Calling Los Angeles his home now, recording artist/songwriter Derek
Jameson has always been a “California Kid” being a native of the Bay
Area. Not unlike many Californians who seem to be big dreamers with
a zealousness for living freely, Derek’s life philosophies of inspiration
and determination are often reflected in the lyrics of his songs
whether they be ballads or club-worthy dance songs. Since the
independent release of his debut album TImelines Vol 1: Space and Vol 2: Time, Derek’s music collections have always been released as a
mix of dance and piano vocal songs. His newest album Our Future
Tribe follows in that same pattern, and is his first album to be
released under his new distribution deal with Universal Music Group,
the largest music corporation in the world and home to record labels
such as Capitol, Def Jam, Island, Interscope, Def Jam, Virgin and so
many more. A tireless performer over the years, his deal with
Universal will get Derek’s music into the ears of so many more
people. I spent some time speaking with Derek Jameson about the
music on Our Future Tribe, that his new music deal means for and to
him, writing for other projects and what is to happen next.
BeBe: Your new album Our Future Tribe is your first release with
your new distribution deal with Universal Music Group. And like with
other songs you have independently released before, the songs on
this album carry your signature messages of inspiration and pushing
oneself to reach higher heights. But these aren’t just not just words,
you live this.
Derek Jameson: Yes, that’s what Our Future Tribe is all about. It’s
about connecting with people and building from there. Everyone has
their team around them that has helped them reach their different
points in life. I’m so lucky to have such a big team that surrounds me
and is so supportive. They are my personal tribe.
BeBe: What does reaching this point in your career with your new
distribution and marketing deal mean to and for you?
Derek Jameson: I get to reach a wider audience with this deal. This
is definitely a step in the right direction. Over the years I have had
people not live up to their promises and deals, but I have pushed
those off and kept pushing through. It is amazing to kknow people on
the business side are paying attention to what I’m doing. It means to
me that the work that I’ve put in has been noticed. It feels good!
BeBe: When signing with a major record company has being a gay
artist ever been a topic of conversation?
Derek Jameson: Not really. Something like that doesn’t really come
up. It’s more about the music. Once you start putting out solid
projects, it all speaks for itself. So, (being gay) hasn’t been an issue
BeBe: The lead single from your album is California Kid which you
performed at your release party on September 28 at Hollywood’s Bar
Lubitsch. It is a wonderful ballad with piano, but I am so in love with the
Nautical Mix of the track on the album. You have been real fortunate
to have been able to turn many of your ballads into some pretty hot
Derek Jameson: Thank you. The Nautical Mix of California Kid was
actually done by me. I wanted it to have a chill-out House element to
BeBe: You have another song on Our Future Tribe that was originally
intended for the NoH8 campaign. What happened there?
Derek Jameson: The NoH8 Campaign asked if I would be interested
in writing a song that would essentially be their theme song. I said, of
course. So, I went to work on what is no Waves. I was real proud of
the lyrics because it is about people who are leading the pack and
pave the way, and go beyond fear in order to make change. I wrote it
with the purpose of showing people that they are not alone even
when it seems like they are. There are others going through the same
thing they are and they can draw from them. As it got closer to
finishing the project and releasing it to NoH8, I decided to keep the
song for myself for personal reasons. I had put so much into it. I put
it on this album so it ould be accessible to people. It still holds the
purpose of why I wrote it.
BeBe: As with NoH8, other organizations, film and TV producers
have also approached you to have one or more of your songs in their
projects. Does that affect your songwriting?
Derek Jameson: Most of the songs I have been approached about
have been previously written. They were heard and then someone
wanted them for their projects. I have found a way, I guess, to write
about something that is important for me to say and put in a song in
a way that is popular. It’s cool that I’ve found that balance here
people will want to use my songs for projects, and keep the integrity
of my in-depth songwriting.
BeBe: So what’s on the horizon for you following this release of Our
Derek Jameson: There are two projects in the works right now
where one of them will take me to Asia. If that happens, it would
open up my market so much.
Derek Jameson’s Our Future Tribe can be found on iTunes and all other major online outlets.
Audio snippets of this interview and a Listening Party for Our Future Tribe on It’s Everything with BeBe Sweetbriar here
An abridged written version of this interview appears in the Oct 2, 2015 issue of Gloss Magazine www.glossmagazine.net.
Enter to win brand-new 2-CD Deluxe Editions of Little Earthquakes and Under The Pink, the classic albums from the iconic TORI AMOS.
Featuring remastered audio, special B-sides, live tracks, and other rarities!
Little Earthquakes (Deluxe Edition)
Under The Pink (Deluxe Edition)
Lucky winners will receive 2-CD Deluxe Editions of both Little Earthquakes and Under The Pink!
TO ENTER: Tweet “I Want #LittleEarthquakes & #UnderThePink Deluxe CDs by @toriamos from @ItsEverythingBB” . Enter between April 21- April 27. *One Entry Per a Twitter Account.
Little Earthquakes (1992)
– Disc 1: Original Album
Silent All These Years
Tear In Your Hand
Me And A Gun
– Bonus Disc 2
Upside Down (from Silent All These Years single)
Thoughts (from Silent All These Years single)
Ode To The Banana King (Part One) (from Silent All These Years single)
Song For Eric (from Silent All These Years single)
The Pool (from Winter single)
Take To The Sky (from Winter single)
Sweet Dreams (from Winter single)
Mary (from Crucify single)
Sugar (from China single)
Flying Dutchman (from China single)
Humpty Dumpty (from China single)
Smells Like Teen Spirit (from Winter single)
Little Earthquakes (Live in Cambridge – Apr 5, 1992) (from Crucify single)
Crucify (Live in Cambridge – Apr 5, 1992) (from Crucify single)
Precious Things (Live in Cambridge – Apr 5, 1992) (from Crucify single)
Mother (Live in Cambridge – Apr 5, 1992) (from Crucify single)
Happy Phantom (Live) (from Silent All These Years single)
Here In My Head (from Crucify single)
Under The Pink (1994)
– Disc 1: Original Album
Pretty Good Year
Bells For Her
Past The Mission
The Wrong Band
Cloud On My Tongue
– Bonus Disc 2
Sister Janet [from Cornflake Girl single]
Honey [from Cornflake Girl single]
Daisy Dead Petals [from Cornflake Girl single]
Over It [from Cornflake Girl single]
Black Swan [from Pretty Good Year single]
Home On the Range (with Cherokee Addition) [from Pretty Good Year single]
All The Girls Hate Her [from Cornflake Girl single]
God (The CJ Bollard Remix) [from God 12”]
Here In My Head [live] [from Past the Mission single]
Upside Down [live] [from Past the Mission single]
Past The Mission [live] [from Past the Mission single]
Icicle [live] [from Past the Mission single]
Flying Dutchman [live] [from Past the Mission single]
Winter [live] [from Past the Mission single]
The Waitress [live] [from Past the Mission single]
No secret, the fashion industry has for a long time propelled the notion that women are meant to be soft, beautiful and sensual and men are built to be strong, distinguished and veral by clothing them on the runway and print advertisements in attire that helps carry that message home to the public. Men and women who don’t fit the gender binary descriptives have often found it hard to find a place in the fashion industry as a commercial model, and thus, in a domino effect, many men and women in the public have found it hard to find themselves in commercial advertisement marketed to them. But, I think it safe to say “thangs be a changing”.
In most recent years we have seen several international male and female supermodels make headway in breaking the gender binary in fashion as their androgynous or gender fluid looks have graced more and more runways and magazine pages across the globe. Models such as Andreja Pejic (formerly Andrej before her 2014 reassignment surgery), Milla Jovovich, Willy Cartier, David Chiang, as well as, Rain Dove and Cory Wade have been some of the few models that have paved the way for people to start thinking of clothing and fashion in genderless terms, and who knows, maybe even the unnecessary use of gender descriptives for people.
The first ever Queer Fashion Week continues the presentation of the notion of a genderless fashion world when it takes center stage in Oakland, California April 16-19. fiveTEN Oakland Events, producer of the event, states its mission of Queer Fashion Week is to showcase fashion creations for all types of bodies and genders. Rain Dove and Cory Wade are two Celebrity Models on board for Queer FashionWeek who continually go against the gender binary as fashion models and people. I had an opportunity to visit with both of these pioneers to talk about their experiences as gender fluid and androgynous models and breaking the gender binary in the fashion world.
It’s not everyday that a person can turn a friendly dare into an exciting career, but that is exactly what gender-fluid model Rain Dove did when a friend dared the 6’2” masculine featured female then genetics engineering student to audition for a modeling job. Little did Rain know that the mistaken gender identity that landed her in the male model audition would present an opportunity for her capitalize on features she grew up thinking would label her an ugly woman. Featured on modeling assignments in both female and male attire during New York’s Fashion Week, Rain has been named as one of Elle Magazine‘s 12 Women Who Are Redefining Beauty in 2015 and voted SheWired’s Most Eligible Bachelorette in 2014.
