INTERVIEW: Lady Phoenix


That was her, this is me
We're different as can be...
That was then, this is now 

Ashley Poole, Melissa Schuman and Diana Ortiz are three names you need to remember. If they sound familiar, it may be because they were 3/4 of early 00's girl group, Dream, which gained popularity in the US  under Diddy's Bad Boy imprint for their hit singles "He Luvs U Not" and "This Is Me". They went on to sell just shy of 2 million of their debut album, It Was All A Dream (which still holds up to this day -- esp. "In My Dreams" and "When I Get There"). Now, ten years after their debut single saw release, the three of the group's four original members have reunited as Lady Phoenix, an inspired, genre-bending, old-school-meets-new-school fusion on the pop scene that relies on the young womens' strong bond with each other. To listen to a handful of swinging tunes, check out their ReverbNation page, or chat with them on Twitter (I personally suggest "Bang Bang" or "Goodbye Love", but that's just me).

I've been eagerly following their career since I first heard word of their revamping, in particular after hearing their fresh cover of Peggy Lee's "Fever" back in early 2009. Then, early this year I was approached by the group about doing a little Q&A with the fans. Words cannot express how honored I am to help promote a group I'm so fond of. I fell for Dream head over heels back in '00 as they were my age and yet fulfilling their 'dreams', and built my first legitimate fansite, helping foster the eventual snowball into a drive and interest in music promotion that I currently find myself so immersed in. Seeing them continue on now, older and wiser, still friends and ever so talented and charming, it feels a bit like coming full circle. It's even more fulfilling to see that they continue to be empowering supporters of real young women, rather than the pre-fabrication that seems to be running rampant currently. One of the reasons why I so ardently adored Dream back in the day was because, not only were they around my age, it felt like I was one of them -- they were the girls next door, my friends at school, and at the same time, the cool girls that I desperately wanted to be myself.

Check out the video below to see the girls chat about their new life together as Lady Phoenix, their fresh sound, their friendships with former 'Dream' members Holly Arnstein and Kasey Sheridan, their upcoming TV show, and much more, complete with smiles, laughs and pinch-your-cheeks cuteness. A million and one thanks goes to Ashley, Diana and Melissa for taking the time out of their schedules to provide us with this video interview. Please visit the brand new Melismatic's YouTube Channeland friend me -- there will be lots of fun exclusives coming soon. :)

It really goes without saying, but a HUGE thank you once again to Ashley, Diana and Melissa -- for making a 'dream' of mine come true, ten years in the making. Corny? I could care less. Lady Phoenix is due big things -- get on board.
 
You can watch the entire interview via video clip below. In the video clip, from left to right, is Ashley Poole, Diana Ortiz and Melissa Schuman.



DIANA: Hi, everybody, we are Lady Phoenix! We used to be in a girl group called Dream, now the girl group is called Lady Phoenix. (grins)

DIANA/ASHLEY: Woo hoo!

Q: Many of us remember and missed the three of you from your years together in Dream.What made you decide to come back together as Lady Phoenix?

MELISSA: Basically, you know, we've been together -- we've been friends since we were 12, 13 years old, and it just kind of happened organically where we were kind of all thinking about getting back together individually, you know -- without talking to one another. I happened to be thinking about it one day, was on the phone with Ashley. Ashley had mentioned that she was interested in getting back together. And then, I want to say about a year later, Diana followed in the same desire. That's kind of the Cliff Notes version. So, for awhile me and Ashley were working on music together, we tried some other girls to be in the group with us, and then --

(DIANA holds up a 'thumbs down' sign. All three chuckle.)

MELISSA: It didn't work out, thankfully.

ASHLEY: The biggest part that made us get back together was we all tried some solo stuff and realized that we were lonely and we wanted our best friends to do music with again. It's a lot more fun and...

ASHLEY/MELISSA: Fulfilling...

ASHLEY: And...yeah.

MELISSA: And all that jazz!

ASHLEY: All that jazz!

Q: Was the choice of the name Lady Phoenix particularly meaningful in reference to your history together?

MELISSA: Well basically, because we can't use the name Dream -- we don't own the name...We didn't want...it was really hard to come up with a new name. And we didn't want to "ignore" that we used to be Dream, we really liked the whole "rising of the Phoenix", and we're doing Big Band, Jazz, Hip Hop and Pop kind of sound, so we thought Lady Phoenix. It just kind of worked out.

