Lolene has been making her fabulous presence felt across the internet for the best part of a year but the British born, American based diva is finally gearing up for the release of her official debut single "Rich (Fake It Til You Make It)" - it's available now on US iTunes - and highly anticipated debut album, "Electrick Hotel". When the opportunity arose to interview Lolene, I jumped at it. A lot of ladies are working the electro-pop sound at the moment but she does it with a wit and originality that makes her stand out from the crowd. I loved the filthy dance explosion of "Sexy People" but "Rich" takes things to the next level. It's a brilliant pop anthem that should bring the future pop trash icon to the masses. As for the interview - it was an experience. I usually do them via email or MSN or even Gaydar chat (not mentioning any names!) but I spoke to Lolene on the phone at 5am after a rather big night, so please don't judge me too harshly. I was going to edit the interview down and make it sound professional but that's not how I roll! I kind of like the rawness of this transcript. It gives you a better idea of how warm, talkative and funny she is. You also get to laugh at me when I put my foot in it and bring up Lady Gaga. Note to self - refrain from all lazy comparisons in the future! Anyway, enjoy and get downloading. Pop needs real characters like Lolene!
Hi Lolene, how’s things?
Hi darling, how you goin’?
Fantastic. It’s so nice to speak to you.
Yeah you too. Where’s your accent from?
Very cool. I’ve never been, I can’t wait to go. So what’s going on? How are you today?
I’m fantastic. I’m just excited about my video. So I’ve just been looking at edits and stuff.
When’s it coming out? I’m dying to see it. The preview is amazing.
We shot it last weekend, so we just looked at the edit today and we’ve just got a couple of more things to do on the edit and then it should be ready.
Who directed it?
A guy called Justin Harder. He directed the video for Kerli. You know that girl Kerli. “Tea Party”?
Yeah, that’s cool.
He’s really good.
Is it going to share a similar theme with “Sexy People” (above)? That was pretty outrageous. I love that video!
Thank you so much. Actually, no because “Sexy People” was a very low budget kind of viral video we made. It wasn’t an official single, so we just made this little video, you know, to put with the song for the clubs. And so I wanted to have fun with that video and do something outrageous and cool but unfortunately we didn’t have the resources to make a full budget video, so this time around we do have a nice budget and we’ve made a really fun video. I’m really excited for you to see it.
Can you maybe just give me a bit of a heads up about the theme of the video?
The song is called “Rich (Fake It Till You Make It)” and I wanted to create a scenario of basically living like you’re rich when you’re not.
I can identify.
Yeah, I do that in a way and I don’t want to give it away exactly how I do that but I do that and it’s very colourful and tongue in cheek but still, you know, there’s dancing and yeah… it’s about colour and comedy. It’s cool.
Can’t wait to see it. Is there a release date for “Electrick Hotel” yet?
Fuck, I can’t wait. I remember when you first started leaking things online. What’s it been – about a year in the making?
I signed to Capitol in April and started making the album in May and then we put out “Sexy People” in like August/September and here we are now. Yeah it takes a little while. I mean, you know, if it were up to me it would be out already but I’m signed to a label. You don’t always get to have your way and decide everything.
Some amazing people worked on the album. I’ve been looking through the credits, you got Nelle Hooper, a couple of Australians there – Sam Sparro, Josh Abraham. How did you get all those great people on board?
It’s funny because like before I was an artist, I was a songwriter for Sony and Jonathon Rotem on Beluga Heights, so I got to meet lots of people as a writer and was really focusing on my writing for a long time and on that process I met some really cool people and I was like ‘hey I’m making an album, let’s do some stuff for my project' and it was just very organic.
Great. I notice you also worked with a friend of mine, Luciana. How was that?
Luciana. She’s so wonderful!
Isn’t she cool?
Well I’ve always been a fan of Luciana’s, from when she was in Portobella and she’s just a great artist and writer and person and she works with Richard Vission a lot – a DJ and producer – and we met and we hung and I was like ‘we should do something’ and we ended up writing a song called “For The Record”. I just saw her in Miami for the music conference. If you actually go to Lolene TV she’s on there talking when I’m in Miami I think. I’ve got my TV channel – Lolene TV – on youtube.
I love Lolene TV, I’ve been watching it.
Do you watch it?
Yeah I do. I just watched the “Girls Girls Girls” episode. That performance was amazing. You were workin’ it!
Thanks, babe. Thank you. Yeah, so Luciana she’s wonderful and she’s very underrated, you know as an artist and as a writer but I think she’s going to have her time really, really soon. Well her song’s doing really well - “I Like That”.
I guess I should get back to your album because there’s so much I want to ask you. Is there a big mix of sounds because I notice you’ve worked with some hip hop producers. Is it all very electro-dance or is there a mix?
