Photo Credit: Jetro Amilcar
Dominique Fils-Aimé has long since planted herself in the music realm with JUNO Awards and praise from critics and fans alike, and she’s continuing her journey in 2023 with the release of ‘Our Roots Run Deep’ on September 22nd. We talked about the album as a garden, the flourishing nature of her minimalistic approach to song, the beauty of Black culture in music, and more in this back-and-forth exchange.
Kendra: You’re not new to the game with best-selling albums and JUNO Awards to your name, but thinking back to way back when – what do you think your eight-year-old self would think of where you are today? What would she be surprised by most?
Dominique Fils-Aimé: The eight-year-old (who is still very much alive in me haha) already loved singing and creating back then, she also firmly believes there is nothing out of reach, so I think she is simply happy, grateful, and excited that life keeps proving us right!
Kendra: So ‘Our Roots Run Deep’ will be the latest in a long line of impressive releases from you, but is there anything you do as part of your creative process that you feel helps you elevate yourself artistically with each release?
Dominique Fils-Aimé: First of all, thank you; my art is clearly a reflection of me, therefore my creative process is intricately linked to my personal self-growth journey. I wish to remain connected to joy and excitement. My mission will always remain to create paths between us and the illusion of what we consider “other.” Meditation and explorations of new instruments help me keep my curiosity muscle active.
Kendra: With roots being mentioned in the album title, and your second single being “Feeling Like a Plant” I have to ask, if you were to build a nursery of plants and whatnot based on the overall vibe of the new album – what sort of foliage and flowers would we see displayed?
Dominique Fils-Aimé: It would be a warm and humid garden with a body of water where every plant and tree is welcome to thrive! Filled with exotic and rare plants like Albo monsteras half moon, birds of paradise, Callisia Repens Pink Lady, string of hearts because they are so cute, mother of millions, etc. It would be a garden full of beautiful odd-looking plants, and I would cherish their uniqueness.
Kendra: For “Feeling Like a Plant” you went with a minimalist approach, something I feel helps push the vocals to the forefront. Do you feel artists tend to shy away from creating songs like this because there is no room to hide behind elaborate musical arrangements?
Dominique Fils-Aimé: My Soul naked in public. This is what putting my vocals in the forefront feels like to me. I cannot speak to the reasons why other artists do not go there but one thing I can say is that it was definitely a deliberate choice of mine to be more open and candid in this album, so reading this question made me smile.
Kendra: Now, throughout your career, you’ve always pulled from music that has roots in Black culture from tribal to blues to jazz – and as I was writing this I stumbled across something about Luther Vandross and how often his music is sampled. All of that said, do you think Black artists tend to pull from the past more often than not and pay homage to what came before them because if they didn’t, the mainstream would let those styles and sounds go by the wayside?
Dominique Fils-Aimé: I believe the black musical legacy is indelible. Honouring the ones who paved the way before us is one of the values I have integrated as part of my creative process. I believe their impact echoes through time and communities in a way no other artistic movement has. Sampling from legends like Luther Vandross is definitely a way to keep the music alive and actual, but I also think it’s because it is just soooo good, we never get tired of it!
Kendra: Now it’s time for a side note – with it being September AKA Self Improvement Month, I’m asking everyone to give us a song they like to put on when they are in self-care mode…
Dominique Fils-Aimé: I have two types of self-care modes, one that is anchored in explosive joy and the other in peaceful resting. For joy I go with Aiza’s “Cocoa Butter,” for relaxation it has been the same for years, Sampa the Great’s “Energy” or 432Hz music.
Kendra: And lastly, with ‘Our Roots Run Deep’ out on September 22nd, what else do y’all have planned as we head into fall?
Dominique Fils-Aimé: I am so excited to be touring Europe this fall and discovering what the live version of this album will sound like! Since creating is my favorite activity, I will definitely be painting and writing more music, getting ready for the next albums.