By Lawrence Ferber
It took 10 years, but soulful songstress Taylor Dayne has returned to music on her own terms and her own indie label. And she’s feeling pretty “Satisfied” about it.
Remember 1988 international dance/pop hit, “Tell it to My Heart”? Of course you do. Dayne returns with “Satisfied,” her first studio album since 1998’s “Naked Without You.” Working with co-writers/producers including Mike Mangini, Peter Wade and Rick Nowels, Dayne’s vocals are in top form (reminding us why comparisons have oft been made to fellow white soul-powerhouse Anastacia), and the pop hooks irresistible. Kicking off with the richly produced, upbeat single, “Beautiful,” “Satisfied” dips into genres and styles as varied as reggae (“She Don’t Love You”), jangly guitar rock (“I’m Over My Head”) and a standout, piano-heavy cover of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under The Bridge.”
Dayne first made a splash with that twice-platinum ’88 album, “Tell it to My Heart,” while her other hits include “Love Will Lead You Back,” “Don’t Rush Me” and “I’ll be Your Shelter.” In 2001 she hit the boards in Broadway’s “Aida” (fun fact: she’d also been part of its original workshop). Now a Los Angeles-based, 45-year-old mother of 5-year-old twins, Astaria and Levi, Dayne sat down with Between The Lines in New York City’s Paramount Hotel to discuss her new album, ’80s hair and queeny backup dancers.
Is there a theme running through ‘Satisfied’?
For me, I had to be truthful to who I am now, the experiences I’ve had. I don’t know about the theme, but I know the importance of the melodies I chose, the lyrical content and the cover songs I chose.
There are songs about breaking up and unhappiness, but a lot of love songs as well.
It’s funny, because the title ‘Satisfied’ … it’s a question, it’s a noun, it’s a verb, it’s an action. I’m satisfied? I don’t know if I’m satisfied. This record is a journey; it’s been (developing) over a few years. ‘Beautiful’ is about love and infatuation. Trust me, I know – I was there. ‘I’m Over My Head’ is about just sitting back and going, ‘Wow, I can’t believe it.’ I know that feeling, and it just continues. Love is a very, very complicated state, isn’t it?
In ‘She Don’t Love You,’ you sing, ‘She can kiss you, but she don’t love you like I do.’ Who is this she-devil that done stole your man?
You better ask Peter. I didn’t write that one.
Have you ever been in that position, vying with another woman for a guy?
No, I don’t like that. It’s a funny thing. I understand the idea of wanting someone and fighting for them, but if you’ve lost his attention, it’s a tricky place to be.
What if she does love him more than you, though?
It doesn’t matter.
You cover the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Under The Bridge,’ a love song dedicated to the city of Los Angeles.
I think it’s (about) a lot more than that. I think it’s a universal message throughout that whole thing. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner; you’re driving through hills but there are hills you climb everywhere. When I approach a cover, I have to be very careful. I have to make it believable; I have to make it my own. This one in particular resonated for me lyrically and I think it’s also a very universal song, and I know a lot of people can relate to it.
What do you like best about living in L.A.?
There’s no denying the weather. The opportunity to get up every day and be at work in five minutes. Why did I move? Not necessarily because of New York City. I miss the city every day of my life. I had a house in Long Island, an apartment here (and) I had a house in L.A. It was too much. And once I became a mom, it was like, ‘Who am I kidding?’
After watching the video for ‘Tell it to My Heart’ on YouTube again, I was wondering if you and those two ‘urban’ backup dancers went to hang out and vogue at the Christopher Street piers after the shoot. Those are the gayest backup dancers I have seen this side of Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour.
I’m sure they were on that tour. I mean, I didn’t have much to do with those two dancers but they were great.
Were you surprised at how many gay people were in the industry when you first broke in?
You didn’t have to tell me. My parents took me to Provincetown (Mass.) growing up. There were a lot of gay men there, but it was different. They were really attached to their art and the community. And now I go and its just club after club, but I love it there.
Have the twins met any of your gay friends or fans yet?
Indeed. Matter of fact, I did gay pride last summer in Los Angeles. I closed the show, so it was a huge crowd and my kids and a couple of friends were in the media pit and they were watching … . In between songs I said (to my son), ‘Do you want to come up?’ And he was like ‘Yeah!’ I did the house version of ‘Naked Without You,’ something really up-tempo, and he started break dancing. I went, ‘This is my son,’ and 8,000 gay men and women screamed and he loved it. It was awesome.
Later on, was he like, ‘Mommy, someone told me to work it, girl!’?
Hell no, honey. He’s full-on street kid. He’s a great dancer. And my daughter got up there and froze with a big smile. It was my best audience ever.
When I was reading your discography, I noticed a lot of songs with the word ‘heart’ in them. You do like that word, don’t you?
Apparently it pops up a lot. (But) ask Celine Dion how many ‘hearts’ she has. Can you imagine?
And I read on Wikipedia that you were supposed to play John Goodman’s mistress on ‘Roseanne’ but the show was canceled before you shot the role.
Yes. That’s what originally got me to Los Angeles. They hired me to be the love interest for John Goodman.
Politics corner – who’s the hottest Republican candidate?
Are you shitting me? In all fairness, (Rudy) Giuliani. I’m a New Yorker and I saw what happened here, and I saw how he stood up for this country and the city relied on him. But I’m a Democrat. I’ll probably vote Hillary (Clinton).
What do you think of today’s young pop artists, like Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse?
Amy Winehouse is a brilliant, challenged singer. Their personal (lives are) something else. Britney, man, whatever. What are you going to say? I can’t tell if she’s full of shit or if she’s crashing and burning like that. And if she really is, boy oh boy! Somebody help that girl. But you got Christina Aguilera, who is a wonderful artist, (and) you got Pink.
You have a pretty juicy MySpace page, with an ‘Ask the Diva’ Q&A section.
I have a couple of fans who actually do a lot of work for me on my site – they go to the fans directly and get the questions and I answer them. They’re really key, the fans, especially the way the industry is turning; it’s a more viral situation now.
If there was a tribunal organized for late ’80s/early ’90s fashion offenses in pop music, would you defend yourself – or would you willingly plead guilty and face the consequences?
I think I created a hair wave. That hair. They called it ‘bundles.’ When I look at the ‘I’ll Always Love You’ video, it made (Dolly Parton’s) look small.
What is the difference between the Taylor Dayne of then and the Taylor Dayne of 2008?
Extensions! (laughs) I’ve had a great run. I’ve (lived) through my dreams; I’ve gone for everything. Your hindsight is genius and you see where all that heartache and desire lands you and where it takes you. Anything I want to go for, I go for and I do it.