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Nelly Furtado: Free As A Bird
For her new album, Canuck popstress Nelly Furtado downplayed her putumayo hippie vibe, hung out with Paris Hilton in Miami and learned the value of a good booty-shake.

By Victoria de Silverio

Blender, July 2006

When you broke in 2000 with “I’m Like a Bird,” you were a funky boho chick, kind of an anti-Britney. Now you’re releasing your third album, and you’ve turned into a midriff-baring sex bomb. What happened?
I made the new album in Miami and I felt really sexy there. Miami accepts booty! Plus, when I came into the business, I was really intimidated by all those girls who had been on the Mickey Mouse Club when they were kids. I’m just now catching up, accepting my job more. My video choreographer taught me how to move in all these different ways. I’m more at ease with my body than I have ever been.

Is your booty your best asset?
Physically speaking, yes. I like it. It’s good. It’s nice to have something to hold on to. It’s just coming out of the woodwork, though, so it’s still shy. It doesn’t want too much spotlight.

Your first record, Whoa, Nelly!, sold 2 million copies; your second one, 2003’s Folklore, sold one-quarter of that. did you worry that you were washed up at 24?
I was talking to Jimmy Iovine, the boss at my new label, and he thinks that Folklore is like U2’s Pop — not quite there. I wasn’t smiling and jumping up and down anymore; I was wearing a guitar and looked serious. Four or five songs have Portuguese folk music. That’s just crazy. After Folklore, I realized I had maybe taken certain things for granted. Like, isn’t everyone’s first performance on SNL? Isn’t everyone’s first interview with Vanity Fair? Doesn’t everyone open for U2 and win a Grammy? Whoops! I should have appreciated all that stuff, especially the free clothes.

How do you feel now when you hear “I’m Like a Bird”?
I’ve heard it sung at karaoke or by cover bands, and it was awesome — I was like, wow, I’ve got one of those songs. Somebody once called it a “hairbrush song,” one that girls and guys sing in front of the mirror with their hairbrush. I just think I’m lucky I have it — it’s paying the bills!

Your flirty new single with Timbaland is called “Promiscuous.” Would you describe yourself as such?
No, although I did go through a phase when my first album came out, and I was meeting all these cool people. I’d get their phone numbers and call them. But I don’t do that anymore.

Do you usually make the first move?
I do. I’m aggressive. But now, I actually have a boyfriend. A secret boyfriend. Of eight months.

Why is he a secret?
I just don’t really talk about it. It’s nobody famous or anything.

You have a 2-year-old daughter named Nevis. Who’s her babydaddy?
Jasper. DJ Lil’ Jaz. He’s a DJ-turntablist-slash-keyboard-player-slash-producer. We broke up a year ago and were together for four years, friends for like five or six years before that. We’re fully active co-parents and really close friends, so things are irie.

Why didn’t you two ever get married? Are you not the marrying kind?
I’m kind of modern. I don’t really live by society’s standards. Maybe in the next five years I’ll get married, have more kids. One grandmother had eight kids, the other had 10. If I have that many kids, then I would need a hubby.

You’re 27, which is the age of gruesome premature rock deaths: Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison. Why do you think 27 is such a killer?
I think the rock & roll lifestyle affords you a freeway to midlife crisis, which comes 10 to 20 years earlier than it normally would. You’re dealing with the increased neurosis of becoming an adult and you’ve got to deal with your inner demons in front of everyone.

How do you exorcise your demons?
Listening to heavy, heavy rock music like System of a Down and Death From Above 1979. I love the rhythms and the loud vocals and guitars.

Is noise rock your biggest vice?
I also use these homeopathic healing oils called Bach Flower Remedies.

With a syringe, at least?
I just spray them under my tongue.

How are you stereotypically Canadian?
I’m politically correct and very nice. Canadians are known for their niceness.

Are you more hippie or hood at heart?
Hippie. I had a home birth with midwives. I’m into spirituality and reading about different religions, even Wicca. I went through a feminist phase and read a lot of philosophical stuff. Some of the male-bashing brainwashed me for a bit so I stopped. I love men!

What about the hood part?
I know how to fit in. When I was making my record with Timbaland in Miami, people would show up with briefcases of cash and say to Tim, “Give me a beat.”

Who else showed up in Miami?
Paris Hilton. [Producer] Scott Storch brought her around to meet me. She’s sweet. Girl-next-door type of vibe.

Are you looking forward to Paris’s album?
Yeah, for sure. I’ve heard it was good. She’s an underdog and I like underdogs. In high school I was friends with all the underdogs. I had my cool friends, too, but I liked to be friends with the people that nobody liked. When I met Paris, I told her, “Good luck, and you’re innocent till proven guilty in the music business.”

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