Interview by Sasha Lobeman
One of the greatest voices of all
time Personifying the mission of the unsigned artist.
The sexy grrl rocker who put the Pro in Producer. All
these phrases have been used to describe the once power
indie vocalist/musician now turned rock star, radio star,
film star and screenwriter, Danielle Egnew. This fantastic
frontwoman has enthralled crowds for years with the all-girl
band Pope Jane and set the bar high for independent artists,
leading the movement of the do-it-yourself musician from
theory to thronging fans. Now Danielle Egnew has earned
her rank as a multi-talented creative prodigy in the mainstream
entertainment industry, with Hollywood’s deepest
respect. Even so, she hasn’t forgotten her DIY roots
SL: Now that you’re
a big mainstream success in so many areas, do you feel
that you’re treated differently by the independent
interesting you would bring that up. There’s a reverse
prejudice in the Indie community that’s pretty prevalent,
that creates an ‘us against them’ attitude
when dealing with major labels, major promoters, or major
anybody. I think that’s too bad. As a music community
that’s preaching freedom and independence, I don’t
think we need to create the same oppressive environment
that a lot of the mainstream entertainment industry creates.
I’ve lost some professional contacts and even some
friends in the Indie community because I’m no longer
what they consider an Indie, which to me, blows my mind!
But I guess those people are more focused on their ‘cause’
than their music, or their friendships. And really, the
Indie music community needs to remember that a ‘cause’
is only as effective as the intentions of the people who
are captaining the cause
SL: What would you tell
the Indie music community to change this ‘us-against-them’
DE: Well, I’d
tell everybody to lighten up and lose the chip on the
shoulder! (laughing) Not every industry person is part
of the Evil Empire. I mean, yes, there are huge jerks
out there that you have to be smart and watch out for,
but that’s any business. There are plenty of people
in the mainstream industry who are really good people,
who want to reach out and find great Indie artists and
put them in their films, or their T V programs, and get
them hooked up with decent labels. Those people do exist
– they’re the people who have been working
with me! But nobody wants to work with an artist whose
attitude is one of entitlement. Pope Jane didn’t
get where we’re at by acting angry at the world,
or acting like somebody owed us something. We earned it,
we worked hard, and the same type of people with those
same ethics found us.
SL: You're world known
for your incredible voice and your songwriting / producing
abilities. Are you working on producing any new independent
artists right now?
DE: No, not currently,
but I wish I was. My film schedule has been pretty hectic,
and there just hasn’t been the time. But I do miss
it! I’ve been writing a lot, and I’m always
looking for new artists to work with. Now if I could just
look for a little more time, that would be great!
SL: You've been compared
to Ann Wilson, Melissa Etheridge, Barbra Streisand, Janis
Joplin, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, even Karen Carpenter!
Does that put pressure on you to be compared to so many
DE: Karen Carpenter?
Wow! I like her voice a lot better than mine! (laughing)
No, I don’t feel any pressure. Look, just I have
the voice I was born with, and it came from my parents.
Both my mom and dad have huge, amazing voices, and so
I just won out on the gene pool. My mom especially has
this enormous Italian operatic soprano voice that made
mine sound like a penny whistle, comparatively. I don’t
feel pressure, I feel a great honor. I’m humbled
every time someone puts me in a category with those amazing
women you listed. It really is an honor.
SL: Even though you're
now known side by side with the greatest singing voices
of all time, pop music doesn't really afford a vocalist
much range. As a singer, do you have a favorite type of
music to sing?
DE: I do, actually.
I love to sing big voice numbers, like sappy show tunes
and cheesy classical stuff, and you’re right, in
pop music, you aren’t supposed to have a big voice,
so through a lot of Pope Jane, I was always trying to
under sing, but I don’t think I did a very good
job (laughing). Whispy, breathy voices are very in, mostly
because many of the acts the labels are signing are young,
and these girls don’t have developed voices yet.
Plus it’s just a hip vocal style right now. As a
writer and a musician, I like to do my original stuff
of course, but as a singer? Man, give me Cole Porter,
give me Andrew Lloyd Webber, anything in the Italian aria
family. The longer I have to hold the note, the better!
I really am an insufferable cheeseball!
SL: You have been doing
a lot of acting and screenwriting. How do you fit all
of that in with your music schedule?
DE: Not very well!
