Alba Plano, the Sicilian-born songstress has been singing since her teens, and began her jazz vocal studies in her early twenties with acclaimed vocalists and professionals who then encouraged her to experiment using her voice as an instrument, leading up to her fascination with contemporary jazz. For the last two years, Plano has fronted Forever Amy, a project featuring Amy Winehouse’s original band, touring and performing in large venues throughout Europe and the UK. She has also performed backing vocals for Ninja Tune’s Jordan Rakei and has collaborated with a host of accomplished musicians.
Alba Plano’s upcoming EP, White Lotus scheduled for April 20th release, delivers a sound that will unite both loyal classic jazz and neo-soul listeners alike. With its intimate tones, simple and honest melodies combined with soulful harmonies it creates a compelling new sonic mix. The album will also feature a cast of talent including Karl Rasheed-Abel, David Mrakpor, Luca Faraone, Michael Castellanos, Joao Caetano, Julian Mazzariello and many more.
We caught up with Alba Plano on performance intimacy and recording her upcoming EP, White Lotus:
(Be sure to stream Alba Plano’s latest single ‘Out There’ below!)
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
My dad was a painter, and I was passionate about drawing. At the age of 8 I started singing naturally along to my uncle’s favourite tunes, Stevie wonder, Michael jackson, etc. In a particularly difficult moment of my family life, I found it really relaxing, like talking with someone who lets you speak for hours until you feel there’s nothing left, someone who understands the deepest part of your soul, that’s how I create my intimacy and connection with music. Although I only decided to start singing in public and professionally at the age of 24.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
The process always starts from my feelings that will naturally suggest a melody, then the lyrics.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
My new EP features many talented musicians from all over the world, mainly with a jazz and soul background.
What’s on your current playlist?
Bill Evans, Nina Simone, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jordan Rakei, Esperanza Spalding, Gretchen Parlado, Lianne la Havas, Cody Chesnutt, SBTRKT, Donny hathaway, Amy Winehouse, Tawiah, Becca Stevens, Robert Glasper, Taylor McFerrin, Thundercat, Nai Palm.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
It’s something I never think about as I am pretty outgoing and I feel like I connect with the audience in the most natural and honest way I can.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
Generally we rehearse beforehand, so we know what we want to get out of the session, on the date we record we will have a long chat, we laugh, we share what we feel we want to share, we try to keep ourselves open to help us connect while we are playing.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
When I was told off by my teacher and school friends because I’d never stop singing, and obviously when I felt I could emotionally express myself.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
Water and a glass of wine!
Any emerging artists on your radar?
Tawiah – I love her voice and the music she writes.
Frida – she is fronting a band called Native Dancer, they are warm and fresh at the same time.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Everything in life. The good and the bad, those moments that force you to be introspective, and gigs.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
My iPhone, a pen and a piece of paper, nature.
Any side projects you’re working on?
Currently I am a backing vocalist for Jordan Rakei and I am also working with Amy Winehouse’s original band.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
By doing lots of gigs, I still think it’s the only way to develop your skills and interplay with other musicians.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
I am really looking forward to recording my new material and most of all getting ready to sing around the world, hopefully in Jazz clubs and at Festivals!
Order ‘Out There’ single by Alba Plano via iTunes
For more information follow Alba Plano on Facebook