Los Angeles based multilingual chanteuse Jessica Fichot is bringing her blend of French chanson, 1940s Shanghai jazz, international folk and gypsy swing back to the Old Pueblo on Tuesday, February 25 at the Green Valley Recreation Center.
TW’s music desk caught up with the songwriter over the weekend to discuss her intoxicating multilingual style, new projects for 2020 and her plans to check out the Titan Missile Museum while in town.
TW How did you get started in music and what would you say was your first inspiration to pursue it?
JF I don’t actually remember a time when I didn’t know I wanted to be a musician. Despite coming from a family of engineers, my family was always very supportive of my aspirations. So I never really explored other career options - although I have and continue to pursue very different projects in my music career, from performing with my band to writing educational songs and composing music for video games. I think I got started in music from my love of singing, though. Singing has always been a joyful experience for me.
TW Are you fluent in all the languages you sing in?
JF I am bilingual in French and English, have an intermediate level in Spanish (though I speak it with a French accent), and continue to be a beginner in Mandarin Chinese (it’s a hard language that I unfortunately did not learn as a child, though my mother speaks it fluently.) For all other languages, I learn to sing the songs phonetically. I think there is a beauty in different languages that goes beyond the meaning of the words: each language has its own sound and feeling.
TW Does being a multilingual artist help you incorporate various styles of music into your repertoire?
JF By singing in different languages, I naturally incorporate different styles in the music I perform. French “chanson” is my focus, but I also get to explore various styles such as jazz from Shanghai, Russian polkas, gypsy swing and Mexican ballads. But honestly, the more languages I incorporate in my sets, the more I realize how similar these different styles of music from around the world can be. Musicians have influenced and inspired each other across borders.
TW Have you been to Southern Arizona before? If so, what did you think? If not, what do you plan on doing while here?
JF I have actually been to Southern Arizona many times, as my band has made Tucson a regular stop on our tours for the last few years. We have performed at Hotel Congress (as part of the Rhythm & Roots series), Solar Culture, Monterey Court, and we performed in Green Valley last year. I love the Tucson nightlife (and was surprised to see how late people would start going out in downtown Tucson.) Since we are performing in Green Valley on this tour, we may go and visit the Titan Missile Museum.
TW What is next for you? Any new projects?
JF I am working on a new album, and like my last three albums, it’s taking a lot longer than I’d hoped... But I’m very proud of the new songs I have written so far, and my guitarist Adrien Prevost, who is producing this album, is doing a great job at giving these songs a distinctive sound.
TW Who are you must influenced by, musically?
JF I have many musical influences, of course, but if I had to choose one, I would say Quebecois/Mexican singer/songwriter Lhasa de Sela. Her music is timeless and beautiful, and more than anyone else she inspired me to write and sing in different languages.
The show is from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, February 25 at the Green Valley Recreation West Social Center, located at 1111 S GVR Dr, Green Valley.
Tickets are $31 for the general public, $23 for GVR members and $26 for GVR guests. For more information visit, www.gvrec.org/activities/arts-and-entertainment/concerts