PUNE, India (Reuters) - What started as a little girl’s dream to travel around the globe in her own plane with her own classical orchestra has led to a Grammy award and three critically acclaimed albums for Imogen Heap, who will use sounds embodying Asia for her next album.
A skilled player of several instruments, the 33-year-old English singer is breaking down her upcoming fourth album into several projects with themes set in different parts of the world, she told Reuters at the recent Bacardi NH7 Weekender music festival in Pune, a city outside of Mumbai.
“Every single song in the album has its own kind of ecosystem around it,” said Heap, who was dressed in a black churidar-kameez, a traditional long tunic worn with tight trousers, with a pink dupatta shawl around her shoulders.
A do-it-yourself artist, Heap composes, arranges and produces her own music, effortlessly weaving urban dance beats and electronica with a hint of traditional song-writing, while slipping in an odd array of sounds, such as the hiss of a frying pan or the clatter of cutlery.
While in India, Heap wrote a new song with music director Vishal Dadlani for “The Dewarists,” a television show that airs on Asian channel Star World.
She has yet to name her new album, which is expected to contain roughly 12 tracks including her song with Dadlani called “Minds Without Fear.”
Other songs will be “Lifeline,” based on the tsunami that ravaged Japan earlier this year, with 900 sounds sent by Heap’s fans from around the world forming the base of the tune. Another, “Neglected Space,” is about bringing to life an old Georgian walled garden in her village.
The new album is slated to be ready by September 2012, three years after the release of “Ellipse,” her last CD which earned her a Grammy award for “Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.”
“I’m doing a song every three months, and in between I’m developing these other things, like I’ve got these magical, musical gloves ... each song is connected to a project.”
Heap worked with Thomas Mitchell from the University of the West of England to develop the hi-tech gloves that allow a performer to manipulate and control sounds live on stage.
She plans to travel to China next month to write a song tentatively titled “A Day in the Life of Hangzhou,” and expects to feature on the new album an instrumental song with sounds borrowed from a trip to Bhutan.
“It seems ridiculous to go to a country and not try to immerse musically the flavors of that space, but it’s very important to me that it doesn’t sound like that horrible ‘World Music’ word, which doesn’t mean anything anyway,” she said.
With tousled hair accentuating her towering 6-foot-tall frame, she wooed fans at the NH7 festival with hits such as “Just For Now” and “Hide And Seek” on the second day of the show, which drew in some 9,500 people.
Popular acts such as British electronic dance music duo Basement Jaxx, indie musicians King Creosote and the Pictish Trail, both from Scotland, and Indian artists such as The Raghu Dixit Project, Dualist Inquiry and Midival Punditz also played.
Heap, who performed in Delhi on Tuesday and will play in Mumbai on November 24 in the final leg of her Indian trip, said she would love to work with Oscar-winning Indian composer A.R. Rahman, but feels the most exciting collaborations are usually those with people she’s never met or heard.
“It’s just important for me to keep changing and writing new, sometimes strange stuff, and not thinking about the commercial viability of something.”
Editing by Elaine Lies and Bob Tourtellotte