Nikka Costa is a rare breed. With roots in Frank Sinatra's rat pack—her father, Dan Costa, produced and arranged songs for the famed crooner—Costa traveled the world as a child singer and performed on the White House lawn with Sinatra himself, all before the age of nine. Since then, she has churned out four retro-soul albums with hits like "Everybody's Got Their Something" and "Stuck to You." Think of her sound as a reincarnation of Betty Davis, but swap the fro with wild red hair and add some of Janis Joplin's emotive howl to the mix.
For Costa's new release, Pro Whoa, the self-proclaimed "funky white bitch" hung up her hang-ups and whipped up a new sound, swapping her previous blues-and-funk signature for beat-heavy dance tracks. (You can download it here.) In a phone chat prior to her San Francisco tour stop, Costa let loose about signing fans' body parts, finding inspiration in Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff, and why you simply must see her perform.
Mother Jones: Let's talk about the new album. It's got more of a modern, futuristic feel than your funkier prior releases, what brought on the change?
Nikka Costa: I wanted to do something different than my last album, Pebble to a Pearl. I loved that record, it had a very vintage, old-school feel and we recorded it all in one room. I wasn't in the funk mode this time around. So I started working around with MPCs [Akai's music production centers]. I wanted a harder, more beat-driven sound.