Slow Down for Imany
She has a velvet vibrant dusky voice. Whether she sings in French or in English, no one can resist the magnetic charm of Imany, the new musical sensation on the French scene. Meet her on her Indian tour, starting on the 14th of March in Mumbai for the festival Bonjour India 2013.
Imany, you have had a career as an international model before becoming a singer. What made you change your profession?
As you may know, the span of a model career is very short. By the age of 28 I was already “old” in the industry. The decision came after 9/11. I was in New-York. There was a real crisis like situation for many professions. I had to start juggling many odd jobs to make the ends meet. I always loved singing so I thought: “if you have to struggle, you might as well do it in a field that you love”. So I just decided to do it. Since I signed with my production house I did not even look back.
You mentioned in many interviews that your voice was a problem for you as a teenager. Have you accepted your voice today?
Actually I accept it much better today but it is still a bit of a complex. When I was in France people used to say: “Oh! You have such a rough voice!” I was very ashamed. But when I moved to New-York at the age of 20, men used to tell me how they founded it sexy… I started thinking my voice is actually just atypical. Today I live with it, it is part of me, I am accepting it. And singing has also changed me. There is almost a mystical feeling when I sing, I don’t sing to listen to my own voice which I still hate sometimes when I listen to some records.
You write and sing in English and French. How do you decide which songs or texts to adapt to any of these languages?
I actually don’t work like that. I start writing from a melody, a tune on my guitar or a word, be it in French or in English. I work around it; usually I retain only the first word or idea, because that one never comes by chance. And languages just come naturally; there is no reflection behind it. Sometimes I start writing about a love story and then I realize the song is taking a total different direction.
You also sing in Comorian on your album…
I understand Comorian as my parents are from the Comoros. I understand the language but can’t speak it too well, so my parents actually helped me with a couple of songs. I have been to the Comoros for holidays but I grew up in France. I was raised with values from both Comorian and French culture, and I lived for many years in the USA. I think I draw my strength from my multiple identities…
Is this your first trip to India? Do you know a little bit about the Indian culture?
Actually this is a dream coming true. I have always been a big fan of Indian Bollywood movies, the old school ones, because in the Comoros, there is a tradition to watch Indian movies, probably it has been in the local culture forever, long time before the rest of the world heard about Bollywood. I am really looking forward to visiting the country, even if the tour is going to be quite hectic.
What are your future projects after this tour?
I did not expect such a success with the first album so now I have to work even harder to make an even better second album, because this is what people are going to expect. I also have some projects with other musicians from my label and propositions also coming from the music film industry in France.
Voici trois ans une jeune inconnue débarque à Paris. Dans ses bagages : quelques vêtements, un book photos et une maquette auto produite sur laquelle figure une demi douzaine de chansons originales. Elle vient de passer sept ans à New York à bosser comme mannequin. Fatiguée de « faire le cintre », elle est décidée à tenter sa chance dans la musique. Avec l’aide de sa soeur Fatou, elle parvient à convaincre les programmateurs de plusieurs lieux parisiens. Au fil des mois, du Beau Lounge au Réservoir, de la Bellevilloise au China Club, elle « grandit en public » comme on dit, prend confiance en elle, installe un buzz qui, via internet, se répand dans la capitale, puis au delà. Et surtout, affirme un style personnel. Sa voix un peu rauque promenant une mélancolie mise à nu sur un folk chaloupé rappelle la Tracy Chapman des débuts. Quant à sa silhouette élancée et à son port de tête princier, ils ravivent la chromo d’une Billie Holiday sur la scène du Café Society, une orchidée dans les cheveux. En somme, Imany conjugue à ravir sobriété et glamour.
Réalisé par As’ (Grace, Wasis Diop) pour le label Thinkzik, l’album Shape of a Broken Heart propose 12 chansons en anglais révélant une interprète à part entière, au timbre vocal original, d’une texture sensuelle où semblent se mélanger le corsé du gingembre et la douceur du miel. S’y dessine le portrait intime d’une femme libre, d’une affranchie, qui fait de chaque émotion une offrande et gage d’une intransigeante sincérité. Dans cette collection d’instants captivants, elle trouve le ton et les mots pour dévoiler une vérité profonde, dire la détresse, la colère, le désir, remonter à la source, aux espoirs comme aux blessures.