WAPS finally had a chat with the lovely Lolene this evening.
The Bristol-born songwriter and soon-to-be pop phenomenon called up from LA to give us the skinny on her forthcoming debut album ‘The Electrick Hotel’, as well as describing her new life across the pond.
FYI: Lolene doesn’t pause for breath – ever – so we’ve added some punctuation here and there to stop your head exploding…
WAPS: Lolene – It’s great to finally talk to you! We first wrote about you in August last year and we’ve since communicated a lot via Twitter, so it feels like we’ve known you a long time. For the uninitiated, please introduce yourself and tell our readers what you’ve been up to in la-la-land…
Lolene: Yes! Well, my name is Lolene, and I’m a singer-songwriter and performer. I came out to LA about two years ago as a songwriter, then I signed with JR Rotem to Beluga Heights and was working as a writer with him for a bit, then I conceived my fabulous album ‘The Electrick Hotel’ and thought, ‘Yeah, I really wanna write a pop album!’ Back when I started writing it there wasn’t really anyone doing feisty female pop music so much, GaGa was just sort-of coming up, and I really wanted to make a euro-inspired pop album. JR looked at me like I was crazy but then I signed with Capitol EMI and started making the album, and here I am now. I’ve had a Top 5 with ‘Sexy People’ on the Billboard Dance Chart – which was amazing – and since then we’ve been setting up the rest of the singles from the album, which [so far] are ‘Rich (Fake It ‘Til You Make It)’ and ‘Lionheart’. And there’s lots of other gems on there!
WAPS: Who were the other people you wrote for initially?
L: Well obviously being with Beluga Heights I started off working on everyone who was coming through for JR at the time. Some songs make it and some don’t, you know? I did that Lindsay Lohan one that just came out (‘Too Young To Die’), that’s an example of that. She came through and we did a couple of songs together but she ended up not putting that album out. That kind of thing happens a lot.
WAPS: We didn’t know that was you! They should release that Lindsay album…
L: I actually did another for her called ‘Phoenix’ which no-one’s heard, and it’s funny because ‘Too Young To Die’ was written about the dark side of her life and ‘Phoenix’ is about rising from the ashes, as phoenix birds do. And I really see her coming back from the dark, you know?
WAPS: Well maybe it’ll see the light of day eventually. Incidentally – is Lolene your real name?
L: It is babe, totally is. 100%. On the birth certificate back in Bristol. My Mum made it up. She fused Lola and Jolene.
WAPS: That’ll be why we haven’t heard it before then. So how did your move to America come about?
L: Well I was living in Bristol, and I’ve always been singing and dancing my whole life; I was doing vocals with Roni Size and Martina Topley-Bird, and then I realised that I wanted to do pop and that I wasn’t really as cool as those guys! So I decided I wanted to be in London, singing pop songs, and I messed about in a girl group for a while there and realised I could actually write music. I was still at school and I used to come on little trips out to LA in the summer holidays, y’know, sort of saving up and begging my Mum to let me go. I started making friends out here, meeting people, and it was a gradual process, and then I met JR and he moved me over here.
WAPS: Very cool. So who are your influences?
L: Well my biggest influence is Kate Bush. I adore her, I love her wild rebellious hair, I love the freedom in her music, and she doesn’t stick to any particular genre except that she’s very free and non-conformist, I love that about her. I love that she’s just crazy and I think she’s awesome, so she’s one of my biggest inspirations. I love Madonna for her determination, her drive, her constant evolution and for her pop sensibility, knowledge and intelligence. She’s amazing. I also love Debbie Harry, Annie Lennox, Neneh Cherry, Spice Girls, Ace of Base, Corona, Bjork. I had to work with [super-producer] Nellee Hooper on my album because of the stuff he did with Bjork. He did ‘Ordinary Girl’ with me on my album, and we just did a new song together the other day which no-one’s heard yet. I’m not giving anyone my music anymore because it just gets leaked!
WAPS: Very wise.
L: Well, it’s going to happen eventually. You can’t really stop it; it’s just the way of the world these days. It is what it is.
WAPS: What are your favourite tracks on the album?
L: Oh gosh…I love ‘Lionheart’. It’s a big, great song in my opinion for lots of reasons. The lyrical content has depth and the vocal’s awesome, it’s very inspirational, very cinematic, and I just love the drama of the song. I really love ‘Ordinary Girl’ because it’s very ‘coming-of-age’ and I think a lot of young females can relate to that. I like that it’s kinda stripped back, for me. I love ‘Radio’ just because it’s a good bloody pop song. It’s very feel-good, very ‘90s.
WAPS: What about ‘Beautiful Disaster’? We’re big fans of that ballad.
L: Oh thank you! No one ever talks to me about that song, I’m so glad you brought it up!
WAPS: What’s the story behind it?
L: Well, you know, my heart’s been stamped on a couple of times, I’ve got something to say about heartbreak. It’s just about…sometimes you find yourself in the most awful situation, whether it’s a break-up or another situation in your life, and it happens to absolutely everyone at some point or another. It can be absolutely disastrous and horrible and you feel like you’re never going to make it through, but it’s also beautiful in a way, once you find peace and come through it at the other end. There’s just some beauty in disaster sometimes; in that moment of pain or tragedy you have to try and find something beautiful about it.
WAPS: Stop, you’ll make us cry! You recently tweeted about rehearsals for your upcoming live shows. What can we expect?
L: I like to leave trails of neon dreams at my live show, that’s the theme. I play with live musicians, it’s very band-y, guitar, drums, keyboard. I have dancing, it’s very pop and theatrical almost. Slightly over-the-top but still very real and I just love to perform live. It’s one of my favourite things to do.
WAPS: And when is all this coming to the UK?
L: I’m trying to sort it out now, trying to kick my label’s arse at the moment. I’m so blessed to be signed to such a major label but it can have its downsides.
WAPS: Everything takes time, right?
L: Yeah. My fans keep asking when I’m coming and I should be there now, doing all this, so I’m trying to make that happen and hopefully we’ll be over there soon doing ‘Lionheart’.
WAPS: And yesterday you tweeted a very glam photo labelled ‘in the make-up chair’ – what was that for?
L: Aww, thanks love. I’m doing a photoshoot at the moment with a photographer called E Leon from LA, but I can’t say the actual publication that it’s for just yet because it’s quite a big one and I don’t think they’d be very pleased with me. It’s very high fashion for me because I’m normally more rebellious and pop, but I wanted to do something high fashion as well.
WAPS: We hear you serve cocktails in ‘The Electrick Hotel’…
WAPS: Oh it’s an actual thing?
L: Yes, Lolenis! You can have a Loleni if you come to my show.
WAPS: What’s in it?
L: Malibu. I love Malibu, it’s such a stripper drink, but I love it. And pineapple. It’s basically Malibu and pineapple and then each place can mix it up how they want to. Isn’t that fab?
WAPS: It’s a great name.
L: (random high-pitched voice) LO-LEEEENIII! Hahahaha.
WAPS: We’ll have nine please. Before you go, can you tell us a bit about your YouTube channel, Lolene TV?
L: Basically I film a lot of what I do so if you want to know more about me it’s a good place to catch up on Lolene stuff. Oh and can I just say a quick thank you to everyone who has supported me and downloaded my music, illegally or otherwise, haha.
WAPS: We would be happy to pass that message on. Any last words?
L: Life is a cocktail, shake it for all it’s worth!