Well, I definitely don’t describe my music as electro-dance, like a lot of people like to put labels on it and that’s one of the ones that’s flown around but I really wouldn’t say that my album is electro-dance at all. I think “Sexy People” was a dance track, very club based but “Rich” – my single – is very top 40 radio pop music but the album is a real mixture. I have some indie type songs on there, a couple of ballads, I have some straight up pop, I have a bit of a reggae vibe goin’ on and you know, I’m very influenced by Kate Bush, so she peeps through in certain songs, so it’s a really eclectic mix, which is why I called it the “Electrik Hotel” because each room has a different vibe and I wanted people to really have a mixture. I think that my song writing and my voice is the thread and the music is just the music. I never tried to conform. I wanted to just be really free with my album and make great, great songs and not go ‘Oh, I’ve gotta stick to one thing’ – you know like Leona Lewis - because they have a strict genre that they have to stick in but like I said, I really admire people like Prince, who you never know if you’re gonna get a rock ballad or a funk track from him. He’s free in his musicality and as a new artist, I know you can’t do that too much because people need to know who you are. So ultimately it’s a pop album with very eclectic, universal influences.
That sounds great! You also wrote “Diamonds”, didn’t you? I think Tea Tea did it first or was it Christina Milian...
I wrote that. It’s a great song. I think Teairra is about to release it properly, so that’s nice. Yeah I’m really proud of that song. It’s a really great song.
Are you gonna keep up with the songwriting for other people or are you now just focused on yourself?
I’m focusing right now on my album but I’ve always loved songwriting and I’m always going to write songs because it’s like acting to me. You get to play someone else for that song. I am a very diverse writer, so I enjoy exploring all these other different areas like I’m writing with Martina Topley-Bird from Massive Attack and John Legend. There’s always a surprise from me. You never know who I’m gonna pop up with next.
That’s good. You keep everyone on their toes. I’ve gotta ask you Lolene, what happened to your disco vagina?
My disco vagina was so 2009, Mike!
My disco vagina was a concept that I really saw as a symbolic element, as a coming out as an artist. We all come from vaginas at the end of the day. I saw it as a birth thing. I was very inspired by Damon Hurst the artist. He makes skulls that are covered in diamonds. I don’t know if you know of his work. In my opinion he was glamorising death and I wanted to glamorise life, so I wanted to come up with this concept, which is a disco vagina and it symbolised life and the life of music and the birthing of me into, you know, the world and so my songs are like my babies, my disco babies. It all combined together to make the disco vagina! So I unleashed that on the world last year and I think everyone knows about it now and now I feel like arriving without any gimmicks so to speak. It’s just me and my music. That’s why I left her behind.
You closed it down!
Well, she’s still there but once you’re out, you’re out. There’s no crawling back in!
True. How important is social networking/media to you? Your Disco Vagina was brilliant, your web series is amazing and you’ve also done a lot of really cool things with free downloads and blogging.
You know what. I’ll be really honest, Mike. I was a reluctant social media user. It took me a while to like… you know, I was kind of grumpy about it. I love talking to people face to face, I love talking on the phone, I love interacting with people like that. At the beginning it was difficult for me to get into that and then I realised the wonderful aspects of it. Like the outreach that I have and the amazing conversations that I have with my fans, who by the way are the most important thing and the most essential part of what I do and I realised that it was a gift, so it was really a chance for me to talk to them and they are the people that inspire me, they are the people that uplift me and are, you know, the purpose.
It’s also like a really great way of you know getting out there and making yourself stand out because it’s so hard today. Which leads me to my next question. There are so many people appealing to the same market at the moment. You’ve got Lady Gaga and Ke$ha and some people have compared you to some of those names. What makes Lolene special and different compared to the rest of the crowd?
It’s funny. I get asked that question a lot and my answer is the same. I don’t think I’m in the position to tell anybody what makes me different. It’s up to you guys because everyone looks at everything in different ways. So I leave that judgement, I suppose, down to other people but all I know is that I’m very honest about my artistry and I take it very seriously. This is a tremendous gift and blessing I’ve been given to share music with the world and it’s just a very personal thing. I can only be Lolene, I don’t know what it feels like to be any of the others that you mentioned. I only know how it feels to be me and make the kind of art that I make and that honesty will come through in my music, you know, and can’t help but make me different because I’m not those girls that were mentioned. So it’s like – we all make pop music, we’re all feisty females and it feels wonderful to be making this kind of music in a time where, you know, pop is hot right now.
There's a revival...
