90s star Lolly blessed us with a brand new song back in May titled “Paper Rain.” It’s an inspiring track that was dedicated to the singers daughter. We wanted to know a little bit more about the song as well as her opinions on the music industry and what else she has in store for us.
We got in touch and had a good old chat about all things music. After the usual conversation everyone is having nowadays about how we’re coping with lockdown and the current climate etc. Here is what she had to say:
I want to start by talking about your most recent release “Paper Rain.” What can you tell us about it? What is it about?
So basically, I wrote “Paper Rain” last year. I’ve got a daughter, as you know, and she’s just turned thirteen, so she was twelve at the time and just started senior school, and she was struggling. Not struggling as in being isolated and being bullied, but as in being popular, and she is naturally quite a shy, quiet child. But she’d gone in, first term was great, then second term, all of a sudden, it was like “oh my goodness” – it’s quite hard to keep that up.
With social media and all the different ways of contacting, I mean she had just a normal circle in one year, and there was like one hundred all in one group. They are all chatting and, you know, I was looking at some of the conversations, and I can’t repeat it. It’s just so vulgar. But the point is, you wouldn’t naturally choose to be friends with more than a hundred people, would you? You would have your little circle, but the fact that you are opened up to all these other conversations from all different kinds of groups, you become neutralised to it.
So anyway, because it was all getting way too much and it ended up in this big old fight. So, I pulled her out, and it was just, you know that sort of age where you look at your friends more than your family? They are current, they get you. You don’t understand, you’re old and all that kind of stuff! And it was more, going like; “look, yes, we didn’t have social media back then, so I get that’s different. But I am your parent, we love you.” And it was just basically a message to her. Honestly the amount of words coming through on these Snapchats, to Instagram, is was just constant, constant, constant. It was all too much trying to keep up with it because she had become so popular and it’s tough on that sort of side of it. Anyway, I wrote the song to sort of explain to her last year. It went really, really bad, so I had to parent up basically and just take control. I took everything off her – as in the social media sort of stuff – just to control, and in the end, wrote this little song.
She didn’t know about it, I just wrote the song, but never really got to finish it. Because of lockdown, this time round, a year later, she’s in a lot happier place compared to last year. So, it’s not made much of a difference with the whole schools closing and stuff. In fact, it’s actually been a better opportunity for her because there are so many online opportunities for her. So, yes, she misses her mates, but everyone does, don’t they?
So, we had time to finish it. With lots of events and everything cancelled blah, blah blah. We just kind of finished it and out it out and so basically, it’s just to explain – it can kind of lend to anyone and everyone really – if you’re a carer, and you care about someone, it’s just like, I’ll protect you. I’ll be there for you and just let those awful, vile words wash over you, like paper rain, and I’ll be there. You literally should be able to count your true friends on your hand, I do believe that.
I believe that too, 100%.
You don’t need hundreds and hundreds, you just need that few people, even if you’ve just got one. And also, you sort of search for your child as well. Going into your teenage years, you’re searching for that one person aren’t you, because people shift, they grow, and then you’re panicking because you don’t have one. But it’s okay, just let it go, let it flow. That’s what we’re here for as that family unit, and she’s lucky that way, that she’s got us.
And that’s it, it’s just simple. It’s not a normal sort of Lolly track. I was thinking about releasing it, and it just felt right to do it. The time was right to put it out there, and the opportunities now to get out there and release your own stuff is easier. You can take more control, and it’s quite a nice sort of time for me personally.
It’s funny you should say that actually, because I’ve always been really interested in the constant development in the music industry. How different is it releasing music now compared to what it was like back in the 90s?
I know, it’s ridiculous, because back then my music was predominantly for youth, for kids. I had every platform, as in TV shows and magazines, to be able to promote my stuff. So, you would do a big solid four week build up to release your first single, as on the TV, So you would have a four week solid diary of, you know, SM:TV, Live and Kicking. Every Saturday morning was bang, bang, bang. It was constant, and then you would do the gigs in the evening for the older crowd.
But generally, kids were my captive audience, and my buyers for the Lolly project at that time – because people kind of see me as Lolly, but it was a band, there were people involved – and the platform there was the magazines. Everybody used to go to Woolworths on a Saturday to go and get their pick and mix and the latest physical single, and you would wait for Top of the Pops on the Friday night. But that’s all gone, it’s all gone. All those platforms are gone, so it’s a lot harder, and makes it a lot easier for lesser quality music to be out there. Ears are being adapted to not so well produced music.
