Friday, July 10, 2009

Luciana - The Pop Trash Interview

I seem to be doing a lot of interviews lately but this is definitely one of my favourites. Luciana is an incredibly versatile talent. Most people know her as the guest vocalist on massive dance hits by Bodyrox and Taio Cruz but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Luciana started out as a solo pop diva in the early 90s before joining Crush (of "Jellyhead" fame) later that decade. She then re-surfaced as the lead singer of rock band Shooter (Dawson's Creek fans will remember their hit "Life's A Bitch") and even helped to create her own musical genre with pioneering electro-punk group Portobella. Moreover, Luciana is pop's ultimate survivor. The diva has been dropped by more labels than Dannii over the past 15 years but she always comes back bigger and better than ever. Proof in point - she currently has two albums (a solo project and a collaboration with Bodyrox) awaiting release and a hot new single set to drop later this month. I loved hearing about the different stages of Luciana's varied career and feel like I've gained some insight into the brutal business of making music. I hope you enjoy it.

Let's start with your stint at Chrysalis Records in the early 90s. Songs like "Get It Up For Love" and "If You Want" are 90s pop gems. Do you have happy memories from that period?
Yes, of course. This was my very first Record deal so it was all very new and exciting at the time. I moved to Battersea and lived alone for this period so parties and naughtiness came hand in hand. Happy days!!!

Tell us more about your debut album. "One More River" is the only ballad I've ever heard you sing. I love it and the video defies belief. What do you make of the choir in the clouds now?
I was 18 and very green about the whole music business so I was over the moon to get to do my first album with Anne Dudley of Art of Noise and got to co-write the album and the music with Anna Lee. Also getting to work with Danny D was utter fabulousness. The video for "One More River" was an amazing experience being up in those clouds. I can remember the feeling to this day. The set was just beautiful... the angels and heavens came down to earth that day to be in my video!

The next step in your incredibly diverse career was joining girlband Crush. I guess they are best remembered for "Jellyhead". Did you actually sing on that record?
Well they asked me if I wanted to go on tour in America with Donna Air from Crush, so I said 'hell yeah'. It was laugh a minute with Donna, she's a riot girrrrl. I didn't sing on that single but I recorded songs for the album.

You completely reinvented yourself as a rock chick with the band Shooter. "Life's A Bitch" is such an anthem, would you consider doing more rock in the future?
I love the Shooter album so much. I'm so proud of what we achieved. I never say never to anything so who knows. I am always writing not just for myself but for other artists so yes to more rock!!! The important thing is to continue to write good songs, whatever the style.

The next step was forming Portobella. "Covered In Punk" got so much hype - Did you think you'd finally found your niche? Is the group over or just on hold?
Wow! Good question. I think this album was my first step into a more electro sound being that it was done with Michael Gray and Nick Clow. He wanted to do more song based stuff and I wanted to explore the dance world so it was a perfect meeting of minds. Again, I'm so very proud of this album. We got dropped from Island soon after so the album never really got to where it should have, but, this is the music business. It is what it is. The band disbanded and we moved on. I still write with Michael Gray on other projects.

Your big breakthrough was "Yeah Yeah" with Bodyrox. Did you think then that it would turn you into such a dance phenomenon?
Not at all. You never know what will happen and this song came out of nowhere. I was stunned. Amazed. Gobsmacked. And of course, so happy. If you think I'd had 3 records deals and this particular song was the song that got to number 2..... I think the lesson I learnt here was to always remain flexible and open because you never know what's around the corner!! From this, Bodyrox and myself have just finished an album due for release in September.

"Bigger Than Big", "Party Animal", "I Wish You Would", "What Planet You On" - all amazing dance collaborations. Do you have a favourite?
I think one of my favs is "I Wish You Would" because that's my Ode to Jackie Stallone. It's the reason I'm singing in that American accent in the verses. Do you remember when she went on Big Brother? My friends and I spoke 'Jackie' for a week. The week I recorded "I Wish You Would"... isn't life funny!

Taio Cruz's "Come On Girl" was massive and you got to kiss a hot cop in the video. Result! Wouldn't it have been more fun to pash Taio?
What does pash mean??? I'm confuzzled! He is adorable and very talented. I had mucho fun shooting that vid in LA.

Pash = kiss! "Featuring Luciana" compiles many of your collaborations with different acts. Do you think you'll ever release another album in your own name?
Well, funnily enough, I got re-signed to Island Records and recorded an album for myself. If you go to
my Myspace you'll hear the songs. For me, this album is the pinnacle of what I am as a songwriter and artist. We did a gig at Hoxton Square, The Underbelly and it went down really well. The funny thing is, I've now been released from Island Records (I asked to be let go this time because it was clear that they really didn't know what to do with me ...the story of my life with record companies!!!) so here I was, with this great album, with no record company. What am I gonna do with these songs? It was then I decided to just do a gig!!! Just for me to sing my songs. Simple. No pressure, just sing. I had a ball... now we are finding a way to release them ourselves via myspace/iTunes. So they should be available soon. It's actually very freeing not being in a deal, just doing it yourself with your team around you. Without my team all these things wouldn't happen.