Yeah, it’s a revival of pop and we all happen to be female and you know, I think this comparison business just has to stop. It’s the responsibility of journalists and people to stop that. You know the Gaga Vs Christina thing – it’s just boring. Everyone and their mother is compared to Gaga these days and I just think it’s a bit dull now. We’re all people, we’re all individuals. I’m British for a start. I happen to be mixed race, I couldn’t look more different that she is. You know there’s always going to be comparisons in pop music. Like back in the day Madonna was compared to Cyndi Lauper and Prince was compared to Rick James and the comparisons go on. So I think people need to just realise that females in pop can exist within the same world without having to be accused of copying each other.
And your look is so different…
Yeah, it’s easy to just point the finger and go ‘oh look she’s got shoulder pads and a jacket. She’s trying to be Gaga!’ but another thing people need to realise is it takes a very long time a make a song and video and get it on the radio and that process… it’s not like you can watch Gaga live on some show and go ‘Ooh, I wanna do that!’ and it happens the next day. The music I’ve been making, like you said when we first started speaking, has been over a year in the making - before I’d even heard of half the stuff Gaga or Ke$ha has been doing. So it’s like, you know, it’s just the movement of the sound of music right now.
Lady Gaga and Ke$ha have only been around for two years anyway, they borrow shit from everyone who went before them.
Exactly. Everyone’s influenced by everyone. It just so happens that our influences might be similar. I’m very influenced by Madonna and Kate Bush and if anyone’s jackin’ anyone, I’m jackin’ them and not Gaga and Ke$ha!
How come you’ve decided to focus on America first? Doesn’t it usually work the other way around? You kind of start at home and branch out.
Yeah Mike, absolutely. I don’t know any other female pop artist that has done this from England actually. I’m definitely challenging myself to do this. It would, of course, be much easier for me to do this at home. To sort of make my mark there and come over, you know like other people have done, but I’ve decided to do it the other way around. It’s a lot harder but when I do it, it will be a first. There’s been no other person that’s done that.
Do you think it also takes a bit of the pressure off to be a bit of an underdog instead of being trumped up at home like some people I could mention with all the hype?
It would be easier for me to fly home and just break there real quick and then come out after but that’s not what I want to do. I’m not in it for the instant fame, I’m in it for a career. So this is where I’ve made my album, this is where I’m signed and this is where I feel at home right now. I’m very proud to be English but right now, it feels like I’m supposed to be here, making and releasing my music here and I always say that my music is very universal, so it doesn’t matter where I am really. I love America, I really do and I’m really proud to be English making music here. And yeah, I don’t think it matters where I launch first. It’s certainly the harder way to do this but I’m not frightened of a little hard work.
Is it true that you started off in a girlband?
When I was in England when I was at school, I was in a band, a girlband. We didn’t come out with anything. You know, it was fun for me really. Almost like a hobby because I just got on really well with these chicks and we hung out together. I was really very, very young… so it was a nice way for me to find my voice. When you’re that young and you’re at school, you know you want to be a singer.. it’s difficult to just break out on your own. So I started with the songwriting and singing with these chicks in a little band. Very low key.
That’s cool. It would be good to hear those demos now. I bet you look back on those…
Oh my god, can you imagine?
It would be so good. I’m sure someone’s got them at home waiting for you to blow up and then…
I have them under lock and key!
So what’s the plan now? The video for “Rich” is about to come out and then are you going to promote it and doing some shows?
Absolutely, so we just shot the video, it’s gonna be out very, very soon and so I’m focusing on my live show now and we go to radio, we start servicing radio in about two weeks. That’s the exciting part. It’s available now on iTunes for download in the US and it’s an exciting time. People are going to start hearing “Rich” on the radio, seeing me playing and travelling the country on a tour and really making my mark now with this song. It’s a really great song.
It’s really catchy.
Do you love it?
I LOVE it!
Is it international after that… are you going to come over here? That’s what I want to know.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, like you said, it’s very difficult to start with the US, so we’re going to do that because even with those chicks that you mentioned before, they had all their success in Canada and the UK first. So we’re focusing on the US market and I can’t wait to come to Oz and I can’t wait go back home to England and just be a universal/international artist. That’s definitely my focus. But first things first, we’re starting on the radio here and I’m really looking forward to making my mark with this song. It’s time that everyone got to see Lolene for real!
Well, good luck with it. It’s such a good song and I can’t wait for you to get a slice of it.
Thank you, Mike. I really appreciate that and I just want to thank you so much for your support. People like you and other amazing writers out there on the internet are so important to me and I really appreciate you guys. Thank you very much and you can put a little note to all my friends and my fans that I love them and thanks for their love.
That’s really sweet. Thanks a lot for talking to me and I can’t wait to see "Rich" burning up the charts.
Mike, thanks so much. Tell everyone to twitter me if they have other questions. I try to answer them all. Mike, tweet me!
"Rich (Fake It Til You Make It)" is available to download now from US iTunes. Check out this amazing album preview. The guy in it is sex on legs and the second featured song - "Lionheart" - is phenomenal!