Vitamin C has one of the most infectious songs in “Smile”, and a great message to boot. Colleen Fitzpatrick, or Vitamin C, isn’t some fly-by-night sensation. If for some reason you haven’t heard of her, get with the program and find out what is really good for you.
Hi. How are you?
I’m fine and you?
Did you get watch the Mtv video awards last night?
So what is your next single going to be?
“Me, Myself and I”. Any thoughts, comments, or questions?
Not really. (we both laugh)
What songs do you like? (she probed)
I like “I Got You” and “Girls Against Boys”.
I was curious about what I would call you if we were hanging out.
So how did you add Vitamin to that?
It was a nickname joke kinda thing. I was looking for a name that was positive and fun. I think Vitamin C suggests wellness and it’s good for you. And it’s kind of funny. And I like the fact that people can’t tell whether the name represents a guy or a girl. And also people always ask, ‘Are you a band?’
How did you originally get into music?
I started as a dancer and I just wanted to be in music. I started writing poems in high school and playing instruments. I actually auditioned for Eve’s Plum through an ad in the Village Voice. So it’s kinda like me and KISS. You know, KISS got together from an ad in the Village Voice.
Do you play any instruments?
I don’t play any instruments well enough to brag about. But I can play the drums a little and I can play some instruments enough to write.
Enough to get the melody.
Yeah. In Eve’s Plum I did play guitar live sometimes, but I enjoy bass.
How did you go solo and hook up with Elektra?
Well, after Eve’s Plum I knew I wanted to continue doing music, so I began writing with a few people and I had a few demos that I did with various people. So I had the “Fear Of Flying” demo, and I brought it in and my manager played it for someone at Elektra. We did something unusual and did a demo deal; I would write songs and see where the project was heading before signing a deal. It was an unusual way to do it, but the last time [with Eve’s Plum] we went through the big bidding war stupidity and this way it worked out better for me. .
How long was the album in the making?
I got signed in October and started working on demos in July. We didn’t do the album like an ordinary album with going into the studio for two solid months and write. What I did was travel around and write with different people. I wrote some stuff at home, with other people, and it was on and off for a while. Whenever a song would come up, I would sketch it out then I would be like, ‘This song is great,’ or ‘This song sucks,’ and move on. So it was an evolving process. There was a period in February and March where we did concrete work, but I was still flying back and forth. We recorded in Tennessee and LA.
Was there a lot of writing with other people or switching producers that had you flying around?
It was writing with different people, but most of the people I wrote with were writer/producers. So we did it all together.
The thing I enjoy most about the album is its positive message. Did you set out to do that or is that just a result of how you think and feel?
It wasn’t really planned, but I knew I wanted it to be positive. It was where I was at personally, so I wrote based on that. I wrote a lot of songs for the album and it just became apparent which songs would fit together. They just happened to be the more positive ones.
Your bio says you are a Beatles and Beach Boys fan.
(laughs) Well, I grew up listening to the Beach Boys and the Beatles. But I think that became a joke line in the bio with the whole ‘b’ bands thing because this guy asked me which bands I like and I was like, ‘Oh, Blondie, the Beach Boys, Breeders,’ and it was a tongue-in-cheek thing. The Beach Boys are interesting because a lot of people my age or younger just don’t get the Beach Boys. The Beach Boys are responsible for so many great melodies and songwriting, well, Brian Wilson specifically, that you don’t even think about it.
I love the Beach Boys.
Do you have the box set?
The one with all the weird Smile sessions?
Yeah. And it has the background vocals
With the splits and parts where Brian will sing alone and then the band will come in on the next track?
Yeah. I love that.
Who would we catch you listening to today?
I like Kid Rock, Garbage, Fatboy Slim. I still listen to Madonna, Ray Of Light. I listen to Lo-Fidelity Allstars. I became obsessed for a while with the Backstreet Boys single “I Want It That Way”. (she sounds sort of apologetic) I thought it was a great song.
I’m not a huge fan of the Kid Rock album. I think it’s good, but live that guy is amazing. He was great at Woodstock.
