Interviews


Let’s start with our first interview !

Stage door :

Theresa Rhodes


Ten years ago I have had the great pleasure to see a fabulous concert given by Theresa Rhodes and her band

«One for the road», in a jazz club called «Chat noir» in Geneva (Switzerland).

The performance was excellent and captured the public.

After the concert, my CD of «SAVE TOMORROW» in hands, I asked Theresa to sign it for me.

We chatted for a few moments together and I really keep good memories of that meeting.

I recently made contact with Theresa and asked her to offer me this interview. To my delight she agreed,

and I am very happy to share it with you today.


Many thanks to Theresa for her kindness.


BD - JANUARY 2012


_______________________________________


    Theresa,

 

    Thank you very much for giving us this interview. 

 

    Let's start with your beginnings as a musician. How did you come to music, and what have been your musical influences?

 

    My mother taught me the guitar from an early age. At school in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) my voice was noticed and I took part

    in the church choir and musical comedies. Later I would jam with musician friends and do backing vocals in various bands.

    My first recording experience came in 1972 in Switzerland with a college band called “Hand” and the album “Everybody’s own”.

    In my youth, I followed the English pop scene (starting with the Beatles and the Stones) but also listened to a lot of folk singers such as  Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchel, etc. My greatest influence at the time was an American Indian folk singer called Buffy St Marie,

    a remarkable singer-song-writer and performer.

 











                                                                                     





      «With my mother’s guitar»

 

   You have worked with Jermaine on your song "Save Tomorrow", from your album "Quiet Storm". Before talking about 

    your work together, I would like to ask you how this song came about ?


In 1993, I composed my first song, “Save Tomorrow”, on a beautiful 12 string Martin guitar given to me by my husband. This guitar had been ordered for us by Steve Howe (of “Yes”), thanks to our friend Paul Sutin, the owner of a state-of-the-arts recording studio in Geneva. The melody and words of this song came to me as a “cri du cœur”: I was outraged by the atrocities of the war in the former Yugoslavia. I sang the song to a large audience at the United Nations on “International Women’s day” accompanied on the guitar by Kiet N’guyen with whom I later formed the band “One For The Road”. It was a great success. With another talented friend of mine, Peter Rebeiz, I was encouraged to record a second classical version of the song with a full orchestration.


   In 1994, Jermaine heard your song and a beautiful artistic adventure followed.

 

    I met Jermaine in 1994 at a house party given by his cousin. I told him I had written my first song and asked him how I should go about     promoting it. He kindly told me that he would listen to it and would call me back. This he did a week later, and, much to my surprise, he asked me to find a recording studio where we could try our voices together. You can imagine my excitement! I called my friend Paul Sutin at Dinemec recording studio in Geneva. He welcomed us with open arms.

 












«With Jermaine in 1994»

 How did you work together on this project? I am thinking in particular about the recording sessions, and also about the arrangements (overdubs, etc...). We can see a picture of you in rehearsals with (among others) Jermaine, Isaac Hayes and Greg Phillinganes (Michael Jackson's legendary keyboard player). What can you tell us about this encounter?

 

We recorded a first version of the song with Peter Rebeiz’s classical arrangement. Jermaine insisted on singing no more than one verse on his own and all the refrains in harmony with me. I was very impressed by his calmness, kindness, simplicity and professionalism. A few weeks later, Jermaine called me on a Saturday morning and told me to jump on a plane to London for a rehearsal in the afternoon, followed by an open concert the next day in the vicinity of London! I would be his special guest performer and we would sing “Save Tomorrow” together for a crowd of 5’000. That same afternoon, I found myself singing with the “Dream Band” (Rory Kaplan, keyboard player and organizer of the band; Greg Phillinganes, keyboard player; Jeff Berlin, bass player; Steve Ferone, drummer; Hossan Ramzi, percussionist) accompanying Isaac Hayes and, of course, Jermaine. I will never forget this afternoon and especially Isaac’s extraordinarily funky rendition of “shaft” with this unbelievable band.

 









«With Greg Phillinganes, Isaac Hayes, Jeff Berlin and Jermaine in 1994.»

