Earlier today, I got on the hotline and spoke with the Thrower of Body Parties, Giver of Fantasy Rides and all-around Crunk-R&B Queen herself, Ciara. You know, as one does.
Why? Well, I wanted to talk about her upcoming record Ciara, obviously—but mostly because I had to get to the bottom of this whole “He Reads” business from the “Body Party” video. I also wanted to know why she’s apparently featured on her own song (“Super Turnt Up”). Oh, and to demand that “Overdose” be released as a single.
I managed to accomplish all three. Let’s get it started.
UK darling Jenn D first caught my eye (and ears) with her gutsy debut single “Lose It” back in November, a powerful punch of aggressive beats and taunting lyricism—and some hot Speak & Spell action to boot.
Then, earlier this year, the Liverpool-born songstress got our hearts racing again with the premiere of “You Keep Giving Me Love.” It’s pure Minogue mania–a full-on blast of euphoric synthesizers and flirty, swoon-filled coos–and a pretty major departure from her previous single. But between the two sounds, just who is the real Jenn D anyway?
Well, that’s what she’s still working on.
While Jenn ccontinues to work on carving out a cohesive tale for her upcoming solo debut LP (she formerly fronted the electro-pop troupe Soft Toy Emergency), I spoke with the up-and-coming pop princess for a bit about recording her new tunes, the process of creation (music, not babies), her musical muses (hint: The “D” in Jenn D could stand for “Dancing On My Own”) and the songs she’s digging right now.
5 years before Katy Perry was batting her fake eyelashes and singing coquettishly about the oh-so-taboo indulgence of a same-sex kiss, two underage Russian pop stars stormed the stage of the MTV Movie Awards with a fleet of girls dressed in schoolgirl uniforms, throwing their fists up in the air riotously and engaging in a massive girl-on-girl make-out session.
“I Kissed A Girl,” scandalous? Oh, how quickly we forget.
When t.A.T.u burst into the American pop scene back in 2002, their dark, brooding dance-pop gems like “All The Things She Said” provided a sharp contrast to what was then a largely R&B-dominated pop landscape. That, and their Sapphic lyricism and controversial on-stage antics (the MTV Movie Awards performance predated the iconic Britney/Madonna/Christina trifecta kiss at the 2003 VMA’s by a few months), which inspired both delight and outrage alike.
Upon Julia’s pregnancy with her first child in 2004, when it was quickly “revealed” that the love between the members of t.A.T.u. was an act–or as some would argue, a performance piece–rather than two girls actually in love (despite the fact that they never claimed to be in their personal lives), critics scowled and wrote them off as fake, predating the arguments that now drone on endlessly on the blogosphere about the “authenticity” of artists like Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey.
Others charged that the act was nothing more than a quick way to sell records in the form of fulfilling girl-on-girl fantasies. But as opposed to the sugarcoated, guilty-as-charged wink-wink of Katy Perry, there was never anything cheeky about t.A.T.u’s music: Rebellious anthems like “Not Gonna Get Us” and “All The Things She Said” provide an earnest charge for two lovers against the world, while songs like the utterly chilling “30 Minutes,” “Stars” and “Show Me Love” capture the anguish and alienation involved in a more forbidden kind of love. Even one of their most upbeat offerings, “Malchik Gay”–a song about falling in love with a gay man–is far more devastating than the bouncy beats might imply (“I try to keep on hoping for a way, a reason for us both to come in close/I long for you to hold me like your boyfriend does.”)
Though their popularity in America was ultimately short-lived, the band still made an impressive mark with their debut–and in the process, won themselves legions of dedicated fans that found solace in their music.
10 years later, as Top 40 radio in America has moved away from R&B and become increasingly saturated with Euro-infused club-pop anthems, t.A.T.u’s musical legacy has never felt quite so relevant. And perhaps even more important than their music, their message: Across the world, tension continues to mount in t.A.T.u’s homeland, where leaders have only shown themselves to be increasingly intolerant of LGBT equality in their policies, including a recent ban of pro-LGBT speech in St. Petersburg (which Madonna recently protested during her MDNA Tour stop in the city.)
That the group managed to find worldwide popularity a decade prior now seems nothing less than revolutionary.
A few weeks ago, Cherrytree Records announced that the group’s acclaimed debut, 200 km/h In The Wrong Lane, would be getting a full re-release this November in honor of the album’s 10th anniversary, including new remixes and a previously unheard track (“A Simple Motion.”) I had the opportunity to talk to the girls about their debut, the recording process, the music industry, and looking forward at what lies ahead. As a massive t.A.T.u. fan (to nearly embarrassing levels), it was a major treat.
And now, without further ado, a few words with t.A.T.u.
It’s been nearly six years since Bad Boy Records songstress Cassie first burst into the music scene with the platinum-selling “Me & U,” a spine-tingling slice of icy electro-R&B minimalism that rocketed to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2006.
While she’s released several songs over the past few years since her debut record, including “Official Girl (feat. Lil Wayne)” in 2008 and “Let’s Get Crazy (feat. Akon)” in 2009, the singer’s had a slow start-up for her sophomore attempt (which was at one time titled Electro Love), stalled by push-backs, delays and of course, the search for the right sound.
And then came “King of Hearts” in early February, a storming, tranced-out production filled with pulsating Ibiza jungle rhythms and haunting, chilly vocals a la “Me & U.” It was the perfect blend of futuristic dance production and Cassie’s signature delivery–the “it” sound that Cassie says will thread itself throughout her upcoming record.
Finally, the R&B songstress is now preparing to release her long-awaited follow-up in 2012.
I got the opportunity to speak with the Connecticutian chanteuse last week while she was promoting “King of Hearts” across the country. (She’s now popping bottles and getting merry in France for Paris Fashion Week–c’est bon, la vie!)
We spoke about the video for “King Of Hearts,” her producers, her sound and her fashion. Plus, she even hinted at what I can only assume to be my new personal anthem off the upcoming record: “Lonely Disco Ball.”
She’s a complete sweetheart, and one of the flyest chicks in the business: And now, an interview with Queen Cassie.
Last week, singer/songwriter Katie Herzig released her fifth studio album, The Waking Sleep. On this record, the Grammy Award-nominated chanteuse abandoned her signature melancholy acoustic-driven sound in favor of matured and complex dark electronica layered with contemporary folk pop. The result? A near flawless compilation of music guaranteed to secure a prominent spot on the year-end list of anyone who gives it a listen.
I caught up with Katie about everything from her creative process, to what it feels like to be featured on so many film and television soundtracks, to plans about her current headlining tour.