Lolene Is Independent by Default – A ‘Who’s Next’ Interview
You may not have heard of pop singer Lolene yet, but you’ve definitely heard her work. The British-born L.A. transplant, real name Lolene Everett, is only twenty-four and has already written songs for Eminem, Christina Milian, Britney Spears, and Shakira. The curly-haired, vivacious, outspoken singer and songwriter is now stepping into the spotlight with her debut album The Electrick Hotel. Parlé recently caught up with Lolene to interview and learn a bit about her, from her challenging childhood to her visions for a sexy, sparkling future.
Parlé: Hey Lolene, let us get to know you a little bit. How did this all start for you? What got you into singing and writing?
Lolene: I grew up in England in a place called Bristol and I’ve always been singing, dancing, writing, expressing myself in some way since I was really young. I got discovered by a producer called J.R. Rotem and his manager Zach Katz. So J.R. discovered me and I was out here writing for him and some of the artists he was working on and I really wanted to be an artist myself so I developed my album, The Electrick Hotel. I met with Capitol Records and they loved the idea, the concept, and me. So, we decided to move forward together and put it together.
Parlé: Tell me how your childhood affected you as an artist. You call yourself “independent by default,” as you were raised by your mother. Talk to me about how that has affected who you’ve become.
Lolene: Well I think that when you don’t have that security, necessarily, of a father figure in your life, it kind of makes you a bit of a survivor. It wasn’t through choice that I wanted to be this independent chick, I felt like it was probably because I had to be. My mother is a really strong, wonderful woman and she really inspired me to go out there and do things by yourself and not rely on anyone else.
Parlé: Apart from your mother as an inspiration, who have you looked up to in the field? What musicians have formed who you’ve become and who have you modeled yourself after?
Lolene: So many people, music is my life first of all, it’s like my heartbeat. So, I listen to different genres all day every day, always. I admire many artists for different reasons. I admire Rick James for his showmanship and his flashy vibe. I love Rick James, he doesn’t get enough credit, neither do his bass lines. I love Madonna for her strength and her determination and her way of evolving all the time and managing to stay in the industry. When artists fall off, she’s still here and I love her for that. She’s definitely influenced me a lot. Prince has influenced me vocally. Kate Bush has influenced me a lot because she’s super free-thinking and she doesn’t follow trends. Anyone who’s really not afraid and is fearless really inspires me. Of course there’s more but those are the main ones.
Parlé: I’ve noticed that you’re not afraid to step out of the box and be a little risqué. Other than that, what sets you apart from the other artists in the industry?
Lolene: I think that, number one, a lot of artists don’t write their own material now in pop and R&B music and as a writer, I feel like that sets me aside. Also, the fact that I’m of mixed heritage and that I’m British in America, there’s a fusion there and I feel that it’s that fusion that individuals are made of, and it’s what makes us different and unique. I’ll let your readers decide what makes me different, I’m just myself.
Parlé: You’ve worked with Roni Size and as an artist, he developed the drum and bass sound and really brought it on to the scene, so has working with him expanded your mind as far as not being afraid to make a sound that hasn’t been heard before?
Lolene: Absolutely, I’m from Bristol, where Roni is from, and he’s a really amazing person because here’s a guy that came from really humble beginnings and just came and took no prisoners with his sound. He’s really focused and amazing and has been really inspirational to me and he was one of the people that gave me my first gigs in Bristol growing up. He’s influenced me because he’s a workhorse and he works really, really hard and I saw that bravery in him. I’m blessed and honored to know him as a friend, producer, and creative person.
Parlé: So talk to me about your song, “Sexy People.” This song topped out at number five on the Billboard Dance charts. Did that exceed your expectations?
Lolene: “Sexy People” was a dance song that we put out so people could get to know me a little bit and get the party started. My first official single hasn’t been released yet. It’s called, “Rich (Fake It ‘Til You Make It).” So, “Sexy People” got put out in club-land and we never commercially released it so I’m so proud and thankful for what it’s done considering it was supposed to be a fun club song that we just threw out there for people to start hearing my name. I’m really, really thankful and I love that song. It’s such an amazing song for dancing to and having fun and it’s a real celebration of sexiness and bringing people together. Don’t you just hate it when you can’t get into the VIP room? That sucks! I’m trying to say there is no VIP room and everybody’s sexy and let’s go out and have a good time and celebrate that. So yeah, number five is amazing for a new artist and a British person at that, coming to America, I’m really thankful for doing that.
Parlé: Talk to me about your alter-ego, “Miss Foo Foo.” Who is she?
Lolene: Miss Foo Foo is definitely in full effect, she’s out and about often. Miss Foo Foo is a nickname I had growing up and she’s become more present in my life lately because she’s really flamboyant, outrageous, and crazy. She’s also the name of my company, Miss Foo Foo, Inc. in which I’m developing lifestyle branding and apparel and things like that. She’s just this crazy, curly, brave girl and she comes out on stage and has a disco vagina! She’s just larger than life. But honestly, I think as a performer and artist you have this inner person that’s trying to get out all the time so it makes perfect sense to give it a name and characterize it. It’s what separates the girl from the artist.
Parlé: You came to L.A. with a suitcase and a demo CD. Now you’ve worked with Rick Ross, written for Eminem, and even penned the Christina Milian song, “Diamonds” that Kanye West rapped on. What was the key to your success in fast-tracking through the industry? What is it that allowed you to go from the bottom to working towards the top in such a short amount of time?
