VANESSA DAOU is known internationally for her signature breathy vocal style. On each of her albums, she has explored her musical influences & mixed them into her own unique hybrid brew of Jazz, Blues, Rock, Folk & Electronica. Her first solo album, ZIPLESS, was originally released on her own label Lotus Records and was later signed by Bob Krasnow to his then newly established label Krasnow Entertainment on MCA Records in '95. JOE SENT ME marks Vanessa Daou's 6th solo album and is the premiere release on her current imprint Daou Records.
With 6 successful solo albums under her belt, both as a major label and independent artist - including ZIPLESS, her definitive 1994 breakthrough debut and collaboration with lauded writer and poet ERICA JONG - the artist has been featured in The New York Times, Billboard, TIME, VIBE, URB, Mixer, Wire, ELLE France, Vogue Homme, Le Monde (France), The Toronto Star and many more, & has toured with JAZZMATAZZ/GURU, ZIGGY MARLEY, JAMIROQUAI and Parisian pop icon ETIENNE DAHO.
As a Visual Arts and Art History major at Barnard College, Vanessa has approached her art as a synthesis of sight and sound, written word and song. Master classes with Choreographer Eric Hawkins influenced her fluid approach to movement and her studies with Poet Kenneth Koch at Columbia University sparked her interest in spoken word. In her senior year, Vanessa made frequent appearances at Postcrypt Coffeehouse, the University's on campus and infamous poetry spot. She began her career recording for NuGroove Records, one of New York's seminal underground experimental electronica labels. An impromptu appearance as guest vocalist led to the label's top selling single, "It Could Not Happen" which was a favorite of DJs Pete Tong and was subsequently released signed by Nettwerk Records, UK.
Vanessa's underground success brought her to the attention of Columbia Records/Sony which signed her to a seven album record deal. Together with her musical partner, producer and then-husband, Peter Daou, on piano, the pair recorded as THE DAOU and released their debut album, HEAD MUSIC in 1992. The album, an experimental fusion of Rock, Jazz, and Funk, enjoyed much success and received noteworthy reviews in The New York Times Sunday Arts & Leisure, CREAM, and Billboard Magazine, among others. Her first single "Surrender Yourself" was remixed by Danny Tenaglia and reached #1 on Billboard's Dance Chart, eventually becoming a seminal club classic. After creative disagreements with Columbia, Vanessa negotiated out of her contract and subsequently released two top ten dance singles for influential dance imprint Tribal Records (as “The Daou”) – "Give Myself to You", "Are You Satisfied?"
In 1994, the duo decided to launch Vanessa as a solo artist with Peter as co-writer, producer and arranger. Looking to explore new musical avenues, the pair set about creating what would become Vanessa’s landmark solo outing ZIPLESS. A riveting collaboration with feminist writer and poet ERICA JONG, the critically-acclaimed debut was a simmering soundtrack, melding sensual pop, jazz, sultry blues and ambient electronic textures and rhythms. Originally issued on the couple's Lotus Records label, the album was later signed by Bob Krasnow to his fledgling Krasnow Entertainment imprint (distributed by MCA Records). Hailed as a "timeless collaboration of epic feminist revisionism", Jong's emotionally complex and sexually-charged narratives radiated against the sumptuous backdrop of Peter’s masterful arrangements and Vanessa’s engrossing vocal caresses. ZIPLESS was a visceral tour-de-force fusing innovative artistry with refined pop, subtle jazz nuances and forward-thinking electronic ingenuity.
SLOW TO BURN
In the fall of '96, Daou followed with her sophomore collection SLOW TO BURN. A stirring homage to influential female artisans whose lives exemplified complete liberation (artistic or otherwise), from musicians (BILLIE HOLIDAY) to artists and poets (GERTRUDE STEIN, FRIDA KAHLO) to actresses and dancers (GRETA GARBO, JOSEPHINE BAKER), the sophisticated, groove-drenched fete showcased Vanessa’s strengths as an adept singer, songwriter and producer. Bolstered by the hugely successful single "Two To Tango", as well as, "How Do You Feel" and "Waiting For The Sun To Rise", the album was heralded as "perfect post-midnight music - a subtle jolt of electricity that illuminates the blue darkness and makes all the shadows sparkle" (All Music Guide).
The album’s critical success helped solidify Vanessa as a bonafide pop crossover artist. However, MCA would undergo significant management changes during this time, making it impossible for the company to maintain the momentum that had been built with ZIPLESS. Undaunted, Vanessa returned to her underground club music roots teaming up, once again, with house music titan DANNY TENAGLIA to transform her melodious "Two To Tango" into a deep, hard and soul scorcher which became the undisputed dance anthem of the year – much to the delight of her devout dance music fans and DJs.
By the end of '96, Bob Krasnow retired severing ties with MCA, following a merger with Seagrams (and later, Viacom). Wisely, Vanessa opted to leave MCA as well, negotiating out of her contract, launching her own Daou Music imprint.
