Fabiana Palladino discusses her self-titled debut album, stepping out from the shadows of others and words of wisdom with Jessie Ware.

Fabiana Palladino is a perfectionist. Since releasing her debut single, ‘Mystery’, through the Paul Institute in November 2017, the singer-songwriter from London has remained a compelling enigma. Two tracks came in the three years afterwards, ’Shimmer’ and then ‘Waiting’, before the elusive Jai Paul and his brother AK signed her to the label for a full-length album. Agonising over the intricacies of a 10 track project, the Robyn-approved artist feared putting out a body of work that felt incomplete; she found the process challenging at times, balancing her high standards with the realities of recording a debut. 


From what we’ve heard so far, Fabiana Palladino has been worth the wait. ‘I Care’ emphatically introduced us to the record’s retrofuturism, which takes R&B classicisms and morphs them into something inherently their own. Of course, Jai is on hand to provide a steely feature, crooning in mumbled tones to complement Fabiana’s plaintive pleas. “What do I have to do to make you care?”, she questions on the hook, ruing the emotions of a non-committal lover. Released earlier this year, the follow-up single, ‘Stay With Me Through The Night’ is comparably upbeat, as disco funk grooves and toe-tapping drums, from Chaka Khan collaborator Steve Ferrone, take centre stage. Yet still, the lyrics mourn a romance gone wrong.

Loneliness and isolation are key themes across the project. Made after ending a long-term relationship and written during COVID lockdowns, despite the album’s wealth of contributors, composing it was predominantly a solitary experience. Having worked as a session musician, recording with the likes of SBTRKT, Sampha and Jessie Ware, stepping out into the spotlight as an artist in her own right is something Fabiana is finding hard to grapple with. Last month, she played two debut headline shows – one in London and one in Paris. For someone who’s previously remained in the shadows of others, the performances left her feeling exposed. Nevertheless, with Fabiana Palladino nearing its release, and more tour dates planned later this year, she’ll have to get used to the attention.


Catching up while she heads to France for her La Boule Noire show, here, Fabiana talks battling neurosis to complete her debut album, making music in the MySpace era and why Jai Paul is the visionary producer she’ll always trust. 

Talk to us about Fabiana Palladino, the self-titled debut you have coming out in April on Paul Institute / XL Recordings. Why was now the right time to release it? In an interview from 2018 you spoke about a forthcoming EP, was that scrapped or is this its more fleshed-out incarnation?

So that EP was pretty much finished by early 2020 but around that time I signed an album deal with XL / Paul Institute and decided I wanted to expand the EP into an album instead. It then took me three more years to finish the album, which was definitely not the plan – I hoped to finish it within a year but I’m quite slow, also a perfectionist, and there were various setbacks due to Covid and just general life stuff getting in the way. All that said, this really feels like the right time to release this album, it’s been a very long time coming but I feel good about the timing of it and ready to share it with everyone.

What was your proudest moment while making the record? Did anything surprise you about the creative process? 

Honestly, I’m not sure I ever felt proud during the making of the record, I’m pretty hard on myself and found the process really difficult at times – I was questioning whether it was good enough pretty much all the time. I drove myself pretty nuts. Looking back though I guess I’m proud of persevering through my own neurosis and actually managing to finish it? There were some very special moments during the making of it though and I never stop being amazed and surprised by the way a song can expand from a tiny seed of an idea into a really meaningful thing, especially with the help of the collaborators I’ve worked with. So I feel really proud of what we created together.

Jai Paul features across the project, someone that you’ve worked closely with for many years now. Why do you think your sounds complement each other so well? And how do you think he elevates your work?

It’s a combination of things – partly that we have a lot of shared influences and reference points, but also that we have quite different approaches to making music that seem to complement each other somehow. I’m pretty traditional and Jai is a bit more free thinking. It’s an instinctive thing when we work together, we don’t really discuss much, there’s an unspoken understanding of what will work / not work that makes it a really natural process. Jai elevates my work beyond what I ever really could have imagined – he really is a visionary producer and has an originality that is so exciting to me.

What do you hope that people take away from the project?

