Debbie Gibson Part 1
Ladies and gentlemen records retired plate spinners and millennials who want to impress their parents with their record collections. Welcome to the Rhino cast. Podcast brought to you by Rhino records. Get ready for new releases detracts and conversations with your favorite artists and bands and balloons for the kiddies and now your host with the most which may have and Dennis the menace on this episode of the Rhino podcast. It's part one of executive producer. John Hughes and Dennis's conversation with Debbie Gibson. A Rich Dennis. Have you become an insider yet? Absolutely and folks you can become an insider to and we're talking about the new. Rhino insider program is rhinos. Loyalty Program for Music Fans in the United States and District of Columbia ages eighteen and over. It's free to join and you can earn points by partaking activities and connecting with Rhino. And then use those points to redeem them for rewards and there's a lot of cool stuff you can get dentist. 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Well this is going to be a surprise for everyone because Debbie Gibson I mean you think pop artists right but you know. She is so much more than that. She's a songwriter. She's a record producer. She's an actress she's on. She's on current television. Shows Making guest appearances and what I learned is the level of her talent and her musicianship when you think pop artists you just think well she goes in the studio she sings but there is so much more depth to Debbie Gibson and this is a two parter because we talked for a long time and it's myself and executive producer John Hughes at Rhino headquarters with Debbie Gibson. How was it hanging out with her? What was she like to hang out with? She's bubbly. She's fun and well. I felt pretty good because she is a born and bred New Yorker. Oh you guys must have hit it right off. Yeah we did and John just of course added the spice that he always does because he he was there listening to her music in the clubs very much at the same time that I was playing their music in the clubs. We'll all right. How about we get into that conversation that you had with Debbie Gibson along with executive producer. John Hughes. Hi Everybody Debbie Gibson here. Welcome to the Rhino podcast. Thank you we've been. We've been trying to do this for how long now? I know it's been a while. And the good news is it's because they've had one of the craziest most amazing career years. I've had I feel like in decades and had no time for the past year. So it's like that is happy. Reason reason we will accept that are now we will accept that. Okay here we go. We were determined to make it happen. We're going slash long island meets Queens. So let's start with where in Brooklyn Benson her sped. I only lived there 'til I was too move to Long Island. Yes we have to say. Long Island that was at age to yes. So do you remember anything about Benson Hers Because Benson Country Actually Remember Brooklyn? I I have a very strange memory. I mean like a strangely good memory in general of things from my childhood so I very very specifically remember this block party because block parties. Were big and we lived in the attic of my grandparents place so like. I was a third kid so my parents were up there with like the one bedroom apartment and the three kids and I remember the block party and what I remember. And this was like foreshadowing of what was to come with my very tenacious personality and a bit mischievous. I grabbed a hotdog from like the hotdogs. Guy And went into neighbor's house wandered away from my parents and was like hi and I was sitting at their kitchen table eating my hotdog while my parents were in a panic did not where I went and when they finally found me I was. I remember the feeling and like looking at them. Like with a big deal. I just got a hot dog. Came a really house like I was very independent that way. That is my biggest memory of Brooklyn. So we're not going to go necessarily in the right order but I wanna get here really early because there's a difference between growing up in a musical family and then the story of Your Dad and the being quote singing orphan in far rockaway. Would you take that a little bit? Yes so my Dad Daddy. Joke Gibson was put in the foster care system and spent his entire childhood in a boys. Home with a hundred other. Boys It was really a Catholic boys home. In fact two different couples wanted to adopt him in at the time. They didn't let them adopt him because they were Protestant and the methodist because they weren't Catholic better for him to remain. I guess yes so kind of crazy but that those were the times and so he found music or music. Found him in this home. And one of the Brothers brother Frank Spring men and by the way I remember him so vividly because he was my friend. He was my pen pal. I remember eight years old. Writing him letters him coming to visit And he gave me this amplifier and microphone and these things from the home that he was eventually replacing. You giving away and and So he was kind of like a grandfather figure to me so he took my dad and three of the boys under his wing and started them singing barbershop and they were