Official DADA NADA Interview By Scott McGlynn
Scott: Tell us a bit about yourself?
DADA NADA: I started my career as a child soloist with the New York City,Metropolitan Opera when I was 11 years old. Father said, “Your career is downhill from here.” Hmmmm . . . I’m still thinking about that one.
Scott: You have made some great dance songs, one being in the top 5 billboard! That’s amazing how did you feel?
DADA NADA: Thanks for that. I truly do love dance music. It’s a privilege to create music that moves people. I actually had two Top Five Billboard Club hits with DaDa NaDa – and they felt great! They were particularly sweet because I released them on my own label at a time when that was unheard of. So much so, that I kept my ownership a secret. I’d been in a successful synth-pop duo, EBN/OZN on major labels worldwide. We’d had two club hits, one, Top 20, the other Top 40,both with videos on MTV and I had a pretty high profile as a dance artist, a singer and rapper and even as a ground breaking musician because EBN/OZN pioneered music sampling and the use of music computers in the early 80s. We were the musicians’ musicians, which was a wonderful position to be in. But when I went to get a deal after that, no American record company would sign me. They thought a white artist who sang and rapped was a “novelty” and every major label in New York City passed. I was devastated, hurt and angry. I moved to LA because Mick Jagger’s attorney said he’d represent me. But even he couldn’t convince these guys that rapping and singing was fit for a white boy. One label Vice President – no names – actually said to me, “Rap is just a fad. It’ll be gone in a year or two. You’ve got a great voice so just sing, Ozn. Come back to me with something rock.” I was incredulous at the stupidity and lack of creativity. Finally, I put the material out myself and wound up charting higher than most of the major labels’ artists. I know it’s a bit ego-ish to say, but it did feel pretty good to have the last laugh.
Oh, man, I’m hearing myself right now. I need to give up that little music biz soap opera from the past don’t I? Ok, fuck it, Yeah, Scotty, it felt awesome! Period!.
Scott: Where can we all get your music? (ITunes, spotify) etc
DADA NADA: The full remix packages will be out on August 26. The record just blew up on Soundcloud – 6000 plays in 36 hours. So we’ve decided to do a pre-release in the next few days of the Richard Cutmore mix, which I absolutely love – he’s got amazing ears and the Mntna Deep House mix.
Scott: Who was your inspiration growing up?
DADA NADA: My stepmother Dorothy who’d been a professional dancer was the first person to recognize that I was talented. She guided my professional education and attitudes. She was intent that I’d adhere to a disciplined code of conduct that came from the theatre – not the music industry, mind you. That’s a 500 year-old tradition with a long list of rules on how an artist conducts himself and it served me well. I was able to land large roles at a very young age and knew how to handle myself because of her. By the time I was a recording artist in my 20s I could hold my shit together in the studio or backstage while most everybody else was in the bathroom snorting coke and getting drunk. I developed a reputation in the music business as being very professional and I owe all that to her.
Scott: You’re a huge supporter of LGBT community, Are you working with any charity’s or campaign right now?
DADA NADA: I’m really glad you brought that up, Scotty, as I’m very passionate about it. I am the Chairperson of The Los Angeles Bi Task Force, a bisexual advocacy non-profit. Bisexuals have been the most ignored letter in the LGBT world. We experience tremendous prejudice not from just straights but from lesbians and gays who are convinced we “don’t exist.” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard “There’s no such thing as bisexual men. They’re really gay and they can’t admit it.” Other classics are : “They’re just in transition from straight to gay.” “Bisexuals are greedy and promiscuous.” “Don’t date a bi person cuz they’ll always leave you for the opposite sex.” “They’re all terribly confused – why can’t they just make up their mind and chose one already?!” These of course are all myths. The one about transitions stems from young men trying on different identities, but by the time they’re in the mid-late 20s, most gay men know that they’re gay. Bi men, however, can and often remain confused for years or even the rest of their lives because up until a few years ago there was a dearth of accessible, truthful information. Thank God times are changing. Imagine being bi and hearing all those lies your whole life from the time you’re a teenager. Do you see how that can screw with your head? You’d never want to tell anyone you’re bi, including yourself. So many bi people are in denial or in the closet, especially the generations over 45 years old. I’ve even talked to people in same sex marriages who are bi and who lie to people saying they’re gay just to avoid all that shaming, just as hundreds of thousands of bi people who are in traditional male/female marriages, just let people think they’re straight because they don’t want to hear all the bull shit or create doubt in their partner’s mind. In response to all that darkness, I went into advocacy. I’m pretty clear and comfortable at this point with who I am and once I unwittingly discovered that it’s unusual to be an out bi man (as opposed to millions of out gay men), I decided I could help others and shine some light. One of the programs LA Bi Task Force offers is a workshop for high school and college age LGBT kids to support their clarity about their sexual identification. That’s a very confusing time in many peoples’ lives and it’s particularly rough if you’re homosexual or bisexual. We give them tools to help them understand who they are. It’s literally life saving information.