He is a monster. He is the best. It is interesting. I was just telling someone yesterday that his record came out last summer, so I saw “I Am The Bullgod” last summer and no one liked it. No one bought the record. I guess only five thousand people bought the record, I was one of them, and I was like, ‘This guy fucking rocks people.’ And all my friends were like, ‘It’s awful,’ or ‘It’s corny.’ I have to say that when I saw the first video it was like, ‘Is this the coolest thing ever?’ or ‘Is this the worst thing ever?’ He is such a rock star.
Do you have a favorite song from your record?
I’d say “Graduation (Friends Forever)”. It’s a special song really about a friend and us moving apart. It’s based on something real to me. I like “Not That Kind Of Girl” too. And I like “I Got You”. I don’t really listen to my own record. I just did this interview with a bunch of other artists and they asked, ‘Do you listen to your record?’ and this one girl was like, ‘I listen to mine all of the time.’ I listen to other music.
Where did you record “Graduation”?
I recorded it in New York City, and the choir was added, I guess they are called All City Chorus and it’s kids from public high-schools who volunteer for this chorus group, and they came down and sang.
You are going overseas next. Are you doing full concerts or radio shows?
It is going to be both. The record is coming out there soon so I’m going over there to do some radio and tv shows to introduce myself to them. It’s a long process.
Is it going to be like England, Germany, and
Well, I’m doing a few shows in Germany, then Milan, Paris, and then ending up in London.
You’ve been doing radio shows with a lot of different acts. Are there any that you really enjoyed?
Oddly enough I played with Shannon. Do you remember Shannon?
She is from the ’80’s. I’ve done a lot of shows with Christina Aguilera and LFO. What I do is not really R&B dance so it’s interesting to be on these bills, because what I do is more rock influenced. There are guitars, and it comes from a different place. So I think people look at it and get confused because they are expecting something different.
Is it you singing to a DAT?
Yeah. I’ve been going out with just a DAT and two dancers. The other night on The Tonight Show I went out with a full band and it makes such a difference, but performing live right now it makes it to hard to do that. It’s basically alternative pop, I guess.
What inspires you?
I go to museums a lot. I like movies, and if I get an idea for a song it is usually based on life experience, mine or someone else’s. I usually root for the underdog. I’m inspired by the underdogs who strive to achieve against the odds.
Do you sit down and write or do they more or less come to you?
It depends on the song. Usually the good ones write themselves, but sometimes it can take a while. I usually start with a lyrical idea that implies a melody or I start with a sonic idea that implies a rhythm. There is no formula with me, but I’m primarily a lyricist. When I write with others, I usually write the lyrics and melodies, but I have been known to write a full song on my own, on a lonely rainy day. (laughs)
Growing up, did you have other aspirations?
I wanted to be a Psychiatrist.
Really? Did you give up on that?
Well, I always wanted to be a performer, so I guess I knew I really wanted to be a performer more, and since I was little. I really like it and it’s fun. It is difficult. You have your ups and your downs and it can be really hard, but overall I really enjoy it.
Any plans to act or other things?
I’ve done some acting, and may do some more. It depends on my schedule. I do love to act, but it’s not as much fun as music. Music is more about self-expression. I guess acting should be too, but you become someone else.
What would you consider your greatest strength and weakness?
Um. Probably my greatest strength and weakness would be the same, and it’s that I’m really stubborn. Probably my greatest strength is stubborn/determined. That is one thing that keeps you going. You fall off the horse and you get back on. You are all bruised and have broken legs and you get back on. That is also the hardest thing for me too. I can have highs and lows. It has made me really focused. And I don’t let things affect me much anymore.
Yeah, especially as an artist you have to look past those who take shots at you when you become well known.
And you know what? Especially when you are a bit different. What I’m doing now isn’t exactly cookie cutter bullshit that everyone else is doing. I didn’t have some fifty-year-old guy sitting in the studio writing five songs for me that are number one hits. I went out and tried to write my own songs and express my own voice. Sometimes carving the path is more difficult than following an already paved road. Determination is important.
Last, I want to toss an oddball question at you. If you were on a deserted island, what couldn’t you live without?
Assuming the obvious.
Yeah, you have water and food.
Yeah, because I love food. (laughs) I’d say my pillow because I love sleep.
+ charlie craine