Singer-songwriter Lucia Cadotsch recently released the album, Speak Low (the first under her own name), which looks back at the past and honors classic songs by the greats like Billie Holliday and Nina Simone. Now Cadotsch is prepping to deliver Speak Low Renditions on April 27th, an album that focuses on the present moment with the involvement of her artistic contemporaries. In the following interview, Cadotsch explains her creative process, collaborating with others, and what’s next.
Hello Lucia! Can you please explain who the Speak Low trio is? Legend has it that the very first time that you all met and played together, something really magical happened…
The legend says that there was a prince called Otis Redding… I once had a dream about that prince. The next morning I called up Otis – Sandsjö – to ask him if he would come play some traditionals together with Frans Petter, the knight of mother-bass-land. The idea of playing those great tunes was fucking scary for all us, but with the first note, the volcano exploded and the lava was flowing – and it’s still flowing….
So you wouldn’t have been able to record Speak Low without them?
No. And that’s the beauty of this record. It’s about us three getting together and creating something that we haven’t heard before.
The record is filled with classics – songs that I think a lot of vocalists would be intimidated by. Why did you decide to start there?
Well, I’ve done lots of other things before, like writing my own music. With Speak Low, my 5th record and the first one under my own name, I wanted to go back to my roots. I grew up with a great jazz vinyl collection that belonged to my father. The songs on Speak Low are songs that I’ve been singing for a long time, some since I was a teenager, and they’ve never left me. Songs and lyrics that have been written 50-100 years ago and that are still very current.
And you weren’t intimidated one bit?
Of course I was. It took me about 15 years ’til I felt ready to release an album with songs like “Gloomy Sunday”, “Strange Fruit”, and “Slow Hot Wind” on it. But when I started playing with Petter and Otis, they took the final bit of intimidation away. With Petter and Otis I have found a constellation; a context where for the first time I felt that I could say something new with those great, old songs. We chose our songs very carefully; we only played songs that we all really feel (lyrics, arrangement, meaning).
So this was like a sonic love letter to all your musical soulmates of the past? Then what exactly is Speak Low Renditions?
Yeah, that’s a nice way to describe that album. Speak Low Renditions is like a sonic letter or a sonic correspondence with some of my musical soulmates who are alive. All the artists on the album are musicians that I admire; musicians that inspired me and accompanied me on my path.
Thereby, they are a part of the musician that I have become. They’re musicians I feel connected to ‘cause we search for something similar in music or have a similar language. I feel them. They’re all a part of my scene, which is spread out from Berlin, through London and Switzerland. It was exciting to give our music to them and see how they would interpret our versions. And I’m still overwhelmed about the musical outcome. Plus, it’s so beautiful that all those wonderful musicians are now unified on my album.
How did it feel to hear these new versions and your voice re-contextualized?
It was really exciting and interesting. In some versions, other voices and melodies are highlighted moreso than they are in our trio recordings, so I discovered new bits of our own arrangements that I haven’t heard before.
It seems that jazz is really going through yet another renaissance right now, and not only that, but it’s also spilling over into the mainstream. Why do you think that is?
It’s natural and necessary. It’s an important movement, I think. Jazz has always been a part of the progressive end of pop music.
So what’s next for Speak Low Renditions?
The album release concert at Kantine am Berghain, here in Berlin, on May 26th, where all the rendition artists will come together for a concert. I’m super-excited about that one. Before that, we’re gonna be on tour with the trio. We’re currently working on new songs and two collaborations with Julian Sartorius on drums and Kit Downes on church organ.
Written by: Jen Dan