Exclusive LAUNCH Artist Chat
10/25/2000 11:00 AM, Yahoo! Music
Canadian-based, Portuguese-born singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado may be young--only 21--but her debut album, Whoa Nelly, sounds like the work of a seasoned pro. This shouldn't come as that much of a surprise, since Nelly has been writing songs since she was 12 years old, plays various instruments (guitar, keyboards, ukulele, trombone), sings in several languages (English, Portuguese, Hindi), and has multiple diverse influences (everyone from Mary J. Blige to Jeff Buckley to Caetano Veloso). Judging from her answers during her October 25 LAUNCH online chat, Nelly, a former creative writing student, is wise beyond her years as well. Whether she was giving advice to aspiring musicians, discussing her Portuguese ancestry, contemplating the current state of top 40 radio, or reflecting on the heady experience of overnight success, her responses were always thoughtful, interesting, and from the heart. Here's what she had to say:
launch_nelly_furtado: Hey everybody, thanks for coming to my chat. I'm excited. Let's get started.
babygirl1971_99: How old were you when you first started performing?
launch_nelly_furtado: I was 4 years old the first time I sang--I did a duet with my mom on Portugal Day in church.
mel_baby_girl4: Are you happy that your music is being played on top 40 radio or where you hoping to attract a different type of audience?
launch_nelly_furtado: I feel that my record addresses all types of different audiences, because it's so diverse. Right now the song being played on top 40 is "I'm Like A Bird." But I also have another single out called "Party," which is being spun at clubs. There's a vinyl edition out right now, and it may be getting spun at college radio. I'm glad the record is going to mean a lot of different things to different people.
Sonyfish: You did great on the tonight show, will you be doing David, Rosie, and other shows?
launch_nelly_furtado: Thank you. Yes, I will be doing David Letterman on December 13, and we might be doing Saturday Night Live in January or February.
mel_baby_girl4: What is the song "Hey Man" about?
launch_nelly_furtado: "Hey Man" is the oldest song on the album; I wrote it three years ago. At the time, I was taking creative writing courses at college and I had just bought a guitar. I wrote that in my room in Victoria, B.C. I think the song is capturing a moment...I can't quite explain it.
mel_baby_girl4: What is the song "... on the radio" about?
launch_nelly_furtado: Let's return to that later.
Sonyfish: When you tour again, will you do clubs again or go for stadiums?
launch_nelly_furtado: Well, it depends on how well the record is doing (laughs). Right now, my next show is in Lisbon, Portugal. I believe it's November 23. Then I have a bunch of Christmas radio shows in December. Then a show in England in January and a REAL U.S. tour in January/February. It will probably not be stadiums, though one day they would be fun to try.
safari_cutie: tell nelly its ashley her friend (little ashley) and ask her if she well ever do a tour in vancouver
launch_nelly_furtado: Hi Ashley! How are you? Thanks for keeping up to date on all the Nelly news. Say hi to your family for me. I am hoping to play Victoria or Vancouver in December, because we have a radio show in Seattle, so we hope to swing by there.
fatbra89: Did you want to be something else other than a singer?
launch_nelly_furtado: Well, my second passion is creative writing, which I studied at school. I would maybe like to return to university one day. I like to follow my heart; there's all different kinds of ways I like to express myself. Basically, with all my decisions, I have used my gut instinct, so I am going to see what comes up and make my decisions accordingly. I only like to do things I really care about.
LyndseyLaunch: How old are you and what is your sign?
launch_nelly_furtado: 21. I'm a Sagittarius, turning 22 on December 2.
ropich: Do you still play trombone?
launch_nelly_furtado: No, I haven't played in about three years. I would like to start again--I miss it a little bit--but I think it's helped me with my singing, such as in "Baby Girl"--pada pada ching!
mel_baby_girl4: What did you do on the day of your cd release?
launch_nelly_furtado: You'll be very disappointed in me. I actually celebrated a few nights earlier on the Jay Leno show, Friday and Saturday night, because some friends were visiting from Vancouver and my band was in L.A., so we watched the show and celebrated. Tuesday I just chilled out by myself and sang on two radio shows in San Jose and San Francisco. Then I bought my album for $8.99--what a deal--at Virgin Mega. One lady recognized me and she bought my CD.
lovegrowsdeeper: Hey Nelly, w'sup? How important is success in the industry to you?
launch_nelly_furtado: I don't know. Success to me has already happened to an extent, because I already have fans that understand what I'm about and appreciate my music. Even with all the acclaim I'm getting from the press, it's the connection with the fans that I feel at my shows and reading my e-groups and website that really touches me and makes me feel successful, because that's the thing that's real.
