Helicopter Girl

Helicopter Girl: Over

Provocative, mysterious and dazzlingly multi-faceted, Voodoo Chic is a reflection of the artist's wide-ranging approach to art and music. Born Jackie Joyce, of Scottish and Ghanaian parentage, Helicopter Girl says her songs are meant to convey the feel of "something in constant motion." "I'd like (my listeners) to travel inwardly -- offer them something that will open doors: a new feeling, a welcome." At every turn, Voodoo Chic busts genre lines and expands definitions, bringing warmth and seduction to chill-out, a poet's imagery to trip-hop, and an uncategorizable, original voice to the global sound of pop.The shadows and light of Helicopter Girl's gorgeously sensual vocals recall at once the theatricality of Eartha Kitt, the street grit of Macy Gray, and the edgy, artful wit of Marianne Faithfull. The album's production sound is no less eclectic, with production by Paul Statham (Dido, Kylie Minogue, B Movie) and chill-out/acid jazz stalwarts The Past Present Organization, combining expressive live band playing with hypnotic modern grooves. Helicopter Girl's range is evident in sampled references to Dr. John's bayou funk and Louisiana prison songs in album track "Jakarta Flatline", and in her version of "Blue Melody," a tribute to another unfettered original, Tim Buckley.The artist counts among her influences in pop music's past such outsize personalities and talents as Dean Martin, Shirley Bassey, Barry White, Dusty Springfield and Serge Gainsbourg, while citing the animated hip-hop band, Gorillaz as one of the contemporary artists trading in her brand of concept music. She has in common with all of them the ability to evoke a vividly heightened sense of period, place, and emotion through a pop song.Voodoo Chic "evolved slowly, like an outer planet," Jackie says, adding that "creation of a mood is definitely a thread through the album," "I wanted to disperse the songs as much as possible; cover a lot of ground in one album. In track after track, she expands the boundaries of pop with her allusive lyrics. "I get great personal satisfaction in getting exactly the right words in a song," she notes, adding that she admires in her musical idols "the sense that work is going on -- an art that's been deliberated over, (in the way that) a beautiful Victorian cabinet has dovetail joints and obvious craft."The uplifting and irresistibly melodic single "Angel City," which was released prior to the album in her U.K. home market, has been picked up on the adult-oriented BBC Radio 2, which launched the neo-pop songwriter/interpreters Norah Jones, Amy Winehouse and Eva Cassidy massively in Britain. Both British MTV and VH1 immediately aired the "Angel City" video, which uses a striking graphic style to match Helicopter Girl's own captivating visual impression.Jackie, a self-taught musician/songwriter, recounts being inspired to take up a variety of indigenous instruments through working with a Latin band early in her professional period. She names as respected role models such genre-crossing, self-sufficient writer/performers of the 1980s as Madonna, Prince and the wacky yet musically monumental Kid Creole. "Like a lot of people, I imagined myself at first as only a singer, but I found myself able to grow within it, and become a writer."Even so, the exhaustion of constant travel and an ongoing primary interest in holistic healing had almost lured her entirely away from the pursuit of a music career, when she was courted vigorously by the London-based independent label Instant Karma, on the basis of her work with a previous band, Ambisonic. Jackie's lyric on a conceptual album and comic book about an eco-friendly world had mentioned a "helicopter kind of girl" that began to suggest a fully-formed alter-ego to her. "She's built out of nature; a spiritually-led personality," Jackie explains.Jackie's first solo album How To Steal the World, subtitled, "11 tales of love, alienation, lust and revenge," was a surprise finalist in Britain's prestigious Mercury Music Award in 2000. It was singled out endlessly as the standout choice, drawing praise from the judging panel as being "unlike any of the other 150-plus albums submitted." A high-profile collaboration with Rod Stewart followed soon after ("Don't Come Around Here," on his last contemporary album, 2001's Human). Unhurried about making a follow-up album, Jackie took time in this period to read extensively; searched for and found her biological father, whom she'd never met; and filled notepads with words and phrases that eventually became her new album. "I stepped out for a while, and filled myself with more spiritual things -- aromatherapy, painting. Now, I'm on a mission! I've done my drawing-in, and the arteries are pumping""The songs on Voodoo Chic are quite driven," Jackie says. "Music has become more central to me -- because I've now walked a lot more steps to it. Everything should be regarded as a step. You can't take a step wrong, as long as you progress." Paradoxically, the intimate and engaging qualities of Helicopter Girl are inevitably connected to Jackie Joyce's musical and non-musical pursuits. "In Edinburgh, we're used to doing other things alongside music, because so few [Scottish] people make it," she candidly told one interviewer. "Basically, I am drawing on everyday life, putting as much real, contemporary life in my writing as possible."