BeBe: You describe yourself as a “gender capitalist”. Can you share what that means to you?
Rain Dove: Gender is a socially constructed thing that helps us treat people with specific anatomical values. While it makes it easier for us to figure out how to treat each other by identifying people with gender-specific terms, it also means we are limiting the way we can treat other people by identifying them in specific ways. I don’t want that! I want to be limitless. I want the most I can get out of life. I just happen to look like a white man in America, which is pretty fucking awesome! As a “gender capitalist”, I basically cash in and capitalize on all the positive aspects of being any particular gender orientation. If somebody calls me, sir, I’ll be okay with that and let them call me, sir, as long as it’s beneficial. But, the minute it isn’t, I’ll take my tits out so fast (laughs).
BeBe: Becoming a fashion model for you was by accident, and not really a career choice you sought out. But, it has been through modeling that you have been able to develop a better sense of self and how to define that self in a non-gender binary way. So with that said, how would your sense of self be defined if you hadn’t gone into modeling?
Rain Dove: I wanted to work for the U.N. (United Nations). I was pursuing my degree in genetic engineering and civil law. I would have applied at the U.N. And would have probably been working in some third world country, or a country that has water rights issues. Gender would be the least of my worries. My impact of who I am and how I capitalize on that would be the least of my concerns. I would be less concerned about being masculine or feminine. I never knew I had (physical) attributes that would become this “thing”. Growing up, while I loved myself, I just thought I was kind of an ugly woman. Then it turns out I’m not a ugly woman but really a handsome boy and a dyke (laughs). But, I knew I would never instantly be classified as a cute, soft sorority girl. I’d never be that Playboy bunny person.
BeBe: Now that you are able to model in both gender identified fashion categories as a 6’2” masculine featured female, do you think this capability will have any affect on how we define beauty, and how “butch” woman are viewed?
Rain Dove: I think it can redefine things. And, I also think people need to stop defining things. I totally get the importance of people understanding your preferences and your needs and the way you need to be respected, but this whole thing of people in a category, which are so many, makes things hard. I could go out to dinner with someone on a date, and by the time I’m done telling them every label they should see me as, or that they need to tip-toe around, it becomes really uncomfortable and hard. It makes it difficult for people to meet other people because they are afraid they are going to peg it wrong. They are afraid they re going to hurt someone’s feelings. Being politically correct has become a system that was once put in place to allow us to identify each others differences, and now, it’s a system that has made it so that we are afraid that somebody may be different in a different way than we thought. It is starting to eat itself. I don’t think it’s about redefining the fashion world or the lesbian world, but about redefining our expectations of the human world.
We shouldn’t be surprised that a 6’2” person has giant ass tits and a clit, but happens to really look fucking good in Calvin Klein (menswear). It doesn’t change the way I’m going to orgasm and it doesn’t change whether your going to buy the suit or not. What I really want to bring to the table is that I don’t want to be surprising. I don’t want to be a topic of discussion in the future. If we were less surprised there would be less contention about having to label how your living your life.
BeBe: Speaking of living ones life, how did your appearance on the OXYGEN Channel’s Living Different show come about?
Rain Dove: I was contacted because the producers of the show were interested in highlighting women that have unique lifestyles. It was really an interesting experience. I was really nervous because OXYGEN has typically known to be a little conservative sometimes. I was a little concerned about their intentions. But, it turns out they did a really good job. It was a vulnerable process. It’s hard to admit that things are difficult. My career is going very well for the stage that it is in, but getting here was not an easy process. In fashion, people tend to pretend that their lives are perfect, but it is an industry where a lot of people struggle and go through a lot. They go through a lot of psychological stuff. Just because you wear $20,000 worth of clothing (on the job) doesn’t mean you go home with that at the end of the night. Many people go home to a lower standard of living conditions, and it is hard to admit that publicly. On Living Different it was hard for me to admit that I was not a perfect human being.
BeBe: Exposing your relationship with our father had to be vulnerable for you as well.
Rain Dove: That was a really interesting one. (It was) something they thought would be very beneficial. It was not easy for me to do. My Dad and I definitely have our history. I don’t need his motivation to be happy with my life, but to explore that relationship on a neutral ground was really great. I guess it ended up being a blessing in disguise. One of the things the show didn’t reveal was the whole reason my father hadn’t spoken to me in 5 years was because he thought I was transgender, not that he had a problem with my lifestyle. He thought I was getting hormone therapy and etcetera, and for him, he was afraid to be apart of that process because what he knew of me as a daughter, he thought he was going to lose and
that would be very hard for him. Of course, I told him I was not transgender, but that it really shouldn’t have mattered (if I was). It was really eye opening.
BeBe: You attended University of California at Berkeley only two years ago, and you’ll be returning to the Bay Area for the first ever Queer Fashion Week April 16-19.
Rain Dove: I think the interesting thing about this particular event is that this is a historical moment. Queer folk have always been apart of fashion, but this particular event shows that there is a large desire and interest for gay/queer people to be recognized. I think it shows there is commercial and marketing value to our particular community. When you have an event like this, you are telling the large conglomerates like Gap, Levi’s, H & M etcetera that there is money to be made and there is a desire to represent the queer community in the commercial side of the fashion world. They don’t have to be afraid to align themselves with the LGBTQ community.
The first openly gay male finalist on America’s Next Top Model, Cory Wade (Hindorff) has taken the criticism he received for being too effeminate on the long-running reality competition show and parlayed his look and characteristics into something unique and special in the fashion world. With numerous photo editorials and major runway appearances to his credit, Cory looks ahead to many more successes even if he has to be a trailblazer in order to achieve them.
BeBe: It has been a year and a half since you were on Cycle 20 of Tyra Banks‘ America’s Next Top Model. Has your modeling career gone in the direction you had hoped.
Cory Wade: Yes, and no. I have high expectations for myself, and I have dreams of great success, success beyond what any previous contestant of America’s Next Top Model has achieved. I know I can be a little unrealistic at times, so, I’m never quite where I want to be. But, a mentor of mine told me that you never want to start feeling satisfied. So it’s hard to say. No matter what I do I don’t think I’ll ever feel 100% satisfied. I’ve been loving and living life. I’ve has some amazing opportunities that I definitely would not have had had I not been on the show. So, I really can’t complain.
BeBe: Now on the Cycle 20 of the show you were on, they focused on your being a gay man. And with that, you received quite a bit of criticism from the judges on your male femininity as if they were saying that unless you butch it up, you weren’t going to achieve all you wanted to achieve in the fashion industry. Have you found that to be true? Has being who you are been a roadblock for you in the fashion world?
Cory Wade: I don’t think so. I don’t think it has anything to do with my sexuality or my femininity because when you see an image, you can’t tell how that person speaks or whatever. I believe my look is different. I don’t see a lot of models that look like I do. And that may be what has taken me a bit longer. It is going to take somebody other than Tyra Banks to see something special and unique in my look. I have had some successes. I struck gold when I got on America’s Next Top Model. I struck gold when I found myself walking in the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week among some of the biggest models. I’m only going to find more success if I stay o the path I’ve been on. Nothing could ever stop me. If I have to be the boundary breaker and pave the way for everyone else, so be it.
BeBe: You mention breaking boundaries of gender stereotypes, have you modeled women’s wear?
Cory Wade: Yes, I have modeled “women’s” clothing. And, I say women in quotations because I don’t think we should have to define fashion by gender.
BeBe: On the America’s Next Top Model season after yours, there was a situation with openly gay contestant Will Jardell and ex-football player Denzel Wells where Denzel basically said that Will’s “gayness” perpetuated the public’s erroneous perception that male models were gay. What were your thoughts on that whole ordeal?
Cory Wade: I think it’s very immature for straight men to even see (gayness) as an issue. If you are really insecure in your masculinity or whatever you feel is being threatened by gay men working in the fashion industry, you need to rise above it and be mature and secure in your manhood. It is so silly. Stereotypes aside, people are going to talk (about ones sexuality) no matter what you do. They are going to assume things about you no matter what. It’s unavoidable. It was a powerful moment on the show when Tyra slammed Denzel on international television for criticizing Will for walking in heels.
BeBe: What’s interesting about all that is that there was a time when men wore high-heeled shoes, make-up, wigs, ruffled shirts and it was considered a sign aristocracy and wealth. So when did men wearing these things become an issue in the first place. When did these things become feminine attire?
Cory Wade: You are absolutely right. This is a reason why we should have a Queer Fashion Week where we emphasize that there really is no classification when it comes to your clothing. Gender classification of clothing is something we created. As RuPaul says, “We’re all born naked. Everything after that is all drag.” Everything is so contrived. And, since fashion is so unnecessary, we should have fun with it, and wear whatever we want as our self-expression.
BeBe: With the exposure over the past 5 years that androgynous modes have received wearing both men and women’s clothing on the runway, do you see this type of discussion on gender-specific modeling being irrelevant in the next 5 years?
