There have been a cavalcade of books written about Elizabeth Taylor. Whether they are on her fashion, her fame or her films, the fascination is still strong. Why, Elizabeth Taylor even wrote four books herself during her lifetime. Yet, does Nibbles and Me count? Elizabeth was only a child with a chipmunk for that one. In regards to Michael Jackson, the passion for his incredible talents as a singer, songwriter, dancer and humanitarian has also sparked numerous books on his life. Some sensational to make a buck and some that are realistic and heartfelt. Jackson himself, also penned one book called Moonwalk.
Author Donald Bogle takes the two superstars of film and music a step further in a truly innovative and original way. Bogle has combined rotating chapters on both Taylor and Jackson’s lives. He also gathers all that he could about their friendship and love for one another that began in 1984. Donald Bogle’s empathy and diligence for these two legends reads very well and true. His perspective is clear-cut, polished and sparkles with a shine that beautifully captures the light, spirit, work and complexity of the two in Elizabeth & Michael: The Queen of Hollywood and The King of Pop: A Love Story.
These two people were kindred spirits. Elizabeth Taylor as “Mother Courage” who managed to weather any personal health problems or public scandal with a “live and let live” attitude and perception of mind. While Michael Jackson; a pure perfectionist of the “Peter Pan” philosophy was both magical, intuitive and a lost man, at times. This strength of devotion matched with the power of will and adoration brought their chemistry out in spades. The pressures of fame, scandal and press kept them united and formed a very special bond between the two. It’s hard to imagine we’ll ever see this combination or unique attributes of Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson again… both of them were truly one-of-a-kind.
Donald Bogle deserves Michael’s signature white glove and a pair of real ruby cufflinks from Elizabeth for creating this comprehensive, unbiased and fascinating book.
Their sound is unmistakable in the world and history of pop music. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have a formidable career and still create magical vibes with their music and lyrics. Both men are the recipients of the Outstanding Achievement in Music Award at the Brit Awards. They also broke a Billboard record with their single “Love Etc.” off of their album Yes as it hit number one. This set a new record for most number one singles on Billboard Magazine’s Dance/Club chart. It’s an impressive total of nine songs that have reached this height in Pet Shop Boy’s career. I had the great time speaking with Neil Tennant about the drive and vision of Pet Shop Boys, what’s in store and to capture a few thoughts and memories of their remarkable career as music icons.
Showbiss: You both are so chic!
Neil Tennant: (laughter) You wouldn’t think I was chic if you saw what I was wearing now!
Showbiss: Congratulations on Yes. It’s a joy to listen to. On the song, “King of Rome” the orchestrations on that are so pretty.
NT: The arrangement was actually done by a young Canadian composer called Owen Pallett who is very, very talented. He also operates under the name of “Final Fantasy.” He’s a very talented performer and composer. We’d heard his work on other albums so we got him to do it. I think he’s done an amazing arrangement.
Showbiss: Please tell me about The London Metropolitan Orchestra and working with them on this.
NT: They just call themselves that, they are actually a collection of session musicians and we’ve worked with them before. They are all excellent musicians. It’s very exciting when you go into a studio and do the orchestral overdubs because it’s so big and we work at Abbey Road where The Beatles used to work.
Showbiss: Have you and Chris ever thought to put together a symphonic illustration of your music with no vocals that would cover your body of work?
NT: No. We are writing at the moment a ballet for the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, which is a famous ballet theatre. We are going to read it next year.
Showbiss: Oh nice.
NT: It’s going to tour as well. So, that’s a big thing. It’s not quite symphonic but a mix of electronic and strings. Also, five years ago we wrote a soundtrack for the classic silent film, The Battleship Potemkin. We collaborated with a German composer and have performed that with an orchestra several times around Europe. We have quite a symphonic thing going actually.
Showbiss: Two songs on Yes that I thought were warm, romantic and real are “Did You See Me Coming” and “Vulnerable.” Both songs showcase the softer and less cynical side of Pet Shop Boys.
NT: Well. The Pet Shop Boys have a very strong romantic, warm side. Going right back to “West End Girls” even. Right back to the first album, songs like “Love Comes Quickly.”
Showbiss: Definitely, though some of the songs talk about tough love and broken relationships.
NT: “Vulnerable” is like that really. What we try to do with our songs is to take real life and put it to music and real life isn’t always pretty and gorgeous. But what counts is the feeling and the truth. That’s what we try to put to music even if it’s ugly or not.
Showbiss: The song, “All Over the World” is amazingly interesting to listen to and for me, screams high fashion. Have any major designers requested to use that song on the runway?
NT: No, they haven’t. The only people who have done is UNICEF. They are doing an advert and they sent us a rough version of it. I think that’s all happening and it works very well. You know, fashion designers don’t ask permission. They just use it if they want to. I agree though. It would be great on a catwalk with that Tchaikovsky riff.
Showbiss: I read that you are an admirer of Noel Coward. Is it possible that his wit and bon vivant is part of your lyrical style?
NT: Yeah, I grew up with it to a certain extent and even before Noel Coward; do you know Gilbert and Sullivan?
Showbiss: Oh yes.
NT: In school we used to sing these songs with these very witty lyrics and I think it just gets into your way of thinking. One of the unusual things about The Pet Shop Boys is we write songs that are kind of witty or try to be funny. That comes a little bit from me from Noel Coward, and Cole Porter for that matter and Stephen Sondheim, these are amazing lyricists. I can only aspire to be as good as them. They are definitely a very strong influence on me.
Showbiss: How did the collaboration with Xenomania come to be on Yes?
NT: Well… we phoned them up. (Laughter). The reason we phoned them up is they made a long series of singles and albums with this girl group called Girls Aloud in Britain, like The Spice Girls. What is interesting is they experiment with pop music. Every record is different and also they are very electronic. When we’d written the songs we’d written, we thought that they’d make it fresh and they’d make us sound better and they’d make us work hard and we wrote three songs with them.
Showbiss: For me, The Pet Shop Boys have their own Warholian sense of design in your production values for your live performances and the artwork for your music. How would you describe this artistic expression?
NT: We try to do something that is simple or minimal but with a certain glamour. That’s why it’s a bit Warholian actually. It’s a bit like Andy Warhol; we think that anything can be art.
Showbiss: I saw the Brits performance and that was amazingly well done.
NT: That did take a lot of work. We spend a lot of time on the presentation actually. The same woman, called Es Devlin, designs the show we are about to bring to the United States. She designed the Brits performance. We worked on that with her. We want to do something that people think, “Wow! That’s great.” That’s what you really aspire to is to do something that entertains people and they think, “Wow. I’ve not seen a show like this before.” The new show, believe it or not, is based around 300 cardboard boxes. They look amazing because there are projection screens and media and all sorts of things. It’s a clever show and also very multi-media with all this film. It’s very exciting.
