recently chatted with fans about her North American Tour. Each Thursday at 8pm Starpulse will post one of four portions of the interview, with the final part going live on Thursday, May 3, just days before the last date on Christina's 'Back To Basics' tour. Also, we'll be giving away copies of her Back To Basics
CD throughout this final leg of her tour. You can enter to win a copy here
Hi, my first question is just basically what can we expect on this tour, you know what sort of things do you have planned in general and that's about it.
: OK, you're getting right into it. This tour actually is my most inspired tour. I'm so excited about it. I actually just finished my European leg right before Christmas and it's the most fun I've ever had with a show of my own on stage, ever. I'm just so excited every night to get out there in front of my audience and give them - just to bring my album to life.
As my fans know, I'm so into my visuals and making sure that the image that goes along with my music you know, definitely tells the story and kind of let's my audience's imagination run wild. It takes them out of their elements, whatever their day may of consisted of, this is definitely a moment to just relax and enjoy a real show with all elements involved such as using your imagination.
My dancers went into training to bring, you know, on disc two of my album - it is a double album - and on disc two I've flirted and used different elements of the circus - an old vintage circus in my work and the dancers went into training. I'm so proud of them - learned how to stilt walk, swing over - what is it called now, kind of acrobatics swing, fire throw - there's so many different circus elements that are involved in this show and it's just super fun and the audience's face whenever they see all of it, is just really, really fun. So, it's a fun show. It's really great. It's one that you don't want to miss.
Cool. Thank you.
: You're welcome.
Hi Christina. How are you?
: Hi, I'm very good. Thank you.
(Thank you) for taking time out.
Well, I'm going to turn the question toward "Back to Basics" as an album and it's certainly a big step for you creatively …
…and pretty ambitious album that shows off some new sides to your music and just what you're capable of, I think. And I guess I'm curious, first of all, why it was the right time to do a record. You've talked about it really paying tribute to some of your singers - the Billie Holidays
, those type of people. Why was this the right time to really bring that out in your music?
: For me, you know, I always just do what I feel. For me, with my first album, you know, it was the first album. I kind of had to play by the rules and go accordingly or what my label kind of wanted me to do.
I came out during the huge sort of pop explosion and that was kind of what I had to do to you know, kind of earn some credit and some respect for myself. A few million records sold later, I was able to do what I wanted to do with "Stripped
," which was kind of my own interpretation of my coming of age record. You know, kind of feeling sort oppressed from previous management that I'd been locked down with on my first record and kind of having to play by those rules.
It was the first time that I felt that I could really be myself and write my own material and express myself as the woman that I'd grown into at that point. So, that - that's why that record was necessary for me at that point and kind of shedding an outer skin from myself. And then while I was on tour with that "Stripped" album, I started really diving deeper into this place of, you know, inspiration from myself, where blues, soul and jazz music was always an inspiration for me and I really felt that it was time next, to dive into that world, getting to know it better.
And also during that time, you know, there was the three or four year period in between those albums - between the "Stripped" and the "Back to Basic" - "Back to Basics" album. That you know, I did fall in love and I'd been in a relationship with, you know, my now husband, just discovering a new side of myself.
It took me to this kind of feel-good place and to me there's nothing that feels better than old music of the '20s and '30s and '40s and on. You know, just soul music in general, just feels so good to me and it's so passionate and so I just felt that it all made sense to go along with that whole style and feel and even visually, trying to accompany kind of the look of those eras. Taking reference from old Hollywood (Glamsters) of those days, like your Marlene Dietrichs
, your Marilyns
and the list goes on and on. But, really trying to mesh the image with the feel and vibe of that great old-time music. So - but giving it a new spin and kind of a modern-day feel, doing my kind of own interpretation of that, but still paying tribute to old.
Yes, that makes sense. Great. Yes, thanks. Thanks again, I'll turn it over to the next one.
: Yes, sure.
Yes, going off what you just said and in addition to the circus elements you mentioned earlier …
I see the tour involves no fewer than 10 costume changes, 600 moving lights, et cetera, et cetera. Sounds like a lot of razzle dazzle, so I just - I want to play devil's advocate …
... and ask, does all this really qualify as getting back to basics?
: Well, you know, that's also the thing. Nowadays, I don't think it would be fair to my audience to just kind of sit on the stage with a mike, you know, if I play an arena and a venue like that I want my audience to be able to look around and enjoy a show from all aspects. I do, do you know, more low key kind of style and set up with simply my band and trying to bring it back to an old, almost modern-day juke joint feel.
Whenever I do play smaller venues, say kind of at certain kind of clubs and you know, more on like a House of Blues kind of size, but at an arena, I think it's only fair to my audience to fill up the space and to give them a real show.