Cory Wade: Absolutely! People are starting to recognize that clothing doesn’t have to be gender exclusive. People have both masculine and feminine energy regardless of their gender classification. You shouldn’t feel restricted to only wearing heels and a dress if you are a girl, or a button-down (shirt) and slacks if you are a boy. People should feel free to express themselves in fashion however they want and not be afraid of what others might think.
BeBe: Why do think women have been able to break that barrier of gender classified clothing easier than men? Women wearing menswear has long become common place.
Cory Wade: I think it’s because “women’s wear” tends to be more glamorous and when you see it on men it doesn’t look as understated as seeing “menswear” on a woman. But, I also think women have been quicker to realize that clothing in general is an unnatural thing. Fashion is an adapted thing through evolution. Women weren’t meant to walk in heels or wear make-up. Nobody was meant to.
Rain Dove andCory Wadewill be Celebrity Models at the inaugural Queer Fashion Week presented by fiveTEN Oakland Events April 16-19 in Oakland. For more information and event passes to Queer Fashion Week go to www.queerfashionweek.com
Their Baloney has a first name it’s A-L-L-M-A-L-E! Their Baloney has a second name it’s R-E-V-U-E! That’s right! San Francisco’s first and only gay All-Male Revue called Baloney comes to Oasis, the city’s newest gay venue, and it promises to take those vintage fantasies out of our heads and project them right on the stage before our very eyes. Peek-a-boo, I see you! Creators and longtime collaborators, Michael Phillis (director) and Rory Davis (choreographer), have developed Baloney using vintage male erotica as their inspiration. The cabaret-style performance will feature sweaty, sexy, scantily-clad men (yippee) set in choreographed vignettes. The part theater, part peep show, all-male revue will use characters such as the hot-and-bothered businessman, the randy cowboys, pumped wrestlers and the sleazy pizza boy to play out those steamy fantasies in our heads that we could only wish, until now, to see in person. “We based the show on fantasies and male-for-male erotica that we were familiar with and the audience will be familiar with. We look back using a lot of scenarios. The scenarios can be just as sexy, frankly, as the action itself,” says co-creator Phillis about show’s vignettes.
In addition to Phillis and Davis, the creative team includes drag superstar Heklina, who along with being a co-owner of Oasis, acts as a co-producer of Baloney. But with any all-male peep show, the hoorah belongs to those we will be peeping at. The Baloney Boys are Davis, James Martin and Adam Roy (both appeared in D’Arcy Drollinger’s Shit & Champagne), Shaun Mullen, Moe Arikat, Alex Steinhaus, Tim Wingert and Aaron Sarazan. “Some of (the guys) are from the drag scene and some of them are actually trained dancers for many, many years and/or trained actors. So, I had to play off their skill sets specifically and build the numbers around what they could pull off,” commented Davis about the cast of Baloney.
I had an opportunity to speak with Michael and Rory over the phone about their new project to mostly satisfy my curiosity, but also to further delve into the premise behind the show, what the audience can expect beyond a sexual charge, the journey the show plans to take us on, and where does it go after its premiere. And as usual, these guys didn’t fail to answer all we want to know.
BeBe: Congratulations, guys, on the creation and world premiere of
your All-Male Revue Baloney. I guess I don’t have to ask what the
Michael: Thanks so much. We are really excited about this. As far as
the name goes, it is kind of one of those things where we came up
with in a funny working title that we planned to change later, but nothing better came along. It is all about the “baloney”. The only thing we did change was originally we had it spelled like the Oscar Mayer B-O-L-O-G-N-A. Then we thought let’s process meat more fun
and use B-A-L-O-N-E-Y as in poking fun at something which is whatthis review is all about.
BeBe: As put out in your press release, Baloney is part theater and part peep show. Can you tell me how both of those elements are being combined?
Michael: The fun for us was coming up with the stories behind these numbers. We wanted to have something that was completely immersive which is why we wanted it to be part theater. So, when you
walk through the door (at Oasis SF), we want to bring you somewhere
new. We are taking the audience back in time a little bit. The vintage
feel was very important to us. We based the show on fantasies and
male-for-male erotica that we were familiar with and the audience will
be familiar with. We look back using a lot of scenarios. The scenarios
can be just as sexy, frankly, as the action itself.
BeBe: So, are we talking red lights on the street with a guy
underneath a light pole on a street corner waiting for…yada yada
Rory: You know what’s up, BeBe.
Michael: Exactly! We have certain characters that are featured during
the show and some of them are based on profession, like penned-up
businessman. There’s like a heatwave in the office and what does that
do to the boys? And then we have cowboys with one in a white hat and another in a black hat representing the good and bad coming together and sexually charged. We have the high school wrestlers who are seeing the sex education video in class and then they get towrestling on the mat and all of their sexual frustrations come out. All of these are taking ideas from pornography and erotica and putting them on stage in a peep show element. Similar to a burlesque show, this is all about the journey and not so much the destination.
Rory: It’s so much more sexy to see someone unbutton their shirt
than to see them shirtless.
BeBe: But, there will be complete nudity? Or, partial?
Michael: Because of the venue, complete nudity is problematic.
There are only certain places where that is allowed. We’ll just say we
will take you as far as we can take you.
BeBe: Hearing about these vignettes and scenarios that you are
doing, and recalling your stage show WunderWorld (based on a
grown-up Alice in Wonderland) and how it was completely mimed, will
the guys in Baloney be acting out these scenarios without dialogue?
Michael: Yes, we wanted something that could be done without
words. We have some of the, I think, hottest, sexiest music from the
era we take you to. We chose music that is provocative to be the
backdrop of these numbers. So, the whole show is done, similar to
WunderWorld as you pointed out, without any words spoken on stage.
Everything is done through movement and action and interaction. We
do, however, have a host. So, between the acts you get this host that
is also a sort of character of that era that will be bringing you through
the story and setting up the acts.
BeBe: Rory, you are the choreographer as well as the co-producer of
this show, and is your direction in these scenarios heavy on dancing
or on acting out the scenarios to relay what you are trying to say in
Rory: It’s funny because I hand picked each of the guys in the show. And, the scenarios we are presenting in the show were created before we knew who was going to do the show. Then after I knew in my mind how we wanted these scenes to play out, I reached out to these guys knowing their skill sets. Some of (the guys) are from the drag scene and some of them are actually trained dancers for many, many years and/or trained actors. So, I had to play off their skill sets specifically and build the numbers around what they could pull off. It’s interesting too because with this theme we are presenting, I really had to spend a lot of time individually with each of the guys because they weren’t skeptical, but wary of what we were doing. What is the story we were presenting? And, how would they be presented on stage? That was really great to me because it sort of showed how intelligent they were as artists. Their skepticism was encouraging to me, and when I spoke with them they were all in.
Michael: They didn’t really know what they were jumping into, and
we didn’t have much in the way of comparison.
Rory: What we said is that it’s sort of like Magic Mike where the guys
are all into each other. So, there is explosive hot dance , but there is
also a lot of character moving. So to answer your initial question on
choreography, there is a little bit of both dance and acting through
BeBe: Baloney is premiering Friday, February 20th
at one of San Francisco’s hottest new clubs Oasis, which lists drag superstar Heklina
and playwright extraordinaire/actor D’Arcy Drollinger amongst its co-
owners. I think the space is a wonder location for you to showcase
this because it offers so much in the area of performance
accommodation. So many places here in San Francisco that we
perform at were not built to be a performance venue. But, Oasis was
remodeled when purchased with performance in mind. So with that,
how excited are you to be bringing this particular show in its premiere
to the Oasis?
Michael: So excited! It already feels like home after only being open
for a little more than a month. As we walked in there and saw the
stage with this beautiful proscenium around it. With the amazing
lights all dotted and lit up in a sexy way around that proscenium, it really looks like an old-school peep.
The idea that the curtain opens up and you see the man, woman or whatever on the stage and as soon as your money runs out that curtain closes, that all
fits in here. Even though the venue is brand new it has that classic feeling to it.
BeBe: When I first saw the inside of Oasis it reminded me of the old carnival shows that used to go from city to city. Very American Horror Story to me in it’s feel.
Rory: It was Michael who saw this vision of this show the minute he
saw the stage.
BeBe: Baloney, this all-male revue is something that you
don’t see here in San Francisco. It is very New York. You see all-male
revue shows a lot there, many of them being performed by Broadway
performers between gigs and what-not. And I say that because I think
that is why those shows have that class element to them. You know?
Like you say, it’s more about the journey than the destination. Or
something that drag queens are all to familiar with, the illusion and
idea of something is far more sexy and alluring than the act itself.
With aloney, I am hearing from you that these stories are taking us
on a journey with intent to create sensual imagery that feeds our
Rory: From the opening moment of the show until closing minutes
there is a through-line, but everything won’t click until that moment.
We worked very carefully on the through-line so that by the time the
lights go down there is a complete story being told.
