Because music is moving so fast, there are times when you have music hurled at you that you can’t stop and enjoy what you’re receiving. When we came across the music of California’s Claude Fontaine, we stopped and took notice. In today’s world, it feels like a rarity where a new artist would take the time and care with an older genre of music, in giving it the love it may have always deserved. With her debut album Claude Fontaine out this week, and a slew of singles ranging between classic reggae and Tropicalia, Fonatine discussed with us how this all came to be and what she plans to do once these songs finally make their way into the world.
As her bio states, Fontaines essentially stumbled across the legendary record store Honest Jon’s, not knowing much about the shop itself or the music it housed inside. The shop, filled with treasures from around the globe was a new world for the singer, inspiring her to go out and make a modern record in the style of all that she found at the iconic shop. But we were curious how this came to be, something that Fontaine was more than happy to discuss. “I had been singing for years, playing in and around L.A. I was writing songs and recording them, then dropping them on the internet only to delete them a couple of days later. For years I was experimenting with genres and styles before I found this music. It was so inspirational that I wrote at a fevered pace for the first time.”
The genres of reggae, dub and Tropicalia span across decades, making us wonder who stood out and inspired Fontaine to set out to make this type of album. “To me, that music, reggae & bossa nova are as timeless as jazz and rock n’ roll. Till’ that point I hadn’t heard world music before. I didn’t grow up hearing it and it wasn’t played when I was younger. So it felt like I had discovered these lost gems. Artists like Alton Ellis, Astrud Gilberto and all of the classics were what I was drawn to,” says Fontaine.
When you see the credits of who played on the album, it’s pretty much the best of the best alongside Fontaine on the album. Tony Chin, known for his work with King Tubby and Althea and Donna respectively as well as Airto Moreira who played drums with Miles Davis, Chick Correa, Astrud Gilberto and Annette Peacock is also on the album. This was achieved by Fontaine reaching out to them, though thinking they’d either not be interested or that they’d be unavailable. “Getting them to play on the album was the quickest part. I found out they were in L.A. and that they wanted to record. Once we played them the demos we recorded with them a month later. It was shocking though,cause’ I didn’t think they’d be available or interested,” remarks Fontaine.
While the album turned out to be one that’s half reggae and half Tropicalia, that wasn’t her intention. With all of the work that went into the album, recording at the legendary Chet Baker studio could have helped how the album turned out. The studio still looks like it did forty years ago when it was used on the regular, making us curious if Fontaine thinks that the antiquated charm of the room made its way on to the record. “I think the setting and the environment soaked in. I was suggested to go there and it’s a tiny preserved space in downtown L.A. You wouldn’t know it was there actually. I knew I wanted to have the album be as close to the presence of an old record as possible. Whether it was using an old studio or recording with old microphones, I was ready for whatever it took to achieve that sound. Those records all sound timeless, and that’s what I wanted to achieve,” replies Fontaine.
After a long journey from discovering world music to gathering a murderers row of heavy hitters to play on the album, the journey has been a long one for Fontaine. Now that the record will be out this Friday, we were curious what Fontaine has planned next. “There will be a tour, there’s a few possibilities that we’re trying to iron out now. I hope I can tour this record for a couple of years actually.”
Claude Fontaine will be released to the public on April 26 through Innovative Leisure. The album is available for pre-order on vinyl and compact disc through Innovative Leisure as well, and her four singles are available to purchase in all online music retailers and can be streamed on all streaming platforms.
Image Credits: Photo by B+.