French-Israeli artist Yael Naïm has returned to the spotlight with her new album, Older. Her third outing goes deep into the subject of life, death, and the transformation that happens between them. The album turned out to be successful in France, with the record going Gold. The album also helped Naïm earn her second Female Artist of the Year Award at the 2016 Les Victoires de la Musique, which is France’s equivalent of the Grammys and was nominated for France's 2016 Album of The Year.
Produced by her creative partner, musician-producer David Donatien, Older was driven by the birth of Naïm and Donatien’s child and the death of her grandmother. The LP also presented a new artistic direction for Naïm and Donatien as they find the meaning in the uncertainty of life with their music.
The album's centerpiece ‘Coward’ is a ruminant cabaret tune about the loss of control and freedom. The official video for the song – directed by Belgian musician Stromae in his directorial debut – displays a tale of an aging, retired super heroine coming to terms with being at an old age.
Recently, Naïm was joined by a few hundred fans to perform the acclaimed single at the famed Forum des Halles Shopping Center in Paris. She recently spoke about the process of making the ‘Coward’ flash mob video as she embarks on another tour in the U.S., France, and Portugal.
How did you come up with the single ‘Coward’? What made you want to write it?
I was experiencing a period of big changes in my life, desired changes, but suddenly facing them I became very scared because the life I had known up until then was about to disappear, to turn into something totally new. This ‘unknown world’ scared me. I realized I was becoming a coward, ready to run away, not being able to face this change with honesty.
This single is also part of your new LP. How come it took you a while to release some new material after your last album in 2010?
It usually takes us about two years to compose and produce an album. In 2010 we went for a long international tour for two years, and then I took one year off to relax, travel, have a child, and start side projects and collaborations. Then we started the album process (two years work again), and here we are in 2015.
Can you tell me what made you want to promote the song in a flash mob style performance? What kind of reaction did you get after pitching this idea to your team?
It was a kind of dream for me. I've composed arrangements for vocal choir for a long time, but I usually record all the vocals as separate tracks by myself in my studio. On "Coward" we dreamed of 130 people singing those three-part vocals. To stand in the middle, surrounded by people in a public place, the emotion in the moment was very strong... I have quite a special team, and they turned this fantasy into reality. This Flash mob was one of the craziest things we've done! Being in the middle of all those singers singing such an important song like Coward, surrounded by even more surprised people... It was so moving; I had tears in my eyes.
Have you always liked performing in big crowds to promote something that you worked hard on?
In fact, I never thought of it like this. David and myself we love to work on new music in our studio and it takes us years to make each album. Then we try to get inspired and have crazy ideas to be excited, like kids. These ideas can involve big crowds, small crowds, a circus company, a movie production team or... a single pianist.
Did you always want to use your music to help heal people in times of need?
I compose and record music because I need it emotionally. It starts a little selfish, from the inside of my own soul, and it helps me to heal myself. It works like a plane security instruction, once I’m healed I might be able to help, I'm able to connect with other people. Art may itself be about this mysterious process. Even if I don't compose music thinking about it always. But I don't think I know how to heal people, I don’t think I have the answer for this huge question!