A child of jazz and a soul singer. LuxByNight found China Moses in Paris, where she lives, to talk about her latest album cleverly titled “Nightintales” (no, we didn’t mean “Nightingales”) ahead of her concert in Luxembourg.
LuxByNight: What is it so special with Paris that attracts so many great musicians to live there?
China: Paris attracted my mom first, Dee Dee Bridgewater. She moved to live here first, with my sister. And since I got here when I was so young, I just stayed. I just stayed because my whole life is here.
LuxByNight: Talking about your mom (jazz legend Dee Dee Bridgewater) – was she the one who introduced you to jazz and was it a conscious decision for you to devote yourself to music?
China: My mom got me into music. She saw something in me that I didn’t know I had. At the time I wasn’t doing well in school, my father was sick for a long time, he passed away from cancer. So my mom found a great way for me to communicate and get my feelings out which was through music. I started recording these little songs, I was rapping, at the time I wanted to be a rapper. I was in love with Neneh Cherry and Queen Latifah, so that was my thing. And she played my songs to an A&R agent and he really liked what he heard. I recorded them when I was fourteen, so he offered me a contract when I was sixteen. So I started doing music professionally when I was sixteen years old, but I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do musically and it’s taken me all this time to find my voice. This is my sixth album and it’s the first time that I found myself, I found my sound.
LuxByNight: Let’s talk about your latest album “Nightintales”, the title that gets the search engines confused. How did you come up with the title?
China: Yes, one letter can confuse everything. It’s a play on words, you know, the nightingale is a little bird that has a very pretty voice, not all the birds sound pretty… and then “night” and “tales” it’s really how the album was created. We composed the album together with Anthony Marshall In five nights. I wanted the title to reflect this story, it all happened at night. So I think “Nightintales” sounds right.
LuxByNight: Should it be listened only during the night?
China: Oh, it’s OK to listen to it in the day, but you know, on my Instagram account there was someone posting a picture of my album cover, a glass of whiskey and their dog, and they were all chilling. I remember thinking “This is how my album should be listened to – you should be chilling, having a good laugh, relaxed…” You know, it’s not a very long album, it’s about 50 minutes, but there’s a lot of information, a lot of different stories, different layers. So yes, I think my album does go well with the night.
LuxByNight: You said it was created in just five days…
China: Yes, it was written in five days and then it was recorded in seven days. It was a beautiful moment with the producer with whom I co-wrote and co-composed all of this. These are my songs, so he helped me move along my ideas, he never told me “I think you should sing it like this…” We work really well together and really fast and that’s the chemistry that we have. We wanted the music to be fresh, we were aiming for timeless music, we didn’t want the album to sound dated in a couple of years. There are a lot of things that we believe that music should have, you know, we believe in song structures, that’s why the songs are really short. It’s because we wanted that. We wanted to have bridges, you know, we like having breakdowns. It’s a conscious effort that the album has so many different sides. That’s who I am. I’m a child of jazz but I’m a soul singer. And the music that I was listening to when I was growing up was rap. I love that, but I also love a beautiful ballad. And in all my musical life I’ve been trying to put all those elements together. I think that I finally managed to do it for the first time.
For that to happen we needed to have a great band, a jazz trio – piano, upright bass and drums. The musicians are fabulous, Luke Smith on piano, Neville Malcolm on bass and Jerome Brown on drums. We were recording in the same room together, these are all one takes. I did my vocals with them and some were added after. We didn’t have much time because we had to do the strings, horns and everything in a very short time. A lot of the vocals on the album were the vocals that I did while recording with the guys, and for some songs I re-sung them because we just didn’t have the time to do them properly.
LuxByNight: You’re coming for a special concert here in Luxembourg.
China: Yes, with the Philharmonic. We’re going to do some covers and we’re doing songs from “Nightintales” in new arrangements.