Showbiss: You’ve worked with three of my all-time favorite entertainers, Liza Minnelli, Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley. First, a question about Liza Minnelli, I had the privilege of speaking with her a few years ago. She told me about the time that you and her were doing Results and you and Chris had dinner with Frank (Sinatra) and Sammy (Davis Jr.).
NT: With Frank and Sammy? Yes!
BB: What do you remember most about producing Results?
NT: Results was a very interesting project. The reason we did it is because Liza hadn’t done a lot of pop music. She hadn’t done electronic pop music. So, it was a challenge. Also, Pet Shop Boys… we’ve always liked stars. We like star quality and Liza’s got it in bucketful’s. While she was recording this, she was touring with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. We were very thrilled to meet them both.
Actually, we tried to get Liza to do a duet with Frank Sinatra for the album. There is a song on that called “So Sorry I Said.” It was written originally as a duet and Liza wanted to do it as a duet with me. We said, “No. Frank Sinatra, it will be amazing!” Anyway… she wasn’t that keen on that idea. One of my few regrets in life professionally.
Showbiss: That’s a beautifully done album. I also really love “If There is Love.”
NT: That’s my favorite track on the album. It’s great when she reads the Shakespeare and the sax is playing. That and “So Sorry I Said.” Another great track that my iPod shuffled onto is “Twist in My Sobriety,” where we got that guy to rap “Liza with a Z” at the beginning. Also, the issue of sobriety, which is always such an issue with Liza. She really went for it on this album. It’s funny… it has this little audience, this album. People often talk to us about it. You know, we’ve just written a song for Shirley Bassey.
Showbiss: Oh! Excellent.
NT: She’s doing this album with David Arnold who does all the James Bond soundtracks. Anyway, he phoned me up the other day and played it on the phone to us and it sounded great.
Showbiss: What’s the name of the song?
NT: I’m not allowed to say, I’m afraid. It’s top secret.
Showbiss: (laughter) Also, will you tell the story of creating the song “Absolutely Fabulous?”
NT: The back-story on that was Chris and I loved the show when it first came out. We decided to make a record. I don’t know why we even did it really. We did it in the studio over a couple of days. We just thought it was hilarious. So, we phoned up Jennifer Saunders and we sent it to her and she really, really liked it! And she came in the studio and did some ad-libs for it. Most of it comes from the first couple of shows of the first series. Then we got someone to do a little video of it. I don’t know. It was just fun and something to do. In a way, we did it because we wanted to have dinner with her and Joanna Lumley (laughter).
I was always disappointed, they were going to put it on the show, you know and they didn’t in the end. A lot of people criticized us for that because they thought it was just stupid.
Showbiss: Oh no! That’s such a fun song to listen to.
NT: I think it’s fun. A lot of people don’t want you to be fun. We actually like doing things because… they’re just fun.
Showbiss: Another thing that struck me as so cool was seeing Brandon from The Killers and Lady Gaga perform with Pet Shop Boys at the Brits.
NT: Lady Gaga was great and very professional. Very into it, she came as a China teapot. She had this amazing outfit made that was fantastic. The combination of her and Brandon who is like a rock singer was a very unusual combination. They were so great, the pair of them doing it.
Showbiss: Well. I know it sounds corny, but your music makes up the fabric of my life. Thanks for talking with me.
Marina Diamandis played with letters in her last name to create her moniker of Marina and the Diamonds.
Yet, her distinctive, natural way of bringing forth raw and thought-provoking honesty
to her songwriting is anything but playful. Since the beginning of her music career in 2010, there has been a luster and shine in discovering her persona of feminine and feminist wiles. This mixture of tough and tender… whether personified in “Electra Heart” or wildly let loose in clever intensity for her debut of The Family Jewels, is truly a unique and fascinating perspective, one that is truly her own creation.
The emotional release of self-expression and what moves her as a vocalist and songwriter is just as potent for her this release. Marina takes the upper hand in addressing a spectrum of brilliantly nuanced emotions. This time around, the musical edge and structure is significant in that it moves in a current of musical tones that can flow from subtle and subdued to vividly stylized beats. FROOT has smarts, heart and beauty and musically… that’s no easy accomplishment. Marina spoke with me about this latest manifestation of art and the brilliance of a new crop of ideas.
Showbiss: I wanted to start off with the musical production aspects of FROOT. You have Everything Everything on guitars and Jason Cooper from The Cure on drums. They provide an exciting musical energy for the album.
Marina: They really did in terms of actually giving the record a groove… a genuine groove. In terms of guitar, Alex (Robertshaw) from Everything Everything gave the record a real tone that I hadn’t really explored before. I’m very lucky to have them on the record.
Showbiss: The title track “FROOT” has a real slick style to it. I imagine this was a fun song to write.
Marina: Yes, it was very fun. It’s actually one of the last songs I wrote. I was going in to the studio and it was a pretty dreary day in January. I was like, ‘I want to write something weird and upbeat and cheerful.’ Actually, the holding lyric was ‘pamplemousse’ which is grapefruit (laughs) in French. I titled it in the beginning, so “FROOT” is something else, though.
Showbiss: The video is beautifully done with a 1970s chic Vogue look to it. You look stunning and I love that you break into that sci-fi ‘ah-ah-ah’ at one point in the song.
Marina: (Laughter) Yes.
Showbiss: How did that little break get added?
Marina: When I was writing the song, by then I knew that the structure wasn’t going to be exactly orthodox. So, I just wanted to do a weird opera sci-fi bit on that and not have any lyrics. Yeah, it’s one of my favorite bits, actually!
Showbiss: Was “Immortal” a difficult song to get it just the way you wanted it to be, in terms of songwriting?
Marina: Umm, you know what? It’s funny that you ask about that. It wasn’t one that was troublesome but it did take a little while. Just because I didn’t want the lyrics… I didn’t want anything to be throw-away and it was talking about a serious subject. I wanted things to fit in a way that would make me feel like I’d put out the right message. Yeah, it was long. It was longer than usual.
Showbiss: In dealing with the subject matter of death, it’s delicate and beautiful. Now, I’d like to backtrack a bit on two songs from Family Jewels. When I first heard you on Family Jewels, the first song I kept putting on repeat was “Shampain.”
Marina: Oh, really?
Showbiss: I’m an avid Marilyn buff and listening to the lyrics, I couldn’t get the image of Marilyn Monroe out of my head.
Marina: Really? It is kind of that type of disastrous, comedic, camp, film star message. I can see where you get that.
Showbiss: Also, your song “Hollywood,” you wrote that even before you came to the states?
