Wrapped up in a blanket of warm analogue sound, singer-songwriter Cori Nora presents her new album ‘Flowers and Fences’, out everywhere now. Having written, produced and performed all her own music, Cori is a Swiss-born singer-songwriter that strives to look outside the limitations of genre. She sings about social injustice, modern intimacy, two-headed horses, the wish for shortcuts, and other things that make her heart beat faster.
‘Flowers And Fences’ is an ambitious, yet personal endeavour, simultaneously tackling big topics and intimate feelings, while finding the right tones and moods in impressive ways. We feel in love with the album as soon as we heard it, and now, we've been lucky enough to speak with Cori Nora about it.
Wonderful to meet you! Let's dig right into things. Tell us about your new project 'Flowers and Fences'.
"It is my debut album! And I’m so excited about all the different aspects about it - the process of making it together with my brother Christoph and Nick over different lockdowns, including a DIY recording session in a little cottage in the alps, the amazing artwork by Margaux Bigou, the lyrics, the live band we’re on release tour with at the moment. It feels as if it's all coming together now."
"My intention behind the record was to make an album that speaks my truth, that reflects my view of the world. Hence the decision to make a solo project with my name on it. I feel that the female gaze is underrepresented in lots of art and music. Very much is still seen from a male gaze. The way we're culturally conditioned. I wanted to offer an alternative to that and to contribute to changing this narrative. Flowers And Fences is about finding your own place in the world, about letting go, allowing for change to happen, basically to be free and whoever you'd wish to be, blooming wildly without fences restricting your growth."
How did you first start making music? Where did it all begin?
"Early childhood memories of making music include my brother Christoph who produced this album with me too. Our father is a pianist coming from improvised music and jazz, so we used to jam and invent musical theaters at home all the time when we were little. I explored the piano first, then guitar, later on cello and eventually started playing bass in band contexts. Singing was there all along. Turning into an adult wasn't something I was looking forward to as a child, the « serious world » never interested me. So I guess there is still a part of me that does things quite child-like. There was no such thing as 'bad' or 'wrong' music when I grew up, this sense of openness and curiosity probably impacted me a lot and fuels my love for experimentation still today."
How would you describe your sound?
"Wide-eyed leftfield pop with a soft touch of folk."
What influences most define your music?
"It’s a wide range from music, different styles of songwriting, books and films. Songwriters and writers inspire me a lot. Songwriters such as Rozi Plain, Lomelda, Moses Sumney, Fiona Apple, Bjork, Tirzah, Julia Jacklin, Adrienne Lenker, Sharon Van Etten and many more. Writers such as Siri Hustvedt, Margaret Atwood, Audre Lorde, Haruki Murakami, Margarete Stokowski, Virginia Woolf, Julia Weber and many more. But then also the current state of the world, of how we treat each other and who’s granted / denied which right, which space to take up. Social awareness. I could write a book only by answering this question I think, so I might just leave it at that for now."
What’s next for you as an artist?
"I just released 'Flowers And Fences', but I’m already thinking of recording the next album. Yes, I still think in albums, I just love them personally. I feel like there are a lot of new songs and lyrics waiting to be written down and set to music."
"I love the songwriting process as much as I love playing live. Now we are celebrating the release of the album on tour with my band. Playing with these musicians and spend time with these humans is a total dream. So I hope to be playing a lot of shows and being on tour with Nick, Christoph and Tara a lot in the year to come - 2024 we’re ready for you."
"Also, I hope I will compose music for a film one day."
What would your dream collaboration be?
"I already got it with my band :) But wouldn’t say no to write a song with Thom Yorke or Bjork."
What is your songwriting process? How does it all come together?
"A song can come to me in many forms. Sometimes it’s a topic I can’t stop thinking about that eventually turns into lyrics. Sometimes I fiddle on my guitar and come up with a chord progression and a melody I like. Same for piano. I have a million sound memos of song ideas on my phone, I try to do it less these days and rather stick to one idea and try finishing it before I record another one. For the album it was mostly my brother and me recording and putting together elements and sounds we liked, then I went away, taking care of a friend’s apartment for two weeks and spent time alone in a big city. That’s when I finished all the lyrics of the songs."
What’s the most important thing for you when you’re writing a song?
"I rarely sit down with the intention to write a song. It’s mostly the other way round, a song wants to be written and makes me circle around an idea until it’s coming out and taking on a clear shape. A song needs to communicate a message, a feeling for me. I want to feel some level of urgency to sing it. I love it when it all comes together in terms of lyrics, melody, harmonies, energy, textures and choice of sounds."
What advice would you give to band’s who are looking to make it?
"Know yourself, trust yourself, and listen to your gut feeling. You are always right. If something feels good, go all in. If it doesn't, leave it and walk away. Chose the people you surround yourself with wisely, you will spend a lot of time with them. Mutual respect and communication are key. Otherwise it’s not going to work long-term. Your energy and your time are the most precious components in creating. They belong to you only. Preserve them well and protect them from toxic environments. Also - don't care too much what others tell you about how you should sound / look / be like. Especially as a woman in a predominantly male music environment. Find your own voice. Connect with others that you feel safe with and seen by. We can create our own vision of the world. Our own sound."
One final question before you go, what has been your best moment as a musician so far?
"I can’t point out a single moment, it’s the sum of them all that makes me want to keep going and do it again and again. The connection and the energy that you can feel with the people you’re sharing this wonder of making music with. How it is changing shape with every gig you play and how you are evolving together. I’m in love with my band and couldn’t wish for a better combo than the one with Nick, Christoph and Tara. Playing music is a spiritual practice for me. A form of meditation. Of being present. And then it’s also the connection with an audience who is open and becomes a part of this moment too. It’s hard to top this."
Recorded and produced in close collaboration with her brother Christoph Huber, you can hear siblings telepathy at work. They grew up in a family of musicians where improvising together was on the daily agenda. Shaping the sound with his drumming and songwriting skills was Nick Furrer aka Haubi Songs. Together with eclectic London guitarist Tara Cunningham they form the live band for Cori Nora.
‘Flowers And Fences’ is a warm shimmering ecosystem of bouncy synth clouds, spring-reverberating guitars and alienated sax sounds flickering around Cori Nora’s voice. A hypnotic micro universe that thrives on ambiguity, poignant lyrics and the joy of experimentation.
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