killabigthrilla: so where are you from originally?
launch_nelly_furtado: I was born in Victoria, B.C., Canada. My parents were born in the Azores Islands, specifically from Sao Miguel. They are a group of nine islands 900 miles off the coast of Portugal, so that makes me first-generation Canadian. Yet I have lived in Toronto for the past three years. I speak English and Portuguese, and a tiny bit of Spanish, too.
mista1313: ARE YOU COMING OUT WITH A FULL LENGTH PORTUGUESE ALBUM
launch_nelly_furtado: I would love to come out with one. I promise that I will come out with one in the next five years. That's really important to me; I have a project in mind. There's a lot of things I didn't touch on in Whoa Nelly, even though it sounds pretty international. I want to delve even further into my Portuguese history and use other influences, such as folkloric songs and famous church melodies, and maybe incorporate some other cultural styles, such as Indian and Brazilian. When I sing in Portuguese, I feel in my element, and an important part of my personality, as a singer, is the Portuguese-singer side of me.
safari_cutie: are u ever going to sing in ur home town and VICTORIA MISSES YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
launch_nelly_furtado: Hopefully, I will back in December, it's not confirmed yet. I miss Victoria, too.
mel_baby_girl4: What is your favourite song on the album?
launch_nelly_furtado: My favorite song is "Sh-t On The Radio." To me, it describes my entire album Whoa Nelly. It kind of addresses what I was feeling when I was making the record. I think that because I've been making music for so long for my own interests, that when the opportunity came around to record a pop record with a major label, I was faced with all sorts of fears. Then I realized the songs I was writing were coming from me, and there was nothing wrong with them, and I shouldn't be afraid to express myself. I think it addresses in a way about having my song played on top 40 radio. I'm making pop music, but I don't have to fit under the pop umbrella. I don't have to fit under one category, as I did when I was a trip-hop artist. Now I'm a Nelly artist.
babygirl1971_99: If you were a cartoon character whom would you be?
launch_nelly_furtado: Betty Boop or something, or the Road Runner. Or Garfield, cause I've always wanted to be a cat and sleep and eat all day.
clints_teddy_bear: Hi Nelly My Question is Do You Have A Bf
launch_nelly_furtado: No, currently single. (laughs)
mel_baby_girl4: Who are your musical influences?
launch_nelly_furtado: They range so much. The first type of music that I was totally infatuated with was hip-hop and R&B. I would listen to everything from Bel Biv DeVoe to Salt N' Pepa to Mary J. Blige, Ice-T, and LL Cool J. Then I discovered rock influences like Radiohead, the Verve, Oasis, and Smashing Pumpkins. Jeff Buckley has been one of my biggest influences. More recently, a big influence has been Caetano Veloso, a Brazilian artist. And I was just listening to Ani DiFranco on the plane, the Not A Pretty Girl CD.
lovegrowsdeeper: how's it feel to hear your own s... on the radio? (and clubs?)
launch_nelly_furtado: The first time I heard "I'm Like A Bird" on the radio was in Toronto, and I had to get up really early in the morning so I was in a bad mood. Then I heard my song and it obviously cheered me up. Last week in L.A., KROQ played "Sh-t On The Radio." I was driving in the car and it sounded great. I was happy for the rest of the day.
puppypawzzzzz: Do you play any instruments?I play piccollo
launch_nelly_furtado: In the past I played ukulele and trombone. Currently, I mainly play guitar, but I play keyboards in the studio and I like to program bass lines and stuff in the studio.
LyndseyLaunch: what would you say has shaped your life most?
launch_nelly_furtado: Probably just my Portuguese identity and going back to the Azores as a child, experiencing the culture, learning the language. I think it's made me proud, open-minded. Also coming from a working-class background shaped my identity in a huge, positive way.
puppypawzzzzz: Are you ever going to have fans in one of your videos?
launch_nelly_furtado: Well, I really liked Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff" with all their fans, and so I think it looks like a good idea. I might just have to do that. Maybe an exclusive concert or something and tape it.
ricardoferreira2000: Hey Nelly! You coming to Karen and Oscars this weekend? They r having a Halloween party. And how r u?
launch_nelly_furtado: I wish I was. Karen always manages to have way more fun Halloweens than I do. I'll probably wind up packing or something. I always have boring Halloweens, except for the time we all dressed up like black cats and went around in the red van.