Marina: Oh, yes. I wrote that song when I was twenty-one. By the time it was released, I was twenty-four. We had been receiving all those kinds of gossip mags and that kind of gossip tabloid culture for pretty much a whole year. It was all Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie etc. We really didn’t consume gossip the same way then, as we do now on the Internet, where you can get it everywhere. It was this popular culture thing and it was very destructive. It was very all consuming for a young girl, so, that’s how I wrote about it.
Actually, I did go to America. I went on my own to Miami for a trip (laughter) when I broke up with a boyfriend. I went away! Actually I came up with a few ideas then. But yeah… it’s such an invasive kind of thing, the American effect. It was hard to ignore and I was interested in it. It wasn’t about America per se, it was more about L.A. culture and how I thought that was negative.
Showbiss: Got it and I totally agree. Back to the new songs and your single, called “Forget.” How would you describe the musical vibe on this?
Marina: It’s very simple, classic like… I would dare say, it’s like pop-rock, which I haven’t actually done before. It’s one of the simpler songs I’ve ever written but I really love it. It’s really satisfying to perform and listen to.
Showbiss: The thing I’ve admired most about your songwriting is the portrait you paint of emotions and your ability to thoroughly scrutinize the complexity of the modern woman in all their good and bad sides. Also, as importantly, how women are represented in the media. Will you elaborate on your philosophy on that?
Marina: Wow. You’ve done a very good job of exactly describing what I do (laughter). I don’t know if I can elaborate on it…what I can say, is that for me, I think to answer to artistic identity and what that is, I think I always felt quite troubled or quite misunderstood. For me, it was never about sounds or genre necessarily. I can get around a lot in terms of genre. I can do a really soft song and I can also do something like “Mowgli’s Road.” But, I don’t think people really knew what I was.
Now, I feel very confident because my identity is actually my lyric. The lyrical style which you just described. That’s my skill as a songwriter. As far as not being categorized, I’m at peace with not being able to be described very well. It’s my sound, my voice and my lyrics and the rest is secondary, really.
Showbiss: It’s a voice out there in a musical landscape, where what you write about… those kind of things aren’t addressed so raw and so eloquently. It could be construed as cynical but at the same time, why go into something with your eyes shut and not be able to communicate how you feel about it?
Marina: Totally! Totally like that.
Showbiss: I’m afraid to use the word “happy” around you (laughter).
Marina: Stop! (Laughter)
Showbiss: It’s true. Don’t ever lose your analytical dark side though. Your lyrics sure have gotten me to understand love and relationships a little clearer.
Marina: Yeah, I don’t think you have to worry too much. It’s not like… with the song, “Happy” I think people think, “Oh, she’s happy now!” It’s more about everything around you and your response to everything that happens around you. It’s more about that… as opposed to getting up every day and feeling really happy. It’s like, no, that’s not realistic. You can’t feel happy all the time. That’s abnormal. But, it is nice to be in an emotional state where you are stable and you are welcoming of being happy.
When it comes to personality plus and talent, along with a glam-attitude and good looks, Brendon Urie is the guy. His group Panic! At the Disco got its start in 2004 and though it has gone through some shifts in style and band members, Brendon has triumphed as the lead vocalist/songwriter/musician hit his stride with their latest release Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die. Their blend of punk, new wave and rock sensibilities have created a modern and passionate musical escapade with songs such as “Ms. Jackson,” “This is Gospel” and his ode to sexy individuality in “Girls/Girls/Boys.”
The dynamo performer spoke with me during the midst of the band’s This is Gospel tour. Brendon elaborates on the inspirations behind his songwriting process, just what he enjoys so much about live performances and shares a bit of his fascination with Frankie… Sinatra, that is. Urie is quite an interesting character as evidenced in Brendon Urie in 26 Minutes while creating a major following for his Vine video posts. You can’t help but smile at this arresting personality and passionate musician who is living his dream.
Showbiss: There is a definite energy to the album that I enjoyed so much. Though, when listening to some of the lyrics and watching some of the videos, it’s kind of dark. How did the process of writing these new songs work for you?
Brendon Urie: Oh yeah, first… thank you very much. That’s awesome. I love hearing that. I think for me, I like having the context of having some kind of “figure triumphant” big beat in the song with sometimes a darker message. There’s definitely stuff on this album that, I just needed to talk about it. I felt like I was a different person. I’d grown out of this person that I thought I was and I thought I just wanted to move ahead. It was such a good opportunity to really get that off my chest and talk about things I’ve never talked about before… that’s a big thing for me. It was a good opportunity to be honest about personal experiences of growing up in Vegas. That’s what it was.
Showbiss: When you’re writing the songs say for example “This is Gospel,” were you looking for a moment where you can just let loose vocally? You really stretch your voice.
BU: Yeah, thanks. That’s been a huge part, the melody. I love The Beatles and Paul McCartney. When I was about ten-years old, my dad and I were watching Wings Live and Paul McCartney was talking about how he wrote “Yesterday” and he said, “It started with scrambled eggs.” I remember that caught my attention….so cool. It doesn’t matter what you’re saying, the lyrics can come later. The melodies were such a big thing. Certain vowels and “love” and a certain look definitely just changed the lyric to the music in general. I think it’s why some of the band…it’s so easy to do a “yeah, yeah, yeah” part, just because it’s nice. It’s really those moments where there’s a sheer triumphant moment of joy. What better way than singing out gang vocals. I love that stuff. That stuff for me is some of the most golden parts of music. I love that band.
Showbiss: On the song, “Miss Jackson” there are five additional collaborators on writing this song. How did you end up with this many people adding to the song? Were they sitting around in a room or did you drop off the majority of it and they just picked at it…how did that happen?
BU: (laughs) Well, it’s always kind of an interesting thing. Now, I’ve done it a few more times. I love it. It honestly started when the band came up with the different songs we had gotten from somebody and all they did was put a kick and a snare beat, like a hip-hop beat underneath this other sample and we were like, “That’s a cool idea.” So, that was one collaborator.
Then, I had been writing with Butch Walker and Jake Sinclair and they are some of my closest friends. They are just the best dudes ever, including my favorite songwriters right now. They’re just awesome. It just came about because we were so excited about the idea behind that track. I just started writing all these verse lyrics, so I had the verse melody and then Butch came over with this chord melody and when all that kind of stuff happens at that time… that was the most excited I had been about the record. We had most of the record done…there were lyrics in the songs that I wanted to add in on some that we had. It struck a chord with me and I got really, really excited. Collaborating with other artists is so fun. It’s why I wanted to be in a band in the first place.
Showbiss: Definitely… and I love the reference to Janet Jackson’s song “Nasty” as well.
