After nearly a decade with her band Escort, two albums and international touring, Brooklyn-based vocalist, bassist and disco contemporary Adeline Michèle is finally finding her own footing as a solo artist.
While the nu-disco outfit Escort was recognized by Rolling Stone on their Top 50 Albums of 2012, as well as Pitchfork’s Top 50 Videos of the ’00s, the Parisian-born New Yorker decided to step outside the confines of collaboration and release a record that perfectly encapsulates her glitter-infused disco-funk vision.
“The main difference is that it’s my music,” Adeline says of her album, "[ad•uh•leen]", which was released Nov. 13. “Escort is also by default my music, but it’s a group effort: the creation, and a lot of [songs were] written before I came into the band … "[ad•uh•leen]" is a lot more personal in terms of the writing, but also genre-wise, it’s a little bit slower, it’s a little bit more freestyle. I had 100 million percent creative control: [It was] very liberating.”
Growing up in a suburb of Paris, the French-Caribbean artist hails from a musical family, even performing at the ripe age of 5 (“I never discovered music, it was always there,” she says.) The youngest of four children who all sang and played various instruments, she began singing nearly since she could speak and picked up the piano at the age of 9.
Yet, it was the city that ignited the musical career of the artist: on a merely exploratory visit to New York City to find inspiration, Adeline decided to move 3,000 miles across the pond after a mere five days. The multi-instrumentalist originally moved to Harlem for a few months before relocating to a community she felt at home in: Brooklyn.
“It was 2005 at the time, so the music in Brooklyn wasn’t as present yet, and to be honest, it was affordable,” says Adeline. “The vibe that I liked about it was moving to a neighborhood that was predominantly Jamaican/Haitian … I started noticing more and more musicians moving close to Brooklyn, and I just quickly understood that I was ahead of the time and it was where a lot of things were going to start happening.”
The singer and bassist has since immersed herself in the unique spaces the borough has to offer, including attending local shows of her fellow Brooklyn artists and making regular appearances at the Park Slope Food Co-Op, a membership-based grocer in which members work a shift at the store in order to receive low prices on all-natural and organic food products.
“There’s definitely a community [of musicians] in Brooklyn,” the singer said. “We’re clearly influencing each other, we’re clearly all here for a reason. There’s just such a melting pot of different types of music and different musicians and different people from different places in the world.”
The most memorable performance she’s had thus far, according to Adeline, was her album release party at C’mon Everybody in Bedford-Stuyvesant in March. Before releasing any singles, the artist played to a well-receptive room full of people who hadn’t heard the tracks yet. It was an unnerving yet wholly fun experience.
“People connected to it and reacted to it really well,” she said. “People showed up, people bought tickets to the show and were curious and it was amazing. I thanked people for being open to appreciating and listening to something they didn’t know and taking the chance. That’s something that only happens in Brooklyn, and that makes it so special.”
Inspired by the shiny production of Little Dragon and channeling the funk-driven rhythms of Earth Wind and Fire and Parliament Funkadelic, Adeline’s music blurs the lines between past and present. Genres like disco and funk may sound like they only existed decades past, but according to the multi-instrumentalist, they are the foundations of the music we regularly listen to today.
“I believe in funk because it’s just like disco — it’s found in so many different types of music and artists without necessarily having the label of it,” she says. “There’s something to say when something is labeled as ‘funky’. It’s always a positive thing, 100 percent of the time. People try to reach for the same thing in modern pop music today.”
Adeline will perform songs from her debut at Bushwick’s Elsewhere (Zone One) on Feb. 20, her first local date since the album released. Until then, [ad•uh•leen] is available on all streaming platforms.
“Even though I’m from Paris originally, the shows in Brooklyn feel like home shows,” Adeline says.
“When you hear funk and feel funky, it’s just something that takes you to that place and allows you to just kind of let go.”
IF YOU GO: Adeline will perform at 8 p.m. Feb. 20 at Elsewhere (Zone One) in Bushwick. Click here to buy tickets.