(laughing) Right now the music is suffering, but all things
have their season. The only live show I’m playing
right now is a monthly residency in North Hollywood, for
Festival of the Egg. But I’m not giving up the music.
It just has to get squeezed in right now.
SL: If you had to pick
one career, would you be a rock star, an actress, or a
DE: Ah, man …I
couldn’t pick one—ahhhh, please don’t
make me! I think they’re all very important parts
of what I do. Each one feeds the other with its own momentum.
SL: We haven't heard from
your band, the all-female Pope Jane, since the 2003 release
"Dog and Pony Show". Is the band still together?
DE: Oh yeah. Kristen
[Coyner, Pope Jane drummer] and I could never totally
hang it up. We love the band, and all our fans. We’d
worked so hard for nine years, and it was just time for
a break. Plus, with all this film work I’ve had,
it’s sort of impossible to keep the band active
right now. Kristen’s enjoying her time off in the
Northwest, trust me. I grate on her after awhile! (laughing)
heard rumors that you are going to be starring in a musical.
Is the musical rumor true?
DE: Well, I’m
not sure, which musical rumor are you talking about? (laughing)
After twelve years of touring with my own stuff, I’ve
been doing some cabaret-type shows here and there, where
I sing a lot of show tunes. My background was in musical
theatre, it’s what I had my college scholarships
for, and I really love to just open up and belt out standards,
without worrying about what I’m doing with a guitar
strapped on! (laughing) It feels so good, and I dig wearing
a good ball gown! (laughing) ! A friend of mine, Gregg
Masuak, wrote an original musical that he wants me to
sing the lead in. He was talking to a producer over in
London’s West Side about it. But I’m not sure
where he is on that project. I sure would like to do it,
SL: Now that you're a movie
star, do you find that you're treated differently than
when you were a pop/rock star?
No, not really, it’s just that people are more polite
now, because there’s something about being a female
musician that inspires people to treat you like you don’t
have a brain! I think because the budgets on films is
so much bigger than making a record, the folks who work
in that field tend to be a lot more serious, and a lot
more organized when dealing with people.
SL: I've noticed you're
playing a musician in one of the films you are cast in.
As an actress, do you find that you get pigeon-holed or
DE: Well, right
now I play a lesbian musician in two of the three films
I am in, and I don’t think it can get more type-cast
than that! (laughing) But the characters are really rich,
and really interesting, so it’s not just a snooze
a minute to watch the same exact character in different
movies. For me, it’s a great excuse to be able to
sing, and to act! I sort of feel really guilty about how
much fun I’m having, and what a great opportunity
these directors are giving me to showcase every aspect
of my art. I feel really, really blessed and lucky.
SL: Can you give us the
names of the films you’re working on, so we can
watch for them?
DE: Sure. Melody
and Harmony is a film by LyonHart Productions, written
and directed by Teresa Crespo-Hartendrop, and we’re
in prep for filming that in August. Changing Spots is
a film by Clear Pictures, written and directed by Susan
Turley who directed the big gay film festival hit The
M.O. of M.I. . That’s starting this fall. Susan
will also be directing a film I wrote, which is being
done by Clear Pictures, called Imogene’s Waltz,
but that’s awhile out, more like 2006. I have no
idea how I lucked out to have such an amazing director
as Susan interested in my film. But she is, and I’m
thrilled. Plus I get a chance to act opposite Lane West,
who I’ve always thought was a really terrific actress,
so I’m very excited about that. I swear to God,
sometimes I think I got hit by a bus, and this is all
some coma-induced dream I’m having (laughing)!
SL: I see you are also
scoring your film “Imogene’s Waltz”.
How will you find the time to be a lead in a film, and
compose the film score?
DE: You know,
I’ve never had a hard time multi-tasking, especially
creatively. There is always time to write music. I have
a [recording] studio in my house, and I tend to do a lot
of composition at night, and the filming mostly takes
place during the day. Plus, a lot of the score isn’t
written until the film is completed. Sometimes I’ll
watch the dailies – that’s what they call
the pieces of the movie they filmed that day – and
I’ll be really inspired to crack something out that
night. But usually the score is finished after the film
is cut, so it’s not really a problem, time wise.
SL: You’re a talk
radio host on two nationally syndicated radio programs,
acting as a co-host on The Music Highway with Sheena Metal,
and anchoring your own show, The High Road. How did you
get into talk radio?
