Home > Interviews > Cyndi Lauper Interview June 2011

Cyndi Lauper Interview June 2011

Lisa Ward


Ready to embark on another European Tour, MTTM caught up with Cyndi Lauper to find out more about her creative process and why charity work is so important to her.

MTTM: Over the years you’ve spanned a variety of genres, styles and themes, from covers to collaborations and self penned works. Is there a particular remit which you prefer to work with, or does each approach have its own merits?

CL: Each has its own merits. I try to follow my muse honestly and sometimes that means doing covers and sometimes it means writing songs. Just depends. For example with At Last I had three goals – I wanted to find my own voice in songs that I grew up loving and associated with the fabulous women in my neighborhood and family, I wanted a project where I can sharpen my arrangement talents and I wanted a project where I could show different sides to my voice. With the Bring Ya To The Brink, I wanted to make a real dance record, and not just find people to remix songs I didn’t intend to be dance records and make them dance, though of course I love remixes, but I wanted to make a real dance record. So I got dance tracks from dance producers I loved, and wrote lyrics and melodies to them. I had never written a song where I didn’t work on the music side.   With Memphis Blues I wanted to celebrate a great music genre that I was heavily influenced by and that I still love.  Right now I am writing songs for a Broadway show of the adaptation of the film Kinky Boots. So I am writing songs for characters in a musical.  It’s so rewarding, so it just depends.  And it’s all great and interesting and inspiring.

MTTM: In the 80’s you became known as someone who was not prepared to conform to stereotypes. Did you deliberately set out to be known as a bit quirky, or had you always expressed yourself in this way?

CL: I have always felt it is important just to be who you are. As a kid you always want to fit in and sometimes that feeling never goes away for some people but I think that is so sad. You should be able to “fit in” even if you march to a different drummer. I am who I am. What you see is what you get. But no, I didn’t set out to be “quirky”

MTTM: True Colors has been something of a gay anthem, and the title of your fund to tackle LGBT issues in America. You sister is openly gay and has done a lot of work for LGBT communities, was it this that prompted you to launch the fund and do you think those who define as LGBT in America struggle more that those in the UK might?

CL: I think until gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are equal everywhere on this planet we all share in the struggle, regardless of where we live. While there are some countries that have made greater advancements than others, we need to start looking at the issue from a global perspective and make clear that hatred and discrimination in any form is unacceptable. I started the True Colors Fund for that reason. There is a lot of work to get rid of this stigma that gay and transgender people are less than and I will do all I can to help until that is a reality.

The True Colors Residence will open in NYC late summer this year I am very excited about it. It will provide long term assistance to homeless LGBT youth, ages 16-24. What the residence will do is not just provide housing, but work and life skills, and therapy when needed. A lot of these kids have been living on the streets because their parents threw them out just because they were gay. Very sad. No one should be thrown away just because they are who they are.

Here is some more info on True Colors Fund:

Program 1: Homeless LGBT Youth Program – The True Colors Fund works to raise awareness across the United States about the epidemic of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth experiencing homelessness through educational and awareness campaigns. In addition, to aid in bringing an end to this epidemic, the True Colors Fund works to develop resources and solutions to help direct service agencies do their work, help facilitate greater communication and collaboration amongst all
entities working on the issue, and conducting research. Also, the True Colors Fund will develop and maintain a rating and accountability system tracking youth service provider’s inclusion practices of LGBT Youth across the country in order to grow and sustain the number of providers who are inclusive through training, outreach and education.

Program 2: Give a Damn Campaign – The True Colors Fund works to educate everyone, especially straight people, around the country about the many issues impacting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community through the Give a Damn Campaign, a far reaching, web based educational
and awareness initiative. In addition, the campaign provides opportunities for people to become engaged in advancing equality, including promoting the work of organizations that people may wish to get involved in.

MTTM: In the late 90’s you gave birth to a son, Declyn. Do you think that changed your approach to music and/or life?

CL: I love being a mom. Declyn is a character and a great kid. My husband and I are convinced he is going to follow us into the industry in some way. He is very creative.  Right now he is really interested in making films.  He got Final Cut about six months ago and is taking a film class in school and is creating these small features which I think are really interesting . He loves it. He is also a natural drummer though he doesn’t play that much. He plays hockey and they have practices after school and games on the weekend so it keeps him very busy .

MTTM: You’re back touring in the UK later this year, your last show in London in 2008 saw you combine songs from your new album at the time (Bring You To The Brink) as well as old classics. Can we expect something similar with the Memphis Blues tour, or will there be more of a focus on the newer material?

CL: I will be doing a lot of songs off Memphis Blues but of course I will also do many of my hits. I want the fans to be happy when they leave!!   So come on down and let’s have a party.  And I am out with one of the best bands I have ever toured with so I’m excited about that.

MTTM: You’re quite a strong feminist role model, avoiding the over sexualised identities that many women in music seem to be pushed to conform to these days. Was that conscious choice and if so did it receive resistance from those you worked with?

CL: Thank you.  I think women should be allowed to express themselves in the way they want   Maybe they are expressing themselves in a sexual way because they feel sexy.  Who knows? But I don’t think it’s right to criticise if you don’t know what the motivation of another woman is.

MTTM: You recently performed ad hoc at Buenos Aires Airport amid delayed flights. What prompted that decision and were you surprised with how quickly it became hot news on the internet?

CL: Pretty crazy. Basically the crowd at the airport was getting rowdy because the airport  closed and no one knew what was going on.   People started recognizing me and chanting my name and I thought “Sing ‘em a song, will calm everyone down..and ya know it did.

MTTM: Your music has always had a political edge to it, Do you think it’s important for music to explore important issues?

CL: Absolutely. Music is a powerful thing.

Cyndi Lauper’s UK tour kicks off in Manchester on 20th June. For more information and tickets visit www.cyndilauper.com