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“I really think I’m serving,” says Nelly Furtado. We can confirm that that is quite correct: over the past year, the Canadian Prime Minister of Pop, Folk-Pop and Urban [insert any genre here, really] has been having a well-deserved resurgence (thank f**k) with her exhilarating techno-house anthem ‘Eat Your Man’ and the Tove Lo, SG Lewis-assisted dance banger ‘Love Bites’, both of which will be included on her upcoming seventh studio album – her first since 2017’s fan-favourite The Ride. With her new material, which she describes as “super melodic” and non-stop “bangers”, Nelly wants her fans to feel – in her word(s) – “ugh!”: “I’ve served with this [new album]. I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I think I’m really in the zone right now.”

Following her recent stint on Canada’s Drag Race, in which she was celebrated as one of the best judges in the franchise’s history, Nelly is set to appear in another legendary rainbow-hued space this summer at Mighty Hoopla. Taking place at Brockwell Park, London (1 June), Nelly teases a headline set of her most iconic hits, from ‘I’m Like a Bird’ to ‘Turn Off The Light’ and ‘Try’. More incoming, because the amount of hits is just far too much: ‘Maneater’, ‘Promiscuous’, ‘All Good Things (Come To An End)’ ‘Say It Right’, ‘Give It To Me’, ‘Broken Strings‘ and ‘Big Hoops (The Bigger The Better)’.

All of the above is discussed in this interview, as well as Nelly reflecting on her history with the LGBTQIA+ community and Loose (2006), her seminal third studio album that still stands as one of the most successful eras in pop music history. Oh, and exclusive incoming: Nelly reveals that her new album (still untitled with release date TBA) will feature an icon within the drag community. Yeah, “serving” feels right.

Nelly Furtado, I’m so excited to talk to you about this new music. I won’t lie to you, I’m a bit hysterical that you’re back.

Really? Tell me about that! I like that.

Well, The Ride is one of my favourite albums of all time.


I love it.

What’s your favourite song on there? I gotta ask you.


Oh! [Starts singing] “I’ve got a flatline…” 

It’s because of the bit [starts singing] “I don’t feel nothing at all…” I can’t believe I just sang a Nelly Furtado song to Nelly Furtado, but here we are.

[Again, starts singing] “I don’t feel nothing at all!” Yeah, right on.

I think that’s my favourite bit in any Nelly Furtado song.

Are you serious?

Yeah it’s up there. It’s probably in my top three.

Oh my god.

I love this new song, ‘Love Bites,’ with Tove Lo and SG Lewis. Talk to me about the creation of it?

Tove Lo! Honestly, I’m just having more fun making music than, like, ever in my whole life. I’m just collaborating with so many people, and having a really good time. I feel super in my truth and power right now, just as a woman, and Tove Lo is so cool because she’s very empowered as well. She’s very at home in her sexuality, sensuality and her womanhood and I think the two of us together are… It’s just straight vibes, straight vibes. And then SG Lewis, he’s such a cool guy, he’s just such a talented producer. He grew up on Jamiroquai, really cool production and he is a multi-talented instrumentalist, singer, producer, so it’s not often you come across talent like that. He’s like 25 or 26 or something. That vibe is on the record, it’s just a fun, dance record. I performed [‘Love Bites’] yesterday at rehearsal for the first time and it felt really good. It felt super sexy and confident and really cool.

I assume with this song, and ‘Eat Your Man,’ which I also love, that you’re going in a dance oriented direction for the album?

Yes and no. I have tracks like this but there’s some proper pop on my album, and urban too. It’s very me. Every song sounds like me, but it’s not all one genre, at all. But, it’s fun. There’s a lot of life on there. It’s very alive, super melodic and it’s meant for escapism. I feel like music is the safest vice we have, the healthy vice. People like to escape to my music, and [I like to] give them this subconscious, unconscious release like, ‘Agh! Ugh!’ You know? ‘Ugh!’

I feel the ‘ugh!’ I absolutely feel the ‘ugh!’

I just want to make everybody go ‘ugh!’ You know?

Little bit of ‘ugh!’ and a little bit of ‘ahh!’

Just, like, cry. You can cry to some of the songs, but not too many. But, I really think I’m serving. I’ve served with this [new album]. I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I think I’m really in the zone right now.

I mean, you never do just one genre. Look at Loose, it has everything on there.

I think that speaks to my personality, I don’t just fit into one genre. I literally have a song with Michael Bublé and Andrew Bocelli, a song with Jurassic 5 and The Game. I have a song with The Kenyan Boys Choir! I think I’ve always loved pop music, no matter what, it’s just kind of in my bones.

