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CYNDI LAUPER INTERVIEW [2006]

YOU HAVE A NEW ALBUM OUT, 'THE BODY ACOUSTIC', WHICH IS A COLLECTION OF ACOUSTIC REINTERPRETATIONS OF A MIXTURE OF YOUR BEST SONGS, YOUR BEST-KNOWN SONGS AND A COUPLE OF NEW TRACKS... IT WORKS REALLY WELL BUT WHAT MADE YOU APPROACH YOUR WORK IN THAT WAY?

I often get asked to do benefit concerts, and to keep production costs at a minimum I started doing acoustic sets for them. David Massey - my A&R person at Sony - came to one of the events and loved what he heard. We always got great responses to the songs done in this stripped down. back-porch style so we decided to make a record of them. I also had written two new songs that were very bare production-wise so it just made sense to include them and the result is The Body Acoustic!

WAS IT A RELIEF TO TAKE SOME OF THOSE OLDER TRACKS AND FINALLY GET TO UPDATE THEM TO MATCH THE ARTIST YOU ARE TODAY?

When we tour, to keep things interesting we'll often breathe new life into the older material by giving those songs new and different treatments but I love the old versions... and I love the new versions too!

THERE ARE LOADS OF GUESTS ACROSS THE ALBUM TOO, DID YOU HAVE PRECONCEIVED IDEAS ABOUT WHAT YOU WANTED FROM THEM OR WAS IT A MORE ORGANIC PROCESS THAN THAT?

Pretty much I just called friends that I am a fan of and was lucky that they found the time to do it.

WERE ALL THE GUESTS PEOPLE YOU ALREADY KNEW OR DID YOU JUST APPROACH PEOPLE BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT THEY'D BE GOOD FOR THE PROJECT?

The only person I didn't know before was Adam Lazarra from Taking Back Sunday, but he was friends of one of my co-producers on this record, Bill Wittman.

DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE SONGS ON THE ALBUM ARE STRIPPED DOWN AND ACOUSTIC THEY STILL MANAGE TO CAPTURE A REAL ENERGY. AND YOU MUST HAVE PERFORMED SOME OF THOSE TUNES THOUSANDS OF TIMES... HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO KEEP THAT ENERGY AND THAT SPARK?

Every time you perform magical things happen! I've been with my band for a long time and we just lock into each other when we're playing and we still enjoy the process...

IF YOU COULD SIT DOWN THOSE PEOPLE WHO ONLY KNOW 'GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN', AND PLAY THEM SOMETHING ELSE FROM YOUR CATALOGUE, SOMETHING THAT REPRESENTS YOU BETTER AS THE ARTIST YOU ARE TODAY, WOULD 'THE BODY ACOUSTIC' BE IT?

Yes, but also 'Hat Full Of Stars' and 'Sisters of Avalon' too. An artists' career can't be meassured in one song or in one album, you really have to look at a whole life's work.

YOU'VE DONE A LOT OF ACTING WORK OVER THE YEARS... DOES THE ACTING PROCESS - THE WHOLE 'GETTING INTO CHARACTER' THING - INFLUENCE YOUR SONGWRITING? IT MIGHT JUST BE ME BUT YOUR SONGS SEEM TO HAVE BEEN GETTING MORE NARRATIVE AND STORY-BASED OVER THE YEARS...

All my experiences affect my songwriting of course. It's daily life that influences my songwriting, and other people's experiences and my observations too...

YOU'RE ABOUT TO STAR IN THE THREEPENNY OPERA ON BROADWAY WHICH MUST BE A HUGE CHALLENGE... HAVE YOU DONE ANYTHING LIKE THAT BEFORE?

I did theatre once. It was a workshop piece, but this is on a TOTALLY different level!

I IMAGINE THAT A LOT OF THE PEOPLE GOING TO SEE THAT WON'T BE VERY FAMILIAR WITH EVERYTHING YOU'VE DONE AND WILL HAVE THAT NARROW VIEW OF WHAT YOU'RE ABOUT... HOW MUCH OF A CHALLENGE IS IT TO MAKE PEOPLE FORGET YOU'RE CYNDI LAUPER AND BELIEVE IN YOUR CHARACTER?

We shall see!

YOU HAVE HAD ENORMOUS SUCCESS AS AN ARTIST - COMMERCIALLY AND, I THINK, ARTISTICALLY - AND IT WOULD BE VERY EASY FOR YOU TO HAVE BECOME A REAL DIVA, BUT YOU COME ACROSS AS THE OPPOSITE OF THAT... IS THAT A FAIR THING TO SAY (WOULD YOU ADMIT IT IF IT WASN'T!?!), AND IF SO HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF GROUNDED?

I never felt like an icon or a diva, or any of those words that people have said or written. I have great friends, a great family and my professional team, and it's easy to remember who you really are with that kind of support!

'I'LL BE YOUR RIVER' AND 'ABOVE THE CLOUDS' FROM THE NEW RECORD ARE BOTH NEW SONGS... ARE THEY REPRESENTATIVE OF WHAT WE MIGHT HEAR FROM YOU IN THE FUTURE?

I'm not sure how to answer that... I have a lot of songs but felt those two songs fit nicely with the sound of The Body Acoustic. I do love both those songs though, 'I'll Be Your River' I wrote for my husband and 'Above The Clouds' is for my son...

YOU SEEM TO TOUR QUITE A LOT IN THE US BUT WE DON'T SEEM TO SEE YOU MUCH OUTSIDE THE STATES THESE DAYS - ANY CHANCE OF SEEING YOU PLAY LIVE IN THE UK OR ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD?

My agent is setting up an October tour for Europe and Scandinavia right now!

OBVIOUSLY 'THE BODY ACOUSTIC' AND THE THREE PENNY OPERA WILL KEEP YOU BUSY FOR A WHILE BUT WHAT ELSE DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR YOU?

I am writing songs for a new studio album, I would really like to record a blues album and I'm also working on developing a TV show!

MARCH 2006

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