PLUTONIUM GLOW & DEAR JOHN COLTRANE
Over the next couple of years, Vanessa released two records independently (along with then-manager Benny Medina) - the narcotic PLUTONIUM GLOW in 1998 (one of the first albums to be marketed and sold on the internet) and the hauntingly tender DEAR JOHN COLTRANE - a sensuous tribute to the iconic jazz pioneer laced with vibrant soul-jazz timbres, beguiling lyrics and silky swooning vocals - in 1999. VICE Magazine writes: "Dear John Coltrane is a sensual ode and tribute to the great man as only Daou could do." These albums found Daou expanding her lexicon injecting heavy doses of electronic, wistful cosmic jazz, ethereal R&B, edgy avant-pop, pulsating house beats and leftfield experimentation into her eclectic canon.
MAKE YOU LOVE
Vanessa's successes and new status as independent artist brought her to the attention of a group of Wall Street investors who financed her fifth solo album MAKE YOU LOVE. Co-released by EMI France in 2000, the long-player unveiled a more mature, articulate and confident artist. Billboard writes: "On her fifth solo album, [Vanessa Daou] continues to follow the beat of her own drum, bucking the norm for her own artistic integrity. Drawing from electronic, pop, and jazz, Make You Love drips with romance, sensuality, and much love".
Featuring 12 insightful, soul-stirring compositions, the set was Daou’s most arresting and intensely autobiographical work to date. Incorporating diverse influences from the pastoral electro-acoustic folk of ZERO 7, Parisian mood-enhancers AIR, brooding synth-pop masterminds DEPECHE MODE, COCTEAU TWINS and premiere French chanteuse FRANCOISE HARDY, the album reverberates with a distinctly European flair. Framed by stunning selections like “A Little Bit of Pain”, the poignant title track, “Show Me”, “Love Child” and “Bittersweet”, the eloquent became an instant smash, particularly in France, bolstered by Vanessa's pairing with French Pop sensation ETIENNE DAHO who recorded the enchanting duet, "Make Believe" (a re-recording of the original taken from Daou’s PLUTONIUM GLOW album), for his CORPS & ARMES release on Virgin France. Daho would later invite Vanessa (and her band) to perform with him as guests for his week of sold-out performances at the legendary Olympia Theatre in Paris.
MAKE YOU LOVE signaled a triumphant turning point for Vanessa. At the dawn of the new millennium, the ever-evolving artist had come to the close of an incredibly successful decade. With five successful solo albums under her belt (both as a major label and independent artist), she had amassed sales in excess of 300,000 units worldwide, been featured in The New York Times, Billboard, TIME Magazine, VIBE, URB, Mixer, Wire, ELLE France, Vogue Homme and many more, and toured with JAZZMATAZZ/GURU, JAMIROQUAI and ZIGGY MARLEY.
Her enduring catalog continues to inspire and stimulate music lovers across the globe, from DJs, fans, music supervisors, film directors and the fashion elite. Her songs have been featured in advertising campaigns (for Bulgari and Zwack), appeared on numerous top-selling compilations including Dimitri From Paris: In The House Of Love, Danny Tenaglia Color Me Danny, Real Ibiza, Cafe del Mar and the Hotel Costes series, and have been featured in TV shows and films such as Dawson's Creek, Fools Rush In, An American Werewolf in Paris and featured in the Samuel Goldwyn French film Lila Says (based on the bestselling 1996 novel Lila Dit Ca). All Music Guide writes: "Fusing jazz, pop, dance grooves, and sexually explicit lyrics, Vanessa Daou may be one of the most daring new artists of the 20th century,"
JOE SENT ME
VANESSA DAOU continues her dynamic poetic musical explorations on JOE SENT ME which was heavily inspired by the code words used to get into the clandestine Speakeasies of the Prohibition era: “Joe sent me” was one of the most commonly used ones. "It was the perfect metaphor for my new album," she explains, “saying something about the transmission of ideas through time, the secret ranges of the voice, fleeting nights of love and desire, the archiving of dreams, memory, and the imagination."
JOE SENT ME is accompanied by a multimedia website which features Vanessa's artwork, video animations, and lyrics, as well as translations of some of her lyrics into Spanish by the acclaimed poet Bruno Galindo & audio interpretations by cuttin-edge New York City Sound artist Raul Vincent Enriquez. Vanessa was recently a guest at Barcelona 2008 Poetry Symposium where she presented a multimedia website of artwork from the album.
JOE SENT ME offers a pared down & refined synthesis of the various styles VANESSA DAOU has explored throughout her enduring career, a collage of slow-burning smoky jazz, hazy Delta Blues, radiant electronic pop, sultry soul, melancholic neo-folk & stirring surrealist meditations. The album melds Daou's ethereal voice - which Paper Magazine calls "otherworldly, perhaps that of a mermaid" - with intimate poetic narratives that grew out of a raw journal of notes & sketches she began after 9-11, conceived as a union between a private inner life & its public expression communicated through the web of technology which Vanessa wanted to both “make apparent and obscure."
JOE SENT ME features collaborations with successful German trance & chillout duo BLANK & JONES, and BARON VON LUXXURY, known widely for his off-beat “Disco-Noir” sound. The release will be followed by 3 singles, "Black & White", "Consequences" & "Heart of Wax". Expect Daou - an established dance music veteran whose collaborations with seminal dance music pioneer DANNY TENAGLIA has produced three #1 Billboard's Dance Chart - to deliver another collection of essential innovative dancefloor anthems with remixes from RICHARD MOREL, ERIC KUPPER, WILL THOMAS (aka DIVE INDEX / ALPHAMOTIVE), downtempo electronic mastermind GANGA and others.
Craig Roseberry, 2009