Dana Fuchs Band | Influences on Style and Balance

Dana-Fuchs 75If I just gave people a good time I’m going to have a good time, and everybody will be happy.

 Dana-Fuchs 500

Dana Fuchs Band plays LIVE at the Glamaphone venue in St. Louis, Mo. on Aug. 15. SAVE THE DATE! Fuchs is touring the Midwest and Northeast for the next four months, coming to a city near you. Check out her mixed genre show with soulful words and music. Fuchs has a very catchy and unique voice that will make her music a favorite as soon as you hear it!


We’re here today with Dana Fuchs…Dana, how are you?

I’m good. It’s good to be here.

Great. Well, why don’t you tell me a little bit about what you’ve been up to with your band… The Dana Fuchs Band.

I just got home last night from a two month tour overseas. It’s summer festival season over there right now. It’s been a whirl wind just about pretty much every day, from the French countryside to the cities. You can hear my voice…it’s a little raspy today. But it was a great tour, a lot of fun. My band arrives in New York tomorrow, and then we all take off for Chicago, and then tour through the Midwest and the Northeast for all of August.

Well, you’ve got quite a bit on your plate there. Can you tell me…

And then it’s back to Europe.

That’s huge… going overseas and getting that kind of…well your fan base. What is your fan base like there?

The festivals were all amazing. I mean, we literally had more than 10,000 people a night… crammed up to the stage sweating and screaming and having so much fun. Those kinds of shows are just super charged energy.

I can’t even imagine. It sounds awesome.

It was a lot of fun. It was very exciting.

Well, just going back a little bit when did you recognize your musical talent? When did you really get into music?

I was pretty much into music my whole life. I’m the youngest of six kids, and all of them are musicians except for one brother. He never seemed to find a niche with any one instrument or singing. But the other four were quite musical. My oldest brother and sister had a band when I was really young. By the time I was 9 years old, I did a song with them. When the crowd applauded, I knew… Just that feeling of being on stage… It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. And, like I said, we had music playing non-stop. I had all their records and my classic rock stuff. My parents weren’t really musicians, but my mom was a singer when she was young, and my parents were really big music fans too. They were really into the old… like Ray Charles, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Stevie Wonder. I got a lot of that from them. The town I grew up in was a small town in Florida. It was predominantly African-American, so… I remember my first grade teacher would sometimes take me to her house and play Donna Summer and all this funk music… it was great.

Well, that’s cool, and it does give you some sort of a base of what you like and what you don’t and what your style is. Would you say that your style is based on a combination of all that?

Absolutely. You know, every CD is made… we just made our third studio CD, and people say the same thing. At first… the first CD we were trying to shop it to a major label. When you are shopping to a major label, they want to identify a style. They like… either you’re country or rock and roll or you’re like R&B or blues or one of those themes, or “What are you?” And this is so frustrating because I’m all of those things and you know, why should I try to find just one of them and not enjoy all of my influences. It really pours out. In today’s world of music especially, it’s about performing live a lot, more than just selling CDs, and people who love music love all kinds of music. No one usually likes one particular style of music. So, it’s very freeing now to just be able to own that and say, “I have country influences, I have rock and roll influences, R&B influences, blues influences, jazz… and let it all come out.

And not only that, when you do sell your CDs, you’re in those crossover markets, so that helps.

True, and I’m glad you said that. It was frustrating with the first CD to go and do with that, and now it’s become a positive thing because now you can cross over.

Well, excellent. So where are you based out of?

Now we live in Harlem in New York City.

Oh yeah?

Yeah, I’m a Harlem girl.

So you just kind of travel to where you’re going to play next and go home when you’re weary.

Yeah, that’s it exactly. We started June 19. I’m home just today and tomorrow and then out, really, non-stop until Oct. 14.

Wow, that’s a heavy schedule.

It’s pretty heavy. It’s four months. It’s the longest I’ve done. But because of the new CD, you know, we have to get out there and hit as many people as we can with a live show.

Well, that’s how you do it. You know that, so go get ’em…


So, are there any sort of rituals you perform before a performance?

Yeah, I really very consistently have to have at least a half an hour by myself back stage. I do some vocal warm up, a little meditation, and I just kind of center myself. I always say this little mantra, you know, a mantra, a prayer, whatever you believe in. I always say, “Let me give the people a good time,” because I know in that case I will have a good time. When I first started out, I would say, “I gotta do good tonight, I gotta do good tonight.” But then I realized that wasn’t the point. If I just gave people a good time I’m going to have a good time, and everybody will be happy.