Scott: I brought my book out earlier this year called “OUT” my true life story being gay and getting bullied for who I was, Have you ever experience anything like this growing up?
DADA NADA: I’d heard about your book when I saw the Guardian’s “100 Inspiring LGBT People” list. Bravo, Scotty! That’s such an important subject matter. Many people, especially men and boys, do not want to talk about bullying because they feel ashamed – and shame is a dangerous, deadly emotional dynamic that destroys lives. So I know you and your book must be helping thousands of people. Respect, young brotha. I experienced a lot of bullying when I was a kid – mostly for being Jewish or for being white. I grew up in Lower Manhattan when Catholic schools were still teaching that “the Jews killed Christ.” I got the shit kicked out of me on a regular basis by older Catholic kids. Hell, my nose still looks like a boxer’s because of it. I was from what an Englishman might call a mixed class family. I was going to a very smart school and then my family fell apart, so I was sent to a state-funded school. (We call them public schools). Mother lived in a part of our neighborhood that was districted in with a ghetto school. You can imagine the rest. It was horrible. But I learned how to stand up, fight and handle myself with people from all walks of life. Because of those years, I’m just as comfortable in a tuxedo dining in a private club as I am in black leather jeans listening to a band in a dive bar. As far as LGBT bullying goes – I didn’t experience that sort of thing until my teens. Father and mother were divorced. Father lived in Greenwich Village and then moved to rural New Jersey when I was in high school. Talk about culture clash! I was from one of the most progressive neighborhoods in the entire world and suddenly I was thrown back in time 15 years. I joined the chorus and the drama club and was shocked when I first got bullied for it and called a “faggot.” I comprehend why I was being bullied because in my hood in Manhattan if you were artistic you were cool. And here I was getting pushed around and teased in the hallway because I sang in the chorus. “Chorus fairy,” they’d say. I’d mouth off right back at these older guys and eventually got warned that I’d better back off or I was going to get stomped on after school. I’d skipped a grade and was only 13 years old in high school and these dudes were 16, 17, 18 and I got scared and I shut up. But there’s a fighter in me, you know – I just couldn’t stand there and take it. So I switched tactics, ran for class president and won and then took over the damn place. Screw those assholes. I don’t play being bullied and no one else should either. It’s one of the reasons I’m so keen on my current record, Je Suis Paris! which is a House Music anthem for Peace standing against terror. I have a thing about injustice, probably left over from my childhood, so I had to do something after the Charlie Hebdo and Paris killings. I’m not a warrior. I’m an artist. So I expressed myself creatively to inspire courage in people.
Scott: Will you be coming to the UK anytime soon? Any tour dates?
DADA NADA: I’m hoping to go to the U.K. this summer. Nothing definite yet. Tour dates? Not at this time. I’d love it, for sure. Maybe a bit of stage fright, too. It’s been a while to say the least that I’ve performed live.
Scott: Who would you love to work with in the industry?
DADA NADA: I’m just gonna riff here and keep it short — In no order: Greg Kurstin – monster musician. Nile Rodgers – we used to chat back in the day in NYC out in the bars and clubs. Doubt he’d remember – astounding talent and always a gentleman. DJ Snake. Clean Bandit. Sia. Can you imagine singing or writing with Sia?! Chance the Rapper. Eminem – he’s more than a rapper, he’s a Voice. Herbie Hancock. Thievery Corporation. Christian McBride, jazz bassist. Mark Ronson. Tove Lo, fascinating songwriter.
Scott: Is music your love, or would you test acting as well?
DADA NADA: Music is indeed my love, but I am polyamorous – in love as well as creativity. I acted on Broadway and in Los Angeles before I got my first record deal. I love acting and would definitely do it again. In fact it’s my fantasy to be in something on the West End. Acting is a very emotional art form for me off stage as I tend to become what I act so I need to keep an eye out. It’s that damn American Method Acting technique. I envy you Scots, Brits and Irish your traditional training, where you can fall apart on stage, then walk off into the wings and make jokes with the stagehands. I was in the first L.A. company of Sam Shepherd’s “Curse of the Starving Class,” playing a guy who has a nervous breakdown and dude, I just about had one doing that role. It was freakin’ painful. When I was in “Shenandoah,” I picked up a Southern twang. Hell, I still say y’all! I also write and produce films. The one I’m best known for is the political thriller “I Witness” starring Jeff Daniels, James Spader & Portia De Rossi. That’s a lotta skill sets. I guess you could call me an ethical creative slut. Ha Ha!
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