With sales of over 6 million records worldwide, Italian singer Gala should need no introduction. Now based in Brooklyn, New York, Gala is known for her minimalist look and haunting voice. Her debut album, “Come Into My Life” (1997) spawned the hit singles “Let a Boy Cry”, “Suddenly” and the title track itself, gave her number ones in many places in the world.
This year, Gala performed at the Winter Olympics in the Medals Plaza in Sochi, celebrating the release of her Taste Of Me EP. Her set was broadcast live on Europa Plus TV – the largest Russian music channel. Her set also debuted “The Beautiful”, which she has now released in response to pleas from her fans.
Backed by the legendary House DJ Todd Terry, who has signed the release to his celebrated IN HOUSE label, Gala’s is thrilled to have Terry work his magic on The Beautiful.
We recenty had the pleasure of interviewing Gala, and we thank her for the opportunity.
What was it like performing at the Winter Olympics?
I believe I was the only artist in history (I say this with irony of course but it might be true:-) ) headlining during the Winter Olympic Games, who didn’t have a manager, a label, a booking or a touring agent!
I co-ordinated everything from the musicians to the dancers, the video projections, the flights and much more. It took over two months! I had a booking agent originally but she gave up after this show because it was so stressful…I kept going of course:-) But right after I stayed in my room for 3 days and nights without ever going out to regroup…a mix of delayed stress release and post-show blues.
I also realized that I sang a one hour show of songs that I wrote, I know this sounds silly to the public, but most pop female artists don’t really write all the songs they perform in their concerts. To sing your own lyrics and melodies at such event, makes you feel that you can truly be part of something bigger then you and can help change things.
I was particularly proud because of the controversial situation around the gay community. I started my concert singing: LET A BOY CRY on purpose and I addressed the problem of discrimination on stage, which the artists who were boycotting the Olympics didn’t get to do.
I was also very proud because for the first time in history WOMEN could participate in the SKI JUMP!
What is one thing you can tell us about yourself that may surprise people?
Few things came to mind but I can’t share them…
Maybe my dream of being a drummer in a all girls punk band might come as a surprise to my fans who believe I am an expert in 90’s dance, of which, even if I was part of it, I don’t know anything about…
Talk us through “The Beautiful”
Once I was asked to list the 3 happiest moments of my life.
I was blown away by what came up: the images, the people and the moments that appeared in my mind were completely unexpected.
My happiest moments were not those times in my life when I was the richest or most successful.
I thought of a time when I saw my mother laughing, laughing so hard that she fell on the floor looking like a 13 year old girl.
I never saw my mother so happy and free of worries and doubts, lost in the moment. BEAUTIFUL.
Then I thought of the time when I had to take care of my grandmother at the hospital, when I had to lie to her, saying that I would not be looking at her while she took a bath, but in reality I had to check on her secretly to make sure she didn’t hurt herself.
For once I was doing something for her, helping her, she who took care of me for so many years and raised me. That moment when I was truly helpful to her, that was BEAUTIFUL and gave me happiness.
Kissing someone I loved, in my first tiny rented studio in Manhattan when “ a pocketful of dreams, was the richest that I ever felt” THE BEAUTIFUL.
In THE BEAUTIFUL lyrics, I was trying to tell people about this dimension of the ” intangible” which is the opposite of the illusion of material happiness we are being sold everyday.
How did your collaboration with Todd Terry come about?
We met in a club in NY and we liked each other as people first then I asked Todd if he wanted to hear my new song and if he would be interested in a collaboration and he loved the song A true NY story. Everything in NY happens in the streets, in the clubs, out there … NY explodes with creativity and talent.
You have a very minimalist look, where did the inspiration for that come from?
I am a woman working on my own. I don’t have big budgets or investors behind me. Even when I had a big success I didn’t have the support I needed or the income that people imagine I had. I was the writer, the musician, the visual artist, the manager, and I had no time to straighten my hair or go shopping. My decision to dress all in black, without jewellery, or without much make up was a statement. I didn’t need to hide behind any of that because I was a real artist and in dance music and pop at the time and even now, for women it is all about the clothes and the sex, and nothing about the message and the values. For me values are the most important thing in life.
Yesterday I was at an all female comedy show, and the female comedian asked a guy what did he like in a man, and the guy said: blue eyes and blond hair. I find it hilarious that adult people could still answer this way…This society gives so much importance to appearances, age, and beauty…and forgets that intelligence, depth and values are the sexiest thing on earth.
This is not to say that fun clothes, colourful and genius fashion design aren’t important or beautiful, they are…and I admire people who can be creative with clothes, I also like to dress, and dress up!
It just wasn’t my priority at the time.
You’re internationally renown, having sold over 6 million records – to what do you think you owe your success?
In the beginning it was daring to be alone, and not being afraid to be different, an outsider in school, and an outsider in my city, and an outsider in my country, it also was a strong desire to communicate with people, with the entire world, what my message and my beliefs were, and then going out there to look for an opportunity to express that, and meeting the right people at the right time now, I am not sure I am successful – if successful means, how many followers I have on twitter or if my song is on the radio or how much money I make… But I definitely feel more successful then ever; because the people and the artists respect me I respect.
What does the future hold for Gala?
Fortunately I don’t know…it’s the greatest and scariest thing about life: eternal mystery.
I hope it’s gonna be: unexpected collaborations, new albums in always new directions, and who knows maybe at 50 or 60 I will finally realize my dream and start an all women rock band that would be truly punk rock. #badass.