Sometimes, for some of us, life stands on such a tight balance that you need constant motivation and belief in yourself, in order to maintain said balance at the right level.
To get that hard-to-reach balance right has always been, for few years now, the main focus in the life and music career of one of the most talented and skilled singer/songwriter of the last 20 years of American Music that is Dana Fuchs.
The New York-based artist has gone through a lot, in her personal life and in the last decade, between personal losses and occasional struggles to find the necessary strength to continue to follow her artistic dreams. Thankfully, the last 36 months of Fuchs' life, despite the loss of her mother, started going the right way, with the artist giving birth to her first child, the creation of her own record label Get Along Records! and the release, in 2018, of one of the most accomplished albums ever written by the artist from New Jersey, called Love Lives On, a record that received numerous and highly positive reviews by the Music Press all over the world.
In-between Dana Fuchs' European leg of the tour in support of the Love Lives On album, Bluebird Reviews couldn't miss the opportunity to meet in person this outstanding singer/songwriter in London, United Kingdom, at that iconic venue that is The Borderline. "You will love talking to her, she's such an amazing person". While waiting backstage for the American artist to arrive, the words coming from Fuchs' touring bass guitar player Walter Latuperissa couldn't be more appropriate, as Bluebird Reviews would be able to discover few minutes later.
When the statuesque and graceful figure of Dana Fuchs emerges backstage, a big smile and an unexpected hug welcomes our website and it becomes immediately clear, through her body language, that Fuchs feels finally, at this stage of her life, total contentment for the way things are right now, personally and artistically.
Once pleasantries are over, the most immediate question that comes to mind is what signifies, to Dana Fuchs, the release of such an intensely written and beautifully played and sang record like Love Lives On. "Thank you so much. The truth is that I was unsure whether I was going to make another record anytime soon or not. I had just lost my mum and had my first born child too, in the meantime. I felt, during that time, that my whole world was upside down, too big surprises and all back to back. My music partner Jon (Diamond, long time guitarist and collaborator) said to me, one day, "Let's just start writing new material and then let's see what happens". Due to the fact that I was done with my label, we decided to start a crowdfunding campaign and the response from the fans was so amazing, all asking me to make another record. When the time came to start working on the making of what then became Love Lives On, we decided to get out of New York. I took my baby with me and we decided to travel down south. On the way there, we realized "Hey, why don't we go to Memphis?". An Otis Redding song was going to be on the album and one from Johnny Cash too, therefore Memphis became the most obvious choice, as the birthplace of the new record. Once we were there, that really changed the way we were approaching the songwriting. I knew that those stories were going to come out of me, sooner or later, about my family loss and the birth of my first child. That's why the record is called Love Lives On. My mum named my baby literally four days before she passed away and I had just found out that I was going to have a baby boy. So, being with my mum, in those moments, when I wrote the song that became the album's title track and watching her during the final stages of her life was truly heartbreaking. Doctors were telling us that she was going to be Ok and she was going to be soon dismissed from the hospital, then they were changing their minds, you know, it was a very difficult emotional rollercoaster for eleven days. One night, when she was sleeping, I typed up the lyrics of what then became Love Lives On and Jon added this kind of Otis Redding vibe to it. That was the night when the song was born. I kind of knew, deep inside, while I was living those moments, that my new album's lyrical shape was all going to be about coming back to life. Originally, I was going to call the album Ready To Rise but then somebody told me "Hey, it sounds like a Viagra commercial!" (laughs), therefore, being the album mostly about the idea of re-birth, a bit like the phoenix rising from the ashes, we thought that was a much better idea to call it Love Lives On."
Photo By Gio Pilato
In every song written by the singer/songwriter throughout her career, Fuchs' lyrics have always carried a very strong, emotional impact, no matter the subject. Given the particularly strong bond between the artist and this particular album, we were wondering which was, in Fuchs' opinion, the most challenging song to put together, in terms of both musical arrangement and vocal delivery. "That's a great question. I have two answers for that, because it felt almost impossible for me to deliver the vocals on the Love Lives On song, given the subject and that is a song that I very much struggle to sing, while on stage. The band had already laid down the arrangement but I just couldn't do the vocals. I was just crying my way through the track and we were running out of time, in the recording process, that's why the vocals were very broken sounding for that particular song, on the record. From a musical point of view, I think that Faithful Sinner was a particularly challenging one. Initially, we thought about adding strings to the song but then we changed our minds and we decided we could do without. We really didn't know for a while to which musical direction Faithful Sinner was heading to; one minute it felt a bit pop-ish sounding, the next minute felt a bit too heavy and too rock-ish sounding, therefore it was challenging to find the right balance. But I feel that we nailed it, in the end."
