FEMME combines electronics with classic 60s girl group sounds. She also works with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich - find out how…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 2 Nov 2012
  • min read

Solo artist FEMME may well be in one of the most enviable collaborations currently in leftfield pop. She is one third of Ultraísta, a new outfit featuring Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and Joey Waronker, producer of US acts Beck and REM.

When she’s not gallivanting across the US with her other outfit, FEMME is a solo artist in her own right. Her sassy take on electronic music owes as much to the Ronettes as it does to the likes of sonic auteurs such as Matthew Herbert. Since studying at Goldsmith’s, she’s thrown herself into any number of creative projects with music taking top spot. Try and catch her on a live UK date in November or December...

How long have you been making music?  

I started writing music from about 16 with just piano and voice. Within a year or so I'd acquired a very rudimentary version of Cubase from school and started making my first beats. I moved away from acoustic instruments and began experimenting with electronics. I've never looked back.

What inspired your latest single/EP/album?

I'm currently promoting an album with my band Ultraísta with fellow members Nigel Godrich (Radiohead) and Joey Waronker (Beck/REM). It came out in October in the UK and is my first totally collaborative project - I normally write and produce my music for FEMME as a solo artist.

The Ultraísta record was conceived from a love of afrobeat, electronica, art and inspired by tequila. FEMME takes it's inspiration from the lives of other people, peculiar characters, girls, boys, sex and sun. I've spent a lot of time in LA this year so I've been making a lot of laid back, seductive summery tunes.

What process do you go through to create your music?

As FEMME I usually start with a beat and build something up from scratch or deconstruct a loop as a starting point. I will then put in a bassline to pin down the feel and personality of the tune and riff a melody over the top - this part usually comes very quickly. A lot of the time when I'm writing toplines the odd word will come out which can dictate the beginnings of the lyrics. Sometimes I literally can't decipher the sounds I have made so I’ll have to work something up from nothing. The process is different for each song!

How would you describe your sound?

FEMME combines big and what some might consider masculine beats with feminine 60s girl-group influenced melodies over the top. I wanted to explore combining hip-hop beats and rhythms with that traditional pop topline and harmony. I love the sound and the sass of Phil Spector-era girl groups so they have had a significant influence on my sound.

What would your dream collaboration be?

Working with Nigel and Joey on Ultraísta has turned out to be a bit of a dream come true! I think we've been very lucky that we've all been completely comfortable in each others’ company from day one as that's really helped the creative process! But if we're thinking dream collaborations I would've loved to have sung with Dusty Springfield or been a member of The Ronettes for a day. Or if we're talking more present day, doing something with SBTRKT or Matthew Herbert would be pretty cool.

Where can we catch you performing next?

I'll be doing some London shows as FEMME in November and December. All details can be found on our websites.