Neneh Cherry talks recent album ahead of WOMADelaide 2015

After releasing her first album in 18 years in early 2014, Neneh Cherry will tour Australia for the first time, including a set at WOMADelaide.

After releasing her first album in 18 years in early 2014, Neneh Cherry will tour Australia for the first time, including a set at WOMADelaide. From her early days in London’s postpunk scene and instrumental role in the Bristol underground movement to her 1989 crossover dance hit Buffalo Stance and frequent and varied collaborations, the Swedish born, UK-based singer and songwriter has achieved plenty in her three decades in the music industry. One thing she has not done, however, is tour Australia – until now. “All things in good time,” Cherry tells The Adelaide Review. “I am notoriously slow output-wise. Life has been so full. Career stuff just has to fit around my huge family. I love Australia though. I did some promo there and I had a right laugh.” The musical counter-culture icon is bringing her latest album Blank Project to our shores in 2015, including an appearance at WOMADelaide in March. The record, released back in February, is her first solo output in 18 years following 1996’s Man. Cherry took time away from making music to raise her family but it was family that prompted her return to the studio. “I had some heavy family tragedy to deal with; both my mother and my mother-in-law died,” she says. “The dark hole I fell into that followed this awful period of loss was seemingly bottomless and the long, long climb back out was very tough. Music was my saviour.” Written as a means of working through her pain, Blank Project is quite a departure from Cherry’s previous work. Produced by Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) and recorded and mixed in just five days, the album is sparse, with Cherry’s vocals – sometimes spoken, sometimes screeching and raw but always emotive and forceful – backed by the skeletal drums and synths of sibling duo RocketNumberNine (Ben and Tom Page). There are elements of beat poetry, avant-electronica and free-form jazz over pounding tribal rhythms and lyrical catharsis. Cherry said it was “tough” to channel her grief into material for the record. “It was tough, very tough to express some of that stuff and distill it down to words.” Cherry and her husband Cameron McVey (who co-wrote Blank Project and her 1989 debut Raw Like Sushi) run production company Nomad (formerly the Cherry Bear Collective) out of West London. They also collaborated in trip hop family band CirKus (which also featured their daughter Tyson andher boyfriend). Cherry’s collaborative efforts are vast, including work with Peter Gabriel, Groove Armada, Gorillaz and, most recently, free jazz/noise collective The Thing. In 1994 Cherry released the international chart topper 7 Seconds with Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, who will also be performing at WOMADelaide in 2015. So can we expect a reprise come March? “I suppose we might if we are there at the same time.” WOMAD, you know what to do. WOMADelaide Friday, March 6 to Monday, March 9 Botanic Park womadelaide.com.au  

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