on name. That tune and Joe Franklin. I eventually won a spot on the Joe Franklin show in talent contest and so I was on it like you know. You're on like three in the more that shows on like the night. I'll bring it full circle in a minute. I tell kids like I. You know I've been a judge on this show America's most musical family and when they're disappointed they didn't win. I said listen. The prize is you got to be on television. Performing and random people like that literally was a prize. I won once and it was on. You know to show that was on the middle of the night so my dad was on all of these shows and I still have forty five records that they made and they did this. Incredible barbershop rendition of the Ten Commandments. It was like I. I must honor. God can honor his name. Bulbul and my dad was the base. She looked like Ritchie Cunningham. Look like Ron Howard. As a kid and saying base and Yeah so I got a lot of my love of music and I think any innate vocal ability from my dad. He's a really incredible singer still. He's got this crooner's voice and he's carefree out of his own way. Which is the biggest lesson that he gave me as a vocalist because I'm very cerebral and I get my own way. And he just goes for it. He just relaxes enjoys it. So good do you remember and did that affect you early on being in Studio? I remember like I literally I can sense memory like what like the couch and him and I just always felt at home in Showbiz even at that age like I felt that home in a TV studio. I always loved talking about music. Just that's what I remember. What was school like for you then? I was an outcast for sure. I mean like eventually when I ran music camps and workshops at just related to those kids so much because I'm like listen. I was that freak in school and because they always use that word. You know I'm such a freak is and it's different now because I think more kids are doing music but like I have a nephew who does music and he eventually went. Got Home schooled for a while because it can be kind of brutal for kids that are creative in school. I felt very misunderstood because people people mistook the arts for like just a hobby like they think. Oh what are you really going to do in life? And they didn't realize that dedication level that I had and they didn't realize like no. I'm keeping up with you guys are doing. Plus I have this whole of their life. And this whole other vocation and focus and so at a very young age. I was singing at the Metropolitan Opera in the children's chorus and to this day. Don't you need Madani customarily literally? I could sing you. The whole beginning of La Boheme because when you're eight and you're learning Italian stays with you for ever and the kids and the teachers would constantly make fun of me. Oh opera. Oh Figaro Figaro Oh you think you're so great so I actually made a school project of writing an opera called Alison upper land and it was to introduce kids to opera and Alice stumbled upon Parkin you'll from an and you know I it. And so eventually though. The school did a field trip to come see me. Hansel and Gretel because that was a very palatable accessible offer for kids and Christmas time Hansel and Gretel at the met so beautiful and they understood it more and they were then kind of like a little bit in awe and there was a little bit more respect. But you know even when I got my my first record deal. Kids didn't know I didn't advertise. How much like I didn't say well? I go home from school and I locked myself in the studio midnight. What do you do? I mean I just kept kind of that. I kept it to myself because kids new I sang and I was in the talent shows and I was in the school shows and they knew I was off auditioning for things and whatever but I didn't like Brag about it so you know there was an element of lake kids thinking I that this all happened by luck and there is a lot of jealousy as you know. Kids don't like when other kids get attention. And I didn't want the attention actually just wanted to slide in school and do my thing slide out. Do My thing with music. But you don't get to do that when you're a kid. So it toughened me up and warming out a little at the same time. Did you have any kind of tried that you hung out with or they're did in fact. I'm still amazing. I had to get together recently in New York with a bunch of friends and three of people at that table or chew. Let's see my my best girlfriend. Iris from when I was twelve was at that table friends with her. All through junior high. We went to different high schools. We remained friends. She even came in saying on tour with me. My friend Ron Lucarelli. Who's in New York City? Detective we've been friends since high school. I had the group of friends that was like the guys were kind of like the basketball players. They weren't like the football player. Laurent was a football player. Some of them were in drama club. We were kind of like the group of kids that couldn't be defined. Wasn't anyone like we were kind of smart and we were all kind of the arts real. I was very much in the arts but they were kind of kind of into sports and we were just like normal goodwill American kids. Tell me about the Gibson girls because your sisters were in but you are in it to win it. Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah. So they were the drama club choir. Kids like we would even have choir rehearsals at our house. I mean and that was more than than me they were they were in like on that high school level or like the you know they were in the also all county choir. Even I didn't make it to all state choir like none of us did. We were all county choir. But yes so they were. They were in it. We would get up at. The talent shows do matchmaker and four of the seven. Von trapps at one point and and we always had the great family harmony blend which I knew was special so like I wanted to sing with them but they also always knew that I was going to take the high belting note and they wanted me to. They really. Don't want to build that note Debbie and push me out front unless he's a match up there singing the high your high F- but they still wanted to do it and and it was funny like in our town. The accompanist would see us coming like for theater audition and they'd be like coffee break. I'd play for Karen and Karen would play for Michelle. Michelle play for Denise. We'd all accompany each other and then we go. Hey we have a harmony number two and But yeah eventually. They were more into the school activities. The academics my two older sisters went to Vassar. They're very very very smart. Way Smarter than me in that way book smart but funny enough like one of them's in human resources and one is an agent like kids in New York. Yes Yeah Karen Lampy Lampley Aussie talent out in a thug and I love it. She actually is very similar to my mom in the sense that I don't know if she's GonNa like that. I said that or not. But she's very nurturing young talent she really enjoys it. She doesn't want to be out front but she really loves being around music. She loves supporting young people doing music. And now we've mixed match like I'll send her people or she'll see people like the nickelodeon show. Hey I'm looking for somebody that that's tight you know that is that type. Can you send me their info? And I love that. Camaraderie have with her on that level. And then my younger sister is a fashion designer and she was always painfully shy and hated being dragged in it and singing. But we dragged it patch. Am I right? Let's let's do the Internet test. Did you have the same piano? Teacher is Billy Joel. Yes Martin Estrin so. Tell me about that. That must have been one of the things that people. I don't WanNa say as soon but always go down the road about pop singers. They got lucky they had. There's Fin. Galleon you know didn't necessarily pay their dues the work now. Listen listen. We'll get to this later. As recently as three days ago I was in my acting coaches studio working with him on a scene for a project agents did I am a believer. He put in the work. You get the result. You don't skip steps. There is technique to all of this. It's not smoke and mirrors. I am not the most naturally gifted singer. But I work my arse off to do the best I can with what I have and it's always been my motto Yes so I knew enough to know that the piano teachers I was working with were not hardcore enough And always enjoyed. I've gone to the therapists vocal teachers that that will make you cry. They will make you cry with how tough they are and I wanted to. I wanted that I wanted to be really good. And so when I went to the teachers and I was like. Oh and hanging knew when you went to the recital you know and it was a with vocal teachers to if everyone sounded the same at the recital. You're like I'd better get out of this teachers arms. Quick there is a teacher I took with and again you know these American mention names but everyone had this like Ooh out and I was like no. Everyone sounding like they're imitating a sound and so even when I found my back to the piano teacher in a minute but when I found my vocal teacher New York Joan later it's because I was going to Broadway shows and I was like who sounds amazing and sounds like themselves like they're speaking one minute and they're singing and it's the same voice and she works with Madonna to and like Madonna's such an incredible example of that she did not try to make Madonna sound like Patti Lupone who she also works with. Madonna sounds like the best version of Madonna possible. You know and that's what I wanted what I wanted so this. Pm So morten. Estrin is scary talented and I was a huge billy. Joel Fan and I said to my mom who billy Joel knew she was like let me find out and we drove a you know the teacher him was five minutes from the house. Which when you're dealing with three to four kids and piano lessons really convenient for the parents Morton Estrin with a half hour away in Hicksville so we have to plan it where we'd all bring her homework and we'd sit through each other's lessons and he smoked cigars and pipes couldn't believe we'd all leave. They're like Oh my God. We gotTA wash these clothes. My point is we were in that cigar. Smoke like studio doing our homework. You know for four hours like between waiting for everybody for their lessons. Plus we'd go to music theory class on Saturday. The thing I'd probably trust most in my