Catch A Groove: It seems as though you went right back to work after your debut "The Light" dropped in 09. What inspired you to record "What You See" so soon?
Deborah: I've been working on a variety of music fairly consistently these past few years really. I've been extremely lucky in having so many talented and creative producers/artists around me, wanting to collaborate, so there seems to be a fairly constant stream of music flowing my way for which I'm extremely grateful!! There's nothing like being given a new track to work on - feeling a connection to the music when you hear it for the first time and knowing you can add something to it - I really love that! So even though 'The Light' was released it made sense to keep writing and working towards the next projects. I wasn't specifically writing with the thought 'this is going to be my new album' but when tracks started coming together there was a consonance between them that seemed to suggest bringing them together in the form of an album - that's I suppose when the intent of adding to those to make a complete album came in. There was no plan or time scale set for when the next release would be but I'm glad that I've been able to follow up 'The Light' sooner rather than later - I received so much encouragement and support with 'The Light' that it feels good to be able to bring new music to those that have inspired me through their messages and energy. Catch A Groove: Not only that but you and Simon released the Sun Circle project in 2010. You have been very busy.
Deborah: Yes, indeed! That's a project very close to my heart and which I love being part of. Simon is a great producer - he also understands me musically extremely well and because of that he's able to create tracks that he knows will inspire me to write. Even though I love that album I have to say what we're currently working on is exciting me even more! Simon has surpassed himself in my opinion, creating even more beautiful tracks for the second album. We both feel this album is going to truly express what Sun Circle is about. I think we feed off each other well so there's a natural, organic nature to the project which means it's just a joy to work on - no pressure or demands, just making a record we feel represents us to the best of our ability and hopefully reaches the soul of the listener in the same way that we expressed ours in the making. We wanted to bring all our influences together and let them speak through this project.
Catch A Groove: One of my favorite tracks is the title track of the new record "What You See". What is the inspiration behind that record?
Deborah: That track in fact has an unusual creative process behind it in that it started with one producer and finished with another! I'd written the lyric/vocal to a track I'd been sent, but through the wonders of modern technology the original track was lost. Feeling there was still something there to be explored I gave the vocals to another producer, with the blessing of the first of course, to bring the track back to life, and he certainly did that!! He captured the spirit of the track completely without even hearing the original. As for the lyric, I think we're all so used to getting caught up in the superficial and being duped that it's good to be reminded to look deeper into things, go beyond the superficial to see what's real in any given situation. We also forget the fact that there's always perspective - sometimes it's good to see things from another viewpoint and sometimes you have to know when to trust yourself and know that what you see and feel is your reality. Sometimes people give away far more of themselves when they in fact think they're hiding behind a mask they feel comfortable with.
Catch A Groove: Another favorite is "Lullaby", which is produced by Kira Neris. His productions have an atmospheric jazz influenced quality. How was it like working with him?
Deborah: From the moment I heard Kira Neris's music I wanted to sing on one of his productions precisely because of his ability to evoke atmosphere and take you on a journey through his own unique style. It was so fresh when I heard it - you can hear his artistry in creating something original from a vast catalogue of samples and sounds, and he's completely passionate about music which is something that connects so many of us. He knew music I'd been involved with and was just as excited at the thought of collaborating on a track and so set to work on creating what became 'Lullaby' specifically for me. I couldn't believe it when I first heard it and was more than a little terrified wondering what on earth I was going to be able to write to such a beautiful and complete arrangement already. But then I started getting ideas and it just kept growing, evolving, getting bigger and bigger. I have to say it's probably the vocal arrangement that I'm most proud of to date. He's an extremely talented producer and I feel blessed to have been able to work on such a special piece of music with him.
Catch A Groove: Whether it is Simon S, Marc Rapson or Emanative, the futuristica sound feels like an amalgamation of soul and jazz. What makes the chemistry between everyone work so well?
Deborah: I think first and foremost we are all completely and utterly passionate about good music. We have a wide range of influences and tastes but there's a lot of common ground between us all and the music we appreciate, so that's a great starting point, being able to reference things and know that everyone understands what you're trying to say. Also, we have a lot of respect for each other as both artists and people, so working together is always an enjoyable experience because we're all there with the aim to achieve one thing - make a great piece of music. I think because we understand each other on so many levels it takes the music to a deeper level and because we put heart and soul into the creation of it I think that comes across to the listener which is how they then feel it and the energy between us. Catch A Groove: You're featured on "The Cusp" by Robert Mitchell's Panacea, as well as his previous record "Trust". How did the two of you come to forge such a solid collaboration?
Deborah: Robert and I go way back! We were actually at University together although a year apart. That's how we met, but we didn't really make much music together back then. The musical collaboration came into being after I went to see his band Panacea perform the launch of the first album 'Voyager', many years later. I'd been involved in a near fatal car accident and was recovering from that when I turned up back stage to say hello to Robert after a few years of not seeing each other. It was quite a shock I can tell you! We reconnected and a few months later, when he needed a new vocalist, I was invited to join the band - that's now 10 years ago! Panacea is a very unique musical animal. Robert's writing is exquisite and endlessly challenging so every chance to play with the band is a learning experience. I've grown so much being part of this band so I'm eternally grateful to Robert for having had faith in me to deliver, as when I joined the band it was completely unknown territory to me! Even 10 years on it's still unknown territory as Robert really is a master of his instrument and someone who likes to push boundaries in every way. Much as with the other people you've mentioned I think there's a wonderful chemistry between Robert and I, especially when we're performing the intimate duo pieces on the album. There's a lot of trust there - and I'm glad to say there's also a great friendship having known each other for so long. I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for him and hope that he'll get the recognition he deserves as a uniquely talented artist.
