, - on 1/5/12
We, at Pulse, previously dubbed Fatima one of the UK’s most underrated vocal talents, and to some extent this still rings true. However, with her list of recent collaborators including Guilty Simpson and DâM-FunK, it’s clear that she’s beginning to gain some well-deserved recognition across the globe. Having been a fundamental part of the tight-knit Eglo Records family from the outset, the Stockholm native first made waves in London circles when her distinctive vocals surfaced on tunes such as ‘Innervisions’, ‘Mind’ and ‘Soul Glo’. This summer will see Fatima release a new three-track record with label-mate FunkinEven; the follow-up to last year’s ‘Yellow Sound’ EP. Ray Murphy caught up with the Swedish soulstress just after Eglo’s third birthday to discuss Sweden's music scene, Redbull Music Academy and DâM-FunK.
How did you get started as a musician in Sweden and what made you decide to leave for London? I started singing in the school choirs in Stockholm and before that I just used to write songs in my own home, like most kids. That kind of led to me starting music school in my teens, then joining bands and doing backing vocals etc. I went to London [in early 2000s] with a friend, just for one weekend . I liked the vibe in London so much and always thought to myself that I'd like to come back. One of my best friends decided [in 2006] that she wanted to move to the UK to study, so I thought I might as well just move too because I just felt a bit bored. I love Stockholm, but it's just quite small. I felt like I wanted to experience London a bit more in-depth, as I needed some new inspiration.
Is Sweden a good place to build a music career, generally, and would it have been a decent setting for you to have nurtured your talent, if you had decided to stay? There's definitely a lot of music happening all over Sweden and there's a lot of bands that 'make it', worldwide. Obviously, a lot of the music is in English, but it connects with and is open to, American audiences. It's not impossible [to launch a music career], but it does depend on what kind of music you're into i.e if it's represented and what clubs you like going to etc. I felt that as soon as I experienced other spots like London, I realised I needed new music, faces and surroundings. There are not as many different opportunities in Stockholm as there are in London, just because it's such a big place.
What local music did you grow up with? There's an old Swedish Jazz singer called Monica Zetterlund who sang so beautifully - I love her! There was also a singer called Kaah, who I ended up doing backing vocals for. And then Neneh Cherry - she's the pride of Sweden! You gotta love Neneh Cherry, come on man! But I didn't just grow up with Swedish music; I grew up on a lot of [US] hip-hop. I used to go to battle nights with local MCs, like Petter. It was a little mix of everything: Busta Rhymes, Mobb Deep, The Fugees etc. When I was young, like 11 or 12, 'Fu-Gee-La' and all that stuff was going around. But, I never had an older brother or big sister to introduce me to the hip-hop I discovered later.
When you arrived in England, who were the main people who helped get your career off the ground? I used to see Alexander Nut around town, as we went to similar nights. But then I met him in a Soho club, and he dropped me a promo mix CD he made called 'We love radio'. I really liked the selection, so I contacted him. He invited me to his show on Rinse FM where I did a little freestyle and sang my own songs.Then, I was looking for a place to stay because I had to move house. He and his flatmate were looking for someone to live with, so I ended up moving in with them. Eventually, when the time came for Alex and Floating Points to start Eglo Records, they were asking me if I wanted to be part of their label. FunkinEven and Plastic People [were also important] too.
How did your show at Eglo's 3rd birthday in Fabric go? I performed with the Eglo live band - it was me, alongside Olivier Daysoul, and a setting of bass, drums and keys. A pretty simple setting, but it was cool and it was our first show with those players. We had Dj Andrés from Detroit playing, FunkinEven, Arp 101, plus Alexander Nut and Floating Points who both did their live thing. Floating Points brought down a load of his equipment from his studio too – his Rhodes, live synths, crazy drum machines etc... it was wires all over the place! He's proper deep into his neuroscience PHD [at the moment], so when he's not in the music lab he's in the real lab!
You and Floating Points seem to have worked on a number of projects together. Why do you think you are such a good pair, musically? I guess we just connect on a musical level which I can't really describe, because it's hard to put a finger on it. But, when we find the right sounds, we compliment each other well, I suppose. I enjoy his compositions and he's pretty versatile. Some of his sounds might not be my style and the same goes for some of my ideas. When we manage to meet in the middle – which can just be him finding the right sound on his synth – it can inspire an idea for a melody for me. So I think we just share the same love for it.
