Toujours Sabina Sciubba
- 2Viva L'Amour03:05
- 3Long Distance Love03:59
- 4Mystery River03:22
- 5The Sun (feat. Adanowsky)03:19
- 6Non Mi Aspettare03:55
- 9Sailor's Daughter04:01
- 10Fields of Snow03:25
- 11I Won't Let You Break Me03:34
- 12Going Home04:51
Info for Toujours
The singer of avant-garde electro-punk outfit Brazilian Girls, Sabina Sciubba is a multi-lingual artist whose music transcends both space and time. Across no less than five different languages, her straight talking debut solo album Toujours is a compelling, intimate, narcotic dreamscape you might call The Parisienne Velvet Underground and Nico, with a surprising sense of humour.
'I photographed myself naked, sitting on a closet, like a French dresser,' she laughs describing the DIY semi-animated video for the album's title-track. Paying homage to Pythonesque surrealism it sees Sciubba riding a donkey whilst playing a ukulele, wearing nothing but a smile. 'The actual photos are ridiculous. My older son was looking at me like, 'oh no, she's lost it'.'
Equally adept at casting opinion as well as writing songs, Sciubba is a modern day heroine, skilled in the art of elegant seduction. Cut from the same rebellious cloth as other uncompromising femme fatales Patti Smith or Madonna, whilst channelling the visual impact of Grace Jones and Bjork (one billowing outfit appeared to be a ventilation shaft, made of crepe), she is a fearless woman, whose passion for speaking her mind - in German, Italian, French, Spanish, and English - only enhances her sophisticated lo-fi pop music.
Born in Rome to German and Italian parents, raised in Munich and Nice, and discovered in Hamburg at age 19 by virtuoso guitarist Antonio Foricone before relocating to New York to lend her stunningly sultry vocals to Brazilian Girls (incidentally one girl - Sciubba - and no Brazilians), the new album was written on guitars in Paris and has found Sciubba reunited with Brazilian Girls producer Frederick Rubens.
Altogether Toujours is New York new-wave carousing with Serge Gainsbourg, an art-punk, Marlene Dietrich hypnotising the hobos in a Weimar Republic dive-bar. Casting a lingering sideways glance at contemporary life, opening track ‘Cinema' laments cultural decline, likening the fall of movies to 'an old whore who has lost her charms' whilst it's easy to get lost in the meandering low-slung vocals and stripped back guitar of stoner melody ‘The Sun'. Elsewhere the brooding, gallows-funny ‘Fields Of Snow' is a love story set against austerity - a nod towards France's painful government cuts and an online world forcing a creative generation to give art for free.
'It's terrible,' she despairs. 'My circle of friends and I live in an upper scale neighbourhood - everybody is broke. And they don't admit it! I'm not starving but compared to five, eight years ago I definitely have much less money.'
Therein lays the beauty of Toujours. Via the quirky cinematic style of Ennio Morricone and a classic voice mirroring Edith Piaf, regardless of language barriers, you always know what's implied: take her view on the internet - it is, she posits, a primal problem no-one could have foreseen; 'The human reaction to movement and light is that you look at it,' she notes. 'The internet is the same: there's no way you can't look, it's so tempting. We should speak together, make music together, and learn instruments. My children, it's impossible to keep them away from YouTube. I was considering terrorism!'
Whilst Brazilian Girls was successful in shaking hips across American and European dance floors, Sciubba's solo project allows a moment to step back and truly appreciate the vocals of this unique and special artist. An old-school maverick spirit, Sciubba is a lifelong musical obsessive who, as a child, wanted 'to marry Michael Jackson', before veering off into left-field jazz, Billie Holliday and global underground electro-pop. 'I'm so extreme in my personality, I go very much all the way with what I like, until I overdose,' she notes, rather tantalisingly.
Today she remains uncompromising, 'too idealistic', maintaining her originality in the face of a traumatised, risk-averse music industry. For her, it's all about creative freedom - something she is set to unleash when she hits the road touring across Europe with a full band in tow throughout 2014.
'nonchalant, elusive, sophisticated and resolutely hedonistic music that connects the Velvet Underground and Talking Heads…charming' (The New York Times)
'An effervescent, boho mix of elegantly mutold dance-pop and post-punk art-moods recorded in Paris...a thread of seafaring intrigue running throughout' (MOJO Magazine)
Sabina, vocals, guitars, organ
Frederik Rubens, electric bass, keyboard
Cbasa Palotai, electric guitar
Roch Havet, Fender rhodes
Clement Amirault, trombone
Valentin Meylan, trumpet
Albert Levsink, trumpet
Aaron Johnston, drums
Patrick Goraguer, drums
Produced and recorded by Frederik Rubens and Sabina at Akirira and Davout
Studios Mastered by Ue Nastasi at Sterling Sound, New York
celebrated femme fatale, has a lifelong connection to Naim Label. In 1994, aged 19, the stunningly sultry vocalist was discovered in Hamburg by Naim's virtuoso guitarist Antonio Forcione. Their resulting collaboration, Meet Me In London (1998), is an audiophile classic and the best-selling album in the label's history. So began Sciubba's singular career, soon living in New York fronting the Brazilian Girls (signed to U.S jazz label Verve in 2003), a sort of avant-garde electro-punk Scissor Sisters featuring one girl (Sciubba) and no Brazilians. Sciubba was (and remains) both a vocal and visual enigma, singing in four languages (English, German, French, Italian), forever covering her eyes with conceptual hair and wearing outfits Lady Gaga would approve of (one billowing frock appeared to be a ventilation shaft, made of crepe). Today, after a move to Paris in 2009, a soon-to-end band hiatus and the birth of her two children, she finally comes home, back to Naim Label with her debut solo album, Toujours, a compelling, intimate, narcotic dreamscape you might call The Parisienne Velvet Underground and Nico, with jokes.