Catch A Groove: You also found time to record a song with Live Tropical Fish, tell me about the song “Believe”?
Deborah: Working with the Live Tropical Fish has been a complete joy!! They are wonderful people based in Bologna, the town in Italy in which my mother was born, so they're kind of responsible for taking me back home and are like my long lost brothers! We in fact collaborated on 3 tracks for their album 'The Day Is Too Short To Be Selfish'. They're heavily influenced by funk, acid jazz and afrobeat, again are incredibly passionate about music and they connected with a stellar line-up of guests (Alison Crockett, Omar, Laurnea, April Hill to mention a few) for the project so it was an honour to be involved. They contacted me asking me to be involved and were happy to trust me, giving me a brief of what the song represented to them but leaving me to write what I felt appropriate with that in mind to their music. Again, as with the others, we just gelled so working with them has been beautifully easy. We're hoping to tour the album more this year as we have a lot of fun live!! Catch A Groove: Who are some of your inspirations?
Deborah: There are far too many!! Musically speaking especially. If you look at the record collection there's a wide range of music - most genres are represented. From my classical background as a flautist and singing with a symphony choir there's a love of classical music - Satie, Debussy, Arvo Part, Steve Reich but especially Mozart who has to have been probably the best composer for the soprano voice. Vocally, Ella Fitzgerald has always been one of my most admired artists as she had it all - tone, timing, phrasing, feel and technicality. Sarah Vaughn also has it all with a range that beggars belief. I grew up listening to old school soul thanks to my father who sounded just like Scott Walker when he sang, therefore soul has always been a huge influence without my making a conscious decision to 'try to sing soul'. There are so many great soul singers that to name just a few seems to deny so many legends - but Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathway, Stevie Wonder, Minnie Riperton, Anita Baker, Tammi Terrell, Leroy Hutson, Earth Wind and Fire have all been constants in my life. Kate Bush, Bjork and Joni Mitchell are also favourites that I admire infinitely for their complete artistry - not only do they have sublime voices that express their character completely, they also write the most poetic and evocative lyrics. I'm always in awe listening to their albums. There's also an Italian singer that has been a great teacher through her recordings - the incomparable Mina. She's been making music since the late 50's, still does to this day and is a legendary figure in Italian music. She's an emotional artist, you hear her every fibre in every note she sings - I love that! I was brave enough to sing one of her songs a capella at a Silhouette Brown gig in Rome a few years ago and the audience reaction will stay with me for ever - it was so beautiful! Bill Evans has become an obsession of mine! I've been listening to him constantly in recent years and just becoming more and more immersed in the beauty of his playing and phrasing.
Catch A Groove: Is there anyone you would like to work with?
Deborah: There are so many amazing musicians I'd love to work with! Mina for sure - that would be a dream. I'd love to record with Ed Motta also - we've met and he's a beautiful spirit and we keep threatening to make it happen so hopefully we will. Bjork or Kate Bush would be out of this world. I also greatly admire Billy Childs so to work with his ensemble would be fascinating. But then again I'd also love to get a mix tape of beats from Madlib!! But in all honesty I feel extremely blessed to be working with the people I actually am working with currently, so to work with anyone else would just be an added blessing, as corny as that may sound!
Catch A Groove: I absolutely love the record "I Know You", which mirrors Patrice Rushen's "The Dream". Have you always been an admirer of that song? It sounds tailor made for you.
Deborah: I think Patrice is a hugely underrated artist. Her early jazz influenced albums are pure works of art whilst her more commercially known albums show her soul/funk/pop side beautifully. She's a phenomenal player but also has one of those instantly recognisable voices. When the producer played me the track I didn't know it was based on her work so I came to it without her melody in my head which I'm now grateful for, as having heard the original I'm not sure I would have been able to write to it otherwise. But when I heard the track it invoked ideas immediately and I did feel pretty strongly that I HAD to sing that track! It did just seem a perfect fit.....I was concerned that people who knew her track might not appreciate me writing new vocals to it, but the feedback has been truly heartwarming and I think people realise it was done with and out of respect and appreciation for the music.
Catch A Groove: What else is in store for you in 2011?
Deborah: Where to begin!! I'm working on lots as usual. There's the second Sun Circle album that we mentioned earlier which I'm really excited about. I'm contributing the to second Marc Rapson EP - his first 'Dark vs Light' was beautiful. I'm working on an EP with another fabulous young London-based producer by the name of K15. And I'm extremely excited about working with US producer Ty Macklin on an album project. He contributed a great remix of 'Slipping Away' to the last album and again there's just a beautiful energetic connection between us that I think will make for good music. There's lots more too but I have to keep some secrets!!
Catch A Groove: That’s great! I look forward to more timeless music from you. All the best!!
Deborah: Thanks Reg - it's been a pleasure. Thanks for all the support and for inspiring me to keep making music.
Deborah Jordan latest lp "What You See" is out now on Futuristica records.