Michael: Rory and I have been directing shows for years in San
Francisco, and my specific goal was to make the people who are
coming out to see the boys happy, but we want to make the actors,
directors and theater folks out there happy as well. So we are hitting
both of those markets, and we think this show’s through-line
effectively appeases both.
Rory: Definitely deeper than your average peep show!
BeBe: You guys are promoting this as a one-off, one night only
event. This can’t be just a one-off! I hope you are planning on making
this a regular show whether at Oasis or elsewhere.
Rory: Something we are definitely working toward. After working
together on this with the guys, we’re finding this is some of the most
fun that we’ve had and we have been doing theater and dance and
film and drag stuff for years now. This has been a delight to do. I
think aloney will be both completely entertaining and surprisingly
challenging for the audience that see it. But one of the reasons we are
doing this at Oasis is because the owners there, being a new venue,
are willing to take some risks, and they have expressed somethings
that they would like to do with the night. But we want you to
experience the vintage journey we are taking you on by being there,
by personally experiencing it. You know, if you weren’t there you
missed it. That’s one of the reasons, along with out of respect for the
guys on stage, will be enforcing a no photo or video policy during the
BeBe: I like the no photo/no video policy. It sounds with your through-line that the audience attention is definitely required, and I am sure the entertainment value of the show will assure that. But,
today’s generation has become so used to camera phones and videos
and the ability to capture today what I can watch tomorrow, that
many times their reliance on such devices, I think, lessens their
attention span. For the audience to get this through-line, commanding
their full attention seems necessary. Also, out of respect for the
performers on stage and in an attempt for them not to be the next
“big” tweet or Instagram post, it is important to also not allow photos
and video. I think it adds to the integrity of the show.
Michael: Exactly. To be honest, this whole kind of policy came from
the fact that a lot of these guys (in the show), experienced and actors
and dancers who are not certainly shy about disrobing and what-not,
but there’s a difference between doing that before a live audience and
feeling the energy and being photographed by cameras and being all
over Facebook the next day. And to keep with the vintage theme,
where there were no iPhones, if you miss it, you’ve missed it.
BeBe: Well when you look at this roster of people involved with the
show from the stage performers, you two as creators and directors of
the show, Heklina and D’Arcy and all those involved at Oasis, you see
an arsenal of respected artists. We can instantly recall the projects
you have all been involved in and how wonderfully they have made us
feel. The draw to this show, cameras or no cameras, is our respect for
the artistry you all bring and the quality product you have always
presented. I want to see it just because of the that.
Michael: Thank you, BeBe. If this continues, we want this to
eventually be a place where you can come to be sexually positive and
get out there and g past your comfort zone because we will protect
you. You won’t be all over social media. You can have a professional
job and still and have this type of entertainment to explore.
Director Michael Phillis and Choreographer Rory Davis present
Baloney on Friday, February 20 at 7pm at OASIS 298 11th Street, San Francisco. For tickets and more info SFOASIS.COM
You are a Grammy-winning songwriter. You have had number one hits with Destiny’s Child. You developed the biggest act to come along in decades in Lady Gaga. You’ve made millions of dollars. But, you can’t find yourself through any of this. That’s what happened to songwriter/producer Rob Fusari. After the end of his involvement with Lady Gaga, Fusari found himself lost without a way to recapture what he thought was the dream he should have been chasing. “I was at a lost to where to go. What do I do next?” says Fusari about his after-Gaga period. It was not until his search to find the magic through other artist failed to provide the answer did he realize that the artist he was seeking was already there, inside himself as 8Bit, the frontman and inspiration behind musical act Cary NoKey. This discovery was more about his real identity than it was about the music, however. “Not only was I able to find the music, but through this I was able to find who I really was,” Fusari says when speaking about his rebirth into 8Bit.
8Bit and Cary Nokey have always been inside but unknowingly hidden and buried perhaps because it didn’t fit into the American Dream Fusari had been told to chase, a skewed dream he speaks about in his current single American Dream. Other songs like Be Who U Are also speak to 8Bit’s emergence as Fusari’s true self. These songs and a few others apart of Cary Nokey’s current set on tour as the opening act for RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battleof the Seasons Tour. “(My show) is in-line with the girls because it is about being comfortable in your own skin and putting it out there, but it’s also very different.”
Hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race’s lead judge Michelle Visage,tonight, Feb 7, San Francisco’s Regency Theater becomes the venue privileged to stage performances from Bianca Del Rio, Adore Delano, Courtney Act, Jinkx Monsoon, Sharon Needles, Raja and other Drag Race series favorites. But, I think there will also be a high level of interest in seeing Carey Nokey open for the drag stars. 8Bit believes “RuPaul folks are saying to their fans that this is something that we saw that was cool and liked it, and you should check it out too.”
I had an opportunity to speak with 8Bit while on the Battle of the Seasons Tour and chatted about his true-self discovery, the true meaning of the American Dream, standing behind his Fusari-written songs, and the release of his first full-length album.
BeBe: Over the past couple of years, you have likened your discovery of 8Bit, by which you are now called, to the discovery of a transgender person’s true self.
8Bit: Yes, very much.
BeBe: When did finding your 8Bit and your musical act, Cary Nokey, with ValeNtino happen for you?
8Bit: I was at a time in my career and my life where I was in a holding patter. I was not admitting that to myself, and I was kind of going in circles. I was coming out of the (Lady) Gaga project which had gotten so big, bigger than any of us could have imagined. When an artist gets that big, there’s nothing to do bigger with that artist at that point. They tour and promote and all that, but for a writer/producer it’s a bit different. I was feeling pushed out. But it was never about the accolades or recognition, it was about being apart of something, and I lost that. The Gaga project was my baby, so when I lost it, I was at a lost to where to go. What do I do next? There were so many new artists that were reaching out to me because they had learned that I developed Lady Gaga. They wanted to meet with me with hopes that I would want to develop them. I kind of fell into this thought of I’ll just find me another Gaga, and I’ll do it again. But, you know what, a Gaga or a David Bowie doesn’t walk into your studio everyday.
BeBe: No, those are phenomenons!
8Bit: Absolutely! That;s a great word for it. But, I was receiving over 100 emails a day a plethera of new artist from all over the world. So, I started to indulge and put myself into developing one, and another one…… I found out sooner rather than later that it wasn’t that simple. I met with a lot of artists and they just didn’t have that “thing”. Whenever a superstar walks into the room I always say that you can have your back turned to them when they walk in and your still going to feel that “thing” without knowing who it is. There’s a presence, a change in the room. Gaga had it even when she wasn’t a superstar. That’s how you know. So, I met with and recorded a ton of artists over the next couple of years. I tried to compensate for some of the artists by thinking if they’re not great on stage, maybe I can get them some bells and whistles. They don’t have a great look, but maybe I can get a stylist to style them differently. But al that didn’t work. And, I just started spiraling down at this point because nothing was sounding to me the way it had before. Nothing was gelling. I couldn’t find that artist.
BeBe: Maybe because you were looking externally, when that artist was within you.
8Bit: There you go! Long story short, one day, I nonchalantly wrote a song, not with a thought of who I would sell it to or anything. I just wrote it. And afterward, I thought about getting an artist to record the demo vocals, and then I thought I’ll just sing it. I wanted to hear it recorded the way I heard it in my head. So, I went to the studio to record the vocals. Later, I went out that evening and when I came back, there were a bunch of people round the mixing panel. Then one engineer turned to me and said “what are you doing? You are looking for an artist, and this is what I’m hearing from you?” I went silent. I couldn’t respond. But I could feel this crack in the sky with one little beam of light shining down. And, that day (February 26, 2013) Cary Nokey was born. I literally said that day was what it was all been for. Not only was I able to find the music, but through this I was able to find who I really was. I didn’t realize I was hiding and burying things. I was raised by my Mom and my aunts. I was always around women. I was in touch with my feminine side, but that was all I had thought of it. It wasn’t that I wanted to cross dress. It wasn’t that. But, I didn’t know how to show it.
BeBe: But what I see in 8Bit and Cary Nokey is no different then the imagery I saw in David Bowie, EltonJohn, and Boy George. I see all those rock stars who performed in their time when their stage expression was extraordinary, but not looked at as odd. They were rock stars!
8Bit: They weren’t put in a box. I think what started to happen is that it became a little odd, which is weird. Shouldn’t it have gone in the other direction? I think it became odd because of the popularity of rap music which is very masculine, very hard. But, there was always a culture after Bowie, there just wasn’t an artist for it. That’s why when Gaga came out, their was a voice for that again.
BeBe: Do you think though that the public is saying that it’s okay for a Lady Gaga, a Beyonce or a Katy Perry who are female to be extravagant or drag queen-like, but it’s not okay for a male counterpart to do the same thing?
8Bit: Absolutely! I can’t explain it. For me, I grew up with a lot of Liberace. My mother loved Liberace. Going to his shows, I never thought twice about it. It was a different mindset. I don’t know how it went into this thing where it’s almost uncomfortable. I see it in people when I hit the stage. But, I’m okay with it. I can understand if you haven’t seen the likes of Bowie or what have you, you’re taken a back at first. They really don’t know how to process it.