You know, for me, whenever I go to see a concert, whenever I go to see a show, I really enjoy being taken out of my element for a moment and really being able to use my imagination and enter this whole different world. And from me, we do bring sort of a larger than life feel to this you know, old concept.
So for me, it wasn't about literally going back to the old and doing it that way. As I said before, it is important for me to do my own interpretation of that and kind of bring a modern day feel to that.
And nowadays there are so many different things going on at concerts and so many visuals to be involved and for me, as you can see through my video making, it's really important for me to use those visuals and really go there creatively, to think outside the box and do something really spectacular for my audience.
And for me, that's just an important and fun element of what I do as an artist - to use those visuals and everything. And you know, we do start with kind of a - sort of a jazz kind of big band era, kind of feel, but all sort of you know, trying to make it as big as possible at but it is very - my band gets involved in some of the choreography. It's amazing that everybody sort of gets involved. We're all such teammates with each other when we're on that stage and we just all have such fun together. And then we go into sort of a juke joint feel where we kind of you know, slash that with going to church, there's a whole with the song "Makes Me Want to Pray," kind of opens the doors to kind of go to that real soulful, you know, let's go to church kind of place, where we just have the best time. And then we open it up to a circus element (scene), so there's a - so there's quite a journey that goes on, on stage for my audience and as a performer. But it all does have a tie together, so it all kind of makes sense. You really just got to come see the show, all right. You know, it's so much fun to put on and we have a blast with it.
Great. Thanks. Can't wait to see it.
: Thank you. Perfect, thank you.
Christina, how you doing?
Listen, I want to go back to the album for a second. What was your strategy working with Linda Perry
this time? I mean, were you surprised that coming off something like - a hip ballad like "Beautiful" that you came up with something so completely different and kind of Andrew Sister
-y with "Candy Man."
: You know, it just never ceases to amaze me, you know, we have - especially on this last record, I came to realize what an amazing just natural chemistry I think we have in working together. And I think what's great about when me and Linda sit down together is that we never try to repeat what we've already done. Like if we, you know, one of the first things I think we both said to each other, as successful as "Beautiful" was and how much we still love the song and everything, we just - we've already been there, done that. We're ready to move on and see what the next thing is and I did go into this record with a specific concept in mind and pulling off this whole kind of retro thing and the music that I'm inspired by and putting my own spin on it. And I didn't know who was really going to get that concept and who wasn't going to. There are some people that didn't get it.
What I did was I compiled a two-disc CD of my own before I went in to making the record. I called it my producer packet at the time. And I sent it out to all the potential producers that I thought could possibly get this idea and give me my you know, my own sound for it. But I put together a two-disc CD of all the, old music, classic songs that I absolutely love, from Otis Redding
to James Brown
to Billie Holiday
to Nina Simone
to Screaming Jay Hawkins
to all these people that truly have been an inspiration and completely paved the way as I do say in my song you know, "Back in the Day."
And I sent it out with bulletin points and a letterhead saying to reinvent this style of music, that I was interested in diving into this world and asking people to really go on the same page as me and Linda was one of those people that completely went to bat and kind of inventing it with me in an organic way. You know, there was no beat machine, there was no sort of, you know, it was all live instruments, live musicians of all sorts came to play on the record and we just had so much fun creating and really diving into that world of creating music from scratch which not a lot of people do anymore in the sense that it was all live and that you know, we really tried to dive into that world and figure it out. Figure out what you know, kind of the new form of it was, but there are some that almost sound like they could have been recorded back then, such as you know, "I Got Trouble" and we always just push each other I think, to think outside of our safety zone and I think that's the best thing about what we do and about you know, artists in general that aren't afraid to kind of step out of their own boxes and think somewhere else - challenge each other and that's what me and Linda, I think, are able to do.
OK. OK, thanks.
: Yes. Sure.
You've referred to a lot of the older music as fun music and given what you've you know, said about some of your past, what did you get out of this music as a kid and how have you tried to translate that into what you do now?
: You know, yes, as much as it is - I do talk about it being feel good music. Yes, there are songs that totally fit that to a tee, but then of course, there's a lot of sadness in old music and in blues. It originates from pain and I mean, I think that's really beautiful.
To me, there's beauty in that. You know, I really don't shy away from anything that a lot of people would consider dark music because I find comfort in that. And as you said, you know, I do talk openly about my past and what I've gone through - abuse being something that was very real in my household, a lot of chaos growing up as a child. I think that I naturally just gravitated towards music that I could really feel on a - on a deep level and that meant sadness. I think that I was really able to really connect with that as a - at a really young age just because there was a lot of
sadness in that. You know, I mean, when there's domestic violence in the house, I mean, there's a lot of pain there and I think that's what made me connect at a really early age, you know, I'd say that it's quite normal for six or seven year old to really gravitate towards that style of music or that sound, but I did on the level that you know, these singers sing with such passion and such realness and to me that felt good. And it still feels good to this day.