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In Conversation: Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar

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#ThrowbackThursday

I was asked by Platform to interview Norah whilst she was in London to perform. I was planning on being there anyway and sent Norah an email to see whether she’d be interested in being interviewed by me, for an Indian arts magazine, which I’m very fond of and she replied that it would be interesting. We left it at that and I assumed that she would confirm later, and that I would then spend a good amount of time preparing for my first-ever interview. I had the notion of planning lovely, clever questions that she’d never been asked before. 

One day before her London performance, Norah emailed again saying that she could come over to see me and if I wanted to do the interview at the same time? Whilst I slightly panicked at not having any time whatsoever to plan my questions, I said yes. 

To support the release of her album, the wonderful Little Broken Hearts, Norah is on an extended promotion and concert tour in Europe and North America. She’s exhausted I know, from our previous conversations, because the combo of concerts plus press and TV appearances has had her on high drive. It tells me how much this record means to her, because I know she normally avoids doing more press than needed and used to have, for example, a strict ban on press the same day as concerts, which has now been lifted. Yet when she shows up at my doorstep she looks as lovely as ever, and is effusive and chirpy when greeting my one-year-old son Zubin, her nephew. He adores her and surprises me by remembering her name after two months, ‘Nona!’ being the closest he can manage. 

We’re both excited and curious to tackle the task, which has been set for us by Platform, as of course neither of us has ever interviewed the other before. After sending Zubin out to play with his nanny we settle down in my living room, the sounds of a bustling Shoreditch street party floating up through the window.

Anoushka: It’s good to see you.
Norah: I love it when I get to step into your home on tour and feel homey.
A: It’s nice to actually be at home to welcome you. I hate it when I come to New York to play and you are not there, or vice versa. Ok, let’s start this interview. So how’s your tour going so far?
N: It’s going great.
A: New band, new album….
N: New band!
(Norah smiles at me, and I smile back her. There’s a long pause….)
A: Oh God, I’m a bad interviewer!
(As I start to panic, Norah, thankfully, picks up where I trailed off.)
N: I love it. I’m psyched about the new band. It’s really fun. And I love these guys; I’ve known them for a while.
A: They were all a band together, before you hired them, right?
N: Yeah, I met them during Bob Dylan and Tom Petty tribute night shows. They already had their chemistry together and I already knew them really well. It’s just been so fun.
A: So was it easier for you to plug into this existing band, as opposed to having to create an entire...
N: Yeah, it was so much easier than having to put a bunch of strangers together to see if they had musical chemistry.
A: Was that difficult as a band-leader that they already had their own thing going?
N: No, it was good for me because they seemed really excited to do this gig. I’m totally thrilled with them and we’re having a lot of fun on the road, you know… It’s always so fun when you have a group of good people.
A: It’s essential. It’s a killer otherwise.

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