So, I was literally listening to a friend of mine, who is a music solicitor, and she just put on all the artists that she was representing at the time, and literally, it could have been the same band, the same sound. I was flicking through, and there was nothing unique there. There’s nothing that goes “that’s the sound”, or “that pricks my ears up”. I even listened to Meghan Trainors’ new song today, and I was disappointed, because she was so, yes you could go “a novelty record”, but she was brilliant.
Yeah, I loved her music.
She was fun. Then all of a sudden, it’s like this. I’ve only literally listened to half the song and it’s like “oh!” That was this morning, and I was gutted, because I was really expecting like “Bang!”
Katy Perry just goes all out there, and I hadn’t heard from Meghan Trainor for a while, and I thought “what have you got?” But then it’s just the same old ears, it’s the same as all the rest. It’s like the record label’s going “Oh that’s the sound for now, so let’s just shove that out there, because everybody’s used to hearing it”.
I think now, because of social media, there are a lot more groups that still want the more unique or interesting stuff, so they go and get it. It’s great for people like me, so I can just go and produce stuff and get out there and get heard now.
It’s true though, like no-one has their signature sound anymore.
Yeah, I was listening to Anne – Marie. She’s got that fantastic voice. And then you go “oh, everyone’s copying the same voice”. It’s just like, where is the stick out of the box, be different?
That’s why, I guess, for YouTube say, people go and search, you go and find, you go and grow and develop your own interests, and you’re just fed stuff. But you don’t have those platforms, those Saturday morning TV shows where you have got a great host that you really like. Like Cat Deeley, where you have that kind of thing where you just love to see what she’s wearing, who she’s introducing, getting all the celebrities to dress up, you know, that sort of fun element.
And I think it’s that fast age isn’t it. You just don’t want a continuity presenter, you just want to get the stuff. And I get that. It’s faster, it’s a lot quicker.
So, if there was one thing you could change about the industry now, what would it be?
If I could change the industry now? I would try and honour the songwriters more. I think you get 0.03 pence per stream on YouTube or whatever. So that to me is just a crying shame, because back in the day, it was like £3.99 for a single, and then you would get your points, and it would all get distributed. So, the songwriters would get honoured and would get paid. Because at the end of the day, without a song, you’ve got no music. You’ve got no artist. It’s like going back to the basics.
The only way people can make money now as an artist is to go out there and do events, and merchandise. But without the song in the first place, honour the real thing, the music. Put the money back there. It can be done, it’s just all these streaming sites, isn’t it?
Yeah. So, throughout your career then, what would you say is the best advice you’ve been given?
Keep your unit, as in the people around you, small. Luckily that’s what I did. I can see how success breeds more people, so when we first started out, there was literally like a handful of people. Then the first album did really, really well, and all of a sudden there’s like millions of people, and you’re just thinking – I don’t really know – everything takes longer. There’s more conversations. Success breeds more people, which means more complications, takes a slow time, and becomes less fun.
Yeah, I suppose it kind of takes the fakeness out of it as well, like the people around you, you know are there to support you.
That’s it! The only person that literally, any time I needed anything, I’d call my Mum, because I’d be like “that was wonderful!”, and she’d be like “no, that was terrible!” She kept it real, and I had that because I was always kept in my place. It was just how I was brought up. It was just the reality. I was told when I did good. I was told when I did bad. I was told when I could do better. It was all constructive.
I think blowing smoke up people’s asses all the time isn’t good, because the ego inflates, and you see that person becoming nasty. It’s like “You’re becoming a real arse!” We are all people here, doing what you do to get by.
Exactly! A bit more of a tricky question now actually. What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
The worst advice? I don’t know whether it’s advice, I think there are things I’ve been told. I could have a list, I’ll just go through a couple of them. I was presenting for the BBC and I was told by my producers that presenters are paid not to think!
I just had to read my autocue, or read, or deliver. I’m there, not to think, just to present.
I’ve been told that women aren’t funny, that, just go and do what you do, you’re not a comedian. Oh honestly, the stuff that you have to sit there and go “Really?”
Now I think it’s brilliant that this year has turned. People are having voices. People are going “That’s not right”. I mean, I’m half Indian, and back in the day, I used to do some Indian dancing. I remember doing a competition and the adjudicator said I wasn’t brown enough! And West End musicals, when it was an Asian production, it was a big, big musical. I was up for the lead, and they told my agent that I wasn’t Indian enough! I get that, because I don’t straight away look Indian, but I am! That is my heritage.