BeBe: How has this discovery of who you are, or, I’m going to call it what it is, this rebirth….. how has it changed your music? You are the guy who wrote No, No, No for Destiny’s Child. You are the guy who produced Whitney Houston and Lady Gaga, and wrote Paparazzi and those types of songs. That’s not the sound of Cary Nokey.
8Bit: That’s a great question. (My rebirth) changed my music entirely. I never before thought of music as visual when I’d write songs and produce records. Music never came across my creativity screen as a visual element. I never thought how I’d perform it on stage, or how the video would look. It wasn’t until I took on the Gaga project hat I started thinking that way. Before I’d think about the radio, now I think about the stage. I want the music to translate to the stage the same way it translates to the radio. It’s funny because if I had this as a tool as a producer, it would have helped me tremendously. When you are writing for another artist, you can kind of hide behind the lyric because you aren’t the one delivering it. I wasn’t forced to visualize. When you are delivering (the lyric), you have to make people believe this is your story. These are your words. What changed is I had to now open up my life into song and tell my story, and be okay with it. I do a song called My Name is Lisa, and it’s about me being in my room when I was young, and I would think as myself as different female characters. I’d think about how I would walk, act and dress. You’re kind of revealing your soul in song, and then you actually reveal your soul when you go on stage and say this is a song I wrote.
BeBe: And, we have to believe you.
8Bit: That’s the only way it works is for you to believe me.
BeBe: You have a Web Series which is basically following you and ValeNtino as you do tour dates across the country. As I watched, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of the series is for you a way for you to help the public understand Rob Fusari vs. 8Bit or the movement from Rob to 8Bit?
8Bit: That’s actually very perceptive. It is true. Right now,whether it’s right or wrong, I’m doing it with a bit of “onetoe in the water” because it’s a life of Rock ‘n Roll. It’s a life out of mayhem. Think of it as….. as amazing and life changing it is to be reborn into someone I want to be and dreamed of, there’s also another side to it. There’s a side of the caterpillar trying to become a butterfly. I can give you an analogy of a woman giving birth to a child. Its painful, but something beautiful comes from that pain. There’s pieces of (my discovery) that are not easy.
They are very painful. (Such as) You are someone or something thing wholeheartedly but you still have to live a life of someone or something else, like a Rob. You have family, a mother, a brother, and friends that still call you Rob. You accept it because you know it’s only a small piece of it. It’s almost as if it is a small chapter. I know it sounds a little whacked, but it is what it is. Rob is a chapter. I know I can’t ignore Rob, but I want to speak he truth about what is going on. My reservation and angst about the web series is that my team wants to be careful about the things we are revealing, and I don’t want to be. They are lie “people may look at that in the wrong way.” This is very much my life. There is one episode where I get beat up, and I get beat up because I was being me.
BeBe: I think certain people want to say that your are just portraying a character on stage as Cary Nokey. They want to say that 8Bit is not really you but a performance on stage. That prefer to think that you go off stage and strip 8Bit off like drag queens do. They are more comfortable with thinking 8Bit and Cary Nokey are personas separate from your real identity when the reality is 8Bit is you. Your web series, to me, shows that.
8Bit: Yeah, this is more than about the music and gaining success in the music through stage performance. This is literally life or death. I was lost and going down the wrong road, I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the success along the way, but I couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t getting any prettier after the success. It’s a slap in the face to say that this is about a #1 record or a $1 million publishing deal. Sometimes I wish it were that I come off stage and take off the make up and go into this business world life, but it’s not that way. This is me. There is no goal here. My finish line has already happened (with Rob).
BeBe: You have a new single called American Dream, and you say that our American Dream that we are so hard at work trying to achieve, the one we are told to seek, has been skewed. It is no longer what we told it was. You say those who have the where-with-all to shed the skin that society has said they must wear to become who they really are, they are the ones living the American Dream. Can you elaborate on that?
8Bit: None of the leaders, if you will, have revised over time what we know as the American Dream. It became more clear to me, inside of myself, that all these material things that represented my success didn’t complete me. Not only did it not complete me, it made things worse. I always thought that having a hit record and some success as a producer that people would respect me and I would be fulfilled as a person. But that (notion) kind of turned its head, and I started looking at the so-called American Dream differently realizing that American Dream was a Rule of Exception, almost like playing the lottery. That’s not what I was taught in “work hard, pay your taxes, and follow the rules of society and everything will be okay. You’ll have a better life.” That’s not what happened with me. It was more like propaganda for me. I’m not anti-America. I love this country. It’s the best country imaginable, but I thhink the American Dream needs a little clarity. I think we need to be honest and say that the American dream is different than what we all thought and read in the text books. No one has had the where-with-all to stand up and do that. The thing for me was having the ability to discover my place in this country, and that doesn’t always mean money or a Mercedes Benz. The true Dream is to discover who we are and live that freely.
BeBe: Do you feel then that the success and things you achieved before as Rob Fusari had a lack of authenticity because they were not achieved as your real self?
8Bit: I think that’s absolutely true, yes I do. I hate to admit that. Not to take away from the songs I’ve written. I still stand behind those songs. The tricky part about coming into this (music) business is finding a way to adjust your thought process and still be able to keep your artistic integrity. That was hard for me. I mean I grew up a white guy from New Jersey who liked David Bowie and Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I was trying to write music and find my way in the business during a time when R&B was becoming popular again. I had to find some R&B in me somewhere because I didn’t have an outlet to express the Bowie side of me. I had to continue on this road. I became this R&B producer because “I gotta do what I gotta do”. But, I stand behind the records because an example is when I perform those songs, I perform them Cary Nokey-style, the way I originally heard them in my head. The songs weren’t fake, they were just presented differently.
BeBe: You are currently on tour with RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons Tour as its opening act, and I’m curious, how are the audiences who are coming to see the drag stars responding to your Bowie-esque style, for lack of a better term? Are these audiences accepting of you?
8Bit: It’s funny because I struggled with this when the RuPaul folks asked us to come on the tour. It made sense, but I had to make it make a little more sense. I’m not drag. I don’t do what the girls do. I was trying to connect dots a little bit more. I started saying to myself that I’m not trying to compete with what the drag stars do or trying to give you what they do, but it’s like the RuPaul folks are saying to their fans that this is something that we saw that was cool and liked it, and you should check it out too. It’s different than what they came to see, but they can give it a look. It’s in-line with the girls because it is about being comfortable in your own skin and putting it out there, but it’s also very different. It’s music. It’s theatrical. It’s Bowie-esque. It’s a dance party with angst.
BeBe: Are you currently in the studio now recording new material?
8Bit: Yes. There are so many new songs, but we are about to release our firt full-length album in March or early April (2015). There’s gong to be 8 songs and we’re calling it Journal 8.
After Cary Nokey’s performance tonight in San Francisco, they continue on with the Rupaul’s Drag Race: Battle of Seasons Tour in the following cities:
For more information on Cary NoKey follow them below:
They were apart of the second British invasion bringing to America their New Romantic fashion and their music of soul, funk, jazz and synth-pop mixture which included stateside hits like True, Gold, and Only When You Leave. Spandau Ballet was one of the most successful bands of the 1980s with ten Top Ten singles and five Top Ten albums in the U.K. Tony Hadley’s smooth vocals over the sophisti-pop sound created by the musicianship of band mates Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, John Keeble and Steve Norman amassed a sound that became as distinctive as their band name. But with only a few small concert tours, and even viewer television appearances, in America, the band had a bad break up after 11 years of success. “We had a pretty acrimonious fallout that is pretty well documented,” said Tony Hadley. “It wasn’t good.”
After much “soul searching”and fan prodding, Spandau Ballet reunited in 2009 ceremoniously earning the Best Comeback Award at the Virgin Media Awards after a sold-out world tour and the release of U.K. Top Ten Album Once More. “ As far as I was concerned, we were never going to get back together ever again,” Hadley said about Spandau Ballet’s break up. Tony credits a “ tremendous ground-level support from the fans” to the band’s successful reunion. However, the long awaited reunion has been become more like a series of Cher’s Farewell Tours. After the band’s well received return to live performance an studio recording, their new togetherness took another hiatus for another 4 years. “I always said that what would sort of be nice, like Phil Collins and Genesis really, every now and again we get back together and have a good time and remember the old times, and then we go off and do our own thing,” explains Hadley. True (pun intended) to form, 2014 brought the band back with yet another greatest hits compilation album, The Story – The Very Best of Spandau Ballet, sprinkled with three new songs, and a new documentary Soul Boys of the Western World which follows band during their 1980s heyday. Thankfully for their fans worldwide, including America, Spandau Ballet embarks on a Soul Boys of the Western World Tour which kicks of January 23 in San Francisco touring U.S. through February before heading throughout the rest of world ending the tour in September. It has been almost 30 years since the band has toured America.
