In the video for "Sexy People" (below), Lolene makes it clear that her take-no-prisoners approach to pop isn't the only thing she's got going for her. She's also got a neon-lit "disco vagina" which serves -- metaphorically, of course -- as the entrance to The Electrick Hotel, her debut album out in February. Currently on her first U.S. club tour, we caught up with Britain's newest musical export to find out how the party in her hot pants got started, how she separates herself from the other pop princesses ruling the charts, and what happened when she found a gay sex site on her (now ex-)boyfriend's computer.
Out: How did your first performance in the U.S. end up being at the White Party in Las Vegas?
Lolene: The type of music I make appeals to a gay audience. Im very social and colorful -- a happy person. A lot of my friends are gay and I tend to live that lifestyle more often than not, so it was just natural that I did that. What happened was, we just hired Flylife [a PR company that specializes in gay press] and theyre helping to organize my whole club tour and they said, What about the White Party? and I was like, Yeah! Id love to do that. I always appreciate gay fans because theyre so dedicated and non-judgmental and thats how my friends are with me. I felt like I was in a big room full of my friends.
You were "delivered" onto the stage via a giant vagina. What the hell is that about?
Damien Hirst glamorized the skull -- he took something that was generally death and made it fabulous -- and that really inspired me. And so for me it was the vagina. Its the most powerful thing in the world, everyone comes from it, and there are so many things associated with it: birth, new life, things coming from you. And so I thought, Id like a disco vagina birthing out these hot pop songs! Yeah, thats it, a disco vagina! So, I had this vision -- inspired by Damien -- to glamorize the pussy. Its not a biology lesson [laughs] but if it was crystallized and bright and neon, then everyone could think it was cool. The idea was to have a 3-D one made -- and it is being made -- but for the White Party we used the curtain because the 3-D one isnt ready yet.
Gay men dont exactly have the best relationship with the vagina, so if anything is going to get them excited about it, I guess its giving it a disco makeover.
[Laughs.] Exactly. Just marry the two together. I mean, gay men come from one, right? And its a disco vagina so lets just have a cocktail and get over it. And the whole point is I have my "disco babies" -- theyre neon babies that are like my songs. So well have the disco vagina and then well have disco babies. Well cover dolls in glitter and hang them up and give them crazy hair and theyll be glowing in the dark.
So you have a concept for everything right down to the staging.
I do. Im going to sell the disco babies, too. Theyll be miniature and you can squeeze its belly and itll say Im too sexy for this club, OK? I want everyone to have a disco baby. Its fun! We live in such a gloomy time right now, people need a little fun.
Your debut album, The Electrick Hotel, comes out in February. What happens there?
My disco vagina is more for my stage show. For the concept of the album, its similar to the vagina thing but its like, Im a hotel. Youre my guest when you put my album on. Youve come to stay with me. When youre pressing play, youre checking into my hotel. Im going to take care of you and hope you enjoy each song. Each song is a different room and a different vibe. Sexy People is the penthouse party. Then there are little piano songs that you might hear at the bar while crying into your martini. Its a very eclectic pop album. Sexy People is all about having a good time but my album has a lot more depth to it. It shows a lot more of my talents as a writer and as a vocalist. There are some wild concepts and some stark, sad songs as well. Youll get your moneys worth with The Electrick Hotel.
Why do you think pop music has had such a strong resurgence in the last few years?
Everything comes around again. Everything has cycles in life, from fashion to music to lifestyle changes in general. [A few years ago] in England we were having a real singer-songwriter phase. We were known for Corinne Bailey Rae and all the bands that were coming out there -- very simple music, which I love, but Im not that. Im very shiny. So I thought Ill go to America and write some songs, and the timing worked out perfectly. America certainly went through a very hip-hop phase and I think thats why Britney hit so hard. At the time it was super hip-hop and then a pop singer came along its was like Oh, thats refreshing! I think its the perfect timing for pop because my idea of pop is shiny and happy and digestible and fun and tongue in cheek. So in gloomy economic times, in gloomy times in the world in general, what better time for a bit of sparkle?
How are you different from the other female pop singers currently on the charts?
Mainly that Im mixed race. Its fairly unusual to see darker girls, if you like, doing pop -- unless its urban pop. Mine is super pop. So thats one thing. Also, Ive written my songs and written for many artists -- like Lady Gaga has done -- and you have to give pop artists props for that because its a different skill to write songs and to produce a song and to create your own stage show than just singing in a studio. A lot -- not all, its getting better now -- of pop artists just sing other peoples songs. Im proud to say that I write my own songs. Its purely my own vision coming out then. From the songs, to the stage show, to the fashion -- its all me. I love Gwen Stefani -- I saw her yesterday -- and shes another bad-ass chick who is consistently doing her own thing. Shes not recording songs that have been shopped around to all the labels and then bought for the highest price and thats important. So my ethnic heritage, plus the fact that I write, plus I just get up on stage and do whatever and say whatever I think -- Im a very unrestrained pop artist.
Have you ever been writing a song for someone else and thought I can't bring myself to give this one away?
Oh, that definitely happens, but I put myself in seasons. Last year, for example, I was in songwriter season. I wasnt writing for myself, I was writing for other people and I adore writing for other people. Its like acting. I get to play Britney for a bit or Sean Kingston for a bit -- songs I would never sing myself but that I enjoy writing. Its fun for me. So last year I wasnt even really thinking about my own album but did write a couple of songs that are actually on my album. I just couldnt give them away!
The first single is Sexy People. What do you find sexy?
Im a mess when it comes to men! Everything else Im pretty good at, but when it comes to men, Im a joke. I like men that are secure in themselves. I tend to go for quirky intelligent people who can keep up with my crazy world.
Do you have a type?
Do you mean visually?
Yeah. Like I tend to go for the boy next door type.
I thought I did but if I named you my last few boyfriends, theres no consistency. Im a total chemistry person. I could sit here and say I love blond hair and blue eyes -- which I do [laughs] -- but I also like dark-haired Latin boys. Im equal opportunity. As long as theyre cool, secure in themselves, funny, tall preferably, have good morals and want the same things as me.
It must be hard to find the time to date.
It is. I meet the same man in a different body -- a producer, an actor, a musician -- and I made the conscious decision the other day that I wasnt going to date anymore guys like that because its like two crazy people together. Ive been thinking dating a banker might be nice.
Right. Stable --
I want to, but where do I meet those people? Have your readers send their answers in on a postcard --
Um, but --
Oh, right. Theyre all gay. [Laughs]
Yeah, thats probably not going to do you much good.
I actually had an incident not that long ago with my then-boyfriend that raised some suspicions.
Hell kill me if he reads this, but I wont use his name. I found Adam4Adam [a gay website for finding sex partners] on the computer.
And I was like, Whats that? And then I realized and thought This is not good.
Did you confront him?
I did. He said he didnt know what I was talking about.
What else could he say?
He was denied it and dropped the subject and that was the end of that. I do have a crush right now, though. Hes a baseball player -- I havent met him before. I dont have a lot of time to think about boys and so when I do its usually guys in magazines [laughs]. Thats all I can squeeze in right now.
"Sexy People" is now available on iTunes and The Electrick Hotel will be released in February 2010. For more info on Lolene and for a full list of tour dates, head to her MySpace page.