BU: Yeah, that’s exactly what it was. My initial idea was I wanted to use a female celebrity from the past, so I tried singing with other names like Audrey Hepburn, because I have the biggest thing for her and also Marilyn Monroe. No matter what song that was, it had to really work with the melody. I love the melody so much, I had to figure out what name can go. I was watching the video, I was going through and there’s Janet again. I love her. I was watching that video and then I came about it. Oh my god, I’m so awesome. (laughter) And then, I was also thrilled just like in Outkast, that’s a cool thing to me.
Showbiss: Yeah. I have to say congrats on the Alternative Press Award for Best Vocalist.
BU: Oh thank you… that was a surprise.
Showbiss: It’s deserving. After I learned a little bit more about you, your renditions of Frank Sinatra songs like “World On a String” and “My Funny Valentine” are excellent. Your energy and personality in singing those songs is very refreshing to watch and hear.
BU: Thanks. Thanks so much. That’s awesome. I love that.
Showbiss: When did you get the tattoo of Sinatra on your arm? It jumped out at me during the “Girls/Girls/Boys” video. Not that there wasn’t anything else to look at.
BU: (hearty laugh) Yeah, I got it last year before we started to tour. We were leaving in three days and I had wanted to get a Sinatra tattoo but I hadn’t found an artist that I could fall in love with to get a full-on photo done on the tattoo. I met this guy, Rich, who is now a really good friend. It worked out and it was very serendipitous. I fell in love with the black and white and grey and just the blue eyes.
Showbiss: Nice. Now, how fun was it to get pelted in your piano version of “This is Gospel” video? Please tell me you did that in one take.
BU: Yeah, we did. My only idea was I’m going to do a piano version of this song because I love it and the piano. For the video, all I said was, “Let’s do it super slow-mo and just chuck a bunch of stuff at me. I’m not even going to tell you what to throw. Just come up with some ideas and just throw it at me while I’m singing.” It would just be a barrage of insanity. It occurred to me that maybe I made a mistake. They had old, rotten, spoiled milk, platefuls of garlic spaghetti… I was like, this stuff stinks! I can’t smell this.
Showbiss: Oh I know. I can see you reacting to it. It’s like a Gong Show moment where they are trying to break you. Your face almost cracks a couple times.
Brendon Urie: Yeah (laughs) I definitely gave them permission to just be cart blanch for chaos and just to go for it. I wanted to get in touch with those moments, those real reactions where, like, wow, I did not expect that! I didn’t know what they were throwing at me… no, just go for it. It worked out. I love that stuff.
Showbiss: In the Vine video on YouTube, Brendon Urie in 26 Minutes, I have to say you’re a real ham. You’re so entertaining, kind of a spaz and so much fun.
BU: (cracks-up) Oh that’s funny. I appreciate that. I’m definitely a ham. I like to showboat a little bit. I’m insane.
Showbiss: A favorite song right now off Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die is “Nicotine.” I love how you reference the habit of smoking in regards to being burned in a relationship. Are there strings on that song?
BU: There are. Actually, it didn’t start that way. It started with this weird synth sound which we thought was kind of cool. I liked it but I don’t know… I’d rather do guitars and strings. We use our friend Rob Mathis for string compositions. Yeah, I love being able to add that stuff. The strings on ‘Nicotine’ are some of my favorite compositional pieces that we had to date.
Showbiss: In regards to this Westboro Baptist Church issue about them picketing your concert in Kansas City, I think your counter by making donations to the Human Rights Campaign was such an affirming and positive rebuttal.
BU: Thanks. We thought so, too. It’s so easy to just kick back and attack them, you know…hate with hate. I honestly thought what could be even better and what would make them more upset and so mad than to make them a part of donating to HRC because they hate human rights. I was actually kind of bummed that they only brought 13 people and they only stayed for fifteen or twenty minutes. Just enough to get there, be interviewed and then they left. That’s kind of weak.
Showbiss: A couple of sentences I want you to finish for me. The first one is, My backflips…?
BU: (cracks-up) My backflips have started to take a toll on me.
Showbiss: (laughs) Yeah! I can just see the headline, “Tour cancelled because of backflip…” You have such phenomenal energy on stage. Keep your fingers crossed and keep doing them as long as you can. And now this sentence… Brendon Urie is…?
BU: Brendon Urie is a maniac (laughs).
Showbiss: What are some of the emotions you’re feeling now that you been on tour for over a month now?
BU: Luckily, I’m still excited every day, when we get to a new city. I think that’s important. The only reason that it continues to be so fun is because I enjoy it so much. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing. This was my dream for the longest time and the fact that I get to do it is surreal. Yeah, I’m truly fortunate to be in the situation that I’m in. I always remember that. Yeah, I just always have a fun time performing for people. I’m a ham, just like you said.
Showbiss: I kept looking at your face and was thinking, “Who does he remind me of?” Then it hit me. Your face reminds me of Montgomery Clift and Collin Farrell.
Brendon Urie: Oh my god! That’s a huge compliment. They’re both good-looking people. I appreciate that.
What would Talking Heads be without Tina Weymouth? Or, think about The B-52s without Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson. The same magical combination of music and creative talent applies to the addition of Ana Matronic to Scissor Sisters.
Along with Jake Shears, Babydaddy and Del Marquis, Matronic adds her own special spark to the winning sounds of the group. With her fiery red hair, Matronic writes songs for the foursome, sings lead and harmonies and has the stage presence of a red-hot fireball of fun.
Scissor Sisters’ fourth album, Magic Hour is a kaleidoscope of sounds. There are many hot grooves and clever lyrics along with a few songs of reflective thoughts from Jake Shears. Ana Matronic elaborates on the new material, explains the meaning of “kiki” and even does her own fastball impromptu pitch for the wonderfully done Magic Hour.
Showbiss: Thank you for taking the time, Ana.
Ana Matronic: Bill! It’s my pleasure.
Showbiss: This album is super fly. It’s really fantastic. Who thought of that lead commercial on the opening page of the Scissor Sisters website? It’s really cheesy but has an “Oh, so cool” 1970s feel. It’s off the hook.
AM: Yeah, we are super into it as well. That commercial was the brainchild between Jake [Shears], along with Amy, who is a woman in our management; who is quite amazing. And Ben Hoffman, Babydaddy’s brother who is a comic writer—Ben is a really ridiculous person. We grew up in that sort of era. We would see those K-Tel commercials… “Hey man. Is that freedom rock? Yeah!” All those good ones and that’s always been an inspiration to us.
Showbiss: I have to tell you, speaking of a crack-up, the song “Let’s Have a Kiki” is tons of fun. Every time I hear it, I laugh or smile and the bongo beat techno is sensational.
AM: That’s good, glad you like it. There’s been a really amazing response to that song. I mean, just the other day, my friend Keith tweeted “let’s have a kiki.” He’s a real bloke’s bloke. I don’t think that he is sitting around looking at a lot of drag-themed techno. A “kiki” means a good time with your friends, basically. It’s a love letter of sorts to all the drag queens who I have ever shared time with and danced with on the stage or dance floor.
