How has touring been?
Its been great. Weve had a lot of fun and today is actually my birthday!
Really? Well, happy birthday. Mine was a week ago.
Really? So are you a Leo?
Oh wow, a Leo. Im a Virgo. (laughs) Okay, back to the question. Weve had a lot of fun hanging out with No Authority and Mytown.
Ive met both of those groups.
You met Mytown?
Arent they so cool?
They are our brothers. They are a lot of fun. We actually got upgraded to the main stage.
Yeah, so we get to see the whole crowd and its like, Wow.
How is the vibe?
Its amazing. The thing is, the main stage is a lot higher than the side stage, so its a little sad because you dont get to touch fans and stuff, but the energy is a lot stronger. In my monitors its supposed to close out everything but the group and the music, but because the crowd is so loud you can hear that too.
How long has i5 been together?
Approximately two years.
Has it been weird being in the band and just now seeing it pay off?
Yes, because it has been a work in progress. I think everyone has to go through the hardships or you wont appreciate what you have now. For every little success, we appreciate it. I just have to say its been a lot better than waitressing. (laughs)
Did it take a long time to get the dance routines and harmonies together? Just to get tight overall?
Actually, the first time we all sang together we were trying to get ready for the Clipper game where we were singing “The Star Spangled Banner”. The first time we tried it, it was amazing. The blend was amazing. I cried. Its funny how we are all from different parts of the world and are able to blend so well. Its destiny, as cheesy as it sounds. If you ever get into the bus with us, youll see five different people who have different personalities and are very independent women. Being that we are strong, youd think wed fight, but we never do.
How did you get in the group?
It was through a friend of one of the girls who met me at a restaurant. (laughs) I was a singing server at this artsy-fartsy place. So this guy asked me to sing and I did, and he gave me his card and Ive been working with him for a while and he called me one day and asked me, Do you want to audition for this group? They are looking for an Asian. I was like, Yeah, right, because I had been working with him for a year and got nowhere really. So at this time I was actually in the accounting field, so I had a great job and a great life so I said, Whatever. But in the back of my head I kept telling myself that I had to go to the audition, so the next day I auditioned, got it, and quit school and work.
Going from being in accounting to being in a pop group is like
I know. I didnt actually get my degree yet, however, I was doing reports and a lot of corporate stuff. So I had to do a one hundred and eighty degree turn from business suit to tight jeans, but this is what Ive always dreamed of, so I can go back to that if I need to.
How would you describe your personality? You think accounting and the first thing that comes to mind is someone who is very conservative, and then a person in a pop band has to be bubbly and upbeat.
Actually I had to fight a lot then, and it matured me and prepared me for this group. These four other individuals are so strong, and as young as we look and act we are very mature. So I think the experience I had in accounting helped me in this group for maturity. Inside Ive always had this wild side in me. Its funny how it feels like home on the tour bus and traveling.
Had you always been singing?
In a Filipino family you have to have education, so at school I concentrated on my work, but I made it a point to have drama and theater. I needed to be in chorus and in the church choir. I even tried to make up my own group in high school. Then I tried to pursue it myself. After high school, I went to auditions and tried to find a job singing. Funny, because that didnt work out. And then I went into accounting, then here I am. I went through a lot of phases because its so hard to have your parents to tell you how realistic the world is and near impossible to make it as a singer. Being that my parents, that they came to America to make a better future for us, they wanted to make sure we got our education so that we could survive on our own. I thank them for that because it gave me character and strength. Had they not done that, I wouldnt have a backup plan.
What did your family say when this happened?
They told me to go for it. Because my mom used to sing in the Philippines, the same thing happened to her from her parents. They told her there was no future in singing, so she became a nurse instead. She actually recorded background vocals, but her parents wanted her to pursue nursing so that she would have a good living. So it was passed on to me.
So your mom didnt want you to miss the opportunity.
Yeah. She is living through me now. She told me to just go for it. She told me I couldnt pass it up. I was lucky because I was in the right place at the right time.
Was this album the first time in the studio?
Well, Ive recorded demos, but they werent as intense as this album. Ive learned so much, and its so much fun, yet stressful.
What was it like the first time you heard the songs after you recorded them?
It was amazing. At first I was like, Is that us? It was great. The first time you hear your voice and it sounds great, its amazing. Its surreal.
Were you happy to find that you had decent songs?
We were really happy with the songs. We love our team and think they did a great job, but we contributed as well. We wanted to make sure we worked with the best people and fit us.
What would we catch you listening to?
If you went on our tour bus youd see all these cds. Gaby listens to salsa and Latin music, Tal with her rock, like U2 and Queen, Christina listens to country, and I listen to hip-hop and R&B. Andy listens to Frank Sinatra. We all listen to pop though. We do have a common thread with pop. Its a potpourri of music.
So you are the rock fan?
Yeah. I love Lenny Kravitz.
You bring that element to the group?
Yeah. I grew up on rock music. Actually it was opera first and then Freddie Mercury.
