Eight years ago, Israeli-French chanteuse Yael Naim created a whimsical little ditty called “New Soul,” which took on a life of its own. Not only did it top the pop charts in over a dozen countries (including the U.S., where it climbed to No. 7), it was personally selected by Apple exec Steve Jobs for a TV commercial to launch his then-new MacBook Air laptop line. The tune is still around, currently featured in the trailer for the upcoming film “A Dog’s Purpose.” Naim is back on American radar with a tour backing her gorgeous new album, the aptly-dubbed “Older,” composed with her longtime percussionist beau, David Donatien. She has quite a story to tell.
I can’t believe it’s been eight long years since “New Soul.”
I know! I can’t believe it, either! And what happened in between, you’re probably wondering? We did another album in between called “She Was a Boy” (in 2010) that was less known in the States, but it was a gold album in France and it won the French equivalent of a Grammy. And then I had a child and took a break for one year. And we did a lot of touring in Europe, Japan, and Brazil.
How has motherhood changed things?
My daughter is 3 now. And let’s say that there was a before and an after. I was very attached to my freedom and my creativity, and I became a mother kind of late. But then when my baby arrived — and its really cliché — but of course, you can’t describe the love that you feel. It was interesting, because I think when you are facing giving birth or facing death — the most unknown parts of our life — there is no confirmation of anything. It’s the only time in your life when you will suddenly lose control.
How did it affect you, specifically?
It made me live some really dark moments, which finally got into the music, in songs like “Coward” or “Trapped.” But it also led me to extreme moments of happiness, feeling like life is happening now, and I have to learn to live it. Which led to the songs “Make a Child” and “Walk Until.” It gave me a lot of creativity.
And your grandmother passed away at the same time?
That was a part of it, too. It made me think, “OK, you have to carefully choose how you spend your life, because it will fade one day and you’re not going to be here anymore.” And every time that we are aware that we will die some day, it gives you strength, because you don’t waste your time on nonsense.
IF YOU GO
Where: Great American Music Hall,859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 12
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.slimspresents.com