That is a big number. (Laughter) I know many, many wonderful drag queens. That’s where I got my start, in the drag scene in San Francisco.
Showbiss: Will you please share the creation of that song?
AM: Yeah, sure, it was actually Jake’s idea. Jake will take apart parts of people’s speech and make songs out of that. It’s sort of the same process that came out of “Filthy Gorgeous,” which are the two words in that song that I say the most of all. So, a “kiki” is
a term that you hear come out of my mouth a lot. You hear it come out of the mouth of our tour DJ, Sammy Jo, who is and always will be a big influence for us.
A “kiki” means a good time with your friends, basically. It’s a love letter of sorts to all the drag queens who I have ever shared time with and danced with on the stage or dance floor. That is a big number (laughter); I know many, many wonderful drag queens. That’s where I got my start, in the drag scene in San Francisco. It’s also a real love letter to the house party, Jake and I both love to throw a good house party. That conga part in the song we call “the pots and pans,” I love that part.
Showbiss: How would you describe the creative energy that went into making this fourth album, Magic Hour?
AM: It was really intense and very fast, it was the fastest we’ve ever made a record—the energy in the studio was quite frenetic. There would be several rooms with writing going on and producing in another. It was a really interesting and sort of crazy, something that we have never really done before and luckily it seemed to produce good results. In the last weeks, we certainly took our time with them. Yeah, this is a new experience but a really good one.
Showbiss: On several songs on Magic Hour and in particular the song “Inevitable,” the harmonies display the quality of The Bee Gees’ style and it’s excellent. That’s a supreme compliment. Was that an essence that Scissor Sisters were trying to capture?
AM: I think The Bee Gees harmonies have always been one that really makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. They have always had the most beautiful thick-layered harmony. That was definitely the energy we were trying to achieve with that song. Sailing down the Pacific Coast Highway in a Pontiac with the top down and your Farrah Fawcett shag is blowing in the wind… not a care in the world.
The sun is shining off the sea, you are living in a Karaoke video. That’s what we were going for with that, it was the track that was produced by Pharrell. He was really kind of into the idea of us getting soulful and harnessing the disco sounds that The Bee Gees harnessed to such great success in the 1970s. They did it to such an influential degree.
Showbiss: I’m going to put you on the spot now. Please give an “only available on TV and no money back” pitch for Magic Hour.
AM: Umm… (Laughter) Well ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to go on a sonic odyssey that will leave you simultaneously warm and fuzzy, and wet and sticky… pick up a copy of Magic Hour. We promise you half a poignant tear or two and plenty of good times.
Dave Koz is an extremely gifted musician. When marking the 25th anniversary of his career as a highly skilled saxophone player, he turned to the other artists and musicians who have been an important part of his musical journey. Not only looking back on collaborations with the very best of singers such as Stevie Wonder, Stevie Nicks and Rod Stewart but the fine artistry of other jazz artists such as Jeff Lorber, Rick Braun, Herb Alpert, David Benoit and more. Not only that, but Koz created three new recordings to mark the occasion for his Collaborations: 25th Anniversary Collection. It’s all about the “sax” as Dave Koz shared several special memories of his career, so far and how he wholeheartedly believes “the best is yet to come.”
Showbiss: It’s a really terrific and diverse anniversary collection on DK25. What was the process like selecting these collaborations?
Dave Koz: To let this anniversary go by without doing something to acknowledge it would be kind of a mistake. But honestly, I had my head down so much and just continuing on… that I didn’t even realize that 2015 was the 25th anniversary (laughs) until somebody said it to me. Once I figured out “okay” this is what’s happening, let’s do something different. Instead of just doing a “best of” or greatest hits, why don’t we take something that really is meaningful to me? Collaborations have been the essence of my life in all the things that I do. It’s the thread that runs through everything. So, I wanted to share songs that fans may or may not have heard. Kind of the ones that fly below the radar, yet are very meaningful to me.
Showbiss: There are a lot of phenomenal singers and fellow musicians who you have performed with over the years.
DK: Like the first collaboration I had with Barry Manilow. It was kind of an obscure song from a concept album that he made (“Apartment 2G: I Hear Her Playing Music” from Here at the Mayflower). It was the first time, we ever worked together and he sang my name in the lyric of that song. Most of my fans had never heard that song. Or working with Rod Stewart, I did a bunch of stuff with Rod over the years. My fans may not have heard that music. Rod was kind enough to let us use one of those songs. Then, we did three new songs, too! Three new collaborations.
Showbiss: All the songs are so well done. “When Will I Know For Sure” and “Think Big” are memorable to me from the past. I had never heard your all-star version of “All You Need is Love” until now. What amazes me most is the diversification in the music styles and how you’re able to show the fact that in your career, you’re going from soul to rhythm and blues or the jazz waltz tempo to even country. It’s a solid set.
DK: Thank you! You listen to a lot of music.
Showbiss: Yes, I do.
DK: If you say it’s solid, I’m going to believe you.
Showbiss: What stands out in your memory of doing those four Great American Songbook albums with Rod Stewart?
DK: First of all, I worked with the great producer, Phil Ramone. That was the first time that I’d gotten to know him. I ended up hiring him to produce my At The Movies album and that was such an amazing thing to work with him. Rod…working with him, he’s a total rock star! I was not familiar with what that whole thing was like. Not just in the studio but we did a couple of TV shows together and a couple of live things together. Hanging out with a rock icon like him, it’s a different experience all together. I loved that. The thing that was also wonderful about that project was working with Clive Davis. He was the executive producer on all four and he had a lot to say about every little item on that project, which means sax solos, too.
He would send notes back and I would go back and fix things, that he would want fixed… there is a real method to his work ethic. He knows exactly what people want to hear. I learned a lot of very valuable information about record making and about artistry.
Showbiss: Your rendition of The Game of Thrones theme on DK25 is some of the very best work you’ve done so far. It’s a whole other dimension to your sound and reminded me of something created by Lalo Schifrin.
DK: Lalo Schifrin… yes, it’s interesting that you put those two together. It’s such a great piece of music. That was actually Scott Bradlee’s idea, who I’ve been a fan of for a long time. He just said, “Come on over to the studio. We’re in Los Angeles and let’s figure out something that we can do.” I put on my “Postmodern Jukebox” outfit, because those guys dress up and they always look very sharp. For them… recording and making a video are the same thing. Everything is on video. That’s how they made their name is doing these songs online.
We did two songs. One was a new version of George Michael’s of Wham’s “Careless Whisper.” Then he said, “Have you ever watched The Game of Thrones?” I was like, I’ve never seen that show. Of course, I know it’s a phenomenon. He said, “It’s a beautiful theme.” We recorded it. The next thing I know, he had put both those videos up. Both of those videos are now nearing four million views each! This is the success of Postmodern Jukebox. They have sort of sidestepped all the typical things that artists have in their musical lives of record companies, promotions and radio… they’ve done it really on their own. I’m very proud to be involved in that.