The next day went fantastically well: It was a warm sunny day in the country. The band played softly in the background and the voices came out beautifully almost “a capella”. I had my first open concert ovation. After the show, Jermaine took me apart and told me that he felt the song would have a far greater impact with a modern rhythmic arrangement and that we should record a new version of the song. So we decided to hire Matt Clifford, who had recently finished Mick Jagger’s solo album, to make a new arrangement for us. This he did in December 1994 at Paul Sutin’s Dinemec Studio. Jermaine came back to Geneva for the recording. With the single in hand, we were soon signed up by an independent label in Germany and booked for a two-week tour of that country for the end of the summer.

 









«With Jermaine and 3 of his boys, Isaac Hayes, and the “Dream Team” in 1994.»

 

Could you share with us a special memory of Jermaine during this musical adventure and tell us how the song was it received by the public and the media?

 

Jermaine’s beautiful wife, Alejandra, as well as my husband accompanied us on this “magical tour” of Germany on a large bus with all the amenities. The tour had been very well organized by Andreas Weihs, the owner of the label, and in 12 days, from 23 August to 4 September 1995, we managed to cross the country. We worked in Köln/Bonn, Hamburg, Berlin, Potsdam, Dessau and Dresden, participated in 25 TV and radio shows, gave interviews and many performances.










«With Andreas Weihs, Jermaine and Alejandra, on tour in Germany in 1995.»

Since our tour coincided with NATO’s intervention in Sarajevo, there was great interest and we were able to promote “Save Tomorrow” on Prime News programs as well as on entertainment shows. We worked hard but also had many laughs and truly enjoyed ourselves. Our song “Save Tomorrow” climbed to number 10 on the Berlin Radio chart. Fans were waiting for us wherever we went and we signed hundreds of autographs and received as many fan letters. It was a most wonderful experience to work with such an incredibly generous and talented professional. Simply unforgettable !

 














« Several pages from my souvenir album… some fun encounters during TV and Radio shows, notably with the group “La Bouche” and the Playboy playmate of the month, Tina Roland.»

 









«With Jermaine in Annecy (France) by the lake in 1994.»

 

What are your future musical projects?

 

I am currently recording my latest songs with the help of wonderful French musicians. It will be the 7th album of my career and my third solo album. The difference, this time, is that rather than entrusting the arrangements to one talented artist, the musicians and I have been working together to arrange my compositions.

 











« My latest solo album: If you had only (2007)»


You can visit Theresa’s website at

www.theresa-rhodes.com


__________________________________________________________________




Our second interview

Stage door :

Franceska Aeschlimann


Franceska Aeschlimann is a multi-talented songwriter, lyricist, linguistic vocal producer and publisher.

Of Greek origin, she grew up in the U.S before settling in Switzerland. Her main work base is in London.

Her career is quite impressive and many international artists call upon her talents as a songwriter.

Franceska has also worked with Jermaine on different projects, and she very kindly agreed to talk about it in this interview.


BD - MARCH 2012


_______________________________________


Franceska, Thank you for accepting our interview.


You have a remarkable artistic career with a beautiful recognition of the profession, especially as a songwriter, that has

given you the opportunity to work with many international artists. Let me ask you this first question.

In your career, what was the trigger element that gave you the desire to become a songwriter?


Songs, music and lyrics were my passion from very young. I studied classical piano from the age of 6. One day, I sent out lyrics to

various artists, studios and producers. To my surprise I received a beautiful letter from Paul Anka from LA encouraging me in my work. Beginner’s luck, my very first song received the World Music Award in Monte Carlo shortly afterwards, and I worked with one of

David Bowie’s collaborators who produced the track.


How did you meet Jermaine Jackson, and in a few words how would you define this artist ?


I met Jermaine in Switzerland at his friend’s house in Geneva, Paul Sutin, who had a studio set up in his home. Jermaine was

staying there at the time and working on some songs. We hit it off really well and he loved my lyrics.

From there began our collaboration on I’m Feeling Good Right Now. You can define him as a natural pro, brilliant composer,

piano player and in my opinion, the best voice of the family.


In 1994, you have worked on the "The Jackson family honors" show, produced by Jermaine which took place in Las Vegas. What was your work on this project ?


I did not work on the first Jackson Family Honors show in 1994. I worked with Jermaine on producing the second Jackson

Family Honors show beginning in 1997. I was co/producer of this project, and I also wrote the scenario for the show.