craft is my ear like pretty much. You could play something and I could play. It back. Transcribe IT in some way. And that's because again it's an extra. It's a muscle and I exercised at a used it. I learned I was challenged. He was amazing so he would sit across the room in his throne. He called His throne. It was his recliner and you'd be playing and he can't even see your hands and he'd be like fourth bar third any of the lowest it was like fourth par third note. C. Sharp Nazi natural need be. Like how did you know that as far as he was concerned? If it wasn't memorized you didn't know it. And I'm a good sight reader so I can pull the wool over is and I can do that with my voice too. I can trick teachers by like kind of making a sound that but it doesn't mean it's right so again. I want those master technicians that know when you're really doing it ball you get signed to Atlantic which is probably a story in and of itself but what was the strategy to roll out Debbie Gibson. Was there a strategy? If the strategy was like who will listen who will who will buy who buy. My Mom obviously was my biggest champion. Still is she was your manager at the she was my manager for twenty five years but at the time actually and entertainment attorney was officially managing me and you know he kind of knew how to get to. Asgard Bruce. Carbone Anthony Sanfilippo. Who are the guys in the back office at Atlantic records the office that had no windows and stacks of twelve inches? I loved them and Love Them. Still and communicate with them. Occasionally especially Bruce and Larry you know. I don't think initially my strategy was going the club route but it only in my dreams felt like the first single and then it at the time it felt like a club. Record and Little Louie Vega did one of my favorite remixes of all time and to this date like I just worked with Tracy young and I kept encourage. She's brilliant but what I kept referencing Nat Mix. Because they said you know. I just feel like you have a chance to kind of rewrite my song like you have a. I feel like remixer such an opportunity to create some other musical structure for the song and little. Louie did that with only in my dreams and and basically my mom and I just kept following the breadcrumb trail. We were just like The musical he's led the way the state of my career. The music will lead the way I create it and then some ideas all branch out from there. I wouldn't be on the hallmark channel if I didn't have a music career. The best actress to ever walk the face of the art. So everything stems from the music and with that. Then it was okay. It's a dance record. Where DO PEOPLE GO DANCING CLUBS? Let's get me a club booking agent okay and we didn't know what we were doing and I say we really. My mom figured it out as we went along so I would play a teen club a straight Lebanon gay club all in the same night and I would change costumes in the car and my mom would go in ahead of me and my two gay backup dancers and my sister Karen. Who's now the one who's managing kids and everything she would do. Sound and Light Rail Theriault backing tracks. You're underage. I was underage. Nobody even knew nobody cared about my age and I swear I looked older than than I do now. 'cause I just we made it a point. I love that and I just went in the back. Door we joke. It was like the von Trapp family going to play like I played crazy clubs in east. La where we were walked in with armed men and metal detectors and my jewelry. We'll get stolen off my fingers as I reached the crowd. I learned quickly not to wear rings. Bub Gigs just but I was GONNA say was. The Gay Club was always my favorite thing. The Teen Club. The teens were a little too cool for school. The stray club to like you know. Oh we're picking people up. Who's this chick singer and and the gay club? The people wanted to celebrate the music. I remember playing a Lesbian Club in Brooklyn at sixteen and a bunch of sweaty women coming literally embracing me and I just feel like. That's that's the open diverse world. I literally grew up in and I'm so grateful for that. It was my strategy from the time I was literally I would you like street fairs in Brooklyn and like stand on apple car with a speaker and sing so just to get experience doing it for the joy of it and to be heard and then once I started writing music I just became obsessed with being on. I mean I was a radio fan. I was R- winning radio contests. Pj I won so many contests. I was a fan of the radio. I always thought it was cool and to this day. I like watching TV in real time. I like listening to the radio in real time because I liked the idea that a bunch of people are sharing that moment at the same time and like I used to think of it as well. These people are being held hostage in their car and they must listen to my song. If they're listening to the station like that to me was just the be all end all. I just thought if you could write a song and have people actually hear it let alone love it let alone be singing it across the world learning English from it thirty something years later still be. I mean that's the dream I mean and so that just became. My obsession was for people to hear the music. The demos