FOXTROTT (aka MH Delorme) is an artist of captivating contradictions. In photos she often appears solemn, looking away or off into the distance, causing one to assume that her electro-pop sound will be similarly subdued and moody in quality. Then you hear “Shields” or “Colors” and even the darker “Heads Under Water” and you’re instantly lifted by the bouncy melodious beauty of it all— her voice expands, filling out around you until you are wholly inside of her musical world. The Montreal based singer, songwriter, producer’s eclectic influences are also so fully immersive that all you hear is FOXTROTT—nothing derivative, simply vibrant and fresh.
Q: You have a fantastic voice! Can you share an early memory where you recall being bitten by the music bug?
A: Thank you! From what I can remember, I’ve always been singing and I have always had a song in my head–from the minute I wake up to when I go to sleep. It can be a song that already exists or one that I invented, and it’s been like that since my early childhood. At one point, you want those songs to exist in real life.
Q: When I first came across your moniker FOXTROTT, I imagined the once popular dance but that image is so different from your sound. Why did you choose the name FOXTROTT and what was your vision for the music you wanted to create?
A: FOXTROTT came to me because of a funny childhood story where they [camp counsellors] would call me a “helpful fox” at a summer camp because I was always doing my own little thing far from the others, like walking in the woods alone etc. But I would always want to help others, and then disappear on my own again. I guess I’m still very much that way, that’s why I make music solo. Also, the FOXTROTT was always my favorite beat on home organs. There is something rhythmic, bouncy and melodic about FOXTROTT, and I relate to that.
Q: Your bio says that “early discoveries and exposure to the potential of hip hop, reggae, and electronic music” guided you into production and plays a major foundational role in your sound. Can you share a few names of your favourite hip hop, reggae and electronic acts? And how these albums or artists have made an impact on you?
A: I discovered reggae in my early teenage years, by coincidence, and I almost strictly listened to reggae, dancehall, soul, neo soul and hip hop from the age 13 to 17. Then later on I got into techno parties, jungle, drum and bass, grime and all that stuff. It’s hard to name my favorite reggae act, but it goes from Burning Spear to Eek-A-Mouse to Black Uhuru, etc. etc. I’m a big fan of Sly and Robbie, Lee “Scratch” Perry, producers like Fat Eyes, and so on. For the rest, I mean, it goes from Erykah Badu to the Bug to Timbaland to Hudson Mohawke to Dabrye to Mos Def. I like music with soul and grit, mostly.
Q: When you’re creating a new song does the beats come first or the lyrics? You’ve also talked about food, textures and colours being an influence on your music – in many ways it’s such an intangible thing but can you unfold some of your creative process for me? (When do you write, Inspirations, when do you sense that a song is ready for the world?).
A: It really depends. I often make just like “stream-of-consciousness” beats, that I keep in a folder somewhere, and sometimes they suck, but often I can find real treasures in there. Sometimes I listen to a drum pattern and a bass line and then everything else comes to me instantly, the vocal melodies, the sound of the vowels and consonants before they become words and make sense. I also get a sense of the “vibe” of the track, sometimes in shapes and colors, like visual patterns and textures. It’s like the overall “taste” of the meal, if you want to put it that way. The effect it has on you. Then I go more into details [when] making the song, but the hardest part is always lyrics and structure. Sometimes I think, if a song could be like a painting, like just a feel and an impression and not have to unfold in time, it would be so so cool! One giant self-contained loop. But that’s not the nature of music [laughs].
Q: So much of what you do in the creation process of your music is solitary–writing, producing, sometimes even performing–do you also enjoy collaborating? Who would you love to collaborate with?
A:Yes, I like collaborating very much, but it has to be with the right people. I think when you look up to the other person and they look up to you, then it’s a real beautiful exchange, nourishing and stimulating. That’s when magic happens.
I have been making a bunch of instrumental tracks lately, I would like to collaborate with some good rappers and interesting vocalists. Too many names to list here! Oh there is that rapper called Little Simz that has a really nice flow that would be fun! I also would love to produce records for other acts, bands, but that will be a longer-term thing.
Q: Your EP ‘Shields’ is great! Where can we hear your next album, A Taller Us?
A: The album will be released very soon, but I still cannot reveal the details unfortunately.
Q: What else is in the works for you in 2014?
A: I think the record release will be really exciting, I can’t wait for that music to be out so I can focus on the next steps. I will definitely show that FOXTROTT loves to sing and write songs just as much as producing, I want people to feel challenged and surprised.