ASHLEY: And the music is kind of like rising from the ashes. We're bringing back the old stuff.

MELISSA: The elements from that era.

Q: Do you still keep in contact with Holly and/or Kasey?

 DIANA: Kasey Sheridan [Note: Dream's "replacement" member when Schuman originally left the group in 2002] --

ASHLEY: Yes --

DIANA: Is Ashley's sister-in-law.

ASHLEY: What! (grins)

DIANA: Ashley married Kasey's brother! What a small world!

ASHLEY: Crazy!

DIANA: They're family! And yes, we still talk to Holly. Holly lives in San Francisco, she's --

MELISSA: Happily married.

DIANA: Yes. She's not in the group Lady Phoenix, but we have her support. And we support her in all her endeavors.

MELISSA: It works well.

ASHLEY: (draws a heart in the air) Love them.

DIANA: It's what we call friendship.

MELISSA: Yeah, friendship, and so you know, it was her decision not to be in Lady Phoenix. It wasn't because we didn't want her to be in it.

ASHLEY: Absolutely.

MELISSA: We love her.

Q: What would you say is the main difference between your group now compared to your Dream years?

DIANA: I think that --

ASHLEY: I have boobs.(laughter)

DIANA: What makes it a little different is that we are older. It's definitely not this whole puppeteer thing that I think we had going on when we were younger. Now that we're a little older, we're a lot more opinionated. We like to handle things --

MELISSA: We have a lot more control.

DIANA: Yes.

MELISSA: A lot more control over this group.

DIANA: We have a lot more control and we handle things ourselves. We don't like too many hands in the pot. It's not our cup of tea. We like to have...hand...(puts out her hands and Ashley and Melissa put their hands on hers)...yay!

MELISSA: That's enough hands.

DIANA: Anyway, we like to have more control so now that we're older, we have more of a voice, and --

MELISSA: We write our own music.

DIANA: We have life experience to write our own music now. 

MELISSA: We also picked our musical direction. Nobody is telling us to sing this kind of music -- we love it. Yeah, worlds of difference between the groups. We were kids when we were in Dream. We are adults now. And we love -- this group is our group, and nobody else's group and we feel like this is about strength, it's about friendship, it's about --

ASHLEY: Women!

MELISSA: Yeah, and empowerment, and we love it. We hope you do, too.

Q: You're sound is distinctively "vintage" with a 2010 twist. What inspired this genre choice?

DIANA: Basically, just a passion for -- well, for all of  us, we were kind of listening to the kind of music that was out there as well and yes, it's good club dance music but there's nothing that holds...sustainable, I guess, and all of us had a great passion for jazz music. Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald -- they were all very classic people, classic artists, singers, and...not that we are exactly like them, but we're grateful for...(trails off)

ASHLEY: No, that's good. (grins) We get to learn from them and take pieces from them, but in our own way now. And the great thing about the music we're doing now is, nothing is -- not to get political but -- our country has been going through a rough time since 9/11 and I think it's time we have some real music to listen to, that we can actually grow from and not just shake our asses to. Even though we have shake-ass music, too.

DIANA: We do. We do.

ASHLEY: It's good...fun shake-ass music but --

DIANA: Mmm-hmm. It's fun.

ASHLEY: But then we talk about real issues.

MELISSA: It's different. And we love the horns and the instruments --

DIANA: The Big Band sound!

MELISSA: It's so much fun!

DIANA: It feeds our souls!

ASHLEY: It's sexier than Michael Buble!

Q: What is your favorite song that you've recorded so far with Lady Phoenix that we've already heard?

DIANA: I really like "Bang Bang". I feel like it's capturing more of our sound -- the vintage style mixed with the new stuff that we're trying to achieve. I feel like it's more on the same track.

ASHLEY: I love "Gentlemen". I think it's got a lot of pop and fun.

MELISSA: And I like "I'm That Kind Of Girl" because it's just hot and sexy.

ASHLEY: Yes.

Q: How do you come up with your image concepts? Do you write your own music?

MELISSA: The answer to that question is yes. We as Lady Phoenix write and produce our songs. We do co-write and co-produce on some songs.

DIANA: And we're also interested in doing covers, like we covered "Fever", which is a classic --

MELISSA: Peggy Lee.

