstar producer Timbaland come about?
Timbaland and I have known each other for a pretty long time. He was always a fan of my music and he used to sample my songs. We worked together on a few remixes, including “Turn Off The Light,” which became a huge hit on hip-hop radio. Initially, I worked with a bunch of different people, like Nellee Hooper and Scott Storch, to try some things for this album. All good stuff, but my label suggested I catch up with Timbaland, and that’s how things got rolling. I went to Miami and the chemistry between us was instant.
Loose is a very different sound for you. Have you always had an affinity for hip-hop?
I’ve had a love affair with hip-hop ever since I was very young. I used to listen to rappers like LL Cool J and Ice T. It became a lifestyle for me and my friends. I used to sneak out of my house and jump out of the second-story window to hang out with friends and see them DJ. It was almost nostalgic for me to make this record. I have always been very comfortable in the hip-hop setting. That’s the essence of this record—there’s a rawness to it. Hip-hop is a genre that comes naturally to me in the studio. It’s fast and easy.
A lot of rap artists have often been accused of being homophobic. Does homophobia in hip-hop bother you?
It does, but I think it’s changing. And there’s a lot of hip-hop out there that is very cool and not homophobic at all. I grew up in British Columbia, where the hip-hop community was very fun-loving and open. I think the negative vibe comes from the thug mentality and masculinity in some hip-hop. But, now the world has become so much more one and gay culture is becoming more mainstream.
It is impressive how easily you adopt different musical genres…
I like to bring different worlds together. There is a song on the album, on which I collaborated with Timbaland and Chris Martin of Coldplay—hip-hop meets rock. I love doing stuff like that. When I get into a new environment, I have to get used to the different lifestyle at first, but then I become like a sponge. And I catch up with it.
How do you feel about your popularity among gays?
I love it. I went out with a bunch of my male friends to a club on Church Street in Toronto and it made me so happy. I just had a great time. Now, I know that when I travel, I always have to go to gay clubs. [Laughs]
With its big beats and pumping melodies, performing Loose on stage will be a workout for you…
[Laughs] I will be shaking my booty a lot. It is very high-energy. I had a baby, and you become better at moving your hips after a pregnancy. But, believe me: It’s still a lot of work. I didn’t really do much dancing in my videos before, but I have a dance routine in the video for my new single, “Promiscuous.”
Especially with your sexy new look, I think you have lots of fans among both men and women. Have you ever felt an attraction to women?
Absolutely. Women are beautiful and sexy. It is interesting, because I’m reading a book about Chinese medicine, which claims that people are inherently bisexual to balance their energies. And, in a way, that makes so much sense. As humans we have both male and female energies. I believe in Kurt Cobain’s statement that, in the end, everyone is gay. Everybody should have the freedom to experiment. I believe sexual experimentation is part of human history. Experimentation is great, but don’t forget to wrap it up, boys!
Speaking of sex, your new single, “Promiscious,” is pretty steamy…
Hopefully, that song will encourage young people to talk about sex openly. It is the most sexual song I’ve done, but it is not racy compared to some songs that are played on the radio today. The song is just a flirtatious conversation, and the boy and girl in the song are on a level playing field.
Have you ever performed at a Gay Pride event?
No, but I’ve always wanted to. My dream is to have my own float in the Toronto Gay Pride Parade.
Really? How would you decorate the Nelly Furtado Gay Pride float?
[Laughs] I’d have remixes of my songs. We’d all be drinking and dancing, just having a good time. But we need something a little cheesy, of course, like biodegradable confetti and party hats. All the guys and girls on the float would be in bikinis.
Nelly Furtado’s Loose (Geffen Records) hits stores on June 20th. Check her out at nellyfurtado.com.