05 juni, 2014

Intervju: Audrey Landers från "Dallas"

Underbara Audrey Landers är mest känd för rollen som Afton Cooper i åttiotalssåpan "Dallas", och som Val Clarke i filmatiseringen av musikalen "A Chorus Line". Men hon har även haft en framgångsrik sångkarriär med popsinglar som "Playa Blanca", "Manuel Goodbye" och "Little River", som alla sålde bra i Europa.

Jag har haft det stora nöjet att intervjua Audrey till min blogg. För att inget ska gå förlorat i översättningen har jag valt att publicera intervjun på engelska.

You've enjoyed a long and successful career both as an actress and a singer. But how did it all start?
I began acting and singing at a very early age. I acted in my first commercial, with my mum, when I was three years old. I began acting in all the school plays and local theater groups. When I was about thirteen I auditioned for a daytime drama, "The Secret Storm", and got the part of Joanna, a role I enjoyed for about two years.

One day, I opened up my script, which was to be taped in two days, and the stage directions said: "Joanna sings and plays guitar." I ran to my mum and asked her what I should do, and she said: "Well, I guess we'd better buy a guitar tonight!" So, that night, I taught myself a few guitar chords, and I took one of the poems I had written, and I wrote a song. That was the beginning. It went over so well, that the script would often call for me to sing my own songs. So I began to write, practicing every day.

Did your family support your career choice?
Yes, my mum, Ruth, has been my guiding light, my mentor, my manager, my best friend. We are also business partners in many different ventures. Ruth is brilliant.

Your music has been especially popular in Europe. Why do you think that is?
As a young teen, I had success in the US as a country artist. Then I began an acting career, starring in a soap opera. Even though the character I portrayed was a young singer, in those days, there were distinct lines between actors and singers. The perception was that if a person was an actor, then they couldn't possibly be a serious musician, which I was.

In fact, I was writing all my own songs from the time I was about thirteen years old. When I won the role of Afton in "Dallas", a European producer recognised my musicianship as well as the marketability for the European audiences. So this was a very long winded answer to basically say that the European audiences were more open, and were accepting me as an artist, not trying to fit me into one category.

How does the European music market differ from the American?
I'm not really sure about today's music market. In the eighties and nineties, my music appealed to young audiences as well as to more mature listeners. My songs were pop, I actually like to think of my style as "romantic pop", and that was probably why adults as well as teens enjoyed my music. You don't often find that in America, except in country music.

Which one of your own songs is your personal favourite?
That's a tough question. I couldn't say... Some are favourites because they were hits, and others are favourites because they are more personal, like a song from my Christmas album, titled "You Came To Me On Christmas". That is the title song, and I wrote it about my children.

My personal favourite is the "Secrets" album. I love your voice together with the cool late eighties synthesised sound. Also, the songs are a lot tougher than before. What are your thoughts on the album?
"Secrets" is also one of my favourite albums! It was one of the first albums where I was able to truly express my own personal music style, my writing and my vocal style. It had a more international appeal than my earlier releases.

I managed to get my hands on a compilation CD including the 1987 single "Teach Me How To Rock" by Rock Candy, a duo made up by you and your sister Judy. I'm curious to know how this project came about. The track is quite a treat for eurodisco fans like me.
That was so much fun! Judy is not specifically a singer, yet I really wanted to do a recording with her. We used to love to work together. The music career was strictly my thing. I was inspired to write in the eurodisco style when I began going out to dance clubs. I loved the style and the energy, it was pure fun! Now, when I look back on it, "Teach Me How To Rock" was almost a caricature of the disco era: the electronic tracks, the energy, the quintessential eighties sound effects, the breathy "sex appeal".

Could you tell us about when you got the part of Afton Cooper on "Dallas"?
I think every ingenue in Hollywood auditioned for that coveted role. "Dallas" was the new hot show, and the character was so well written, although she was originally only supposed to appear in a few episodes. One day, while the cast and crew left the soundstage for lunch break, I stayed in the studio and found a piano in the corner of the set. I began to quietly work on a song I was writing. Then the producer, Len Katzman, walked in and stopped to listen. I had no idea he was there.

