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Don’t call it a comeback, because Italian vocalist Gala never really went away. A singer/songwriter known for her world-wide smash “Freed From Desire,” Gala recently released a fantastic new single titled “Taste of Me,” which comes with an extraordinary remix package with mixes from Almighty, Hoxton Whores and Starkillers. Make no mistake about it, Gala is more than just a run-of-the-mill pop singer. She’s a singer, songwriter, performer and photographer who takes her art seriously. I was able to ask Gala a few questions about her new music, her influences and what’s next.
Growing up in Milan, Italy, Gala’s parents introduced her to some of the most iconic names in pop/rock. “I grew up listening to my parents’ vinyl records: The Beatles, Patti Smith, Blondie, Janis Joplin, Opera (growing up in Milan home of La Scala Theater), Flamenco and Blues (my Dad’s passion),” she explains. “In Kindergarten and primary school it was The Beatles. I loved them and forced my Mom to take me to empty theaters to watch Sunday re-runs of ‘Hard Day’s Night’, ‘Help!’, etc. Then blues and classical music.”
Like most of us who grew up in the 80s, Gala discovered the music of Prince, Cyndi Lauper and Eurythmics. “In middle school, I discovered Prince, and that changed my life. At the same time, I discovered Depeche Mode, Eurythmics and Cyndi Lauper. I was craving female bands! And could not find many available on sale in stores. There was no Internet at the time. Later, in the 90s, I loved Le Tigre, Julie Ruin, Dolly Parton.”
These early musical discoveries would go on to influence Gala throughout her music career. “The Beatles definitely still influence me when it comes to song structure and melodies,” Gala explains. “Prince influenced my sexuality and therefore my entire approach to life and music. Patti Smith and Annie Lennox showed me that a woman can be strong feminist and not naked to sell records.”
Gala scored her first hit in 1996 with the song “Freed From Desire,” which Gala says is actually a Buddhist prayer. Most would consider the track to be her signature song, and Gala is just fine with that. “I wrote it – unlike many pop dance artists! And it meant something eternal to me. It is hard to bring a message in a pop dance song, but since my first hit I tried to do so. The producers asked me to write a song that had the word “desire” or something sexy in it. They didn’t speak English well. I used it, but wrote the opposite of what the market asked,” Gala reveals. “Freed From Desire” is actually a Buddhist prayer, and I love it when people in the clubs without even knowing are chanting it.”
Although she wasn’t a fan of the production work on “Freed From Desire”, she has says she has grown to appreciate it. “I hated the music production when it came out, I had no relationship with the producers and label associated with the song. But I love it now – as I learned to love myself with all my limits and mistakes, I learnt to appreciate and respect what a little girl from Italy was able to accomplish in this big, big world.”
Since the release of “Freed From Desire,” Gala has been constantly involved in music, but many believe she may have taken an extended break from singing and performing. This obviously isn’t the case. This misconception could be attributed to the fickle music industry and the politics behind it. “It’s always been the same; money and connection count the most. But then there is also talent and drive, and with the Internet, maybe there is more freedom and opportunity to share music with people,” Gala explains. “But even there is an illusion, see my last post on fake views on video to create numbers.”
As I mentioned, Gala just released a brand new single, “Taste of Me,” on iTunes. The song takes the listener on a genre-spanning journey, replete with boisterous beats, throbbing bass lines, and some darker, more experimental sonic elements erratically planted throughout the polished production. The chorus is the real star of the show, and that incomparable voice brings it all home for me. Lyrically, “Taste of Me” is a song that explores monogamy versus polyamory. “You can love many if that’s what you need, but I want every kiss to taste of me,” Gala declares before launching head first into the intensely infectious chorus.
“I wanted a song that talked about love as I experience it,” Gala reveals. “Songs are only about ‘I love you’ or ‘I want to break up because you (or I) broke my heart’, but my reality and my friends reality is much more subtle than that.”
“Taste of Me” morphs into several musical styles but still maintains a cohesive, fluid sound. This task was achieved by Gala working to constantly hone her craft – not only for herself, but for her fans as well. “I’m always working in perfecting my product. The original version was the pop version then we did the main version, and this week, even if already released, I am mixing it again because I wasn’t 100% happy with the sound. And I honestly have no money to do this, but I rather make nothing and give a great product to my fans.”
The music video that accompanies “Taste of Me” was choreographed by Benoit Swan, Artistic Director of New York’s avant guard dance company Cedar Lake. The clip was inspired by Gala’s appreciation for one of the most famous directors in the history of filmmaking: Alfred Hitchcock. “I always loved the challenge Alfred Hitchcock put on himself by shifting a movie either in one single location (Lifeboat) or in one single take (Rope),” Gala explains. “So I shot a video that is very unusual for dance-pop: one location, one single shot. In reality, both the Rope and my video are not really a single shot. Check Wikipedia and read why Rope wasn’t, it’s very interesting.”
So what is next for Gala? “More music more projects maybe under a different name – for sure a third single to finish my trilogy,” she teases. “I would like to use more and more my passion for choreography.”
Gala also sends a message to her fans: “Everyone tells me I am 90’s and I never understood what 90’s are. If anything, I felt 80’s instead – because I was a kid then and fell in love with music in the 80’s. But let me own the 90’s tag and box and send a message with two 90’s legendary rap quotes: ‘Don’t believe the hype’ and ‘fight the power.'”