Right, exactly.

So, that’s my little pre-game ritual that I’ve had for the last few years.

That’s good. I think sometimes it helps to get yourself centered and balanced to get ready and go out and sing to the masses.

You have to. You gotta really pull yourself off from people. I don’t mean my immediate band. They are the only ones I can really share space with before I hit the stage.

So, do you have a specific favorite performance that enlightened you or made a big impression on you in your career?

So many. I mean the first person that comes to mind is when I first moved to New York, I was about 19 years old. I met my guitarist who I write all the songs with, John Diamond. You know, we produced these records together. I didn’t really know who a lot of the older, R&B guys were. I knew who Otis Redding was, but I didn’t know a lot of his music. I of course knew about “Sitting On the Dock of the Bay” and all his favorites. John then showed me this video of him playing “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” at the Monterey Pop Festival, and… I’m getting goosebumps remembering it. I was just sitting there. I know my mouth must have been gaping wide open, and I just cried, and I thought, Jesus Christ, I want to have that spirit on stage some day. I want to be so inside a song like that someday. You could see the people were just feeding off of it. He was relatively unknown and at a hippie festival. He even said that to the crowd, and he just transported these people and me watching it. That was like THE most inspiring performance I had ever seen, and it was really… like at that very moment I was like, ‘I have to do this.’ At that point there was no turning back.

Well, I will say I’ve listened to your music, and you have a dynamite voice and you do have that soulful sound. You kind of have that Janis Joplin voice that comes across. I think you have an awesome talent.

Thank you. I appreciate that so much, Marsha. Thank you.

No, that’s true. I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t so.

That’s so cool to hear. Could you repeat that?

That’s great. I was having my boyfriend listen to it, and he was just like, “Wow, that’s really good.” So he appreciated it as well.

That’s awesome. Thank you.

So, have you had a most embarrassing moment on stage?

Oh, I’ve had a few. What’s my favorite? Recently, I was in Denmark, and I couldn’t remember one city from the next, and I thought I was still in Norway, and I was telling this whole story to the Norwegians I thought I was talking to and why Norway was important to me and how this song is a song I always sing in Norway, and I’m really getting into it. People, in retrospect, were looking at me a little blankly. My guitarist leans over and says, “That’s a really sweet story, but you’re in Denmark.” But they laughed.

Aw, well, you know, hey… it happens to everybody I’m sure. I know I was at a Madonna concert and she said, “St Louis, Minnesota” or something like that. She was completely off, but it happens, especially when you are touring so much.

Also, in Denmark two years ago, my entire top fell off literally in the middle of a show. And, I’m not that confident with my body, so trust me it was really… it was a very loud song, and this was a really new top I had on, and it was really kind of loose in the shoulders. It was just pinned and it dropped.

Well, wardrobe malfunction.

That was a big, big wardrobe malfunction, and the press actually caught it. He didn’t print the shot, he just printed like right above the bra line. They did appreciate that I didn’t just stop the song, and I just then closed and left the stage. I was horrified.

I bet. Wow. Well, if you can get by with that, you can do anything.

It’s true. I really finally realized a few years back that you’ve got to own your warts. It’s like Andy Warhol said, “Show everybody your warts and then you’re not self conscious anymore and it doesn’t matter.”

Those are good words of wisdom. Do you have any other words of wisdom for up and coming musicians that are trying to break into the music scene?

Do it because you love it. Of course, we all, especially when we start out, have this fantasy of fame and good fortune and some recognition, but you just gotta really get good at what you’re doing, and enjoy it and stick with it. There are going to be so many naysayers along the way who say, “No you can’t do this, no you can’t do that.” I remember four years ago someone telling me, “Oh, you’ll never get into Germany,” and that’s one of the countries we tour the most.

You can’t listen to naysayers.

You cannot listen to naysayers, and you gotta go with your gut and don’t let your gut get skewed by anybody who says you can’t do something. It’s just not true.

No, I completely agree with that. Now, as far as your music goes, do you have a specific way you create a new song? Do you start with the music, do you start with the lyrics? Or maybe just a combination of both depending on the situation?