I get it in the acting world, because you get booked on what you look like, so the casting call, whatever, you have to fit that bill don’t you? I get that, but it’s ridiculous when there’s ways around it. And because you don’t look Indian, people go “Oh yeah”. You know, it’s not the first thing they see.
I guess it’s been interesting. It’s good to have a voice now and be able to express it, explain it.
With all that in mind, can you give us your top 3 tips you would give to someone who wants to be part of the music industry?
I think be unique. I think it’s passion, it’s your drive. Do not let that fail. Do not let people knock you down. If they do, use that as fire to turn it around, and use it to keep going.
Look at Madonna back in the day. Not the most amazing vocalist. Not the most amazing dancer. But she had drive and passion. I think that’s what separates you from the millions of musicians that are out there. Keep that head strong, believe in your goals.
So – Believe in your goals, and just keep fighting. Because whether you want to be a musician or not, you get to a stage where you need to pay the bills. You get that, but it’s in your heart, so when you’re playing for yourself, or in your house, and you invite people round, just keep going, because it’s something that’s in you. That creative, who knows, you have to do it. And also, it makes you happy. Everyone has their own things that make them happy, whether it’s yoga, singing, dancing, it’s just like find your happy. Life’s too short!
Yeah, I think that’s important. People forget that I think, especially in the music industry.
I think it’s been taken away from them. After my second album, I stopped it because I didn’t want to do it anymore. It wasn’t making me happy. I really enjoyed TV presenting, so I used to get asked a lot when I was promoting stuff, to go and host MTV Select as a co-host. I really enjoyed the talk back and camera angles, and I loved all that team thing.
So that’s why I chose that, because it wasn’t making me happy. Whether I should have carried on? Well I stopped it before it went bad, you know what I mean?
I think you have to be quite brave to do that, because it would have been easier to carry on, because I would have been surrounded by the same management team. But you just go “This just isn’t for me anymore, I can’t do it anymore”.
Let’s talk a bit more about the present. We’ve already talked about your most recent release but you also uploaded a cover of “Kids In America.” Can we expect more covers like this? If so, who would you like to cover?
Well I’ve always loved Kim Wilde. The reason I did Kids in America – I just did a little lockdown version of it, and haven’t released it, because I was asked to elongate my sets this year. Basically, all my songs are three-minute pop songs, so I could do my album, but I just really loved Kids in America and I was like “Why don’t we just record it and we can do it at gigs?”
So, I had it there, and because I had all of my gigs – well everybody’s had all of their gigs cancelled this year – I was really gutted not to be able to perform. So, I just set it up in the studio, just a crazy little video, and she loved it! Can you believe?! Like she actually tweeted, and I was fangirling. I couldn’t believe it, and I was like “Well thank you very much!” Kim Wilde has said that she loves my version, so I loved doing that!
I think the thing with doing cover songs is, a good song is a good song, end of. I don’t have a personal problem with enjoying it again, and bringing it back to life. I think it’s great! After doing Kids in America, people are like “Do this, do that”, and I’m thinking it’s gonna be alright, you know? So, we’re just going to work on some new stuff in a few weeks and see how it goes.
That’s fair! Can you tell us of any future plans then?
Yes! Basically, my partner is a record producer, and we have a studio at home, so it’s quite handy really. But he’s working on a Boys on Block record at the moment, which is a new/old band! It’s made up of nineties boybands. So, we’ve got Shane Lynch, Dane Bowers, Ben Ofoedu and Abs from 5ive, and they make up Boys on Block. They were about to release just as lockdown happened, so now they are back in the studio recording some material. So, Mike’s doing that at the moment, that was his priority. He’s nearly finishing that, then we are going to get back in and do some really fun song, because I think we need a bit of fun! And probably want a really annoying sort of ear worm Lolly track. It’s needed, a bit of happiness!
Especially how this year is going, you need a bit of that in your life!
You know what? You’re absolutely right!
Awesome, so this is actually my last question then before I let you go. What’s one thing you wish someone would ask you in an interview but nobody ever does?
Ooh I don’t know! I’ve been asked all sorts of things. What would I do if I wasn’t a singer? Now you’re going to ask me that aren’t you?!
That’s exactly what I’m doing!
I’d probably have an alpaca sanctuary! I think I would be one of those crazy ladies, like just hang out with alpacas, feeding them, walking around the fields and chilling. Chilling with my alpacas!!
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