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Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News: Still mad about Belinda Carlisle

Belinda Carlisle is the definition of a music legend. From her beginnings as drummer Dottie Danger, an interim member of L.A. punk band the Germs, to co-founding the all-female band the Go-Go’s, where her trademark vocal belt and distinctive dance moves made her all the rage, Carlisle grabbed our attention and never let go. After three albums with the Go-Go’s, Carlisle launched a successful solo career, even earning a Grammy nomination for the song “Heaven Is A Place On Earth.” She regrouped with her former band members for 2001’s “God Bless the Go-Go’s,” reissued in an expanded edition in 2021, and has toured with the band (who were the subject of an acclaimed 2020 documentary) on and off for years. The host of “Mad About Music” on SiriusXM’s 1st Wave channel, Carlisle, the mother of a gay son, is also known for her activism for the LGBTQ community. For her new five-song EP “Kismet” (BMG), Carlisle has teamed up again with Diane Warren (writer of Carlisle’s hit single “I Get Weak”) for a delightful set of tunes. Belinda made time for an interview in advance of the EP’s release.

She is performing in D.C. as part of “A Capitol Fourth,” PBS’ annual Independence Day celebration on the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn.

WASHINGTON BLADE: Your new EP is titled “Kismet,” which is defined as destiny or fate. Would it be fair to say that it was kismet that you would work with Diane Warren again?

BELINDA CARLISLE: It was complete kismet [laughs] That’s what it was. I mean I wasn’t planning to really do anything new. My son (James) ran into Diane at a coffee shop in L.A., and she asked, “What is your mom doing? Let’s call her.” She called me and said, “Come to the studio. I have some songs for you.” I was like, “Oh my God! Do I really want to do this? It’s a big commitment.” But you can’t say no to Diane. I went to the studio, and she played me the most amazing songs. It was almost like the universe saying you’re not meant to slow down right now. So, here I am talking to you.

BLADE: Your history with Diane goes all the way back to your 1988 hit single “I Get Weak.” What makes Diane the kind of songwriter whose compositions are a good fit for you?

CARLISLE: She has a really good sense of what I am, who I am, how my voice sounds, and everything. I have a good sense of that, too, thank God. As with any songwriter, including Diane, I just know it right off melodically. There’s a type of melody that’s a little bit melancholic, but very beautiful in the same way that “Big Big Love” is on “Kismet.” She played me songs that I just knew would be good for me, and that she thought would be good for me, too. She was right! We were both in agreement on most everything creatively with this.

BLADE: Last summer, “Entertainment Weekly” included your rendition of “I Get Weak” on its list of “The 20 best Diane Warren songs.” What does it mean to you have made that list?

CARLISLE: It is an amazing song, and to be on that list…I had no idea. She’s written for everybody, so it’s quite a compliment I would say.

BLADE: I really like the song “I Couldn’t Do That To Me,” and I’m glad you included a power ballad on the EP. Can you say something about how you approach ballads, as opposed to more rhythmic or rocking tunes?

CARLISLE: That is really hard to nail, generally, not just vocally, but usually production-wise, too. I’m working with Mati Gavriel, who produced everything. It was like that song had to have a little bit of restraint and then build it, but it was strange because we didn’t know what kind of approach we were going to take with that song. It kind of revealed itself in the studio when I was doing the background vocals on that song. It started reminding me a little bit of “Nothing Compares 2 U.” I wanted it to have that element of restraint. I think we achieved that. I think it’s an amazing song and it’s one of my favorites off the EP.

BLADE: “Big Big Love” sounds like it could become a summer tea-dance classic…

CARLISLE: …[laughs] I hope so!

BLADE: Especially in the hands of the right DJ or remixer. What would it mean to you to have the LGBTQ community embrace the song and take it to the top of the Billboard Dance chart?

CARLISLE: That would be it for me! To be able to walk into a gay bar seeing it on the monitor or blasting? That would be amazing. My son, who you probably know is gay, is like, “Mom! This could be amazing in the clubs.” I hope so!

BLADE: “Sanity” is by far the most dramatic track on “Kismet.” It’s the kind of number you could imagine a drag queen having a field day with. Have you encountered drag queens doing Belinda Carlisle numbers over the years, and if so, did you have a favorite performer and song?

CARLISLE: I haven’t really seen somebody as me singing, no. But I would love that. “I Couldn’t Do That To Me” would be perfect, or “Sanity” or “Heaven (Is A Place On Earth.” I mean there’s plenty to pick from through the years. That would be epic.

BLADE: Speaking of drag queens, the LGBTQ community, especially the drag and trans communities are under attack from conservatives across the country, and around the world. As the mother of a gay son, as well as a longtime ally, do you have any thoughts about that?

CARLISLE: I don’t understand non-acceptance. It’s hard for me to get my head around. I think it’s very sad. My son came out when he was 14. What kind of world is he going to live in? What kind of world is it going to be for him? Since then, it’s been like 10 steps forward and then five back. We’re in five back period right now. It’s heartbreaking. But I think you just have to keep at it. Hopefully, we’ll get to a place where there’s acceptance of everyone. That’s all I can hope for.

BLADE: Back to “Kismet,” for a moment. Is there any possibility that these songs might be incorporated into a full-length album, or that you have a different full-length album in the works?

CARLISLE: I have a completely separate project that we started doing before the pandemic with Gabe Lopez, who is a great songwriter. He works on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and all sorts of stuff for RuPaul. He’s a great artist, himself. I have a project with him that I have to finish, which I’ll probably finish early next year. I don’t ever plan things. I just kind of wing it as I went along. Working with Diane and Mati was such an amazing experience that I’m totally open to doing something else. I don’t know what that is. I don’t know when, because my life is pretty full, but if something comes along that I love, I’ll make time for it, for sure.

BLADE: Do you have plans to perform live shows in support of “Kismet”?

CARLISLE: I have a string of dates on the East Coast in July, and I have a string of dates on the West Coast in August. I have Australia at the end of the year. People can go to the Facebook page and see what those dates are; they’re up there.

The post Still mad about Belinda Carlisle first appeared on Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News.

The post Still mad about Belinda Carlisle appeared first on Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News.

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