Your latest anthem "I Like That" is another corker. How did it come about?
My old manager Clive Black hooked us up with Dennis White. Dennis already had the groove and I came up with the lyric/melody. This is one of my favourite songs since "Yeah Yeah". It's so raw I can taste the club dirt!

The video is amazing. Who came up with the concept?
We, my team, Stephen and David Burgoyne storyboarded this video, hired a camcorder and shot throughout the day in different locations in London. Because Dennis and Richard are based in LA they wanted something intrinsically London. Also the idea was to make it Warholian in post production. Which is what they did. I love this video. It's so very simple and impactful. In fact, Shena (of the "Weekend" track) saw the video and want us to do one for her!! Fabulous.

I featured "I Like That" on my Pop Panel and some of the judges criticised it for being "more of the same". How do you respond? Do you worry about being typecast as "the hot chick that features on great dance tracks"?
I think the main is thing is if I like it, then I'm happy! If some people dont, then that's cool. You can't please everyone so just please yourself!

In the past you've mentioned submitting tracks for Kylie's "X" album. Did she demo any of them?
At one point we had Kylie pencilled in to come in the studio which is in our house. That was funny! Didn't happen in the end. The tracks we did got down to the last 3 for her album but never came to fruition in the end. Like I said before, it is what is. You write the songs then you have to just let them go and hope something happens... otherwise this industry can eat you up... and because I work in it, you have to adapt to the fact that it's very up and down and things don't awlays go the way you'd want/expect. So don't expect... just write, write, write... then write some more!!!

What's next for Luciana? Can I suggest "One More River 2009"?
I love the fact that you love that song!!! What's next??? Bodyrox album, releasing of my own material and this bacon sandwich I'm about to eat! Oh, Bodyrox is coming to tour Oz soon at festivals so watch out!!! Thanks Mike xxx

Thank you!


tommie said...

LOL @ the Jackie Stallone bit!

Dropped by the same record label twice - she and Dannii should start a club!

Jay said...

She irritates me no end, but that was a great interview. Though you should have told her to drop the Saffron-from-Republica look and faux bad girl attitude.

undisco_me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robpop said...


The reactions are rather negative.
Great interview here Mike. Luciana sounds like a sweetheart. Sadly none of the earlier youtube links worked so I can't hear her stuff.

I wish Luciana all the best of luck with this latest release. I do however feel its slightly dated. Especially when you have the likes of Lady GaGa and Cascada upping their game.

I am sure she'll be a pop writing force in the future.....

undisco_me said...

Ah, shite, I did mean to write of my love for Covered In Punk and Viva La Difference. There are many incarnations, of which some I love and some I, well, don't.

tommie said...

@Robpop - I meant that in the most loving way! I find it funny that people are dropped by the same label right. The fickleness of labels, etc.

Mike said...

Well, I think you're all rude cunts.

I love Luciana and I'll start my own fanclub if I have to!

The youtube links are working for me. It must be one of those UK youtube issues. Her early stuff is great. You can also listen to her debut album at 7digital.

The Prophet said...

That's horrible, Luciana is awesome! I'm not really into dance music but I like a few of her songs like "What Planet Your On" and the Taio Cruz one because I'm a fan of his in general. It's obvious that she's really talented and down to earth.

I admit that I hated her newest single, but gurrrrrrl she is still shittin on ya faves like Cascada! Cascada being a Z-grade GaGa is not "stepping her game up". And speaking of GaGa, "The Fame" is just a poor mans "Dignity" by Hilary Duff.

John said...

Great interview. To ask to be dropped from a label and walk away with the album is pretty impressive. Not many folks can say they did that.

tommie said...

@ John - the sad truth is that it probably happens more often than you think. Annie seemingly left Island after she realised they didn't know what the hell to do with her!

In Luciana's case I guess they expected Yeah Yeah x 12 and when she didn't deliver that they got confused and ran around like chickens with their heads cut off... the industry overall seems to need more long term planning I think, but that's another discussion.

Paul said...

well i didn't know luciana was in crush (Jellyhead is one of my all time favourite pop songs. So what if your jeans are torn?!) and republica!! There is a drag queen in birmingham who still wheels out the classic "Covered In Spunk" every now and then. Maybe Luciana could duet next time she's over this way?!

bomitoni said...

i had no idea she did an album in the early 90s before jellyhead....must hear! i actually saw SHOOTER perform at a radio station show back in 1999! i immediately bought their album. love it to this day! so glad to see her still doing her thing. great interview!

Brian Chang said...

Discover her while on youtube watching Dannii.. lol, this bitch is off the hook

Anonymous said...

Luciana's debut album was another "Quite successful album in Japan".
"If You Want" got radio plays very much. But the 2nd cut "Colourblind" didn't get any plays.

Also Crush did quite well with Jayni days. They've released 3 singles none with Luciana through.