One of the most surprising aspects of this remarkably wonderful record was to find the singer-songwriter's own rendition of Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire. Considering that, in Fuchs' previous records or in any past interview there was never a reference to Cash's music, our website was wondering whether the artist has always been a great admirer of this formidable artist and was there a special reason why she decided to leave that particular song as the closing track of the new album. "Wow, I am starting feeling a little emotional now.. Yes, I grew up listening to Johnny‘s songs. My dad was a big fan of him, therefore to record that cover, was an homage to my dad. When I look at the lyrics of Ring Of Fire, I thought "What a beautiful love song". I thought that the song was a great fit for the album and I just wanted to remember him through that song; my beloved father that passed away a year and a half before my mum."
Due to all that went on in the last 2 and a half years of Fuchs' life, it feels like Dana Fuchs might have not had enough time to write the whole of the material present on Love Lives On. As a consequence, we are curious to discover whether the singer/songwriter wrote the whole of the album in a relatively short space of time or did she have, perhaps, some of the songs of Love Lives On stored somewhere in a draw, waiting to resurge and be part of this splendid album. "The album's songs are all brand new. They just saw the light of the day for few days as acoustic demos, then we took them to the studio in their raw form. Every time we were playing the demos for the musicians, because no one had heard the material in advance, before we entered the studio, I remember that the legendary Stax drummer that is Steve Potts kept saying "Let's cut it!" (chuckles) and away we went. That's when the album's songs came to life. We just had the bones of the songs down and maybe few little ideas on the tempos and that was it. The rest, it all happened in the studio."
Dana Fuchs is not just a very popular artist in the United States but also extremely loved in many countries in Europe, a part of the world that has always shown a strong, keen interest and appreciation for the New York-based artist's music. With this in mind, it is almost ironic that often Dana Fuchs ends up touring more several countries in Europe than the United States! "I guess that one of the reasons is because I started coming in Europe way back many years, if I am not mistaken, at a big music festival in The Netherlands and then I suddenly got the attention of many booking agents, all interested in me and my music. In Europe, agents tend to book gigs much far in advance for the artists, in comparison to what we do in the States and that works very well for me. I think that there is an audience for me, in the States, it's just hard to get to them. Everybody is afraid to take a chance, with this kind of music. Let's not forget that, thanks to the Brits, we know about our own Blues music, in the States. It was the Brits that told us "Hey, you guys have this great music in your back garden, what are you doing with it?" (smiles). A great thing about audiences in Europe, is that they don't care about what size you are, what color you are, what age you are! It's all about the music, it's about the authenticity of the performance, about being sincere and I think that the audiences in Europe get that a lot."
The birth of Fuchs' first child, a gorgeous looking little boy called Aidan, that follows Fuchs religiously on Tour has been certainly a life-changing event for the American artist in many different ways. Bluebird Reviews is wondering whether Fuchs had any feeling or signs, so far, that her little boy, even at the age of 2, may wish to follow the artistic path that his Mama is on. "I hope that, if he does, he'll do just for fun, though! (laughs). He does seem to have a fixation with guitars and drums. He likes to bang on a drum set or anything similar and he just loves staring at guitars for hours. His father insists that he's gonna be a drummer, though (smiles). It's funny also that, while we are on Tour, he likes to name all the band members, because they are like a surrogate family for him, you know, because I don't have much family left and none lives in New York anyway and he has been On The Road with me since he was 5 months old. As a consequence, as far as he is concerned, this is all the family that he knows."
To see Dana Fuchs being so relaxed, happy and fulfilled means a lot, not just for the artist and the person behind the artist's appearance but also for the artist's fans and, indirectly, for the future of the music industry. Before parting company with this extraordinary singer and performer, our website would like to find out whether music, which used to be Fuchs' healer especially in times of trouble in her personal life, when she felt between a rock and a hard place, now signifies something different, now that Fuchs is living a happier chapter of her life. "That is another great question and, I must confess, the first thing that came to mind to me is that music still reminds me of where you come from. You know, I saw somebody wearing this t-shirt, the other day, that was saying "I may not be what I want to be, but at least I'm not where I was". I thought that was such a great sentence, because when I relate that to music, when I listen to the artists that inspired me back many years ago, when I started writing songs, I associate that music that I fell in love with at the time to the stage of my life that I was. I still love those songs and when that music reminds me of where I was, at that time and where I am now, I just feel a lot of gratitude to music and feeling thankful to where it took me and where is taking me now."