An Interview with Cyndi Lauper

She’s changed her style over and over and over, each time bringing a new, exciting and fresh look to both herself, her music and to the world. She has been so unusual, shown her true colors, gave us a night to remember, had a hat full of stars, told us there really was twelve deadly cyns, and is a sister of avalon. She is festive, happy, sad, shy, rambunctious and full of all the colors in the world. She must be Cyndi Lauper.

With a recent powerhouse tour with Cher, Cyndi Lauper is once again entering another phase in her ongoing, colorful career. She’s been nominated for an endless amount of awards and has touched the feelings of the world. While the tour had a stop in Canada, Music.com’s Chris Bergen had the chance to speak with the unusual one about all the colors in her world, a disco inferno and a promo guy named Mario.

CB: Did you think “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” would last this long and be such an anthem?

CL: Anything with a really good sentiment behind it will last. I always tried with no matter what I wrote, or arranged or sang or did, to have some value.

CB: Over your career, with all the looks and costumes changes, was there one that had any special meaning to you or one that you liked the best?

CL: No, each time is different so, I use different colors for different things or sometimes I don’t use any color.

CB: Is there one color that best explains or describes Cyndi Lauper?

CL: I’ve always been myself. There’s no contrivance about it. If I’m working on something then I use the color I’m working on. Yellow is the power, Red is different, Blue is different… the colors have different healing qualities. It depends on what I’m doing. I use the color – I like color, for myself and for what ever it is I need to project on a photograph or whatever else I’m doing.

CB: Of all the colors that you’ve used, I liked the yellow in the “Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Hey Now)” video the most. It was so bright.

CL: That was from the “Deadly Cyn’s” piece [the album Twelve Deadly Cyns… and then some]. Now it’s blue.

CB: Do you still have any contact with Capt. Lou Albano or any of the others from the wrestling days?

CL: I might see Rowdy Roddy Piper when I go to Seattle. He’s a dear guy.

CB: Any thoughts on the wrestling scene today?

CL: No.

CB: How do you think your sound has changed since She’s So Unusual?

CL: I think it’s changed every CD. Instead of trying to make songs that sound exactly the same as the one before it and the same as the one before that, when I approach a new body of work, I try to rediscover myself as a writer and a different place in my voice as a storyteller. It’s almost like learning all over again. It’s about inventing and discovering.

CB: Speaking of stories, what the story about “The Ballad Of Cleo and Joe”?

CL: I wrote it when I was touring with all the wonderful drag performers. I was fortunate enough to share time with all these wonderful performers and they made it more fun for me. They were always patient with me and no matter what situation we walked into, no matter what it was, the dancers were always there for me. I wanted to write something in honor for them so, I kind of felt like a regular Joe who can transform into a Cleo [as in Cleopatra].

CB: How was working with Jr. Vasquez?

CL: I did several versions of “Come On Home” from the Deadly Cyn’s CD. I wrote a song with him and I then started writing with different people. Following, I took a break, did “Disco Inferno” and then it took off.

CB: “Disco Inferno” was nominated for a Grammy.

CL: It was and it’s kind of odd the way everything happened. When we did it, it just sat there and then it was nominated for a Grammy. It was then played for Jellybean and Soul Solution. Jellybean was very excited about it, acquired the rights for it, and felt that it was a hit. I’ve been working with his label and this promotion guy named Mario Alayon, who is really great and is giving me this great opportunity. He’s really there – I can call him, he can call me. It’s really great.

CB: You’ve been nominated for a variety of awards. Most recently, you were listed on VH1’s Top 100 Women. There were two charts: one was Top VH1.com visitor votes, where you were #22 and the other was, if I’m correct, an overall list where you were #58. Do you find that as a compliment?

CL: I have to keep doing what I’m doing and keep reaching.

CB: Do you think the perception of women in the music industry has gotten better or worse in the course of your career?

CL: I think that the people that came before me opened the doors for me and I opened doors for others. It’s ok. I think that I’m still waiting, from the time I was a little kid, for the age of Aquarius that is coming. Ok, there’s been some horrible things that have happened but sanity is going to ring out to these people. There’s going to be one to many of this stuff and all of a sudden were going to wake up and go ok, this is insane and we do not chose this insanity any more. We chose light instead of darkness. We choose understanding instead of fear and not understanding. We choose happiness over suffering. I think that can be a reality. That’s what I’m all excited about. I see there is a lot of anger and a lot of fear. The variety of people is the joy of the world. I can’t understand what’s happening with the children because I have a child and children bring joy to the world. When somebody’s goes and loses their mind because somebody is different then they are, whether they are Jewish, Black, White, Green, Asian… I don’t know what… but you can’t dismiss one single person because we’re all different. One might have the cure to cancer. One might discover something that we need so desperately. We can’t dismiss anybody. We need everybody. And that’s the whole joke listening to all these people that think only a certain kind of person is valuable, when everybody is valuable. That’s what I try to do in my music. Forever and ever. We need everyone. To include the sounds and culture. I want to communicate joy, energy, sadness. I want all of the human experience in there. I want to find a sound that vibrates in the right place and a color that vibrates at the same time. Life is the hope of the world. I think it’s coming.

CB: Were ‘The Simpsons’ nice to you? Did you meet Homer and Bart?

CL: I was only on there for a few seconds. They were very nice but I didn’t meet Homer and Bart.

CB: You’ve been on ‘Mad About You’ and been in a few movies…

CL: I almost did this thing for NBC. It didn’t work out and I’m kind of relieved now because I’m singing and I love it. I do feel that I will find something eventually that I can do everything together instead of separate. I feel I’m needed here in music. I don’t pay attention much to what the Mucky-mucks do because if something is a breakout and is a big hit, then they just chase after that. There is very few music visionaries – they are very far and few between. For me, I love what I’m doing here and I love dance music right now because there is a pulse that effects the people and goes right to the core. That is what I’m interested. I want to go right though the core and I want to skip all the other stuff.

CB: Do you think you’ll do a straight-ahead dance album?

CL: I’m not sure. I want to tell a story. I’m sure that my next CD will have plenty of it on there.

CB: Are you a web junkie?

CL: I like the web pages and some of them get really creative.

CB: Is there a time after time?

CL: “Time After Time” was a title that I found. I needed a working title and wasn’t necessarily going to use it. We started to write this story and I started to sing it and that became the chorus. It was so strong that I kept it. It was kind of Rob’s story, because he just broke up with someone and it was also my story in the way that I was hoping for continuance and that I would always be there because if you love somebody you’ll catch them. That’s how I felt. No matter what, there were some dichotomies in mine and Dave Wolff’s relationship and it just became too much. I wrote about that in “Who Let In The Rain.”

CB: And “True Colors?

CL: I sang that for courage and then I realized that if it was a healing some for me, it was a healing song for the world. I had to treat it with reverence and simplicity and I stepped forward in the tiniest voice, which sometimes is louder than roaring like a lion and spoke words that were simple and true. You’d be amazed with some of the letters that I have received about that song.