DIANA: Peggy Lee did it. A lot of people have done that, and we're going to continue to cover a couple more classics -- make it our own, not do it exactly like everyone else has done it. Like I said, we're trying to do a fusion of swing, hip hop, mixed with our sweet R&B sound, and make it our own.

MELISSA: And as far as the look, we just love the whole PinUp, Lady 1950's --

DIANA: Classy.

MELISSA: It's all about the curves --

ASHLEY: You don't have to be a pencil --

MELISSA: It's all about being a woman --

ASHLEY: Big boobs, big ass --

DIANA: And it's fine.

MELISSA: And we love that.

DIANA: We love it. We encourage it.

MELISSA: We have big boobs and big asses.

DIANA: We say, "Hey, why not? Try it out. See how you like it."

ASHLEY: Hello.

DIANA: See how other people react to it. Feel it out. See what happens.

MELISSA: Eat a burrito.

DIANA: Eat a burrito.

Q: You're in the process of pitching a TV show? What will the concept for that be? Are you looking for it to be on cable or are you considering a HuLu/YouTube kind of avenue?

MELISSA: Right now we have done our reality show with the Den of Thieves production company and right now we're just meeting with different networks. It could be on E!, it could be on VH1, it could be on Lifetime, it could be on Oxygen --

ASHLEY: We don't know.

MELISSA: We don't know. We have no idea.

DIANA: We're gonna see.

MELISSA: Hopefully, somebody will like it.

DIANA: The right home, the right fit, is what we want.

MELISSA: Hopefully, somebody will like it.

DIANA: I like it.

MELISSA: We think you guys will like it.

DIANA: (to Ashley) Do you like it?

MELISSA: We like it.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to girl groups that are just emerging now, what would it be?

ASHLEY: Don't hate each other. Try to appreciate what each of your members bring, and be patient, because --

MELISSA: And in a group, you have to protect one another.

ASHLEY: Absolutely.

DIANA: Yes.

MELISSA: It's not to each his own. It's not every man for himself.

ASHLEY: Don't let people get into the --

DIANA: The little links, the little holes --

MELISSA: No, because there's moles. There's weasels. No, none of that. It's all love. Protection.

ALL: Love. Protection. Friendship.

MELISSA: Otherwise, you ain't gonna make it.

ASHLEY/DIANA: No. Mm-mm.

DIANA: You're gonna fail.

ASHLEY: Just love each other!

MELISSA:  Enjoy that first single, because there's not gonna be another one.

ASHLEY: Ever!

Q: Of all the songsn currently out on rotation, if you could cover one with Lady Phoenix flair, what would it be and why?

DIANA: Oh, I would love to cover Justin Bieber. (grins)

MELISSA: Really?

DIANA: "Baby, Baby, Baby", but like a jazz version, like, (sings) "I was like Baby, Baby, Baby, oohhhhh."

Q: Do you all have tattoos?

 DIANA: You (to Melissa) don't. (laughs)

MELISSA: I have no tattoos.

ASHLEY: We (she and Diana) have the arm power.

DIANA: We do.

ASHLEY: We sing with these things...

DIANA: We sing with them.

ASHLEY: (grabs Diana's hand) Together.

DIANA: Together. We hold hands when we sing.

MELISSA: Ashley also has one on the back of her neck...

ASHLEY: And my foot...

MELISSA: And her foot.

ASHLEY: And Diana has like eight.

MELISSA: Diana has right here. (grabs her arm) This one, and this one.

DIANA: You need tickets to the gun show with that one (on her bicep).

MELISSA: And I have a baby. [Note: For those of you who don't know, Melissa is actually pregnant. :) ]

Q: What are your upcoming touring plans? Will there be a single available on iTunes soon?

MELISSA: No, not yet, no touring plans, but we do plan on performing at different clubs...

ASHLEY: Soon.

MELISSA: We don't have any of that info yet. And there's no songs available on iTunes because right now we're recording.

ASHLEY: Making music.

MELISSA: We're just making music and having fun and trying to find our niche.

Q: Message to the fans?

MELISSA: Our message to the fans is we love you --

ASHLEY: So much!

DIANA: Yes!

MELISSA: You're the greatest, that's why you're still around and you care!

DIANA: Thank you guys very much!

MELISSA: We love you and we hope that you'll spread the Lady Phoenix word!

DIANA: Yes!

ASHLEY: We love you!

MELISSA: Bye bye!

1 comment

OFX039 said...

These women have a solid vision, and positive goals. I hope they make it!

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