I had stayed at the family home in Encino for a couple of weeks. I must say that Katherine Jackson was an amazing lady

and welcomed me warmly into her home with great hospitality. This show was originally organized to be done in Athens,

Greece. Michael had shown great enthusiasm in the project and promised to support us. But plans changed, and then the idea

of the scenario was used in Korea by Michael for the Michael Jackson and Friends Charity Concert.



















«Franceska and her sons, with Katherine Jackson and Alejandra, during their stay at the Jackson home in Encino.

This photo was taken by Jermaine »



To my knowledge there are two singles from Jermaine for which you wrote the lyrics, released under the Full-space music label. "I'm feeling good right now" released in 1999, and "Strange what desire can do" released in 2000.

Can you tell us more about this collaboration ?


Yes, but I believe that I’m Feeling Good was first released in 1996 and Strange What Desire Can Do in 1997. I believe that the dates

you mention were releases of new mixes of the songs. Jermaine called me and said he had the title down for the song he was doing with Lydia, I’m Feeling Good (Right Now), but asked me if I could write out the rest of the lyrics for him.

Lydia was an Italian friend of Jermaine’s for many years. We went to Italy with Jermaine to promote the track and did a small

promo tour with Lydia. The single went to top ten of the dance charts in Italy, France, etc.

We had also gone to Midem with this song and a promo was done on the song there too.

Those were the good ol’ days of Midem at that time!


Strange What Desire Can Do was recorded last minute while in the studio in Paris with producer Stephan Belolo, right after the

I’m Feeling Good promotion. Jermaine loved this song that I had co/written with Chris Eaton in London.

It was unfortunately only released in Paris for a short while in a very limited edition.

I remember leaving the studio and taking a cab to the airport with Jermaine. Jermaine had a copy of the recording he had just made of Strange What Desire Can Do and wanted to have a listen to it. He asked the cab driver to put the CD in the player.

The cab driver agreed, but had no idea that it was Jermaine Jackson sitting in his cab. When the driver heard the recording of the song,

the first thing he said was, « Oh’, this is Michael Jackson singing ! ». I responded « No,its Jermaine Jackson» . The cab driver was

quiet surprised to realize that Michael’s brother was sitting in the cab. But I must also admit, it did sound exactly like Michael.


Have you worked on other projects together and there are there any others to come ?


We were collaborating a few months ago on a charity project in South Africa with a South African classical/ crossover pop group that I work with and their management, but due to unforeseen events, it had to be cancelled. This group that I have also written songs

for is Il Quinto and their album is Facing a Miracle.


How is going the studio work with an artist like Jermaine Jackson ? Is there a certain way of working, for the voice

recording, the instrumentation or the arrangements ? Or does Jermaine leave some freedom to his collaborators ?


Jermaine is at ease in the studio. He’s pro at putting down a great vocal, so it was always relaxed working with him. Jermaine is open about sharing ideas, so yes, he leaves freedom and puts trust in his collaborators.


In Jermaine's discography, is there an album that you like particularly ?


You Said.


What are your future projects ?


Now writing songs for new album releases. Working with some great production teams in New York, London.

A new updated website on my work is in progress :

www.franceskaaeschlimann.com


Please bear with us for the preparation of the new website for further developments.

For the moment, you can visit myspace.



Meanwhile you can have a look at youtube to check out some videos on a few of my chart hits and releases :


Valeriya/ no. 1 Russian pop diva/ Nox Music/ The Party’s Over/ top ten in pop charts Russia/ no.3 UK dance charts

(New York Times and USA and Russian Billboard magazine)

See the video


Valeriya/Back to Love/ 2nd place Russian Eurovision selection/ International Organisation of Human Trafickking.

See the video


Mario Frangoulis/ International classical/ crossover artist/ Sony

Sleeping Princess/ album Season of Love/ Platinum in Greece

See the video


Mario Frangoulis/ Sony/ just recently released album/ Beautiful Things/ Time For Me.