DE: Well, I’ve
known Sheena for a long time, and she’s a long-time
talk radio icon genius in LA as well as a live original
music promoter here. She asked me to co-host The Music
Highway with her, from an artist’s and a producer’s
perspective, along with actor Robbie Rist, Ricardo Sebastian
who is a publicist, and Lane West, who of course acts
as well as produces films. I rotate with those guys. The
show is about unsigned artists, with talk segments about
surviving in the music industry. It’s a really great
show that only plays unsigned artists by request instead
of a station-picked playlist, and it’s syndicated
to over 28 million listeners, which is great for the artists!
My show, The High Road, is different. It’s an all-talk
format, no music, and it’s just me…talking
about all sorts of stuff!
SL: The High Road is controversial
because it covers spiritual, psychic and paranormal topics.
Many of your music fans don't realize that you're a world-renowned
Clairvoyant who is in the process of authoring books on
the subject. How do you deal with the stigma of being
known as a Psychic?
I don’t, not well! (laughing) Geez, you did your
homework! (laughing) Unfortunately, there are so many
whack jobs that claim to do Psychic and spiritual work,
you just have to endure the stereotypes. But thankfully
there are a lot of shows on TV right now that more accurately
portray normal people with spiritual gifts and abilities,
like Medium and The Dead Zone. I love the way Anthony
Micheal Hall shows that Johnny Smith is just a regular
guy. We’re just regular people who happen to have
a spiritual skillset, like you know (laughing) talking
to dead people, or seeing what we call ‘the future’.
though your Clairvoyant work serves a number of celebrities
and even some law enforcement agencies, do you find that
you have a challenge in being taken seriously, being a
Psychic, a rock star, and a film actress?
That sounds like when you’re a little kid, and you
say, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to be a fireman,
and a ballerina, and a CIA agent..’ (laughing) No,
I don’t encounter a problem with any of it. When
I’m on a film, I’m treated as an actor. When
I’m in the studio, I’m treated just like any
other musician. When I’m with a client or working
on a crime scene, I’m treated like a Clairvoyant.
It’s just like having more than one job, like some
people working as a cashier at WalMart then moonlighting
as a heavy equipment operator. I’m just me, no matter
what job I’m doing.
SL: You seem surprised
I brought up your Clairvoyant work. Are you uncomfortable
talking about it?
DE: No, not at
all! It’s just most people doing [entertainment]
interviews consider the subject to be too weird and too
awkward, like it’ll bust the legitimate groove of
the whole interview. Truthfully, I’m really proud
to be a third generation Clairvoyant – I don’t
like the word Psychic, it sounds too hokey. I have Native
American in my bloodlines on both sides of my family,
Cherokee and Lakota, and they are such an incredibly spiritual
people. I’m very proud of the spiritual work that
I do, and it has its own forum. It doesn’t cross
over into the frivolous entertainment zone much unless
it’s on The High Road, but that show is designed
to get into the nitty gritty of consciousness and spiritual
physics, more as a learning tool for people; that is,
when I’m not ranting about some stupid political
thing. I try to literally take the high road on the air,
but I’m not Mother Theresa, and unfortunately, I
do have some pretty stiff opinions about certain things.
I guess that’s what makes it talk radio.
SL: Can you tell me the
DE: Sure, but
I’d have to kill you. (Pause. Laughing) No, it doesn’t
work like that, sorry, man. I wish I could, you could
take us on a shopping spree.
SL: If you could tell your
fans one thing, what would it be?
DE: One thing?
It would be to never give up your dreams, ever. Never
let anyone else define who you are. If someone doesn’t
like what you’re doing with your dreams, or considers
you to have “pipe dreams” when you voice your
desires, then don’t take it personally. They probably
have a number of things in their life that they haven’t
accomplished yet, and dreams they gave up on, and it’s
just too hard for them to watch you pursue yours. People
come up with reasons to fail ahead of time, so they don’t
have to try, because if they try, the possibility exists
that they could really fail. Don’t live in fear
of what might not happen. Live in the excitement of what
you, yourself, can make happen, which is everything. Then
make your life exactly what you want it to be. Go out
roaring, not whining!
Danielle Egnew can be found online
in several places:
The Official Danielle Egnew Website:
The High Road Radio Show: http://www.highroadradio,com
The Music Highway Radio Show: http://www.musichighwayradio.com
The Private Metaphysical Practice of Danielle Egnew: http://www.danielleegnew-advisor.com
Pope Jane: http://www.popejane.com