10 Questions with ... Debbie Gibson
March 19, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
*(Special thanks to Heather Deluca who contributed to this article)
1) What was it that got you interested in music?
I feel like I came out of the womb knowing the language of music! But hearing "Billy Don't Be a Hero" on the radio and playing it by ear at age four was the real beginning!
2) Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Billy Joel, Elton John, Barbra Streisand, and Mozart (he was the Pop music of his day!)
3) You got your first record deal on Atlantic records at the age of 16. How did this change your life and particularly your teenage years?
I was thrilled because I had always put recording demos for songs before going to parties or playing on school sports teams. This just meant I could do it on a professional level so I was thrilled! I never was a "normal" teen in a way, so I didn't care so much that I did not do all of those "normal" things!
4) How did you balance the demands of your education and your career?
I did not want special treatment or a tutor. I was determined to keep up on my own. I remember taking 17 tests in one day because I was absent so much! I brought my school books with me on tour and I took my assignments with me. My teachers tried to trip me up by giving me more work. They wanted me to fail. I think many were envious that I was so young and doing what I loved. But, I graduated in the top 10% of my class! I did not want to become that cliché of the dumb blonde Pop star!
5) You hold the record as the youngest person to ever write, produce, record and perform a #1 song on the Billboard Top 100 with your song "Foolish Beat" in 1988. Does this distinction come in handy during contract negotiations and recording sessions?
Nah... The business is all about what you've done lately. Being on Celebrity Apprentice is now bigger than that record I set and gives me more clout which is kind of insane! I don't agree with it but that is the world we live in!
6) What was it like working for Donald Trump on "Celebrity Apprentice?" Did you feel intimidated by him or any of your fellow celebrities?
I hesitated to sign on but I am not a "woulda' coulda' shoulda" kind of gal, so I dove right in. Mr. Trump is respectful, kind, and he's a straight shooter (as are his children). They are class acts!
I did not feel intimidated at all. If someone knows more than me about something, I am happy to admit that I do not know what they know and I want to learn from it. People inspire me, they do not intimidate me. I know who I am, not in terms of career or accomplishments, but who I am as a person and I embrace all of myself so I have nothing to prove to anyone!
7) In 2011, you appeared in the video for "Last Friday Night" with Katy Perry. Was that video shoot as fun as the video turned out to be? Do you have any behind the scenes stories you'd like to share?
I had a blast! I just loved that she was wearing so many hats... as a young girl hanging out with her best friend, co-director, and producer. She is focused and carefree at the same time. We can all learn from that!
8) Please tell us about the Gibson Girl Foundation and Electric Youth Camp?
I started Electric Youth camps and mentoring programs to empower young people who are artistic. I want kids to NOT need writers and producers... or, if they do I want them to have extensive knowledge and to be empowered. The foundation was started because in this economy, parents are finding it tough to provide lessons for their kids. We are having a gala at Oheka Castle May 21st and I will perform with my Apprentice cast-mates, Dee and Aubrey! We send kids to summer camps for the arts and provide training year round to those who cannot afford it! My whole childhood was about music. I cannot imagine not enabling others to have the same opportunities I did!
9) In addition to your music career, you have also had a very successful theatrical career performing in productions such as "Beauty And The Beast," "Les Miserable," and "Grease" among others. How did you segue into theater and what are some of the challenges of performing live on Broadway?
I was always fueled by adrenaline in Pop shows. Being still and delivering the ballad "On My Own" in Les Miz was one of the most challenging things I ever did! And, eight shows a week is like being a pro athlete. It does not allow much room for a life outside of doing shows. I am done with that for a while until something spectacular comes along because I love my life too much! I wrote a musical called "The Flunky" with Jimmy Van Patten debuting at Malibu Stage Company this fall! I am SO excited! It is like Entourage meets Rocky Horror if you can imagine that? I will musical supervise!
10) How have social networks and sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter affected the way you promote your music and interact with your fans?
I LOVE Twitter and I constantly chat with my fans! We performers are not any different or special and it bridges the gap and humanizes us all and connects us. I think it is fantastic!
What are your plans for the future for both your musical and your acting careers?
I am working on a new album. It is my Tina Turner "Private Dancer" moment 2012!
You were one of the first musicians to have a celebrity cosmetic endorsement with Revlon. Do you still have some bottles of your "Electric Youth" perfume?
I have one broken one in a dresser. Had I known...!
Here's a question from one of your biggest fans: What ever happened to your green 1957 Ford Fairlane convertible?
I auctioned it off for M.A.D.D! (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers)
What has been the biggest thrill of your career?
It is yet to come!
What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes?
Lately it comes in the middle of the night in that stream of consciousness channeling type way! I record into voice recorders and piece things together. I am the most inspired I have been since I was a pre-teen starting to write for the first time! Words and melodies come together. It is like I sing my thoughts!
What are some of the artists we might find on your MP3 player?
Everyone from Clay Walker, to Rihanna, to Jason Mraz, to Conway Twitty, to Mary J. Blige, and everything in between!
At one point we received a photo of you with Michael Jackson. Can you tell us what it was like to meet the "King of Pop" and how did he inspire your career?
He was the consummate performer! He was the sweetest man... he was childlike. He inspired me in two major ways: One was to leave it all on the stage when you perform, and to walk the line between technical perfection and being in the moment. But, I also learned that nothing, not even art, is worth your life. I think many artists self destruct and are tortured. I refuse to believe it has to be that way. That loss, and Whitney Houston... it makes us all cherish life. It makes me put singing in perspective. In the past I could go into a downward spiral if my voice was not in tip top shape... I now realize just waking and being a good human being, and doing normal things is noble and something to cherish. So, as tragic as it is, at least we can learn something and live life to the fullest in their honor.
Do you have any great road stories you'd like to share? What is the most interesting place you've ever traveled to?
I love Asia!
What are the biggest changes you would like to see happen in the music industry?
I think it is in a great place actually.
What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you during a performance?
Nothing really that I did not recover from so I cannot remember! I am theater trained so I see mishaps as an opportunity to be in the moment and bond with the audience! They unplugged my keyboard before an encore during gay pride in LA...so I sang a' cappella!
How are you using new music technologies to record music and in your personal life?
You will hafta wait and hear!...
Looking back, which years hold the best musical memories for you and who were your favorite acts at that time?
The 80's were good to me! The 90's lost me and up until a few years ago. This may just be my fave musical time! "Broken Window" by Lil' Wayne and Bruno Mars... if that isn't magical!
What advice would you give to younger recording artists or actresses?
Do your thing because you love it... and don't care if anyone is even watching or listening. Do it for you! The rest will follow.
What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
Talent rises and is always the trend!