Queen pretty much bridged a huge gap.
I know. I also like pop, R&B, and rap. Pop isnt as new to me as R&B and rap. I came to America like two and a half years ago and was exposed to new music. In my country, we dont have rap and R&B. It was great to be exposed to the new music.
What was the culture shock, not only going from your country to the US, but joining a pop group?
Let me tell you something. It was shock culture. Actually, Israel is very Americanized. I came to LA to go to music school, and I thought I was going to see all these beautiful blonde babes from Baywatch and go to Melrose Street and it would be Melrose Place. I believed everything I saw on the tele. So as soon as I came here I was disappointed a bit. I was like, Oh my God, there are fat people here. (laughs) I have to tell you this. I was on Melrose Street and I was asking everybody, Hey, where is Melrose Place? People thought I was wacko. It was funny. I was working for a while at a clothing store on Melrose and a lot of tourists use to come and ask me the same things. It was a pretty big culture shock, but like I said, Israel is very Americanized with McDonalds and Burger King and we speak English. English is our second language. You cant even get your diploma without knowing English.
Had you always been involved in music?
Quite frankly, singing and dancing, mostly singing, Ive been doing since I was about five. I started writing music when I was about twelve. That was about the time I started learning piano. I first started writing Hebrew songs. Then I started producing because I had my own rock band and we used to write songs about peace, war and stuff. I was trying to be Bono from U2 or John Lennon. Ive been writing for like nine years.
Since you were in a rock group before that allowed you to write and produce, were you worried you wouldnt be able to do that with i5?
To be honest, if I didnt think that would happen with i5 then I wouldnt be here right now. My theory is that whatever you want, you can achieve it. I left my country with five hundred dollars and a suitcase. I said to myself, Tal, you are going to do it. And my family thought I was going to fail. My uncle didnt even come to my party my family threw me before I left because he said, You arent going to make it. I wasnt scared at all. I had some doubts about what I was going to do.
You just went with it and never looked back.
Yeah. That is my theory with life. Just go and do it. Be a tiger.
What was it like going into the studio this time around? Because you are a bit of a veteran.
You know what is funny? I came to America with a bit of an attitude because I had this rock band and we wrote songs about war and peace, and the music school I went to, they didnt understand where I was coming from. But I had to adjust myself to the culture here, and that was difficult because I had to give up a lot of myself. Actually, I didnt give it up. I actually grew and added more texture to myself. Im happy with the change.
How are you enjoying life on the road?
Its fun, fun, fun. I dont know if Kate told you, but we party every night. We party, we sing with Mytown, No Authority, and Boyz-N-Girlz United. They rock. We go to different places and meet different people. Oh my God, its so much fun. For a girl like me who comes from such a small place, this is amazing. You can drive from north to south in my country in five hours. Here we travel from city to city for longer than that. Its amazing.
What do you do to keep busy?
I listen to a lot of music. Right now Im listening to a band called Disturbed. They are amazing. Did you know David is Israeli?
Oh my God, he is. Im so proud. Israeli pride. I talk to him on the phone every day. He cant believe this has happened to him. I read books on aliens, the pyramids and stuff. I work out every morning. I run with Gaby every morning. Kate and I play PlayStation together and we watch a lot of satellite tv. I also talk a lot on the phone. My phone bill is a lot. You wouldnt believe it. (She told me what it was and I still cant believe how much it is.) I love talking on the phone.
Is it family?
Its a rule. I talk to my family every night on the phone. I must say goodnight to my mom and my dad. They are number one on my list. They are amazing. My dad gives me a lot of strength.
If I5 didnt happen, what would you be doing right now?
I would probably be in New York working with my own band. I would be in the music business, for sure. Id never give up. I took an oath that I wasnt going back to Israel without being famous. And I just talked to my brother about it and he said, I guess God listens. I told him not to say that yet because it still hasnt happened, but I told him we should keep on praying. I also love techno, so Id probably be doing that too.
Do you do it with a synth or guitar?
I play piano, guitar, bass, and drums.
So what is your biggest dream?
To meet Madonna.
I think that is everyones dream, in a way.
Have you met her?
No, but I want to. She is amazing.
She is such a strong woman. I had a chat with people at her label and they are trying to set it up. They said its going to happen.
No one has reinvented themselves as well as her.
I know. She is just absolutely amazing.
Speaking of Madonna and her amazing career, where do you want to take this?
Im very open-minded and Madonna is my inspiration for this. I will do the pop thing and see how far that goes, and then I thought maybe I could do the Celine Dion thing, because people say my voice is like hers. But maybe if I can cross Celine Dion with the Madonna thing and bring a message to the world, that would be amazing. I dont want to get into politics, but if I can help people in this world, that would be brilliant. If I could do something like Bono from U2 has done, without getting into too much politics, Id be so happy. I just want to be honest to who I am, which is a girl who grew up in a war country and tries to correct that a little by making people happy. Ive gone through a lot and I just want to bring peace and happiness.
+ charlie craine