Official website

See on Amazon


Il Quinto/ Where Does Love Go/ Showtime Records/ South Africa/

See the video


Il Quinto/ The Arms that Take me Home

Listen here


Abir Nehme/ Murex dÓr (Grammy) winner for best new singer in the Middle East

Only the Desert Knows

See the video


La Vuvuzela/ South African girl group/ If I Could/ went to no. 5 on official South African pop charts

in front of Britney and Pink.



__________________________________________________________________



Our third interview

Stage door :

Jay Gruska



Born in Brooklyn, N.Y, Jay Gruska is a composer, songwriter, and producer.

During his impressive artistic career, working both for the music industry, for films, and for television, Jay has collaborated with Jermaine on his album «Dynamite» as co-writer of the song "TELL ME I'M NOT DREAMIN’ ", a duet with

the legendary King of Pop: Michael Jackson.

The song stayed at #1 on the Dance charts for over 3 weeks, went gold, and had a Grammy nomination for best vocal duet.

Jermaine also features on Jay’s album: «Wich one of us is me» released in 1984 for Warner Bros records.


BD - APRIL 2012






















Jay, you are co-songwriter of the song " Tell Me I'm Not Dreamin' (Too Good To Be True) ", how have you been involved to work on this song ?


Michael Omartian called and asked me if I wanted to cowrite a song for Jermaine's record it took me 3 seconds to say yes. I had just done my own solo album and did some work at Michael's studio, which is where I first met Jermaine, who ended up singing on

one cut of my record. 


What has been your reaction when you were offered you to collaborate on the song?


Excited both to work again with Michael O and Bruce Sudano and for it to be a song for Jermaine. When I found out it would be

a duet, it could not have been more exciting.


A simple question, but I position myself as a fan:

How it is « Michael and Jermaine Jackson » in the studio?


Well, unfortunately I was only in the studio when we recorded the rhythm track so I was not there when Michael and Jermaine

sang it.

But Omartian told me it was effortless for them.

 

What memories do you keep of this extraordinary encounter with these two talented brothers?


Exciting to be in the vicinity of what was a peak point in their careers. And a lot of fun to hear it so much on the radio.


As a professional, can you tell us what makes the characteristic of Michael and Jermaine on an artistic level ?


Professional on every level superb singing and outstanding musicianship.  Much attention to detail and no one grooves harder. 


In 1984 Jermaine is invited to participate on your album: «Wich one of us is me», tell us more about that other collaboration


It was very simple, I asked him if he would sing background vocals on one song and he said yes.  Very easy and pleasurable

to work with him. 












« Jay’s album, featuring Jermaine on the song: Desperate Eyes »



Have you worked on other musical projects with Jermaine ?


No. Just "Tell Me I'm Not Dreamin'" and my solo record for Warner Brothers. 


What are your own projets to come ?


I do the music for a TV series called Supernatural (my seventh year) and I have a musical opening in

Theatreworks/Palo Alto California in April of 2013 called "Being Earnest".


Thank you,

JG


You can visit Jay’s website at

www.jaygruska.com



__________________________________________________________________



Our fourth interview

Stage door :

Randall Wyn Fullmer


Randall Wyn Fullmer is an american luthier, native of Richland Washington, and now based in Woodland Hills, California where his workshop is located.

Few months ago, Randall has collaborated with Jermaine on the design and realization of a custom bass for him. To our delight, Randall tells us about this artistic adventure and the meeting of their two talents.


BD - JUNE  2012


How have you met Jermaine, and how came the idea of creating a customized bass for him ?


I was introduced to Jermaine by Dammo Farmer, a very accomplished young LA bass player and music producer.  Dammo was playing a Wyn bass at the time and was working on a project with Jermaine.  Jermaine was quite interested in the bass that I had built for Dammo and eventually came over to my shop.  He seemed to really like my shop and my artistic approach to bass building.  He asked

me if I had any interest in building a "signature Jermaine bass" for him.  I'm always game for a challenge and he is "Jermaine Jackson" so I said to myself, let's explore this thing and see where it goes!!


If I am correct, the bass represents Jermaine's signature with a double J, and the letters of his name on

the fretboard. How did you collaborate together on the form of this instrument ?


Jermaine has a logo that he uses for a variety of creative design activities that he's involved with.  He and his wife design clothing and accessories and they use this logo for their company.  