“We had a pretty acrimonious fallout that is pretty well documented,” said Tony Hadley. “It wasn’t good.”
Spandau Ballet’s highly anticipate return to the U.S. was announced in a couple of promotional appearances stateside including a well received live performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “…..it felt great being on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show because it had been 28 years and we were thankful anyone even cared,” expressed Hadley. “We didn’t expect the reaction we got.” With 80s music seemingly always apart of a retro resurgence, this North American tour will have Spandau Ballet in front of audiences of not only die hard fans of old, but also a large crop of new fans that weren’t even born when their big hit True was even released.
I had the great pleasure of speaking with bands lead singer Tony Hadley while he was in England preparing with the band for their long awaited return to the U.S., and we visited the band’s fall out period, their 2009 reunion, the new documentary and album, and their U.S. regrets.
BeBe: Everyone in the States is very excited that you guys (Spandau Ballet) are coming to tour here.
Tony Hadley: I know, it should be good actually. We are looking forward to coming over (from the UK). We haven’t played the States in so long. It’s ridiculous!
BeBe: It’s crazy, I know. The Soul Boys of the Western World Tour is your return to North America in about what, 30 years?
Tony Hadley: Yeah, it must be 28 years. It’s crazy. But the thing is we’ve been split up for quite some time, for about 20 years.
BeBe: Well, if you weren’t a band for 20 years, I guess we can’t really hold (your absence) against you.
Tony Hadley: We had a pretty acrimonious fallout that is pretty well documented. It wasn’t good. But we got back together again in 2009. We finally realized our differences and it’s all good.
BeBe: What was the catalyst that made you guys get back together because you were all doing your own things after the break up. Gary and Martin (Kemp) were into their acting careers (Gary Kemp may be most remembered by fans in the U.S. for his role in Whitney Houston’s Bodyguard film). You were doing some solo recording work and even some stage stuff including a West End revival of Chicago. So what made you all say, hey let’s give this another go? A 20 year break is a long time.
Tony Hadley: Well, the fallout was real bad. We ended up in court and it wasn’t very pleasant. As far as I was concerned, we were never going to get back together ever again. It was really John Keeble (drums) who met with everyone in the band with the realization that what we had was really good. For me to meet with Gary…..I mean we were the two big fighters in the band in a way. We fell out badly. It took me 6-months of soul searching whether or not one, did I ant to meet with him, and two, could I face going back on the road again and getting back together. I think what happened was there was tremendous ground-level support from the fans, and then the realization that carrying around all that anger and baggage wasn’t very helpful. It was ruining us. It takes a lot of energy to carry that around. Then there was eventually a rumor (started by BBC’s Jonathan Ross) that went out that there was a possibility that the band was going to get back together again. It was a joke really, but all of a sudden the news and the fans got all excited. We then realized that if we were big enough and strong enough and grown-up enough, we could get back together again. In the final meeting between me and Gary, we had our issues, we both said what we needed to say, shook hands and had a couple of pints of beer in hopes that we could make this work again. Very, very English!
“….. the next time out, we’ll definitely have a new album.”
BeBe: You talked about your fans’ response to the rumor being big part in band getting back together. Their hunger for your music never died. Not only true (no pun intended) through think and thin fans of days of old, but now you have a crop of new fans that basically weren’t even around during your heyday. Is that all surprising to you after 20 years apart?
Tony Hadley: It’s kind of nice! This whole so-called 80s been going on so long, I can’t tell you. What is interesting is we knew die hard fans would come along, but theirs these young kids that have been listening to their Mom’s old records. I mean why do I love Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett? Because my Mom and Dad played their records. It’s a similar thing. So, there is a whole sort of new audience out there as well. Getting back together in 2009 was great fun, and we had a great time, and we did get rid of all the anger and the angst, but after that we just went back to our solo projects. I went back o touring with orchestras and stuff like that. I always said that what would sort of be nice, like Phil Collins and Genesis really, every now and again we get back together and have a good time and remember the old times, and then we go off and do our own thing. It kind of seems the way it’s working. The last time we were together was nearly 4-5 years go and here we are kicking off a world tour in the States. It’s nice and much easier.
BeBe: Tony, that commentary saddens me a bit because it sounds like we won’t be getting a new album of completely new music. You’ve had a few new songs on 2009’s Once More album and of course on your latest album The Story-The Very Best of Spandau Ballet ( This Is The Love, Steal, and Soul Boy). I was hoping that I’d get 12 new tunes with this reunion.
Tony Hadley: I will be honest with you, we spent so much time, energy on the film (the documentary Soul Boys of the Western World) we really couldn’t do a new album. The documentary took a lot of time and effort to put together. It was a monster achievement for us. So we didn’t have the time to put together a new album. When we go out again after this tour through September 2015, and when we get back together in how many years after that it is, we have to do a new album. We have to sit down and make the time to write some new songs and do a 10-12 track brand new album.
BeBe: I’m so glad to hear that!
Tony Hadley: So, the next time out we’ll definitely have a new album.
BeBe: You did some promotional appearances here in the States in the later part of 2014 not only to promote the greatest hits album The Story but also to promote the Soul Boys of the Western World Tour. It was great watching your performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Even by just watching on TV I could feel the energy of the crowd. It has been a long time since you’ve been in front of an American audience, how did it feel performing in front of such an appreciative audience?
Tony Hadley: It felt great! First off it felt great being on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show because it had been 28 years and we were thankful anyone even cared. I mean when we arrived in the afternoon for sound check, there were already fans lined up. We could hear all this screaming and I said “One Direction must be around. Where are they?”. Then we realized they were all there screaming for us. Okay, this is nice! We didn’t expect the reaction we got. John Keeble says in the film ‘that I wanted a better ending (for the band)’, and I think the fans wanted a better ending as well. Nobody wants to see the band they grew up listening to, made love to, get back together to kick themselves all over the place. So, I think from the fans point of view, it’s a tremendous relief that we got back together.
BeBe: It’s interesting because sometimes when bands get back together after a long absence, it’s hard for the fans to get used to their new look and new sound as the band has matured But, you guys were wearing suits when you performed back in the days of the New Romantics period. You were fashion icons in the 80s and you still got that going on. And, you sound the same. That’s what is so amazing!
Tony Hadley: Yes, (we) do still sound the same. I can’t sound like anyone else but Tony Hadley. The band has a very distinctive way of playing. John Keeble to Gary to Steve (Norman) to Martin. The first time we got together after 20 years in the studio in 2009, as soon as we started playing, our first song was I’ll Fly For You, it instantly started to sound like Spandau Ballet. It didn’t sound like a tired or old version, it sounded like Spandau Ballet. It’s kind of weird, I mean, I don’t think we’ve aged too badly. That’s a bit of a shock sometimes. But, when it all comes down to it, we all love music, and we’re probably getting along better now then we have in years. We laugh, joke and (have) no pressures. The only pressures we have is we want to do a good show and sing and perform well.
BeBe: So many of your fans here in the States never got a chance to see you perform live back in the day, so the fact you still got it when they have the chance to see you now is really great.
Tony Hadley: e didn’t come into the States as often as we should have done. We only made 2-3 little tours. The States is such a massive country. When you go there you have to prove you can carry it. There are so many great bands and musicians already in the States. They need you to go out and prove you can cut it live, and we didn’t do enough of that in America, and that’s a bit of a regret.
BeBe: After you leave the States on this world tour where are you headed?
Tony Hadley: We’ll be off to Italy, and then a big arena tour with 13 shows in the U.K., and then different places in Europe. We’re also looking at Hong Kong and Taipei. I’ve never been to China before. And then (there’s) South America.
Spandau Ballet kicks of their Soul Boys of the Western World Tour on January 23 at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. For ticket information go to www.spandauballetstore.com/spandauballet/Tour-Tickets/
SOUL BOYS OF THE WESTERN WORLD TOUR – NORTH AMERICA DATES
1/23 San Francisco, CA Warfield Theatre
1/24 Los Angeles, CA Wiltern Theatre
1/25 Los Angeles, CA Wiltern Theatre
4/25 Chicago, IL House of Blues
4/27 Toronto, ONT Massey Hall
4/28 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
4/30 Boston, MA House of Blues
5/1 Red Bank, NJ Count Basie Theatre
5/2 New York, NY Beacon Theatre
5/3 Westbury, NY Theatre at Westbury
Spandau Ballets new album The Story – The Very Best of Spandau Ballet is available on iTunes and Amazon.com
By BeBe Sweetbriar www.BeBeSweetbriar.com ( original interview appears in LEFT Magazine)
Crossover artist has primarily been used to describe a R&B musician who has been able to have success on the Pop charts. But when you call Debby Holiday a crossover artist, it refers to a Rock singer crossing over into the Dance genre of music. Debby Holiday’s success in music may be defined by her numerous Billboard Top 20 Dance hits like Dive, Half A Mile Away, Joyful Sound, Party Round the World, Never Give Up and several more, but Debby’s voice is rooted in Rock and Roll. A voice that has provided her opportunities to share the stage with Rock greats like Joe Walsh, John Waite, Rod Stewart and Kiss. Dance music and Rock music may seem like miles apart to many, but to Debby Holiday their similarities are quite evident. “I think where the similarities are, at least in my mind, are in the passion”, says Debby. “It’s all very passionate music.”
