And critics say that dance music doesn't spawn real artists... Twenty-five years into their career as the most successful girl group of all time, Bananarama (the duo of Keren Woodward and Sarah Dallin) have released "Drama," a defiantly dance album, featuring the singles "Move in My Direction" and "Look on the Floor." Already a hit on satellite and dance radio, will the 'rams conquer the states again? Taking time out from her super-hectic schedule of world domination, Keren talked with dancemusic.about.com about fame, fun, and the continuing surreal joy of being Bananarama.
DJ Ron Slomowicz: So how did you enjoy your US trip?
Keren Woodward: It's been tough. It made us get up so early in the mornings. That means we didn't have much time for fun.
RS: I heard y'all did something with Playboy?
Keren: A radio thing, yes.
RS: What about a photo shoot?
Keren: Not sure about that one. As long as they've got Photoshop on hand, I suppose.
RS: I've been loving the Drama CD. When you were writing the
songs, where were your ideas coming from?
Keren: Well, we didn't really work like that, to be honest. First, it was the case of finding the right people to work with, because when we're writing with people we have to gel - personality-wise- and have an understanding. We didn't really have a plan of how it was going to sound, really, I think we just went in to write songs. What turned out is what turned out. We've never been very good at making master plans. We knew it would be pop because we write pop songs, and we wanted to make it a modern sort of dance album really. And that was it.
RS: Feel For You on the album is that perfect kind of pop record
that you've been making for what seems like twenty years now.
Keren: Yes, one of my favorites, that one.
RS: Why do you think that you keep having this fresh pop sound
album after album, year after year... What keeps your ear to the
ground with pop music?
Keren: I don't know. We love listening to music, whether we go clubbing or barhopping and that keeps it sounding fresh. When we went in to make the album, we didn't want to set any boundaries, but I do think that we didn't want to do something that sounds too far away from Bananarama. Although that seems to come quite easy, because whatever we do has that Bananarama feel to it. We weren't influenced by anyone in particular, we would sort of have ideas from hearing certain sounds on tracks or trying to get a certain vibe. We worked with amazing musicians like Merlin and the Swedish guys. Basically, we sat from the first drum beat and sort of directed them. Oh, try this, try that, and it was just trial and error really and just doing what felt right, which is how we always work.
RS: So what was it like working with Ian Masterson?
Keren: Well we've known Ian for a long time. Ian's like working with an old friend, because we've known him a long time and we kind of hang out with him as well. Basically in between projects, Ian's always been up for co-writing and working together, which is great. So when we got around to doing the album we just felt like we wanted to do some stuff with him because it's just a comfortable situation and also I really like the stuff he does.
RS: Talking about old friends, the new version of Really Saying
Something really took off as well.
Keren: Yes, it was huge in the clubs over in Britain.
RS: What's your feelings about DJs reworking or remixing your classics?
Keren: I don't have a problem with it, I mean I find it quite interesting really. I think it puts a new angle on it. When it comes to performing all the old stuff, as much as we love doing the old stuff, we do slightly different versions of a lot of the tracks because you like to sing songs but you can't necessarily dance to all of them. A lot of our early stuff, it wasn't really dance music and it's it's kind of hard to perform some of it. When we're performing, we do a different version completely of Cruel Summer, which at the moment is a sort of Latin version and Venus, I can't even remember what the original sounds like, because we've reworked that so many times for the live show.