He asked if there was any way that I could see myself building a bass for him with his "J" logo as the basic shape for the bass.  I told

him that I'd play with a variety of shapes based on his logo and see if it was possible.  I stretched the basic proportions of the J

in various ways and showed Jermaine the various options and which ones I thought would be the most successful from a playability standpoint.  He picked two favorites.  I next made a mach up bass out of fiber board.  Something that was full sized, that we could actually attach a guitar strap to and hang it around his neck.  I am a big proponent in working at full scale when possible.  You can really see when things are properly proportioned and if they're going to work or not when they are blown up to full 1 to 1 size.  


Jermaine came to my house and held the mach up bass.  He could see what it would be like with a guitar strap.  I could see it was all becoming real to him.  Jermaine has an infectious child like quality when he gets excited about something.  Pretty fun!!  


At this point, we narrowed it down to his favorite choice.  Amazingly enough, I was able to start seeing how the "J" shape could actually work from an ergonomic standpoint.   


  1. -What wood did you use for it ?  

  2. -

I used some of my favorite tone woods.  After all, this needs to be a great sounding bass.  I used Wenge from Africa and Eastern Rock Maple from the United States.  The top of the guitar is Ziricote from Mexico.  The body core is African Mahogany and the back,

figured Quilted Maple from Washington State.  I approach the woods in a guitar like I'm making a great stew with different

ingredients, all intended to work with each other.  The Maple and Wenge neck gives a low growl and punch with bright highs.  

The Ziricote top is

a pure bell like clear sounding wood, the Mahogany rounds the edges and gives a real mellowness to the tone. 


And then just to really make it a "Jermaine" kind of bass, I added  Swarovski crystals.  When we went out into the parking lot on a bright sunny California day, we flashed the guitar into the sunlight and threw light shards all around.  Again, that child like glee emerged from Jermaine!!  


Were there any special requierments from him about the sound, or the comfort of this instrument ?


Nothing in particular other than after 175 plus basses, I have a pretty good sense of what will make a comfortable playing guitar for someone.  Clearly the biggest challenge was to incorporate the "J" body shape and still make it a great sounding and playing guitar.  I must say I'm either a genius builder or pretty lucky.  I would put my money on choice number two, the lucky choice!   For a prototype which you expect to rework countless times until you get it right, we pretty much nailed a great playing and sounding bass the first time out.


It is rare to see Jermaine playing with a 5 strings bass, as he is used to play with a 4 strings bass.

Was it a request from him ?


I had also made a four string bass for Jermaine, a beautiful Quilted Maple blonde guitar.  This time out, a five string seemed like

the way to go.  That low B string can really rock the house!!


Before meeting Jermaine, did you know about his qualities as a bass player ? And on the occasion of your collaboration, 

how did you find his playing ?


Jermaine is great bass player.  When you have played as long as Jermaine has played, you can get a bit rusty if you haven't been touring recently, but it all comes back in about ten minutes.  He sat down with the bass and just started thumping.  I thought well, he's still got it.  After ten minutes, I thought, okay, this guy can cook!!  One of the complete joys I have as a bass guitar maker is to hear what my instruments sound like in the hands of true professionals.  I hear sounds sometimes I didn't know were there.  That is a hint to everyone about my bass playing skills.  I can play, but nothing like these professional cats!!  They come from a different planet!!



Do you have a favorite JJ song ?  


Wow, who can pick just one??  I'll give you four early jackson 5 songs that are so classic I think they will be player 200 years from now.  ABC. I'll Be There, I Want You Back, and Never Can Say Goodbye.  Pure gold I tell ya!!



What are your projects to come ?


I currently have 45 orders for custom basses that I'm working on.  This is somewhere around a year and a half worth of work.  I like

to be able to slip in a creation of my own once in a while, just to try new wood combinations and even shape combinations, but the orders are keeping me working pretty round the clock.  I'm not complaining!!  In this crazy economy the world seems to be experiencing, it's great to be busy.  I all of a sudden seem to have a number of 7 string bass orders.  That's my limit!!  If anyone orders an 8 string, I'm just going to tell them that they're out of control and they need to reassess their entire life!!


Signing off, back to the sawdust and glue,   Randall Wyn Fullmer


You can visit Randall’s website at www.wynguitars.com

and watch the trailer of a new documentary on Randall’s art here