More than two decades after dropping her Grammy-winning debut single, 2000’s “I’m Like a Bird,” Nelly Furtado is ready to fly back into the spotlight.
Then again, particularly for those on TikTok, it feels like she never really left. Over the past several years, a number of the Canadian-Portuguese songstress’ mid-aughts hits, including “Promiscuous,” “Say It Right,” “Maneater” and “Give It To Me,” have found new popularity on the platform.
“The resurgence of my catalog on social media has reminded me that my sound is iconic and classic, and my message has always been positive and life-affirming. I’ve always made music that people want to dance to, have a good time to, celebrate to,” Furtado tells Page Six Style.
6Furtado, pictured in 2000, rose to pop stardom in the early aughts with songs like “I’m Like a Bird” and “Turn Off the Light.”Getty Images
And the “Nellysance” is showing no signs of slowing.
In September, the artist reunited with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake — her collaborators from 2007’s chart-topping “Give It To Me” — on “Keep Going Up,” a breezy dance-pop bop that’s all about leveling up in life. (Choice lyrics include “I been workin’ on my gains lately / I been lovin’ myself on the daily” and “I’m no longer settlin’, I’m upgradin.’”)
We caught up with Furtado to discuss her return to music, her recent cameo at Paris Fashion Week, her sultry new Skims campaign and her style evolution.
What inspired you, Timbaland and JT to get back in the studio together?
“It really felt like kismet. Timbaland and I had this two-hour FaceTime call — we hadn’t connected in a really long time — and it became very clear that it was time to get together again. And then a week later, he’s calling me saying he has a beat for me, and he said, ‘It’s a trio.’
“Right away, a lightbulb went off. I thought, trio … Timberlake?! I changed my plans; I was supposed to be in Europe that day, and I detoured to Miami for less than 24 hours, and basically got no sleep and went to the studio and our sole purpose was to finish this song, ‘Keep Going Up.’
“It sounds like a cliché, but we did pick up right where we left off. Our electricity together, our chemistry together, it’s timeless. When we’re together, we can really let our freakiness come out.
“And then the synchronicity kept going, because then I’m at the MTV [VMAs,] I’m stepping out to do the red carpet, I’m in the hotel, *NSYNC walks by, and it’s Justin — he’s in the hotel room next to me! Right place, right time.”
6Furtado stunned in a backless Dundas dress on the VMAs 2023 red carpet.FilmMagic
Speaking of the VMAs, your backless Dundas dress looked incredible on the carpet — and was quite a daring choice!
“Me and my stylist, Marc Andrew Smith, have been having so much fun … really using fashion to the maximum to get a point across. It’s about presenting something timeless, something classic, and also me feeling my best. You can never let clothes wear you; you have to wear the clothes.
“I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer. At age 44, all of a sudden, I love being proud and confident in my body and showing it, dressing more sensually. I love it. I was asked to pose [nude] with a boa constrictor for Marie Claire Mexico, and I said yes immediately — so that is a really good marker of where I’m at!”
6The star stripped down — with a snake! — for the cover of Marie Claire Mexico’s October issue.Matallana/Marie Claire Mexico
You also just posed for a Skims ad, so you’re clearly feeling confident in your own skin.
“[When] Skims asked me to do the campaign, I was so thrilled. And on set, I felt so comfortable in the shapewear … I don’t even think I wore a robe [when I left] my dressing room! I was like, ‘Hello! I’m here!’
“The way they work is, it’s very femme-forward, very female-positive. They have an amazing female photographer, Vanessa Beecroft, and you just feel like a million dollars on their set. It just feels very modern and very ‘female gaze.’”
6Furtado posed for the Best of Skims campaign alongside Kim Cattrall, Hari Nef, Lana Condor and Coco Jones.Skims
On the flip side, looking back at your career, was there ever a time when you had to fight to present or dress yourself in a certain way?
“For the ‘I’m Like a Bird’ music video, I wanted to wear my sneakers — so I did! Originally, the vision was me in a dress, or something … but even as a young artist in my early 20s, I understood that I had a fanbase that I needed to scream to very clearly through fashion, hair and makeup.
“So my hoop earrings and my two little Princess Leia buns were my calling card that connected me to my fans. I definitely had to fight for those things quite often. My first photoshoots, I would always pack a little carry-on with my raver flatform sneakers, my bell-bottoms, little tank tops and hoop earrings, just in case I didn’t get along with the stylist or the photographer and didn’t like anything they brought.”
How has your style evolved since you got your start?
“Nowadays, I still dress irreverently sometimes — I am known to put things together that you wouldn’t think would normally go together, colors and styles and fabrics — but I think I’ve slowly become a little more of a sleek dresser. I’m a little more pulled-together now.
“A lot of times — obviously not with that Dundas dress [for the VMAs], but in my everyday life — I actually don’t decide what I’m going to wear until 10 minutes before I leave the house. And what that does is it makes you focus on the feeling rather than overthinking it. You dress for your mood. And I think if you do that, you can always feel good in clothing.
6Decades after getting her start, she’s still a sucker for a tiny tank top and sneakers.GC Images
“I started dressing up for the studio about a year and a half ago, really putting a lot of intention into what I wear. If you can come to the studio feeling really good, you can pull off a recording that has presence and energy. I’ve also been having a festive atmosphere lately, where I invite a lot of people and there’s a lot of jams going on … and you dress up for parties, right?”
“When I’m on mom duty, though, I dress really comfortably. My new thing is that I buy really cozy hooded sweatshirts at airports; right now, I have [ones for] New Jersey, New York City and California.”
You should’ve gotten a Paris hoodie while you were there for Fashion Week — it was your first time there since 2009, according to Getty Images! What was that like?
“Being at Paris Fashion Week again was totally surreal. We didn’t book that trip until four days before, but we got the invite from Rabanne and French Vogue, and it was like, let’s do this!”
6Furtado sat front row at the Rabanne show during Paris Fashion Week.Getty Images
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Your TikToks from the front row were so fun. Speaking of which, what’s it like seeing a new generation discovering your music on the app?
“It’s a total blessing. I didn’t really get it until I played my first long show in years at Australia’s Beyond the Valley Festival for New Year’s Eve 2023. I walked out and thought, is it 2001? Because all I see are 22-year-old girls singing all these songs!”