And we will get to see this, your amalgamation of all different kinds of genres, at Mighty Hoopla! I’m so excited.

Oh my god, [I have an] exclusive! Tynomi Banks is on my album. I gave it away!

Stop it! I love it, what an icon.

She’s going to kill me! Sorry, I dropped the tea too soon.

Give me the tea, I want all the tea.

Yes, there’s a Tynomi feature. She’s on my album. You’re going to have to wait to hear it. She’s very talented. You’ve only just seen the beginning of Tynomi Banks. She’s just getting started.

I know you’re probably under oath about the new album, but when it’s out we need to do another interview…

I’d love to! It’s going to come out later in the year. It’s done, we’re just mixing and mastering right now, finishing all the artwork. We’re doing the sequence tonight, when you pick the order of the songs and you’re like, ‘What ride do I want to take people on?’ You’re doing the fast and slow tracks, then it’s like, ‘How personal am I here? Ugh, is this too vulnerable?’ I have moments like that where I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I cried my eyes out writing this, do I really want to share this with the world?’ And then you just go, ‘Do it!’ It’s funny because my daughter is actually quite involved in my album. She works in the music business, she’s 20 years old. So, it’s been nice to have people pushing me to be authentic and be an artist.

I can’t wait because The Ride was 2017, so that’s… seven years?

It has been seven years since my last [album].

At Hoopla, if I get to meet you in person, do I have your consent to give you a hug? I feel like I need to thank you for the music.

I would love to give you a hug! I cannot wait for Mighty Hoopla, we have some fun things planned. We’ve been looking forward to Mighty Hoopla since we booked it. It’s like peak summer, peak Pride. My kind of show, I’m excited!

Are you aware of how LGBT Mighty Hoopla is? There’s queers swarming everywhere.

I can’t wait. I’m coming home, I’m excited.

It’s going to be the gayest thing you’ve ever been a part of, and I’m sure you’ve been involved with lots of… gay things. I mean, you were just on Canada’s Drag Race.

Canada’s Drag Race… So much fun, oh my god. I haven’t seen Brooke Lynn [Hytes] in a while. We went Osheaga together this summer. She had never been to a festival, so she went Osheaga with me just to hang out, it was really fun. But anyway, I have heard so many good things about Mighty Hoopla. I’m excited to celebrate.

Are you able to tease what songs you are going to perform?

I do the hits. I like to bring people what they want to hear. I like to take it there. It’s a very party show. You’re going to be hearing ‘Maneater’ and ‘I’m Like A Bird’ and ‘Promiscuous’ and ‘Give It To Me’, all the goodies. Then I switch-it up with a little Spanish here and there. There’s songs with proper choreo. And then the newer dance tracks you’ll hear too. I’ll probably be playing ‘Love Bites’ and ‘Eat Your Man’ is really fun, it’s like going to the rave for six minutes.

Then for the encore you’re going to bring me out and we’ll sing ‘Flatline’, is that right?

You can come. You’re invited, you can come to the encore. Hell yeah! I’m probably not joking. If I saw you I’d probably drag you on to the stage, I’m known for that. I’ll be travelling with somebody for a while and be like, ‘Do you sing?’ Like, literally makeup artists or whoever’s around.

Oh no don’t say that, because if I…

Come and sing with me!

If I have a couple wines I’ll be like, ‘Sure’.

I know you will. I know you will. The truth is, this will be my first trip to the UK in like seven or eight years, and I haven’t performed in the UK in… I can’t even remember. I haven’t performed in over a decade there.

About f**king time, then!

My break’s a bit too long sometimes.

Is there a certain song of yours that gets the biggest response from queer people?

In the beginning of my career… I’ll tell you a cool story. So, my first club tour of the USA we played sold-out, tiny packed clubs. I’ll never forget seeing my LGBTQ fans in the front row, crying their eyes out while I sang ‘Shit on the Radio (Remember the Days)’ from Whoa, Nelly! It’s all about being true to yourself and not caring about the hurt and the crowd, and following that voice inside. That memory stays with me, it’s a powerful thing. Nowadays… I don’t know. ‘Eat Your Man’ is funny, Tynomi performed with me and Snoopy, my other dancer and choreographer, at the Juno Awards. There’s something about that song, it just has a vibe. I like to lock into the healthy vice of music, when music can make you sit in your core. Like ‘Maneater’. When I perform ‘Maneater’, it sends me to a special place.

I think the song I’d lose my shit to is ‘Try’. I know I said ‘Flatline’, but ‘Try’ is probably my all-time favourite.


It gets me. I have cried many a time to ‘Try’.

