Adeline Michèle wants you to dance a little more dirty. The former frontwoman of nu-disco band Escort released her self-titled debut solo album in November, crafting her own sound with elements of funk, R&B and disco. We chatted with the New York-based artist about performing solo, the significance behind producing her own album and playing for a Boston audience ahead of her show at Middle East Upstairs on Feb. 21.
Are you excited to be playing in Boston? I’ve played with my band Escort in Boston a bunch, and it’s always been great… It’s super young and super fun. So I’m just very excited, and a little bit nervous to see how they react to to my solo material, but it’s always been great performing in Boston.
This is the first time you’re touring solo. What’s the best thing about performing? I just love performing so much. It’s sort of what I feel is my most natural state, on stage, somehow. So just now on top of it you know, to perform solo is even more rewarding. I’m very lucky.
How did the transition from lead singer of Escort to solo act play out for you? It took awhile for me to really make the decision to work on this album. It was sort of a combination of the right timing, fighting my fears and what was happening in the world at the time, especially living in the US and the elections. So everything was sort of pushing me off the cliff—not the cliff meaning leaving the band but meaning working on my solo material.
What was rewarding and challenging about self-producing [ad•uh•leen]? What was rewarding was also challenging: The decisions are mine. So I could do whatever I want, and then at the same time if I make the wrong decision, it’s on me. I mean I co-produced it with Morgan Wiley… I was remembering a time when I had first moved to New York when I was really young and I had these two older men that were producing music for me. We were in the studio, and they were making all the decisions… I remembered that I wasn’t even comfortable at that time. It just felt unnatural to me that someone else was deciding everything on a song of mine. So very early on, I knew that that wasn’t for me. I think the answer is it’s what personally works for me to be doing my own producing, but I think it’s important for women to know that it’s possible so that they’re not waiting after men who hold the key to their destiny and to them making music. Because most of the time—hopefully it’s not the case—but very often, it won’t be based on their musical talents. So yeah, we’ve got to do it on our own, girls.
What message are you trying to convey through this album? Oh boy. I think there’s kind of two sides to it… It’s sort of my introduction to the world, and I see in the choices that I made in the songs and the sounds that I chose that I was kind of trying to embody and show everything that I like and everything that I can do. So the first thing in this album is kind of vibe by “Hey I’m Adeline, nice to meet you guys. Want to join me on this journey?” The second aspect is I never really feel like I’ve ever wanted to be so political… And that’s why I talk about timing being so important with this album. I’m writing from the perspective of a young, immigrant black woman living in the United States, and that there’s a lot to say for women and immigrants and people with dreams.
What can we expect from your show at the Middle East? To discover a side of me that that you haven’t seen if you’ve seen me with Escort. You’ll really discover what’s at the core of my artistry as a solo artist and what I have to say. And to dance a little more dirty!
Adeline plays Middle East Upstairs on Feb. 21.