Keeping the idea of compromise in mind, what was the process behind creating 'Innervision'? Was it your idea to make a drumless track, so that it would sit better with your vocals? We had been trying to come up with the right sound, then we found one that was beautiful. I thought that it didn't need any drums on it or anything else, because it just made sense the way it was; it didn't need to be overproduced. The vibe of the sound was to connect with your “inner thoughts”, and it's also a bit melancholic. I didn't really analyse it at the time, but for some reason I thought that it didn't need anything else. We both thought the tune carried itself without drums, even though it's very simplistic. Sometimes, if you find the right sample or the right key, the song can write itself. But it doesn't always happen just like that.
When looking at the list of other artists you've collaborated with – ranging from from Ras G to Hudson Mohawke – I think it's fair to say that you're extremely versatile in your own right. Does the individual style of each producer you work with, have a significant impact on your songwriting? You get a different vibe from different tunes, and if a producer comes with something completely contrasting, then yeah, that might inspire you. I worked with DâM-FunK who produced a tune on my first EP - he's super dope! I love his style and his sound. He's definitely one of the coolest cats I've ever met and he's a true gentleman as well as an OG. I stayed with DâM and Shafiq Husayn in LA last summer. Shafiq is an inspiration to me. He's a real deep thinker and it's really inspiring to be around people like that, who open your mind to a lot of things. I'm going back to LA in June to work on some other things, so we've got some stuff that's not yet for the world to hear! There's a guy called Knxwledge whose music I also love. He's a dope beat-maker who makes a lot of hip-hop and he's got a really good ear for samples. I've recorded some little ideas, so hopefully I can work with him again.
Some people see a mutual appreciation and a real connection between the music that's coming out the UK at the moment, and the output from LA. Having spent a lot of time on the West Coast, do you agree? I guess it's just because they [all] make some next level instrumental sh*t that no-one can put a name on. It's just a lot of inspirational people – people like Samiyam who's from Michigan, via Detroit. There's a lot of dope people on Brainfeeder too and maybe they've inspired a people in the UK [and vice versa]. I think it's just inspiration across the waters. It's amazing to see someone like Flying Lotus grow over the years. I met him on his first visit to London, when he did an in-store [dj set] at a record shop in Soho. He's taking it to the next level, because he's not just sticking to making beats – he's doing a lot of live stuff as well. Thundercat is dope too.
Are there any artists that you'd like to work with in the future? I'd like to work with Madlib, Missy Elliot, Prince or George Clinton!! I just want to work with someone who makes something soulful or something you can really feel. For example, I met a producer in the Jazz Cafe a few months ago called Georgia Anne Muldrow – she makes sick beats! I just love funky, raw, dirty sounds. I'll jump on anything that I can feel in my heart.
Can you tell us about your time at Red Bull Music Academy, back in (2008)? It was really good: Barcelona is one of my favourite cities. You get two weeks in a completely different country, get flown there for free and have access to studios as well as 29 other participants. There's no pressure, just freedom to work on collaborations and mess about. Then you go to lectures when you hear that certain people are being flown in. I saw Bun B form UGK who was really interesting, and Sly and Robbie. It was a cool meeting spot to get inspired. You might get introduced to, say, a singer from Mexico, or a beat-maker from Japan. It was a really nice time with a lot of nice people, that's where I met Teebs, who's now one of my good friends!
Are you working on an album at the moment? Yes, I've just started it. I can't say too much because I don't want anyone to get disappointed if anything falls through. But I've got some dope people who want to get involved. Floating Points and I have started to work on some stuff from, let's say, a sunny part of the globe... I want to finish it as soon as possible, but I also don't want to stress it. I know from that past that there's no point [in doing that]. Basically, you want to get it out there when you feel like you've found the right sounds. My album is precious, so I don't just want to throw anything together for the sake of it – I want to be really happy with it and bring out the best [record] for everyone to hear. At least the ball has started to roll, as we're now working on some stuff in the studio.
FunkinEven and I have an EP that just got mastered a few months ago. It has three tunes on it and should be out in the beginning of the summer on Eglo, so that's the next thing.
Will you be touring during the rest of the year? Yes, we'll be going to Croatia for Dimensions Festival, Soundwave and Garden Festival (where we'll have the live band). We're also at Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Festival (France). I played there the other year and really liked the vibe. Where it's situated, by the [Theatre De La Mer] amphitheatre and the pier, it's just visually stunning!
FATIMA TOUR DATES:
18/5/12 – EGLO AT TWISTED PEPPER, DUBLIN
5/7/12 – EGLO @ WORLDWIDE FESTIVAL, FRANCE
8/7/12 – GARDEN FESTIVAL, CROATIA
20/7/12 – EGLO AT SOUNDWAVE, CROATIA
6/9/12 – EGLO STAGE AT DIMENSIONS FESTIVAL, CROATIA
12 – 14/9/12 – EGLO GERMANY TOUR
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