Lina – Interview

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inside the world of singer Lina

Doing all this press and promotion, were you ready for it?

No, I wasn’t really prepared for it. I didn’t know what to expect. I just go along with the program.

What was your background before this?

I never had the mentality of being a star, but not trying to get signed.

Is this promo tour your first?

No, actually we were in Europe first and it was overwhelming. I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ because it was crazy.

Have you had the chance to meet fans?

That has been cool. We do some shows and a lot of organizations have events and I get out to meet people.

I was surprised by your album and its unique sound. What has the feedback been like?

I never expected anyone to listen to it or enjoy it, and to have people like it and understand it is incredible. I didn’t know what to think. I thought everyone would think I was crazy. (laughs)

When I read it was R&B I expected a certain sound, but I was surprised by the sound. Did you think people would get it?

I didn’t. It got to the point where I was writing for people in LA. I was doing demos, and whenever I didn’t have a project or free time or something I wanted to talk about, I would go to my studio and record a song. And because I love swing and jazz so much, I’d blend it with today’s music. The subject and content was modern, but it was just a hobby. The producer I ended up working with liked what I was doing and told me it was my voice and that I had to do it. I was upset at the time because he was on my computer and found it. It inspired him to go home and listen to Benny Goodman and buy all these jazz cds and he’d incorporate it into the tracks and just have fun. Before we knew it, we had twelve or thirteen songs. My manager wanted to play it for people, so he played it for some labels and about five labels came to the table. He had to talk me into coming to New York to sign. I just didn’t think I was worthy.

Where did you get into jazz?

My parents were both musicians. I was first introduced to Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

You just don’t find many people listening to that.

I found it funny that I had one best friend in school that would listen to it, and she loved it. Everyone I hung out with couldn’t understand it.

I sort of stumbled on jazz in two ways. One, being curious about it as a music fan and, two, because I’m the biggest Bing Crosby fan and that is how he really got his start.

Wow! I didn’t know that.

Yeah, he really brought people like Louis Armstrong out into popular music. I mean, he was popular, but with the typical problems with race back then, it was a huge step for Bing to do that. It was a risk he took for the music he loved.

Wow!

Do you feel like music isn’t progressing?

I do feel like we are going backwards. I think that technology is advancing, but what they brought to the songs back then was, I don’t know, I still can’t figure it out.

I listen to those recordings and imagine there was no technology there, it was on mic in most cases and live.

You know? And they didn’t even have the ability to press a button and punch in [to edit].

I’m in awe sometimes. I still can’t wrap my head around it.

Me either! That is exactly how I feel. First I fell in love with the song, then I fell in love with the vocals, and then I paid attention to the music behind it and heard the muted trumpets and horn sections. Nobody can do that today.

I feel like musicians today don’t have to have lots of talents, just the ability to sing and you get signed.

You are right. It’s not like that.

And they wrote their own songs.

And they wrote, that was important.

Like Billie Holiday.

I know.

Your writing, is it personal or is someone watching the world go around?

Some of it is personal and some of it is me watching the world, exactly. I get asked about why I wrote a certain song, etc., and I don’t think people realize I use music as therapy and it is real.

Is being real becoming more unimportant in music?

I think so, and you’d hope fans would see through that. Eventually though, those groups fade from the fans’ memory.

Those are the New Kids On The Block and groups like that.

Exactly.

There is no real emotional attachment. That is how I am with the Beatles and artists I love because I feel like they are singing that song to me alone.

Yeah! I’ve felt that way so many times. I’ll be like, ‘Wow, those are my words.’

And talking to artists as often as I do, I know that they are conscious of their words at the time, whereas it seems a lot of listeners believe there is something well-thought out and set up, but it’s not.

I can’t tell you how true that is. I can’t tell you how many times I promise I record a song and a month later I will listen and go, ‘Where did I get that from?’ I thank God for it.

Do you listen to Top 40 and are you critical or just enjoy the entertainment of it?

I can see through it. I can enjoy it, but I can be critical. I need you to say something to me, I need to get chills from an artist. I need to fall in love with an artist and their work. It has to move me.

When you get that chill, that’s when you know it’s good, but it seems few and far in between where I get moved.

Right, nothing has done that lately.

I always grab a Beatles album to get refreshed.

You have to. I’m on the road now and nobody in that car is listening to today’s music. We have Curtis Mayfield, the Beatles, Chicago, and other old stuff they introduce me to. I’m sitting there and I hear something and I’m like, ‘Wow, did you hear what he said? Rewind it!’ You don’t do that with new music because it’s so clichéd. It’s very predictable.

What advice would you give to those who want to be like you?

To be original. Be true to yourself and believe in yourself. People will come to you and tell you that you should sound like so and so or they won’t make it or get signed or whatever, but believe in yourself.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be original. Nothing will kill your career or aspirations like trying to be like someone popular today. The thing fans don’t realize is that what is being recorded today won’t come out for a year or two. Music today was made two years ago, so by the time you get signed or get a record out, it’s already old the day you start recording.

I have been signed for two years.

And if you did a cliché album it wouldn’t be pretty.

I would have been through.

+ charlie craine

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