Lolene: Well first of all, it’s having an undeniable sense that you’re going to make it. Number one is confidence. Number two is being really, really good and making sure that before I even started or tried I had spent hours in my bedroom or in the studio on my own making sure that I had something to offer. A lot of people want to do it but haven’t spent the time or the energy developing their craft. Number two is being ready. Number three is being humble and being prepared to start at the bottom as someone who is around music or just listening, or just learning. For me, it was writing for other people. That was my strength, or singing backup for people. Of course, all the time I was singing backup or writing for other people I wanted The Electrick Hotel to be out but I had to pay my dues and do that. So for me, writing was my path. Also, it’s one thing to get in the room with these people; it’s another thing staying in the room. People in Hollywood, they can talk and say, “Oh you’re a singer, come by!” Getting in the room isn’t difficult if you have any confidence about you but staying in the room, that’s what matters.
Parlé: Do you feel that, at least by breaking into the scene, you’ve been changed as a person at all? Have these experiences changed you or, being so independent and confident, is just what you expected for yourself?
Lolene: In my mind I’m just beginning and there’s a huge mountain for me to climb as an artist. I’m even hungrier than ever. I’m hungrier than when I left my house with my suitcase. So, it’s made me hungrier and it’s made me thankful for what I have already and what I’m about to achieve. It’s made me thankful for the people that believe in me and the fans I have and for future fans as well. That’s why I make music; to make people smile, or uplift people, or make someone have a good time, or touch people in some way. I’m just so thankful for the fans I already have and am going to have!
Parlé: Speaking of future fans, let’s talk about The Electrick Hotel. Where did you get the name and what should we look forward to on it?
Lolene: You should look forward to eclectic, awkward pop music. I decided to call the album The Electrick Hotel because I see myself as a hotel. As an artist, I’m inviting you and anyone who wants to press play to come into my world stay with me for a bit, for the duration of the song or the album and that to me is like you’re on vacation or it’s some sort of holiday destination. So, I wanted to turn myself into a hotel and each hotel has different rooms and different levels and I see that in my album. There are songs like “Sexy People” that you can have a party with by the pool and there’s songs like “Beautiful Disaster” which you might play while crying in the bathtub or on the floor. There’s a real range that you can look forward to with my album from stark ballads to crazy party songs. I think people are going to be really surprised by my vocal and lyrical substance and the roads I’ve taken with this album.
Parlé: You’ve talked about what drives and inspires you but what feeling is it, what is the one feeling that you wake up with in the morning that compels you to go bigger and better?
Lolene: The feeling is my passion for music, my need to express myself and be a performer and share my gift I’ve been given with the world. I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s true. Whether you’re a writer, singer, dancer, or director if you have some kind of gift for art you just need to get that out there. You want people to see what you’ve been given and I wake up feeling inspired by life, inspired by the music I listen to, inspired by art, inspired by so many things, and as a creative person, I need to write that down or sing it. That’s what keeps me going. That’s what makes me want to keep on working and keep showing my visions with the world. I’m an ambassador of love as well, so I want to show lots of love for everyone!
Parlé: What message do you have for people that want to do exactly what you’ve started to do? What advice do you have for the people that feel that independence, feel that power, and feel that creativity that they want to express to the world?
Lolene: Well, number one, I always say that dreams come true. It doesn’t matter how big it is. Always believe that if you want something bad enough and you’re good and work hard, it’s always possible and dreams do come true. Second of all, like I said, be good. Learn and really focus on what it is you want and be brilliant at it. Be the best. Really let everyone see your colors. Go out there and be fearless and follow your path in life.
Parlé: What future aspirations do you have other than being a singer or writer? Any interests in producing or anything else on the horizon that you haven’t tried yet?
Lolene: It’s funny, Christina Milian just phoned me saying she wanted me to work on these two girls she just signed. So, I’m definitely still writing for other people, I’m writing for Britney and Shakira. I’m also designing my live show at the moment which is going to be a spectacle and I’m performing at the Dinah Shore in Palm Springs in April and I’ll be around with my live show this year. I’m just putting the finishing touches on the album and I’m going to be developing Miss Foo Foo Inc., my brand, so look out for clothes and disco babies and all sorts of things that will be coming from that. Yeah, look out for me! I love to express myself as an artist in so many ways. But first things first, I want to get The Electrick Hotel out and have everyone enjoy that first of all.
Parlé: Do you have tour dates lined up to promote The Electrick Hotel?
Lolene: Yeah, I’m just about to start a promo tour all across the country, which is going to be great. You can look out for me on your radio stations and at all kinds of different places. Then, I’ll be on tour supporting this summer, which is amazing. I can’t confirm the artist right now as it’s kept as a secret but it’s exciting, it’s a big artist. You’re going to start hearing my single, “Rich (Fake It ‘Til You Make It)” on the internet and on the radio and I just ask for everyone’s support if you like it. The song is about walking and talking like you’re rich when you haven’t got any money. You’ve got to fake it ‘til you make it because if you want to be rich or successful, you have to believe it. You’ve got to dress for the job and that’s what the song is about. Everyone can keep up with me on Twitter or Facebook.
Lolene interview images by Mark Humphrey and Joseph Cultice
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