Donna Destri is a truly talented singer who sang backup vocals on the Blondie album No Exit. In addition, she sang with Jayne County, Ronnie Spector, Cherry Vanilla and many more groundbreaking bands. On top of that, she’s worked with producer Steven Jones (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcGmfTc9HCo&feature=youtu.be). She grew up around musically-talented family members to boot. Her uncle was the drummer for Joey Dee and the Starlighters, and her brother, Jimmy Destri, wrote lyrics and played keyboards for Blondie. Yet, she is not merely known for her angelic voice, as she is also a great performer who can also play piano and keyboards—besides writing lyrics! In addition to her amazing musical career, she’s a mother and holds a master’s degree in literature. Recently, she teamed up with Fred Schneider (vocalist/frontman for The B-52s) on the stellar “FEEL” track and video!
GL: I adore your new track, “FEEL,” and the video for it at: http://youtu.be/rYWKgUopWRM. One of the best descriptions I’ve heard regarding it is that it’s ‘shimmering divinity’. How did you come to work with Fred Schneider on this? And, what part did Steven Jones play in it?
DD: Well, Gia, Steven loves collaborations and so do I. It’s always been a secret desire of mine to reproduce something akin to what This Mortal Coil did in the past, that is have a group of talented musicians, singers who would revolve around a core team that would play on tracks, sing backups, write and produce. In this case, that core would be Steven and I because we have such a similar musical sensibility. Steven had contacted Fred a couple of years ago initially, but then everyone got busy with other projects. It wasn’t until very recently that Fred phoned and said, “I’m back and available.” I had met Fred in the early days of Max’s Kansas City and Mud Club, so I think he was pleased that I was going to be involved as well. Fred wanted to do a dance track and Steven offered him a part on “Feel” which we had already recorded on our Empire State Neon EP. We wrote much of that EP on one of Steven’s trips here last year. It was such fun doing those recordings and if you listen closely you can hear us laughing in the mix. I knew from Fred’s personality that we would have just as much fun shooting the video for “Feel,” but I have to say that while recording the vocals at John Kilgore Sound, Fred was nothing but professional. You’ll probably never see them, but the outtakes from the video shoot are hilarious. At one point I fall through a scrim. It was like an episode of I Love Lucy—To that end, I will always refer to my collaboration with Fred as “Fred and Ethel.” There’s also a blackmail video of me and Fred doing a startling version of “If I Had a Hammer” on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan…amidst a heavy traffic of puzzled passersby!
GL: A glamorous version of “Fred and Ethel” maybe—now I really want to see those outtakes! LOL Switching gears, I recently watched Steven Jones’ YouTube message of forthcoming events regarding Etrangers Music, etcetera at: http://youtu.be/6CmFfgyWrZI You two have an EP collaboration coming out in October, correct?
DD: Yes, Transparent People was written by our good friend Angela Caruccio. Angela heads the Wicked 7 Booking and Public Relations Agency in London, and she is currently branching out into other places like Ibiza and Barcelona. We recorded her song, and Angela got several DJs from major clubs in London (Most notably Martin Bundsen, and Miss Luna) and Ibiza to do rather brilliant mixes of it. It is soon to be released on a German label and even before its release, the track has gotten some airplay on Ibiza Global Radio and London radio as well. The thing with remixes of the same song (especially remixes done by talented DJs) is that each one sounds so dramatically different that it’s like having four different songs on the EP. Angela has managed to hook us up with a diversely talented group of people. Steven and I also recorded another of her songs called “Music is the Medicine” and that was produced by the duo Loverdose. That mix actually went to the top ten of the Beatport Charts, and we were really pleased about that! I also did a vocal for an up and coming new DJ called Chris Galbraith. The tune is called Baby all Night Long, and it’s a really sexy track, I’ll tell you! In addition to doing these tracks, Angela has us do the voiceovers for a weekly Ibiza radio show. Our collaboration with her has been fruitful to say the least.
GL: Can’t wait to check out that track, too! Plus, I really enjoyed the interview you conducted at Punk Globe Magazine with Will Sid Smith recently at: punkglobe.com/willsidsmithinterview0913.php. Will you be interviewing for Punk Globe more in the future?
DD: It’s funny, GL, I really think that I have a sixth sense sometimes about people…it’s either that, or I should have been a personal manager or PR person, because I think that I can really predict when someone will be hugely famous. I said it about Debbie Harry when I used to see her in small little clubs. I feel the same thing about Will Sid Smith. For someone so young, he writes and sings with a passion, maturity and sincerity that would be common in someone far beyond his tender age, and I think he’s going to be a pop sensation. He’s just got that “it” factor in much the same way as Debbie had it so many years ago. Therefore, it was a joy to interview him because I feel like I will have been there before he hits it really big. He is such a gentleman and so very astute for someone so young! He really made my job super easy, and, yeah, I would love to do more for Punk Globe. I love Ginger, and I think the magazine really has staying power…which is a perfect segue to your next question, I think! LOL
GL: Yes, it is…thank you! That’s been happening a lot recently. Either I have a bunch of wonderful super psychic friends or I’m getting too predictable—really hope it’s the former! LOL So, what is it that makes Punk Globe such a good read, and why do you think it’s had such amazing staying power?
DD: What makes Punk Globe such a good read and what makes it have so much staying power, I think, is the whole premise of what it is based on. I’ve always felt that more than the fashion and the music, Punk is an attitude, and Ginger and the magazine embody that attitude—that sense of rebellion and flying in the face of conformity. Moreover, she always manages to get people that are very interesting, edgy and current—and “Hot Gossip” is oh so much fun. I mean, there’s a reason an online magazine has such a huge following that it gets more that 400,000 hits some weeks. I think that says a lot about its entertainment value and readability.
GL: I certainly agree! What other projects do you have in the pipeline for the tail end of 2013 and heading into 2014?
DD: Basically, we hope to do more collaborations, maybe a live show or two or three in Europe when Transparent People is released. Who knows, maybe a live show or two here…I’m also hard at work putting the finishing touches on a forthcoming Donna Destri EP called London. It’s going to be a bit of a departure from dance music. The songs are kind of dark and moody and it will even showcase my piano playing on one track, so I’m rather excited about that. Steven and Ashi (AKA Francis Perry) will produce that one. I have to say, it’s been a really exciting ride for me these last couple of years, and I’m so thankful to the people who have brought me back to life in so many ways…and I thank you, GL, for your time and your interest. Peace.
GL: Thank you so much for your time, Donna. It’s always a pleasure and an honor.