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Nirvana Savoury isn’t your typical "singing chick". The self-proclaimed workaholic hails from Toronto, is of Jamaican and Chinese decent, and has a résumé that includes work with Rodney Jerkins, and Jadakiss & Sheek (of The LOX). Poised for a breakout year in 2007, Nirvana sat down with MF to discuss the ins-and-outs of being a budding figure in the oh-so-competitive music business.
Men’s Fitness: You’re of Jamaican and Chinese decent and hail from Toronto. How has your diverse upbringing governed your career? Has it made it easier to adapt to different types of music?
Nirvana: Well, coming from a dual race background… on the Asian side, my great-grandparents migrated from China to Jamaica. So everyone born after that [in my family] was born in Jamaica so we’re Asian, but we’re also very West Indian. It’s allowed me to look at things differently as far as acceptance, and understanding other races & cultures. Being exposed to a sense of being open to different cultures and backgrounds allows you to have an open mind in my craft.
MF: Coming from the diverse musical background we just discussed, who has been your biggest musical influence?
Nirvana: I’d have to give you like three (laughs), oh my God!
MF: It’s cool.
Nirvana: Faith Evans for her vocal ability… she’s a phenomenal vocalist, but for some reason hasn’t gone commercial the way that she’s supposed to be… Tina Turner, who is, hands down, the female of rock and roll, and thirdly, it’d have to be a tie between The Pointer Sisters and Donna Summer.
MF: Nobody contemporary?
Nirvana: (sighs) Yes and no. Nobody’s necessarily made me feel like I want to get up and perform. The music has definitely changed, and has now become more about the business of music as opposed to music as a business. In the 1960s and 70s, they had to go in and record every single record, whereas we’re now in the era of mass-duplication. When they performed back in the day, it was about artistry and entertaining. It’s totally different.
MF: Do you feel that people such as yourself and the "new breed" of performers who have strong influences from past generations will bring that feel back to mainstream music?
Nirvana: Absolutely! I really feel like the real performers are coming back, and I think not necessarily because they’re influenced by… see, I’m an 80’s baby, so I grew up watching Janet [Jackson], Paula Abdul. And a lot of the kids now are doing their research and learning about different samples and legends from back in the day. They’re looking at those tapes and DVDs and learning that it’s not always about a hot beat or great voice, but [also] about performing.
MF: Part of your music background includes experience in your native Toronto. How does the Canadian urban music scene differ from the United States?
Nirvana: The urban music industry in Canada is still very new. It doesn’t have the foundation that New York, or Los Angeles, at this point, has. It’s still very, very fresh; we’ve only had our urban radio station for the past five, six years. I don’t find that the grind and hunger is really there; people are a little bit too relaxed. You won’t see people standing outside urban radio handing out CDs. For the way I am and for the goals I’ve set, it’s a lot bigger than just getting on the radio or having a video on the Canadian music station [Much Music]. I’m trying to go worldwide with this.
MF: You work a lot with [multi-platinum producers] Midi Mafia, but if you could incorporate anyone into your fold to help bring your sound further, who would it be?
Nirvana: I’d love to incorporate someone like Will.I.Am, Big Boi or Andre 3000. I’d love to get with Timbaland of course, he’s just a beast! However, I have a very stable team in Midi Mafia… it’s all about vibe and understanding who I am as an artist and getting into my world and understanding what moves or doesn’t move me.
MF: What music evokes the most emotion out of you? What is your sound?
Nirvana: Hard but sexy. The beats are hard and uptempo; even if it’s a slower song, the baseline and drums are hard. And with my vocals on top, because I don’t have a crazy, powerhouse voice, it kind of brings a finesse to the record and give it that r&b sound.
MF: What’s in store for you in the near future?
Nirvana: In late January, we’re going to start showcasing, and also looking to get on a few tours as an opener. In my perfect world, I’d have my album out by July, but realistically speaking, because this is the music business, I’d like to have my single commercially released by then.
For more information on her upcoming release and show dates, visit www.myspace.com/nirvanasavoury