Showbiss: Stevie Wonder came in to create this all-star version of Lennon/McCartney’s “All You Need is Love.” That had to have been pretty amazing.
DK: I’ve known Stevie for a long time. I’ve made music with him when I was on the air in Los Angeles doing radio. It’s a different thing when somebody like that comes in and sings and plays on your album, though. It’s another whole level of commitment. The fact that he did that… he didn’t need to do that. Talk about “pinch me” moments. I was going, “I just hope that I’m not dreaming this.” He’s like the epitome of love on the planet Earth at this juncture in time. It was so perfect. Did that really happen? It was so otherworldly and amazing.
Showbiss: Your 2010 album Hello Tomorrow features prominently on DK25 with three cuts featured. Was this one of your favorite recording experiences?
DK: Well, I think so, too. That album… you can listen to it on one level and purely put it on and enjoy it. But, if you really want to go a level deeper, there’s a lot in that album. It’s probably my most personal project. There’s a lot of different elements that were deeply personal to me and they’re there, if you want them. That’s why I think I keep going back to it, time and time again.
Showbiss: Over the past 25 years, what has been the most challenging aspect and also, the most rewarding?
DK: Well, I suppose both of those are part and parcel of the same thing. As far as challenge is concerned, keeping it interesting for me and the audience. I’ve learned from very important people; mentors in my life that you have to be constantly engaged in your own career, to come up with that next idea and to grow. That’s the greatest challenge and it’s also the greatest reward. Where you can get to a place where “all of a sudden,” how did we get to 25 years! That just doesn’t happen by chance. That’s a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of people’s time, energy and passion but how rewarding it is to have 25 years under my belt. I also intuitively feel like the best years are still to come. That’s the greatest gift is to not feel like it’s over. In many ways, I’m hitting a new stride. I’m having the time of my life. Bar none.
Showbiss: Excellent and nine Grammy nominations but no win yet.
DK: It’s a lot of times to the altar… for a bride (laughs).
Showbiss: I just hope you’re not the “Susan Lucci of Sax.”
Dave Koz: Well, I already am. I have no problem with it. It’s nice to be invited to the party… Always.
There’s an exciting moment in popular music history when a young artist makes a meteoric rise to the top of the industry and continues to grow and excel. Now more of a “high priestess” of pop music, this interview with Rihanna was conducted during the release of her second album titled A Girl Like Me. Rihanna who grew up in Barbados; was 18-years-old at this time in 2006 and as I remember, her cell phone wasn’t working all that well but she was truly excited about her newest CD. “S.O.S.” had just hit the airwaves at that time.
Showbiss: The first time I heard your hit song “Pon De Replay,” I had to find out who was performing that song so I called the radio station about it. It just jumps in such a positive way with energy.
Rihanna: Thank you.
Showbiss: Now, with “S.O.S.” you’ve struck again.
Rihanna: (Laughter) That’s what we do.
Showbiss: What’s the most incredible thing you’ve experienced over the last year?
Rihanna: One is having the opportunity to perform a tribute to my idol, Beyoncé. Two is being number two on the charts right beneath someone else I admire a lot and that is Mariah Carey. That was a good accomplishment for me.
Showbiss: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a singer?
Rihanna: Let me see. When I was little, I listened to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston a lot… and Destiny’s Child. They really helped to inspire me and influence me when I was about six or seven.
Showbiss: Another song from A Girl Like Me called “Unfaithful” is real nice. It’s rare you hear a song from a female’s perspective about cheating on her man.
Rihanna: That is why I love the song so much. Neyo wrote it and I always wanted to work with him. I was a fan of his ever since “Let Me Love You.” I wanted to work with him on this album, so we teamed up. He is incredible. I was like, “Wow. How can you write a song from a woman’s perspective so accurately?”
Showbiss: How was it working with renowned choreographer Jamie King for the video of “S.O.S.”?
Rihanna: Oh! Jamie King is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. He’s so chill and so funn
y. He’s fun to work with and he is so very good at his job.
Showbiss: How much time went into the making of the video?
Rihanna: We worked for like a week straight and then the video was shot in two days.
Showbiss: It tripped me out because there is a shot of you from the video dancing in a spotlight. With your hair and make-up done that way, you looked like Janet Jackson.
Rihanna: For real? (Laughter)
Showbiss: I loved the mirrored effect in the video. Was that fun to do?
Rihanna: It was fun but it was weird. I was in this box that was mirrored ten feet off the ground and it was locked up. I couldn’t lean on any mirrors because they could give way and fall down. It was so scary, but it was fun, man.
Showbiss: You also perform an island reggae song called “Dem Haters.” The lyrics are great on this.
Rihanna: Thank you. Yeah, “The only one who can really stop you is you. Don’t let them bring you down.” I love that message.
Showbiss: What song on A Girl Like Me are you proud of the most in having an input in writing the lyrics?
Rihanna: I’m glad you asked that question. It’s a song called “Break It Off” which features Sean Paul. We wrote the song together in Jamaica. We recorded it in Jamaica. That is my favorite song on the album. I’m very proud of it because it’s a great song and I love it. It’s a great song to dance to. Also, because it’s actually the first time I’ve worked with an artist one-on-one and wrote a song with no input from anybody else. Just the two of us, Sean Paul is so creative and he helped to inspire me in writing my own lyrics for this song. I even got to open a show for him not too long ago at the Nokia Theatre in New York.
Showbiss: Who is inspiring to you right now?
Rihanna: I always looked up to my mother for being such a strong person and giving me so much guidance. Musically, again,
Beyoncé is such a true talent. Her shows, energy and voice is something I really admire.
Showbiss: What’s the very latest exciting news?
Rihanna: Well, I had a small role in this summer’s Bring It On: All or Nothing where I am playing myself judging a cheerleading contest. Right now, I’m really busy promoting the new album, but would love to eventually get into some more acting. My next video is for “Unfaithful” and it has a really cinematic storyline. Check that out as it was a lot of fun to shoot!
Every rose has its thorns. Yet, Natalie Cole weathered much in her life and whatever the situations had presented—incredibly good or life-changing—in her resolve and strength, she still continues to shine brilliantly as a singer who can handle R&B, Jazz, American popular music and the ever–changing landscape of the current musical setting.
That fact is obvious from her many awards and accolades that spanned a career of over 30 years. When I interviewed her around Valentine’s Day in 2011, she was ready to delight her worldwide audience and offer a perfect bouquet of songs to give to your loved one.
