R&B music has slowly but surely been making its way back into the limelight of late, with a number of great voices working to bring the genre back to its purest form.
One of those changing the R&B game is 21-year-old Fabienne, who’s now attached to the Raffertie run label Super Recordings. Relatively new to the scene, the LIPA graduate and Bradford native has already impressed, bringing her soulful vocals to the masses through tracks such as ‘Taxi’ and ‘Smokescreen’, as well as showing off her appreciation for her idols by covering Kanye West’s ‘Slow Jamz.’
Best Fit recently caught up with the rising artist to learn about jazz roots, her thoughts on the fame of One Direction and when we should expect to hear an album from the young artist.
You’re a fan of Kanye, Jay Z and J Dilla. What was the first hip-hop song that you remember listening to?
My Dad loves The Pharcyde so I reckon it was either ‘Passin’ Me By’ or ‘Runnin’. But my most distinct memory was hearing Kanye, ‘Through the Wire’ and falling head over heels in love…
Although you’re a big hip hop fan, your music a is smoother and leans towards a jazz sound. Ever thought about becoming a rapper instead of a singer?
My friends would find that so funny – when I’m drunk, I honestly reckon I’m Biggie! I rap/shout along to hip hop tunes really badly and sound dead northern so for everyones sake I’m going to stick to singing for now.
How did you get into music?
I really can’t pin point a moment, I never really thought of myself as a singer when I was younger or anything, but I have always sung. When I was about 14 I went through a really awkward phase where I didn’t really fit in with any kind of scene at school, I think ’cause everything I love is a bit before my time… I didn’t really connect with anything on the radio so I started trying to write my own stuff just to see if it would sound any good. I became really obsessed with old soul stuff like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin so I applied to do my work experience at Atlantic Records in NYC when I was 15 and God knows why, but they let me intern for the summer. Then I just started to dig my heels into the live scene out there – only open mic and that – but I became obsessed with the feeling when I was singing live, then when I got back home I just wanted to write more and more.
You’re only 21 but your music sounds a lot more mature. What inspires your songwriting?
To be honest I always think my writing is pretty immature! Mainly because I tend to write in a pretty conversational way and I can only really write about what I know or what I think… it doesn’t always paint me in the best light, but I want to always be honest. That’s what inspires me really, just proper honesty and sincerity. There’s things I don’t think I could ever say out loud but I can put it in a song no problem, It can come across as pretty blunt, maybe it’s the northern girl in me…
You’ve been compared to the likes of Amy Winehouse, The Weeknd and even label-mates AlunaGeorge. How do you feel about being compared to some big names at this point in your career?
Completely and utterly flattered! To one day be respected as much as any of those artists would be pretty special.
You’ve been working with the songwriter Fred Cox – how has working with him been?
Working with Fred has been great. It’s amazing to work with someone that just gets it. I know I sound like an idiot when I say that, but he really does. I really believe he’s a genius in the making so just to be a small part of his career so early on is pretty sick times for me!
What is the song ‘Smokescreen’ about?
‘Smokescreen’ is about someone I think I really did love very much, but we both did stupid things that made it hard for either of us to see the line of what’s acceptable and what’s not in a relationship. It just felt like there was smoke or mist between us constantly clouding our judgement of each other. It was quite sad to be so young but in a relationship where you felt so lonely.
And what’s the story behind your track ‘Taxi’?
‘Taxi’ is about my friend’s ex! He used to hate it when all the girls would go out so we gave him the nickname ‘Paranoid Pete’. He’d try and dictate what she could and couldn’t wear or where she could go, and we thought it was hilarious that he thought she’d listen, she’d just put on her sexiest dress and wind him up doing everything he hated and taking loads of pictures. They usually ended up being the best nights out to be honest, so we have a lot to thank Paranoid Pete for!
I’ve read you’re from Bradford and now you’re living in London. What are the things you miss about your hometown?
The main thing is really good fish and chips! I’m on a quest to find the best ones in london!
There are a lot of well-known people who are from Bradford, but one of the more recent exports is Zayn from One Direction. How would you feel if you had the same fame that he has at the moment?
Probably really badly! Those boys got thrown in at the deep end and I’d prefer something that grew a bit more organically, but I dunno, I try and take things as they come. My Mum and my Nan would keep me in check though, most definitely, money burns a hole in my pocket big time so my Mum would try and hide it all from me…
You performed at Wireless. How was that experience?
I can’t believe I was asked! It was my first time singing these songs live for anyone so I’ve got the bug now 100%. It’s performing live that I’m really excited about, there’s nothing better than live music. Im addicted to the feeling, so hopefully I can use that as my spring board and spend the rest of the year gigging more and more.
When you put your name into Google, another Fabienne pops up – a singer from Australia – what do you think sets you apart from other female singers?
I don’t even think about that to be honest. I just am what feels natural to me. It would probably set me apart more if I only wore dog chains and sung about Pugs but I’d feel like an idiot. So I’ll just stick to singing about the shit that happens in my life and I’m cool with that.
What your plans for the summer? The rest of 2013?
I don’t even know whats happening tomorrow. The only thing I’m sure of is more songs. More gigs.
When will be getting an album/EP?
Hopefully in the not too distant future, but just like anything, I prefer to try and do it when it feels natural and the time is right.