I wonder if it’s because it’s a stream of consciousness song. I write a lot of songs stream of consciousness where you press record and whatever comes out of your mouth is the song. It doesn’t have a lot of planning. The entire second half is where it gets all dramatic like, “we are…. we are!” That just came out of my month. I was eight months pregnant with my oldest in my belly and my producer Brian had his guitar out. It just came out of me like, “all of the moments that already passed!” I really believe that there’s a thing that happens with you write in that way, a stream of consciousness. You harness some powerful energy. I’m so happy you can feel that in the song.

What was it like watching Aurora Matrix and Venus lip-sync to that on Drag Race? 

Oh, good segue! So touching, because of the emotion. Venus, she won, and I then invited her to perform with me at the Juno Awards for my opening performance. The Juno Awards is like the Grammys of Canada and they invited me to host it for the opening sequence. I did a huge performance and I invited Venus to catwalk the stage to ‘Maneater’. There’s pyro and Venus is strutting, she’s got her beautiful red-feathered outfit from the show. But, when Venus lip-synced ‘Try’ I died, basically. I died a mini-death. Aurora, as well. They both put so much passion into it. It’s funny because I FaceTimed Venus and she was with Aurora in Victoria, my hometown. It was just a really special moment to see them both again. They’re obviously friends and they tour together, so it was like a high vibration. I gotta say I just love drag queens. I think that the art of drag is totally sublime. It’s one of like the finest art-forms we have.

You were one of the best vocal coaches and judges we’ve ever seen on the show. Not just Canada’s Drag Race, I mean the entire franchise.

Really? Oh my god, thank you. I was like, ‘Ooh, people are passionate about their Drag Race!’ I was asking my friends, ‘Do they like me? Was it okay? What does your friend circle say? Was I good?’ I love music and I love mentoring, so I could’ve done that all day, sat there and worked it out with the queens.

Have you ever seen Crystal Methyd from Drag Race season 12 do ‘I’m Like A Bird’?

No… Wait, maybe I have.

Where she’s dressed like a bird?

I think I have seen that. It is brilliant.

It’s forever engrained in my mind because it’s one of the most bonkers things I’ve ever seen in my life.

I want to see it again!

I have it ready for you, Nelly Furtado.

Show me!

[Shows Nelly the video.]

[Nelly watches aforementioned video] That’s amazing. I love it. One time, I had to sing it from the rafters at this event. I wanted to be wearing something goofy like that, and I remember they had me in a flapper bird costume. But, that’s my dream. So, [Crystal] is living my dream there, singing ‘I’m Like a Bird’ with that outfit on.

So, you’re telling me that in the 24 years since that song has been released that you’ve never performed it dressed like an actual bird?

I’ve done it dressed like a bird, but more like a fashion bird. Not so literally. I wanted to wear it like Big Bird, and it’s so weird because I actually really love birds. I shot this Instagram reel and these birds flew into the frame right at the perfect moment.

That’s divine intervention.

I know! There’s a lot of symbolism with birds if we pay attention. I do have my faves but I don’t like to talk about it too much, you know?

After Hoopla, it will be 17 years since you released Loose, which is one of the biggest eras in pop music history. What are your favourite memories from that time?

Oh my god, again, similar to making this album, it’s really living it and being in it, being raw with emotion and getting to record everyday in the studio. It was in Miami, it was hot and sweaty and there were palm trees. Listening to the music at night, maybe going out a little bit, experiencing that was magical. It was a magical time.

2006-2007 is my golden era of music.

I love that. I love that people have this amazing nostalgia for that era and for that album, it feels so authentic. It’s nice to have all these years pass and have people honour it the way they have been, whether it’s through TikTok trending sounds or DJs remixing those songs. It’s really what’s brought me back to the studio, know what I mean? And just out there playing shows again. I have a love of remix culture and nostalgia, to the point where I’ve been self-referential in some of my new songs. ‘Eat Your Man’ has direct references to some of my other songs. I think it’s fun to lean into the enthusiasm because it’s a lot of positive energy.

I can’t wait for this new album. It’s keeping me alive.

It’s coming. And I have not forgotten anyone. It’s bangers. It’s melodies. It’s, ‘Ugh!’

‘Ugh!’ Nelly, can I just confirm, is it or is it not ‘ugh!’?

You’re going to listen to it and be like ‘ugh!’ Priyanka just posted something where she just looked so hot, and my comment is ‘U-G-H’. It’s just ‘ugh!’

Thanks for chatting with me Nelly Furtado. I’ll see you at Mighty Hoopla for that hug.

And acoustic ‘Flatline’ just for you in the dressing room.

Me singing or you singing?

Yeah, you might have to do that one. Remind me of the lyrics! Just kidding.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity, etc.

You can also watch our interview with Nelly Furtado in full here or below.