Showbiss: You have such an amazing career. I’d like to share a bit of personal history. My dad’s favorite singer of all time was your father, Nat King Cole. I grew up listening to Nat King Cole Sings My Fair Lady and many more of your dad’s recordings.
Natalie Cole: Yeah! (Laughter) That was one of my favorites. That was one of my favorite shows. My parents took me to see it on Broadway and to see the movie.
Showbiss: Marvelous. Such a fun album.
NC: Yeah…those were the days where you could actually go out and see some really wonderful plays.
Showbiss: No doubt. I was born in 1961, so in about 1978 I was in 10th grade and vividly remember your hit song, “This Will Be… An Everlasting Love.” That was perfect for the 1970s. Then, being with my first partner and playing Unforgettable. That was one of our favorites to listen to.
NC: Oh yeah…wow.
Showbiss: You span a lot of very special musical memories.
NC: That’s great. That makes me feel really, really good. You just don’t know what people are going to respond to and you never know what touches people. You just hope that you get it right, you know?
Showbiss: Knock on wood. I’m so happy to be able to speak with you as you just went through a major health scare with your kidney problems. I’m really happy for you.
NC: Yeah…it’s been kind of a long journey but I was very fortunate and very blessed to get a kidney. It was a perfect match. It’s really been amazing. I’ve learned so much about kidney failure and kidney disease. Since then, ironically, I’ve talked to several people who are in the early stages of kidney disease. It’s very disturbing. It’s out there like crazy. It’s one of the top diseases that plagues us in our time.
There’s a lot of work to be done. Probably, if this had never happened to me…I would be like most people, walking around not even paying attention. Also, I probably would not have been involved with a really cool foundation that I got involved with about two years ago.
Showbiss: What’s the name of the foundation?
NC: It’s called UKRO (University Kidney Research Organization). It focuses more on research and raising money for kidney research. My nephrologist, who is a wonderful doctor at Cedar Sinai, has told me that there is still not a lot known about the kidney and what it does—how it does go into failure and that it happens to people who have been absolutely fine. In fact, the gentleman who founded the organization, Ken Kleinberg…he was on dialysis for five years. We don’t even know why his kidney failed. He got lucky and was able to get a kidney transplant. These are the kinds of things that are very scary.
Showbiss: When you wrote your book called Love Brought Me Back, was it the whole crisis with the kidney that caused you to write this book?
NC: Absolutely. Absolutely. It was a most emotional time. It’s really difficult to imagine what it would have been like to have to go through this myself, with no help or support. I had tremendous support. At the same time that I had the transplant, I lost my sister on the same day. It was just such a powerful, extraordinary time for all of us.
There are 20-some members of my family and we all went through this together. I couldn’t imagine how I’d have gotten through without it…that’s why I called it Love Brought Me Back. Their support of me, their love for me, their absolute consistency of being there for me was really, really amazing.
Showbiss: That’s beautiful. It totally could have been a different road. That’s the importance of family…most definitely. I just finished Tina Sinatra’s book called My Father’s Daughter. She wrote of never seeing a black person before when she was a child and it scared her. She was meeting your dad, Nat King Cole, for the first time.
NC: (much laughter). Are you serious? That is funny.
Showbiss: There is a quote from you where you referred to your family as the “Black Kennedys.” Is that correct?
NC: Yeah. That’s correct. Absolutely correct, it was a very unique position during that time. There were not a lot of families who had the status and the elegance…even where we lived and the schools that my sister and I were attending. As well as the places that my father was invited to, they were very, very high-society places. It’s funny that you should mention that thing about Sinatra. I saw more white folks than black people when I was growing up. So, if she said, she never saw any black people until my father…that’s too funny.
Showbiss: That period of entertainers with such magnificent talent and their style…everything about it is class-A.
It really is and it’s so memorable. It’s not something that can be duplicated. It really isn’t. I don’t think. At least, it hasn’t been yet. Yet, when you do a CD such as Unforgettable or Still Unforgettable, you are duplicating it because you have the beauty of voice with the wonderful arrangements. So, I don’t believe it is completely forgotten.
NC: Right. That’s true, that’s true.
Showbiss: Out of your numerous awards, is there one that sticks out most in your memories?
NC: Probably my very first! (laughter) I would say my very first and the one we got for Unforgettable. When ”Unforgettable” was first recorded, everybody was thinking…you were all crazy.
The critics dogged that record for a good 30 days at least. All of a sudden, things just turned around. It took off and it became a song for the world. Initially, going into making that record, as well as the response from the critics, they thought it was morbid.
They thought it was disrespectful. It was really interesting the kind of responses we initially got. Yet, God just said, “The joke is on you.” And things just turned around and the next thing we knew, we were competing with…I can’t remember the name of the group but they were number one and we were number two. Or we’d be number one and they’d be number two…I think it was Metallica (laughter). Disc jockeys around the world (and of course, then there were still wonderful record stores around the world) were flipping out because people were coming in to buy this record.
Showbiss: I always looked at it as a love letter to your dad. And, who better to do it?
Natalie Cole: Absolutely, absolutely…that’s just what it was.
Just one of many of Aesop’s Fables was titled “The Lion and the Mouse.” This fable came to mind when reading a touching and emotional true story written by Dr. Rock Positano called Dinner with DiMaggio. “The Lion and the Mouse” is a timeless, imaginary fable revealing that mercy and care can bring its own rewards. How does this fable coincide with and take on life’s realities as an “honest-to-God” true tale of life and the experience of living it? You take an innovative medical doctor who is advancing his non-surgical foot and ankle practice of medicine. He comes to the aid of a giant of baseball and its history… Called Joe DiMaggio. A man and person in a league of his own.
This true icon of American sports was suffering with a foot ailment because of a botched surgery on his right heel. This surgery back in 1949, took his glory days of being a New York Yankee star performer, away. A referral to Mr. DiMaggio led to Dr. Positano’s astute help in relieving the pain and eventually leading to a “tried and true” friendship over the last ten years of “Joltin’ Joe’s” life.
This friendship and the two men’s similarity of upbringing, code of ethics and genuine regard for each other, is naturally and respectfully presented in Dr. Rock Positano’s book. A complex and private man, DiMaggio kept his guard up when it came to people and real friendships. He also completely respected his role as a guardian of the sport’s world and the men who excelled in baseball’s history. DiMaggio could be sharp as a tack and also very concerned about the history of the game. Class, reserve and a knowing intelligence that was both street-wise and intuitive…. It was his sense of people that slowly and steadily forged a relationship of trust, admiration and truths over those dinners and time spent with Dr. Rock Positano.
Don’t expect anything from Dr. Positano’s true story except an honest appreciation and respect for Joe DiMaggio. The book is a shared look at two very “stand-up” guys who happened to collide at a time where fate and good fortune would lead to memories such as those presented in “Dinner with DiMaggio.” Oh… If you’re looking for a few memories of Joe and Marilyn… even Dr. Positano knew that was a closed book of “love lost.”