"I haven't listened enormously to the Velvet Underground but it's a good soundtrack for real life," she purrs, in her low-slung, pan-European accent, a truly global citizen born in Rome, raised in Munich and Nice. "I wanted something for a more contemplative audience. Sometimes with Brazilian Girls I think, 'I want people to hear my voice but they're dancing and screaming!'" Toujours, written on guitars in Paris and produced by Brazilian Girls' producer Frederick Rubens, is New York new-wave carousing with Serge Gainsbourg, an art-punk, multi-lingual, Marlene Dietrich hypnotising the hobos in a Weimar Republic dive-bar. A lingering side-ways glance at contemporary life, opening track Cinema laments cultural decline, likening the fall of movies to "an old whore who has lost her charms". On Toujours, meanwhile, she decides "we might as well be happy", the song's DIY, semi-animated video a homage to Pythonesque surrealism, Sciubba on a donkey, playing a ukulele, a star around her head, wearing nothing but a goofy smile. This is not what we expect from a femme fatale and partly a rejection of today's sexually aggressive, physically "perfect" pop sirens.
"Yes, because I find it all ridiculous," she snorts. "I wanted no make-up and no photoshopping. Well, I did take a bit off my belly because I had just delivered a child - don't tell anybody! - but I found it refreshing, 'I don't give a shit, this is how I look, boom, take it or leave it'." It took seven months of experimentation, "getting the donkey to walk took three weeks", the original idea "a parody of an archetypal Messiah image". To get to that point took a less theological image.
"I photographed myself naked, sitting on a closet, like a French dresser," she laughs. "The actual photos are ridiculous. My older son was looking at me like, 'oh no, she's lost it'."
Sciubba, 38, is an old-school maverick spirit, a lifelong musical obsessive who, as a child, wanted "to marry Michael Jackson", before veering off into left-field jazz, Billie Holliday and global underground electro-pop. "I'm so extreme in my personality, I go very much all the way with what I like, until I overdose," she notes, rather tantalisingly. Today she remains uncompromising, "too idealistic", maintaining her originality in the face of a traumatised, risk-averse music industry. She came home to Naim for a reason: creative freedom.
"Most record companies definitely vote for safety over taste, personal taste even," she laments. "It's to do with corporate structure: people who make decisions don't even listen to music, they look at numbers and cross people off lists who don't make money. But that's true for everything." On the brooding, gallows-funny Fields Of Snow she opines, dramatically, "and now we have no money!", a love story set against austerity. In France, she notes, government cuts are "painful", taxes "hardcore", while a creative generation struggles in our online world of give-us-your-art-for-free. "It's terrible," she despairs. "In my circle of friends - and I live in an upper scale neighbourhood - everybody is broke. And they don't admit it! I'm not starving but compared to five, eight years ago I definitely have much less money."
The internet, she adds, while good for artistic autonomy, is hopeless for reality.
"Personally, because of the way it affects our daily lives, I would just like to blow up the whole internet system," she announces, becoming more radical by the second. "Everyone is always on their cellphones and computers and I find it absolutely horrible. People don't even see each other anymore, it's all on bloody Facebook."
It is, she posits, a primal problem no-one could have foreseen: we're hard-wired to instantly respond to alerting lights.
"The human reaction to movement and light is you look at it," she notes. "Otherwise there would be flashing danger and we wouldn't turn around. The internet is the same: there's no way somebody can not look, it's so tempting. It's made to be that way, not by evil spirits, by people who genuinely think it's great but at the same time we should speak together, make music together, learn instruments. My children, it's impossible to keep them away from YouTube. I was considering terrorism!"
Spoken like a true Parisienne. In 2014, meanwhile, before the Brazilian Girls return, she'll take Toujours on the road, touring the great European capitals with a band. Can we expect an appearance from a donkey?
"Touring with a donkey is unfortunately very expensive," she smiles. "Maybe I'll project one onto one of my bandmates!"
That's the spirit. Welcome home...• Toujours is scheduled for release through Naim Edge records in March 2014.
This album contains no booklet.