Ima is Canada’s brand new star of love songs. When she released her album “Smile” in 2007, the album immediately went gold and stayed on Canadian music charts for over 60 weeks. Ima’s first album included jazz standards, but she also reinterprets famous love songs in Spanish, French, Italian and English.
Ima was recently in İstanbul, her first visit here, to launch her 2009 album “A La Vida” in Turkey under the label EMI. Ima is represented in Turkey by artist management company Pasion Turca, which has previously introduced such bestselling international acts as Pink Martini, Monica Molina and Buika to Turkish audiences. In an interview during her recent visit to İstanbul, Ima spoke about her songs, her album and her brief visit to Turkey.
You sing in many different languages, such as French, Spanish, Italian and English, and your songs have a kind of Mediterranean feel. Is this because your mother tongue is French?
My mother tongue might have led me to feel closer to other Mediterranean countries’ songs, but even in my early ages of childhood I remember myself loving old songs while my friends were listening to pop music. I was listening to Mediterranean songs in those days, too. Personally, I have always been a great admirer of Edith Piaf, and actually I don’t think it’s necessary to know the language of the song when you like a song; there were times I learned the language of the song after that song really captured me.
You also combine folk and rock in your style, so how do you describe your music?
I can say that the language of my songs is the language of the heart; I choose songs that touch my soul with their stories to sing. Somehow, I started to have stories with the countries I visit, with the people I meet -- for instance, I have beautiful stories with Italy. It’s true that my songs combine some Latin, rock and folk elements, but, most of all, there is a touch of love in the essence of my music.
There are so many international superstars from Canada, such Alanis Morissette and Celine Dion. Have they inspired you?
I can say [I was much inspired by] Celine Dion while growing up, but as I mentioned before, I have always listened to Latin songs, even in my early childhood. I grew up listening to Edith Piaf and Dalida. Alanis Morissette is a great songwriter and she is a great singer, too.
Pasion Turca is launching your 2009 album, “A La Vida,” in Turkey. How do you feel about this?
I am really so excited. At my very first night in İstanbul, I was out for a dinner at a restaurant with a beautiful Bosporus view while a DJ was playing one of my songs! Coincidentally, there was a Canadian delegation over at the same restaurant and they recognized me and we had our pictures taken together. It was unbelievable that even on my first night in İstanbul there were people who recognized me. I feel like my story here has started with a beautiful energy.
One of the songs you have reinterpreted is the famous “Le temps des fleurs” by legendary singer Dalida. You not only sing her songs -- you look like her, too.
Dalida’s story is so sad with her suicide. Honestly, I tend to be a drama queen about love and I love to sing songs of heartbreak, but I sing more of happy songs and try to enjoy my life to the fullest.
You visited historical places in İstanbul like the Grand Bazaar and Sultanahmet. What did you like most about Turkey?
I am really impressed by the way people are so enthusiastic about trying to teach something historically important about Turkey to you. You talk about your own country in a very lovely way, and you are so proud of your country.
Now that you’ve finally launched “A La Vida” here, what will you do next in Turkey?
“A La Vida” is full of happy songs which really reflect the feeling of summer, so I guess we launched the album at the right time. It’s a pretty good beginning for my career launch in Turkey. We are planning to release my album “Smile” -- which has more romantic and sad songs -- in the fall. We are also planning for a concert debut in İstanbul next January at İş Sanat.