Beloved Irish queer artist Jaime Nanci is back with a new release, ‘Escalante Street’ described as a sweeping electronic ballad filled with 80s influences, that still manages to stay fresh and contemporary.
Nanci’s career started when he became the frontman of Cuckoo Savante, an iconic band in Ireland’s live scene, and his first album Toy came out in 2014, leading him to tour Ireland and the world with his music. The Times named Nanci “Ireland’s most defiantly original jazz vocalist.”
For the length of the pandemic, Nanci has been collaborating with Brighton-based producer Tim Howarth on his new EP. We don’t have a title yet, but what we do know is that the result of their work together is a collection of new songs that promise to make both old and new Jaime Nanci’s fans happy with their jazz-adjacent, southern gothic notes.
The artist cited Jessie Ware’s ‘Remember where you are’ as a major influence for his new album and he also spoke about emerging queer artists as a source of inspiration.
“The increasing swarm of powerful unapologetic young queer artists that we see emerging in the mainstream is dazzling. That was definitely inspiring to me to just stop giving a damn what the neighbours might say.” he said.
‘Escalante Street’ is the first song on this new album and Jaime Nanci explains his inspiration for the track:
“The first single is a melodramatic love song that leans heavily into the 1980s synth power ballads of my long-forgotten youth. On a very surface level, it’s about romance in a time of absolute chaos, but I think really it’s about trying to find joy in darkness when the joy supply chain is suddenly interrupted with no warning. Something we have all had to do these last two years.”
The new song came out with a brilliant video, a short film created by French filmmaker Jean-Marc Sanchez. It was shot over a number of weeks with a small crew and Nanci recalls dragging his husband Michael, founder and former director of BeLong To, away from his work to put him in charge of lighting. The video is a homage to classic Vampire films like ‘The Lost Boys’ and ‘Near Dark’ and it captures the atmospheres of the Covid pandemic with his scenes shot in the barrio of Cabañal, in the city of Valencia.
In reminiscing their work on the film, Nanci reports that they “did almost get arrested for gate-crashing a private terrace at 2 am and had to run from the local police and a very irate Spanish lady.”
Covid-19 and the restrictions that came with it have had a huge impact on everyone’s life, but for musicians, it also meant pressing pause on live performances, an integral part of their work.
The Irish artist recalls one of his favourite gigs from his past career, saying:
“The first BeLonG To GAY PROM will always be up there as a highlight. But really, any opportunity to perform is a magical thing for me. I’m really lucky to have been able to sustain a career, as a wee f****t from Dundalk singing torch songs, for twenty years.”
But for Nanci, it seems that the pandemic wasn’t an entirely negative experience. “At the beginning and for the first year, I was privileged enough that I could invest time in figuring s**t out while staying safe. Lots of soul searching and just really getting to understand my motivations for making music,” he tells us.
What’s more, since he was in Spain where the restrictions were some of the most severe for the initial 45 days but were eased after, he was allowed to perform shows. Although this, “has its own trauma. As an antisocial introvert hypochondriac with a chronic illness, being around people was extremely anxiety-inducing. But as a great queer once said ‘The Show Must Go On!’”
Wanna know more about Jamie Nanci and what inspires him? Check out his five favourite songs.
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