I hope people find ideas and feelings that they can relate to in the music. Although I worked with collaborators on the album and their contributions are super important, it was a mostly a solitary experience making it – both physically as I made a big chunk of it during lockdowns, but also emotionally – I felt quite alone at times, not necessarily in a negative way, but I was exploring the reasons for that in the music and lyrics, trying to make something that people can connect to and maybe make them feel less alone, to feel seen and heard. All my favourite music does that for me.

‘Stay With Me Through The Night’ is such a jam, but there’s definitely a plaintiveness to it. How did the single come about and how do you think it represents Fabiana Palladino as a whole?

Thank you! It’s actually the only song that made the cut from the EP. The original demo was a bit more plaintive feeling, but when it came to making the album version we just felt like it needed try and make it a straight fire groove. My dad put some bass on the original demo, which had electronic drums that Jai had programmed (some of which are still in there) but then he had the idea to ask Steve Ferrone to play live drums on it and it took the song to a whole new level. Steve played on my one of my favourite records ever which is What Cha Gonna Do For Me? by Chaka Khan. Rhythmically it’s got that old school feeling which is very much up my street but we tried to keep some sort of modernity with the production. I think it represents me because lyrically it’s vulnerable and direct, but the music is uplifting (I hope) ’cause in the end I just wanna make people feel happy and dance. It’s also got that balance of retro and modern which I love to explore.

The track comes alongside your debut music video. How did it feel putting yourself out there like that? It’s beautifully shot…

Yeah it was nerve racking for sure but I felt very supported by the team of people who worked on it who were so encouraging of my initial vague idea and developed it into something really great. I’m still trying to get my head around how I feel about putting myself out there like this. On one hand I’m self-conscious about it but on the other hand I am really enjoying this side of things, getting to create art in a new way and show different sides of myself and the music is super exciting.

You’ve worked with countless amazing musicians, both in your solo career and as a session artist: Sampha, Jessie Ware, Ghostpoet and SBTRKT, to name a few. What’s some advice you’ve been given by one of them that you still hold dearly today?

Jessie has been so supportive of me ever since I first met her in 2011, she’s given me so much advice over the years and I really look up to her. We spoke recently and she told me to try and enjoy this whole part of the album campaign and release, to just soak it up basically. I’ve been thinking about it a lot as it’s so easy to get swept up in the stress of everything and I don’t want to look back and feel like I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have. So I’m trying to have a nice time as much as possible basically.

Many of these artists you first connected with on MySpace. The social media site is often cited by people for its collaborative and creative forces. What do you think music today could take away from that era?

Yeah MySpace was important for a lot of us! I liked that it was super fun and creative and didn’t take itself too seriously. It didn’t feel like a ‘professional’ platform for artists, in that it wasn’t really trying to sell music or gain any sort of streaming numbers, as far as I remember. It really did feel like it was more about just sharing music and making genuine connections with people you often ended up actually meeting and collaborating with, with no real agenda, just the possibility of creating together.

As well as being in Jai Paul’s band, you supported him on his run of debut headline performances. You’ve also just played in London and have a date in Paris soon. How are you navigating life as a performer?

Yeah I supported Jai doing a solo show on a run of his dates at the end of last year. It was great, his audiences were so receptive and generous. Doing a solo show is no joke and I felt quite exposed at the time but I think it’s put me in really good stead for this year, I now have a band performing with me and it’s just so much fun to play with them, I really loved the London show and I’m writing this on the Eurostar to our Paris show this evening. I’m feeling very invigorated by performing the album live and seeing people’s responses to the new songs.

What’s next for Fabiana Palladino? With this debut album around the corner, is there anything else that you’re looking to achieve in 2024?

The main thing will be performing the album live over the next few months, as well as putting out the next few singles and the visuals we’ve made for them. Aside from that I’ll be playing a few more shows with Jai which will be fun. I’m looking forward to getting back to writing with a friend who I was working with last year, as well as writing my second album which I’m thinking about a lot… My aim for this year is to just create as much work as possible.

Fabiana Palladino is out on 6 April via Paul Institute / XL Recordings.

Watch and Listen to 'Stay With Me Through The Night' now:

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