Sonyfish: Someone just asked me if I'd started a fan club for you... do you know for sure if someone working for you DID start one? If they didn't please let me know.
launch_nelly_furtado: There's an address on my CD that is my manager's P.O. Box where you can send fanmail. There is nothing official, really. Please leave messages, I read them.
killabigthrilla: Hey, would you date a fan?
launch_nelly_furtado: Electric or paper? (laughs out loud)
lovegrowsdeeper: You're album was already circulating in MP3 before the release date? How do you feel about that?
launch_nelly_furtado: I don't think my whole album is on Napster yet, but if it is, it's beyond my control. I think Napster is positive and negative at the same time. It's great that people can share music online. I think it's good for music, because artists that would go unheard-of can have an audience online. On the other hand, a CD is a pretty good deal, I'd say. My CD is only $8.99 at Virgin Records! :-)
Sonyfish: Have you had any extremely memorable experiences while touring?
launch_nelly_furtado: I think just getting on the tour bus for the first time, because it had been a dream all my life. Getting on a bus, with a book, travelling to the next place. Meeting fans has been great, too.
lovegrowsdeeper: is nelly short for noella?
launch_nelly_furtado: No, just Nelly. Nelly Kim Furtado. I was named after a gymnast.
safari_cutie: Nelly, have ur parents seen u do a live performance ?
launch_nelly_furtado: My parents have only seen me on TV, doing Leno and Mike Bullard (Canadian TV host).
michelfr_2000: I understand that you became *very* famous in a *very* short time... How are you dealing with it, and what's the one thing about being famous you had NOT foreseen?
launch_nelly_furtado: That's why I want to come to Vancouver and play a show. They loved what they've seen so far, especially my video, which is getting spins on Much Music. I'm not famous yet, kid. (laughs out loud) I hear that once my video gets on heavy rotation, that's when the real weirdness will start. I guess I have to wait and see.
killabigthrilla: If you could see a concert, standing in the front row, who would you choose to see?
launch_nelly_furtado: It would be Amalia Rodrigues, Jeff Buckley, or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
pacheco_nelson: to prove this Nelly what was the other name for the red van???
launch_nelly_furtado: The Dodge Caravan--the Portuguese Mafia Mobile. I hope I didn't get it wrong.
killabigthrilla: Whats your advice t someone who wants to get into the business too?
launch_nelly_furtado: My advice is to realize that every opportunity that comes your way is coming for a reason, because you never know what could come from them, so don't fear opportunity. Also, make music that you love, that comes from your heart. If you make music you love, other people are bound to like it, too. Constantly seek out other musical people, because you will learn something from every musical experience.
angelbeautybabe: If you would organize a tour like lilith fair who would you invite
launch_nelly_furtado: Jill Scott, Kinney Starr, Esthero, Dido, Ani DiFranco, Mary J. Blige, Marisa Monte, Caetano Veloso, Beck, Cornershop, Incubus...and the list goes on and on.
Blunt_48: Hey Nelly! My favorite cut off the album is the song *On the radio*. I was just wondering what yours is?!?!?!
launch_nelly_furtado: It is mine too, but I also like "Party."
star287: What do you think of such pop artists as Britney Spears?
launch_nelly_furtado: Wait! I would also put Asian Dub Foundation on the tour, and Beth Orton, Elliott Smith, the Verve, and the New Deal. As for Britney, I don't know. I guess there's an audience for every artist out there.
SweetLaoAngel: Do you write your own music?
launch_nelly_furtado: I do, I write all my songs, and I co-produced the record. I have been writing songs since I was 12 and recording since I was 16. I have lots of unreleased material. As much as I can have at the age of 21...heh heh.
mel_baby_girl4: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
launch_nelly_furtado: I will either be making a record or touring. I guarantee that at least my second record will be out. (laughs) I have plans for album number two, musically. I do love Whoa Nelly, and I hope you like it, too.
lovegrowsdeeper: Are the songs you write about ACTUAL personal experiences? or just feelings and ideas?
launch_nelly_furtado: A lot of the songs are about personal experiences, but a lot are feelings, too. I don't think I ever write narratively, except for "Trying To Find A Way," but that's like a Beat poet song. I like to flow.
star287: What's your biggest career goal and how do you plan to achieve it?
launch_nelly_furtado: One of my biggest goals is to have a stage show that really represents what I'm about, completely. I want to really dream up something surreal, beautiful, and exciting in the immediate future.
ropich: Any songs that you would you like to cover?
launch_nelly_furtado: There's a song by Prince called "Power Fantastic." I would love to know from fans what they would like to hear covered at shows. I am looking for something from early-'90s R&B world. Hip-hop. Something unpredictable. Put it on the website message board at www.whoanelly.com or www.nellyfurtado.com. I am really excited that now the record is in stores and that people who buy it will tell a friend. Even if radio or video doesn't go as I want it to, I hope word of mouth will spread. Thanks for coming to the chat and making me smile. You guys are THA BOMB. I'm a lucky girl.