On the morning of Friday, June 26, 2015, The Supreme Court ruled for the legalization of gay marriage across the United States. Then… the interview with pop iconoclast and out artist MIKA arrived via the phone that same day. It was a monumental and marvelous day on all accounts.
With the release of “No Place in Heaven” MIKA delivered another fresh breath of ideas and energy on his fourth CD. His individual qualities as a singer/songwriter and musician are purely one-of-a-kind.
MIKA opens up about his “coming out” process, talks about “No Place in Heaven,” while also offering thoughts on his childhood and where his music will take him next. He shared these views in a genuine, reflective and intelligent way. If there is one man who could provide an answer to, “Where have all the good, gay guys gone?” as he sings in his latest hit, “Good Guys,” Mika is living proof of being a modern gay role model.
Showbiss: Thank you so much for taking the time.
Mika: Oh, it’s a pleasure. I haven’t really slept for twenty-four hours, but I’m really happy to have the opportunity to do this. So, thank you.
Showbiss: You bet. When you look back at your childhood and teenage years, what effect or influence did this have on the musical sensibility of your work?
Mika: 100 percent of it was formative in the kinds of music I make and the reason why I make that music. I always felt a little on the outside, looking in. I was often the recipient, especially in school, of a lot of negative energy. Instead, I processed that as my form of revenge. My form of procuring power was by writing songs or by having delusions of grandeur. Those delusions of grandeur manifested themselves in songs that made me bigger than life – songs in that moment where I was actually powerful and that my voice had a reason.
The thing that gave me the feeling of justification, for those who didn’t understand, was melody. If you look at it, a lot of people who are outsiders who make pop music…. pop music is overwhelmingly melodic. That is why.
Showbiss: “No Place in Heaven” is not only musically invigorating, but it’s intellectually stimulating. As a songwriter, how do you find that balance?
Mika: First, thank you. One thing that never gets boring is telling stories. It’s easy to say, you want to make a singer/songwriter album, but what’s that mean? I found that I wanted to make a storyteller’s album. I wanted it to feel like it was made in a bubble. When you read a book, you have a beginning, middle, an end, and you enter that person’s world. Right? Then, as soon as it’s over, you kind of miss it.
When you listen to pop albums today, a lot of times, sometimes you step into it but don’t feel like you’re going from one song to the next. A lot of the time, they’re written by different people and produced by different people. I wanted to make a pop album that really told a story, the same way that pop albums from the 1970s did. It’s a second intimate diary for that hour the album lasts. You’re really going into someone’s head. That’s the kind of “pop” I wanted to make on this record. I made sure that the lyrics, the stories and the melodies were the most important… far more than the instrumentation.
Showbiss: I think the most stunning song is “Ordinary Man.” Lyrically and compositionally, it’s one of the most beautiful songs you’ve written. What is your personal reflection on writing this one?
Mika: I think heartbreak provokes strongly the most honestly, beautiful songs. I think that the reason for that is, when you’re heartbroken, you feel completely worthless. And so, what do you do when you feel worthless? You protect yourself and you write songs in order to make yourself feel better, in order to establish a sense of worth again. What I love is, how it’s like an emperor whose been punched in the stomach, it’s like a little prince whose been forced to come down to earth.
On the one hand, it’s touching and beautiful and whenever anyone has ever been heartbroken, they can relate to it. On the other hand, it’s really pompous in the most delicious, fairy-tale way. It’s like this little prince who’s been bruised and licking his wounds. He just hates the fact that he’s normal! I think that’s the perfect way to describe being dumped or being heartbroken. Feeling normal. Which is, essentially, the one thing that every single one of us is terrified of feeling. I think as a song, I thought that this “age-old” sentiment and that mixture of really big, grand orchestration and grand opera-style melodies, with the normal and now, everyday action… opening a beer can, sitting with friends that you secretly hate, going to the toilet, making your bed… that combination. In a way is what gives it that Nat King Cole-kind of torch quality. That’s definitely what I was aiming for. I wanted this Nat King Cole torch quality, but with banality.
I looked at a lot of those songs from that “golden age” of songwriting in America, especially in the 1950s. I realized how often the lyrics talked about such everyday things. Yet, the melodies and the orchestrations were cinematic. If I had to tell you my main ambition for my next album, what I would love to do is to really make an album that absolutely explores that kind of cinematic and almost fantasy-formic style of songwriting. Everyday life is turned into something much, much larger and much bigger. That would be the next record I’d like to make. That’s why I left the last song on the album because that’s where I want to go next.
Showbiss: I really admire the fact that you took your own tempo in coming out and not wanting to be labeled. When it comes down to it, it’s a very personal subject. Was it harder to address because of being in the public eye?
Mika: I think in general, Bill, I did something that most writers do. They write about their life, their
lust, they write about sexuality and do it quite publicly. However, as a result, it took a long time for my kind of private life to catch up with my public life. Until I went through all the steps of addressing all the different issues in my private life… from my parents to my siblings and my personal relationships. Only when I felt secure was it something that I could address with full candor, with full honesty, with full transparency, which meant that I was solid. In that, my basis of talking about my own sexuality and the politics of sexuality would be built upon a very solid foundation. That was the most important thing.
The idea of looking at it in terms of “tempo” as you say, is really a kind of genius way of describing it. Everyone has his or her own rhythm. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to talk about sexuality. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be sexually active. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to have a normal life, in all its different stages and transitions. It just means that you have to address one thing at a time. I had already taken my writing and addressed it publicly, rather than privately. I had to deal with the consequences of that. Though, in the long-term scheme of things, looking at a lifetime… really, that gap in bridging the gap of four years, is really not very much.
Showbiss: You’re so right. Besides singing and songwriting, what would you say is the most enjoyable aspect of your life right now?
Mika: I’m free and I have nothing to hide. I’ve managed to take steps toward that very aggressively. From the age of 30, I decided to confront all of those things that would lead me to “not” being free. Therefore, I can find pleasure from the biggest challenges to the most banal moments. That is something also, that I really want to protect as much as I possibly can. I think you know it’s quite remarkable when putting it in the context of the recent [Supreme Court] ruling. I just feel the one thing that truly makes someone happy is feeling like they have options, and that they have the same options as everyone else. That’s why I think the ruling is so phenomenal. It procures positivity, which in turn will procure tolerance.
In terms of my life, the one thing that makes me truly happy, apart from the ruling and all that stuff, the one thing that I want is, to kind of stay free and to stay hungry… to keep my heart light and my brain serious. I think if you do that, you can stay happy. Of course, it’s a challenge presented to all of us. That is our number one challenge, as we move on from day-to-day.