The next thing I knew, the role of Afton had expanded, and the next scripts had Afton singing in local clubs. My songs became a focal point of my character. I wrote all the songs that Afton would sing.

Afton changed quite a bit during the show. She started out as a kind of "bad girl" and then matured and became nicer. Maybe a little bit too nice for her own good. Which Afton did you enjoy playing the most?
It's always fun to play the bad girl!

Could you share one of your fondest memories from the set of the original "Dallas"?
When I was on the set, I was always very much focused on my work. While other cast members were comfortable enough to make jokes and prank one another, that was not my comfort zone. However, my memories are of feeling as if I was part of a new family.

If you could come up with your own spin-off series with Afton as the main character, what would it be about?
I think that the writers began the story, but sadly I don't think that they are going to expand on it... Obviously, the fact that Afton's daughter has married JR's son, opens up vast possibilities for amazing story lines. If you recall, Afton's past included her loyalty to Cliff, as well as her scheming side. Afton was always motivated by love, for Cliff, for her daughter. Afton was a survivor, and ultimately, a winner. She could be a dynamic head of a corporation.

What was is like returning to "Dallas" for the new series?
It felt like I was returning home.

Season three hasn't aired here in Sweden yet. Is Afton returning this season and what has the show in store for the character?
Afton makes brief visits. Honestly, the feedback from the fans has been unanimous: that the show needs more Afton.

Here's a tough one: If you had to choose between singing and acting, what would you pick?
That is a tough one. Luckily, I've never had to choose.

Talent has been passed on to your handsome son Daniel who recently released a video for his single "Love Me Tonight". How did you react when he first said he wanted to get into show business?
I actually moved away from Los Angeles when my sons were very young, so that they would not want to be in show business. Obviously, that plan did not work! Daniel's twin brother, Adam, wants nothing to do with show biz, but Daniel has loved performing since he could talk. Once it was clear to me that Daniel had talent, and that show business was all that he wanted, I had no choice but to help my son follow his dream.

Daniel recently had a concert at legendary venues in New York City: Webster Hall, and The Bitter End. He now has about seventy original songs in his catalog, and he has self produced about twenty-five so far.

You have a huge gay following, myself included. Is this something you've noticed?
I never noticed, but, thank you! I never specifically noticed that my fans were of any particular sexual orientation, or colour, or religion, or nationality, or height, or weight, or hair colour. I'm obviously being a little sarcastic to make my point: All people are the same. People are people and all that matters is that they treat one another with kindness and respect. And if they like me, well, that's even better.

Have you been involved with any gay rights issues?
I am a hundred percent supportive of gay rights. I am outraged that discrimination exists. Growing up, and as a younger woman, I didn't realise that there was so much ignorance in the world, and that there were so many crucial human rights issues that needed to be changed, both politically, and socially. Ignorance is the root, and the results are devastating.

Last year, you released the album "Dallas Feels Like Home", featuring both old and new recordings. Could you tell us the story behind the it?
Several years ago, when I went to a "Dallas" reunion at Southfork, the fans asked me where they could buy the songs I sang on the show. I had never recorded those songs, and I promised that I would do so. It took a few years... My son, Daniel, created the backing tracks. It was great to sing those songs again. I also included a few other favourites of mine.

Are you planning on releasing new music in the near future?
I would love to. I am always working on music.

Finally, would you like to say something to all your fans worldwide?
I love the fact that I have so many wonderful and loyal fans around the world! I want to tell them thank you! Thank you for supporting me in my art, and for hanging in there with me! We are so fortunate to be able to be in touch. Technology is amazing! I hope that some day my son, Daniel, will be have this beautiful connection with his fans.

Följ Audrey på Facebook, Twitter och hennes officiella hemsida för senaste nytt. Daniel Landers finns också på Facebook och Twitter.