Exactly the latter. It’s like sometimes I’ll have a lyric completely written out, and I’ll send it to my guitarist. We write all the songs together. Other times, he’ll come up with a riff idea, and if we are in the same room he’ll play it for me, or if we’re not together, he’ll email it, and it will spark a lyric. Sometimes we’ll say, “Okay, we are sitting down to write,” and we’ll sit there for hours, and then it’s like “Oh shit do you want to go out for lunch?” Nothing’s coming, and then you start to get real bummed, and then all of a sudden one of us will spark an idea and the song will be written right there simultaneously. We are really, really varied. I read this great quote from Leonard Cohan who said, “Never wait for inspiration. Show up every day and if you sit there staring at a blank page eventually something will come.” It’s inspiration for amateurs. Of course, sometimes you are inspired, you’ve got this idea, and you want to record it or write it down and that’s great and can make for a great song. But you’ve also got to be willing to work when you don’t feel like it.

Right, exactly.

That’s with any job.

This is true. I was having a rough time today with myself getting into my spread sheets I had to go over. I came up with every excuse in the world to not sit there, but I got through it.

Good. Then you feel so much better.

Well, I think everybody has those off days. Now, when you listen to music do you listen more to the lyrics or more to the music?

It depends on the artist, you know? When I first started studying the blues, it was like, “Who do you like… Elton John, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones.” Then I listened to who they liked. A lot of those blues songs, some of them are very down to earth. Some of the lyrics are silly, and I couldn’t necessarily relate to… like growing up on tobacco road… but it was the voice and the music that really drew me into that genre, and then when I just needed lyrical inspiration, it was Bob Dillon, Tom Wade, Beatles, you know. Led Zeppelin is a great vocal and groove inspiration one. Some of their lyrics are a little out there… so whatever those lyrics are… and he admits that in interviews. He’s like, “What was I talking about?” Of course, he has some gorgeous lyrics too.

Well sure.

He’s really varied on the style. Steely Dan… there was a lot of Steely Dan on this tour. My sister was such a big Steely Dan fan, and I grew up hearing all of those records. We got back into listening to that, and that is where you listen to every lyric and the music with the family.

That’s interesting. It seems to me that in general, women have more of a tendency to listen to the lyrics, and men have more of a tendency to listen to the music. But you being a musician, it all comes together for you.

I think so. I think it really does. It’s an interesting point because my guitarist, I remember years ago, I would say we have to have the lyrics, and he’d say “What for?” It sounds good and feels good. He’s a little more particular now. He’ll say… “Ahhh, I think you can say that in a better way.” Now, he’s a little more critical, which I like. I prefer that. I remember our first dash of writing and our first CD, I was like “I’ll do the lyrics.” He was like, “fine.”

Well, it’s a good thing you were there to care, right?

Absolutely. Because if I can’t believe it, I can’t sing it.

I understand that. You have to feel that inflection in your voice, and that feeling in your voice is really what makes that song come across and makes it special for people.

You know, I think you are right. People can really tell when someone means what they are saying or when they are just kind of phonying it in.

Sure. Now, are you going to be playing in the St Louis area soon?

Yes, I’m going to be playing at the famous Glamaphone. I think that’s like August 15. My first time ever in this area. I’m nervous and excited. I hope you all will come.

I’m planning on coming and I’ll bring somebody too.

At least I have one person coming. Thank you, thank you. Of course, you’ll be our guest.

What time does it start?

I’m sure it’s probably an 8 o’clock show.

Okay. Well, I just wanted to make sure I had all that information because I wanted to put that out first and foremost.


And I want to thank you very much for your time, and it sounds like you are doing great. I wish you all the luck in the world. I’m sure things are going and the energy and the synergy is building, and I think that is fantastic and I wish you the best. I will be following you. I will definitely be there at your show, but if you ever come back to St. Louis again, I definitely would be interested in seeing you.

Oh, Marsha, thank you, and the support means a lot and these interviews all help. Stop by and say hi. I’ll make sure they have you on the list to come backstage. I would love to meet you.

Okay. Absolutely. I will be there, and I’ll ask for you, so I look forward to that. And again, best wishes with everything, thank you for the time and we will follow your success.

Thank you.

Well, you have a great evening, rest up, and hopefully you will get enough rest before you start your next tour.

That would be nice. I’m sure I’ll be relaxed. One more day should do it. | Marsha Buehler

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