originally did and then you worked with Fred's czar me this artist even today. What did you bring in? And then what did he do? I love that question. My mom went. An- asked one of my uncles for a ten thousand dollar loan to get me recording equipment to set up because she found me trying to multi track record with tape recorders lined up on the admiring board and I brought in like I had a Lynn Rack. Mount sequencer and I had a drum machine and I brought in a basic demo. That really sounded like the skeleton of the record. You know and I was very flea free flowing with my idea so I never like you know. You weren't like flying in a chorus at that time and for people listening. That might not know what that means like. Today you go into a studio and this is for the last twenty five years but you in the studio and if the chorus is repetitive you sing at once. He stopped the harmonies. Once you tune it you edit it and you only do once and you repeated six times you literally paste. It conventions just cut in pay copies. That's what you do but back then I'd go in and I'd sing the song. Top to bottom and ideas with change from one course to the next so fred would wrangle all my ideas and there might have been a song that had a lead. Did it it it it it it and it was just. I was playing it. Freehand while the differences we found a better sound and we sequenced it and it sounded body needs one of those people in their life but he always really took such great care to keep my voice in my voice and like I can't say who won our America's most musical family show but I was in the studio with this act the other day and still to this day. I will never forget that someone was protective over me. In that way I want to get with artists whether they consider themselves writers are not. I want to get them writing. I want to get their voice on the record. I don't WanNa say shut up kid. I want them to sit there with me. I want to say well. What are you here? And what do you feel and do you like that note? You like that lear to you. How would you say it so? That's what Fred did for me. He polished what I had and he is the King of the incredibly intricate intro. So even shake your love. He came up with de on. But that's as much of a signature. Today he'd be considered a writer on the song. Yes he would. You know a lot of the more he'd be the Ronson of the the track guys are writers now You know came up with like who loves baby at Denton done. And it was epic intro. That opened my concert and so he refined what I did. He added to what I did all while keeping my original like the best of my ideas first album had four hit singles and foolish. Beat this well known but it made you the youngest artist. I'm going to read the youngest artist ever to write produce and perform a number one single. That's a lot of talent in confidence. It's really the confidence part. Like it's the vision so like I just believe producing is about having vision. I happen to also speak in a musical language and I had to speak in musical language more than somebody else because I was so young and I and I was female and so like I had so much more to prove so I almost had a show off and say no. That's the C sharp minor seven chord and not like. I had to do that because they were so ready to go. Who's this little chick producer? How did you convince Atlantic to let you produce my mom? Did I just told this story yesterday to somebody because it's fun to celebrate my mom in this way now lake. She was this young mom of four girls and she had this one girl love to do music and she was fiercely protective over my vision and because she heard those demos coming out of the garage day and night she was like this is not a mystery. All it is is knowing how you want the song to sound and it's only one person's opinion so like if why wouldn't we be going with DEB's opinion? It's Song I mean. It was like a simple as that to her but she had to go in the conference room with Ahmet and Doug Morris and and all entirely men in suits and she went in black pounded her fists on the table in her Brooklyn. Way and said I want my daughter to produce this particular song. Everyone constantly by the way was trying to bring it in in older male writers mainly to analyze my songs and change my songs and and in and you could analyze. Anyone can rewrite anyone's hook right like but again then. It's not their song anymore. She just thought for my vision I'm Dennis after listening to that conversation that you and John had with Debbie. I was amazed at how much she has going on. And what a dedicated artists. She really is enrich. Did you know? I mean among the things she was recognized by as cap as songwriter. The year along with Bruce springsteen that same year. That's insane. Yeah that's the point. Do not be fooled some pop artists or a lot deeper than you think. And you'RE GONNA learn a lot more in part two of the Rhino podcast with John using myself talking to Debbie Gibson. Thanks very much for tuning in. Forget to listen and subscribe on Itunes. So you don't miss the next Rhino podcast executive producer for Rhino Entertainment. John Hughes Produce for Rhino Entertainment by pop colts and Richmond. Promotions all rights reserved.