Debby has been on record to say that rock is her first love but she has been able to find a voice in Dance music quite easily. “It kind of makes sense because even the way I sing Dance music has a rock edge to it. It’s somewhere in between Gospel and Rock and Roll. They’re interchangeable to me,” comments Holiday. That Rock-edged Dance music voice has given Debby distinction that can be heard in her music placements in television shows and in gyms and other major public places. When you hear a Debby Holiday song, you know it’s Debby Holiday.
With a recent new single release as the featured artist on Tony Moran‘s remake of the 1985 PhyllisNelson hit I Like You, Debby’s distinctive voice is what helps make the cover tune anew and her own. “….when you are remaking some amazing vocalist’s song, it can be intimidating. Not that I don’t believe in my own abilities, but you want to hear the song with out copying them,” said Debby. Holidays strong and powerful vocals with Moran’s production really takes I Like You to another level from the original. “Girl, I’m loud as hell. You can’t contain that.”
Though in high demand to perform at predominately gay clubs, venues and events across the country, Debby made time in her busy schedule to chat with me for awhile about her Rock and Roll roots, the transition into Dance music, working with Tony Moran and that highly anticipated third solo album.
BeBe: Multitalented – when I think of that word, Debby Holiday invariably comes to mind simply based on the variety of music you do. Though the public is very aware of your Dance music success over the past 10 years (since Dive in 2004), do you think people are a bit surprised to find out about your work in heavy rock and country rock?
Debby Holiday: It’s about 50/50. Some people are like “Oh, my God!” because the rock is really heavy rock with guitars, or “Oh, my Lord!” I had no idea. And then others are like it kind of makes sense because even the way I sing Dance music has a rock edge to it. It’s somewhere in between Gospel and Rock and Roll. They’re interchangeable to me.
BeBe: When I listen to the “Rock Stuff Debby”, I don’t immediately put in my mind that this is the Dive girl! It’s different to me.
Debby Holiday: I think where the similarities are, at least in my mind, are in the passion. It’s all very passionate music. That’s why I’m doing a double album. Dance music is passionate, and Rock music is passionate. I want those two worlds to co-mingle.
BeBe: How did your first dance hit Dive (#5 Billboard Dance Chart) come about since you were in a rock band at the time?
Debby Holiday: Well, when I wrote it, the rock band I was in at the time never wanted to do it because they said it was too dancey. I self-recorded it at home, and it was just siting on my hard drive. Then Andrew “Drew” Briskin (a music manager who passed in 2012) and Del Shores (creator of Sordid Lives) both heard it and said Dive needed to be a dance remix. And, I said “what?” I never thought about that. Del was pretty persistent about it, and Drew, in a drunken stupor one night sent the track to Chris Cox, never thinking he would respond. And then, chris responded. I sent him my vocals and what he sent back was what became the first version of Dive you heard on the dance floor. There were no edits done to it. It’s amazing because when I write songs, that’s how I hear them. And, for someone like Chris Cox to take it and make it something different is amazing.
BeBe: Remixers make songs different, but few can capture the passion and all the stuff you, as a songwriter,are trying to convey in the original version of the song. That’s, to me, the difference between a great dance song and a good dance song. The beat can be fine and the lyrics and melody good, but sometimes the passion can be lost in the way the song is remixed. I don’t lose the passion in your dance music.
Debby Holiday: I think that’s because of two reasons: One, I have been blessed to have an amazing array of DJ/Producers remix my music. And two, girl, I am loud as hell. You can’t contain that.
BeBe: You are one of those singers that are distinctive and easy to identify. Nowadays, they play with artists vocals so much in the studio, they all begin to sound the same.
Debby Holiday: There is so much auto-tune used right now, even on people who don’t necessarily need it. With the auto-tune you do lose distinction.
BeBe: But like Martha Wash and Aretha, we know your voice!
Debby Holiday: Did you just say my name in the same sentence as Martha Wash? (said with joyful astonishment)
BeBe: Having a distinctive voice must be very marketable for you, and apart of why you have been successful in getting great placement of your music in television shows and other places.
Debby Holiday: You’re right about the TV placements and stuff. I’m always getting calls from people I know saying “girl, I was on the treadmill in the gym and heard your voice blasting out the stereo.”
BeBe: How long after Dive did you first work with Grammy-nominated DJ/Producer Tony Moran?
Debby Holiday: Surrender Me (#19 Billboard Dance Chart) with Tony was my fifth single 4 years after Dive.
BeBe: So after 6 years, you guys are back together with a new single called I Like You. Now, this song was not originally written for you, right?
Debby Holiday: no, it’s a remake of a song by Phyllis Nelson (mother of Boys II Men co-founder Marc Nelson) that went #1 on the Billboard Dance Chart in 1985. She’s no longer with us dying of breast cancer which makes it kind of special for me to have remade this. It’s an honor to take someone else’s music and reshare it. I had never heard it before.
BeBe: Remakes can be tricky, especially one that was originally a hit because people familiar with the song have a hard time getting the original version out of their head and then make unfair comparisons. With that in mind, how did you approach recording I Like You to make the song your own?
Debby Holiday: What I had learned from doing remakes is that I will listen to the original 3-4 times if I’m not familiar with the song, which most times than not, I’m not familiar because when it originally came out I was full throttle Rock and Roll. And that helps because when you are remaking some amazing vocalist’s song, it can be intimidating. Not that I don’t believe in my own abilities, but you want to hear the song with out copying them. And I have to say, while recording the song, Tony (Moran) was truly a collaborator. He would ask me to try different inflections in my voice here and there and really collaborated on the direction of the vocals. You don’t always get that from producers.
BeBe: Well you succeeded in making it your own because when I first heard it, I thought I Like You had been written for you. It just has you written all over it. And watching you in the music video have so much fun, and letting loose, and looking so comfortable with the song makes it even harder to believe that this is a remake.
Debby Holiday: Yeah, there’s a whole lot of my face in that video (wildly laughs).
BeBe: We don’t need nothing else. We just need to see Debby sangin’ this song.
Debby Holiday: Big love to Bella Erickson who directed and edited the video. She worked her tail off.
BeBe: Your theater background (Trials And Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife) is apparent to me in the video. Do you think your theater experience helps your performances in music videos and while performing your music on stage?
Debby Holiday: I think it’s my music that helps my theater work. My first two concerts I ever went to as a young girl were Alice Cooper and Bette Midler. Two very expressive performers. And because of my father (musician and songwriter Jimmy Holiday) there were always these big character musicians like Etta James coming around. To stand there and not emote what you’re feeling would not be acceptable. Also, I don’t do drugs and I don’t party, so I got to be wild somewhere (much laughter).
BeBe: It’s been awhile since you’ve done an album collection of songs ( Debby Holiday, 2003. Half A Mile Away, 2005). You’ve been steadily putting out singles. So this double album you are working on is coming with much anticipation.
Debby Holiday: I’ve been working on my half Rock and half Dance music double album for a year now. All new songs, no remixes. I wrote all the songs both Rock and Dance, except I’m finally remaking my father’s song Put A Little Love In Your Heart (made famous by Jackie DeShannon). That was cathartic. The double album has been a lot of writing and recording. Ooh, chil’! Hopefully we will release the work in March/April of 2015. Though I love the Dance music, it was fun recording in the studio the Rock stuff with live musicians.
I Like You by Tony Moran featurng Debby Holiday is now available on Beatport.com.
Ricky Martin set to release NEW single “ADIÒS” on Sept 23.
ADIÓS” Is First Track From Martin’s
Anticipated Album To Be Released Early 2015
The Global Artist Will Start His Tour “Live in Mexico”
On October 3 With Two Consecutive Concerts At
The Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City
Ricky Martin has returned to the airwaves following his international hit “Vida,” with a new single titled “Adiós” (Goodbye), whose exclusive premiere will be held on Monday, September 22nd on Uforia’s radio stations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. The single will be available on all digital platforms the following day.
“Adiós”, produced by Jesse Shatkin (responsible for Sia’s popular song “Chandelier”), Yotuel Romero, Antonio Rayo, and Ricky Martin, features an original sound and rhythmic influences from different parts of the world where the multiple GRAMMY® award winning artist has traveled throughout the year.
“We chose “Adiós” because it represents who I am today. The title is a reference to the opening of another cycle,” Ricky Martin said of the first single off his anticipated new album, scheduled to be released at the beginning of next year by Sony Music Latin.
A week after the release of “Adiós”, Martin will kick off a concert series called “Live In Mexico” with two consecutive concerts at the Palacio De Los Deportes in Mexico City on October 3 and 4. The tour will continue on to Mexico’s main cities including: Guadalajara, Monterrey, Ciudad del Carmen, Puebla, Morelia, among others. (Tour dates ahead).
Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com.mx.
In addition to the release and tour, Ricky continues his work as “coach” on the new season of “The Voice Mexico,” which airs every Sunday on Televisa.
“LIVE IN MEXICO” TOUR:
October 3, 4 – Palacios de Los Deportes, México, D.F.
October 6 – Arena VFG, Guadalajara, MX
October 8, 9 – Arena Monterrey, Monterrey, MX
October 29 – Estadio Resurgimiento, Ciudad Del Carmen, MX
October 31 – Coliseo Yucatán, Mérida, Yucatán, MX
November 1 – Teatro Al Aire Libre, Villahermosa, Tabasco, MX
November 2 – Viñedos San Gabriel, Ensenada, Baja CA, MX
November 5 – Plaza De Toros Sta. Maria, Santiago de Queretaro, MX
November 7 – Centro Expositor, Puebla, MX
November 8 – Plaza Monumental de Morelia, Morelia, Michoacán MX
November 9 – Megavelaria Aguascalientes, Barrio San Marcos,Aguascalientes, MX
November 12 – Estadio Almanza, Chihuahua, MX
November 13 – Coliseo Centenario, Torreón, MX
November 14 – El Domo de San Luis, San Luis Potosí, MX
November 25 – Poliforum de León, León, Guanajuato, MX
November 27 – Expo Forum, Hermosillo, Sonora, MX
November 29 – Fex Centro de Espectáculos, Mexicali, MX
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Music Mogul Martin Kierszenbaum Releases Cherry Cherry Boom Boom EP by BeBe Sweetbriar
With artists like Ellie Goulding, Disclosure, Robyn, Royksopp, La Roux, LFMAO, and even the legendary Sting currently on his Pop Alternative record label, Cherrytree Records, you would think producing and songwriting with some of the hottest recording artists on the planet would be enough of a musical outlet for label founder and music mogul Martin Kierszenbaum. But, then you aren’t Kierszenbaum. You see, Bruce Wayne has Batman, and Martin has Cherry Cherry Boom Boom (no cape or mask required). It is under this pseudonym that Martin becomes his own artist with recorded output; his own muse. Aside from hearing the phrase shouted out on the dance floor to reference “hot dancing”, you have probably heard “cherry cherry boom boom” in the song lyrics by some of Kierszenbaum’s past label artists Lady Gaga, Frankmusik and Space Cowboy, and current artists Natalia Kills and Far East Movement. Now, the vocals that have been heard in the background on the tracks of many of Cherrytree artists, Cherry Cherry Boom Boom has taken the lead as a solo artist on his debut extended play release Cherry Cherry Boom Boom EP, released on the Royal Pop Records imprint mid-August.
Containing two previously released Billboard Club Dance Chart single tracks, Cherry Cherry Boom Boom EP offers up two new tracks including the collections lead single A Little Bit of Love (Can Last For Life). As with most recognized music producers, Kierszenbaum has an unmistakeable sound he brings to the projects he works, and this solo effort definitely embodies that Cherry Cherry Boom Boom trademark. With the help of some of the best remixers like Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and RAC, A Little Bit of Love….. is bound to find its way to dance floor and Billboard Chart success.
I had an opportunity to touch base with Kierszenbaum about his latest Cherry Cherry Boom Boom project and how his solo output and production of other artists’ work go hand in hand.
BeBe: Cherry Cherry Boom Boom has been a moniker mostly known on the production side of things in pop music. Why has now become the time to put emphasis on the recording artist part of that brand?
Martin Kierszenbaum: I’ve always written and sung songs since I was a kid. I was in a hip hop group called Maroon when I was a teenager. When I started working on the record label side, I began to prioritize helping other artists and, at times, that meant producing records for them. I played all the instruments and sang backing vocals on my productions like on Natalia Kills’ Not in Love and Lady Gaga’s Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say). Fairly recently, with some spare time on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, I began to feel an impulse to sing lead again and came up with the music on this new Cherry Cherry Boom Boom EP.
BeBe: Two of the songs, Come Back From San Francisco and One and Only, on your new Cherry Cherry Boom Boom EP were released 2 years ago complete with remixes. Why include them on this 4-song offering?
Martin Kierszenbaum: Since my first priority are the artists on my label Cherrytree and my management company, I write and record my own music at a slower pace than most. It took me a while to collect four Cherry Cherry Boom Boom solo recordings but I eventually finished them and compiled them here on this EP.
BeBe: You began your musical journey many years ago as apart of the Hip-Hop duo Maroon. When and why the switch into the Pop genre?
Martin Kierszenbaum: Actually, my musical journey began at my house as a kid. My parents are Argentinian and always had music from all over the world playing at home. My mom is a piano player and my sister a violinist. We moved all over the world when I was a kid, and I was exposed to all kinds of music. I fell in love with pop, dance, electronic, folk, Merengue, you name it. I studied piano and music theory and saw music as music, not so compartmentalized. I gravitated towards hip hop in the 80’s because I met a fierce MC named Will EP from Chicago, and he and I both shared a passion for the excitement and genre-bending in Rap music at the time. Rap music was how we naturally expressed ourselves musically and in a most urgent way, as we felt it.
BeBe: In most recent years, and definitely 2014, the Pop charts have been ruled by the ladies, and then there is Sam Smith. Where does Cherry Cherry Boom Boom fit into this Pop music picture?
Martin Kierszenbaum: I don’t think about where I fit at all. I just make music. It’s the same when I sign an artist. I strive for great and not for something that necessarily fits into any existing, musical landscape. I’m not afraid of unique and original, I seek it out. As far as my Cherry Cherry Boom Boom output is concerned, I kind of have the luxury of making music on my own terms and for my own pleasure. It’s great to share it with people as well, but I don’t stress about where it fits in the musical picture. I just do what feels right.
BeBe: Are you testing the waters with the Cherry Cherry Boom Boom EP in hopes of releasing a complete collection of songs?
Martin Kierszenbaum: I’m just making music on my own time table. I love doing it. It makes me happy and it keeps my record-making skills honed so that I can communicate with other musicians which is one of my favorite things to do in the world. If I find the time and am inspired to write some more music, I may compile it as an album, but more and more, I think shorter collections of music make more sense. At Cherrytree, we’re putting out more mini-albums and EPs like Robyn’s Body Talk collections and Far East Movement’s upcoming K-Town Riot mini-album coming this October.
BeBe: How much, if at all, does concentration on Cherry Cherry Boom Boom, the artist, take away from Cherry Cherry Boom Boom, the hit making producer?
Martin Kierszenbaum: They bolster each other, actually. I’m the same person wearing both hats. Recording music for myself keeps me in tune with the latest technology in the studio and keeps my fundamental musical chops up. I think the processes of recording on my own and producing for others inform and augment each other.
BeBe: You have worked some very talented female artists, including the Lady Gaga. Any plans to collaborate on a vocal duet project with any of them?
Martin Kierszenbaum: I’ve had the privilege of working with some extraordinary voices in the studio including Lady Gaga and Robyn. I wouldn’t say my voice is anywhere near that caliber but I do mean what I sing and that gives me enough confidence to sing background vocals or record the odd “Cherry Cherry Boom Boom” through a vocoder for them here and there (laughs).
BeBe: You have released Cherry Cherry Boom Boom EP on the Royal Pop Records label. How does this label differ from your CherryTree label?
Martin Kierszenbaum: I started Cherrytree for my artists who are my main priority. That’s very clear to me. My own music comes out through a completely different channel.
BeBe: You have put that Cherry Cherry Boom Boom sound on many remixes of other artists songs, so when it comes to getting remixes to your songs, are involved in selecting those remixes?
Martin Kierszenbaum: I’ve been active in the electronic dance community for a while and I’ve been fortunate to forge some wonderful relationships with talented DJs, producers, and executives. I like to stay on top of the players and sounds but when I need help, I get great advice from fellow musicians and friends for which I’m always grateful.
Cherry Cherry Boom Boom EP is now available on iTunes and other online retail outlets.
For more information on the EP, remixes and other Cherry Cherry Boom Boom releases and news go to www.cherrycherryboomboom.com
Click below for the music video to A Little Bit of Love (Can Last for Life)
WHITNEY HOUSTON LIVE: HER GREATEST PERFORMANCES TO BE RELEASED NOV. 10, 2014
The six-time Grammy-award winning singer’s first-ever live album features the most memorable live performances from her storied career. The album will also be available as a CD/DVD, which includes stunning videos of Houston’s most unforgettable performances, reinforcing her as one of the greatest vocalists of all time. Both the audio and visual content have undergone state of the art restoration and remastering.
Fans are now able to pre-order the CD/DVD from the Whitney Houston official fansite to get their names included on an exclusive poster. A limited edition fan bundle, which includes a purple vinyl, is offered on the site as well. Both the CD/DVD and the CD are also available for pre-order on Amazon and iTunes.