Well, it's been LONG overdue, but I finally have the second part of my Gioia interview. This is an amalgam of a prior one plus some recent updates. Sorry for the wait.
Gioia: Honestly, the best thing to do is just hum out what you like, hum out what you feel, and then I start to sing lyrics, and I then find my story and occasionally, my title. So, then I go back and I listen to what I did. Then it's like OMG! After that, I change things around, "let's move this part here, let's move that part there". And I get very involved in the production side and the arrangement side of it.That's now, after all these years. Initially—John, I never wanted to write. Someone told me a long time ago, I would be one, and I said "get outta here". But after I wrote my first song, I was hooked. And so now it's just incredible, and I've been mentored by some of the greatest writers inside and out of the country. I wrote a ballad with David, and it was just that process. It was a story about a person's life, and I could really understand it, so I went home with it...am I talking too much.
JRT: No, I was just going to ask you who are the people you mentored under.
Gioia: Oh! Ritchie Supa, who wrote Pink with Aerosmith. Sandy Lindzer, who is one of the finest songwriters in NYC, look him up, you'll find out a lot about him. Those two really stick out in my head.
Anyway, I went home and started writing these lyrics, and they were so heavy, so I called my writing partner on it, and told him "You have to hear this, I hope you're ready for this". And he was like "OMG, this is great". It's All about the story. There are songs on my record and honestly, they are dance tracks, sometimes there's a story there, other times it's just a vibe or a feel. I wish you could hear some of the music, I have so much music that nobody's ever heard. I don't care if its ever released. It's my outlet, it's my therapy, it's my love.
JRT: Speaking of the whole creative process, creating music videos, you're not doing much now but you did a lot back when you were with Expose', how did that process go about. Does a director just tell you what to do, do you have any creative input.
Gioia: We did have some creative input. I think the first few we didn't really have any input, we were just happy to have them. I remember the day, Jeanette and I were living together in an apartment in North Miami. I think she was on the stairs, got a phone call, and told me we got a video—I'm getting chills right now just thinking about it. She was so cute. It was so fun.
I don't remember having much say in that one, but as time went on, we would see storyboards, we were allowed to have creative input. Y'know, personally, they gave us a little more...
JRT: They gave you more creativity outside the recording process than inside of it. I understand.
Switching gears—So what have you been up to lately, and what are you really excited about?
Gioia: Ooh, good question! LIFE—and my new business! About 2 months ago, I was introduced to a company called BurnLounge. it's an digital entertainment company that allows anyone to profit from music and entertainment. I'm developing distribution and building a team across the country. We're also showing artists how to take control of their careers, control their content and image and own their masters.
And, of course, the most excited and unexpected 'BIG' thing going on right now—is Exposé of course!
JRT: Yeah, I've been hearing information about a reunion, so why don't you tell me about that.
Gioia: When I returned from London I got a call from Ann, and I went out and I visited her, I hadn't seen her in 15 years. I met her family and we talked and i cried a lot—it was amazing. After about an hour she looked at me and said "I got a call from Jeanette". I said "Yeah—what's going on", and Ann replied "Well, she was thinking that we should put the band back together."We tried in the past but it just didn't come together, but it just so happens that "the stars have come aligned". So we're doing it, but we're doing it differently, as a team and putting together a tour, and dealing with all the details that come with it. We start end of this year at...
JRT: I remember they're was an attempt to do that—Exposé without you made one appearance in 2003, but nothing further game from that.
Gioia: Yes, I was working on my solo album so for me the timing was just wrong. I'm not sure why the girls didn't continue. Wait...BABIES! Yes!
JRT: Will this include a new album or songs, or is this just a tour.
Gioia: Well, for now we're going to reunite for a tour. We're taking it a step at a time. From what I'm hearing people are getting extremely excited about it. We haven't performed together for about 15 years I can't wait to get out there...it's gonna be fantastic! Ann and Jeanette and i have a certain chemistry and well... history. I honestly think we have more fans now than we did before. I hear an Exposé story from someone everyday. I hear our music on the radio everyday too.
JRT: I think the power of niche markets has been growing, they call that "The Long Tail"...
Gioia: The long tail of music, something I deal with everyday with Burnlounge. We've been a hit motivated society for decades but not by choice.
There's so much music out there and finally with the convergence to digital we have the ability to find it and download it in 30 seconds...My mom was downloading music today, burning CD's, making playlists... I can't get over it!
JRT: The fans and public probably have had a pent-up desire for this for a long time, especially since other acts have already started doing this. Act's from the 1980s tour now, either along or as part of a group.
Gioia: Yeah, absolutely, I agree. I think everybody's into the 80's right now. There's a whole 80's/retro resurgence going on. Even the clothing's coming back—it's a little scary...
JRT: Yeah, that's very scary.
Gioia: Yes—Spandex, Aqua Net, and gloves!! What was that?
JRT: *Laughs* That might be a good question. When you look back at your old pictures, especially those from the 1987 period, what's the first thing that comes to mind?
Gioia: What comes to mind? I go—uugh. *Chuckle* I dunno, I guess back then what we were wearing was okay. People would always comment on how they liked our clothes. Looking back I think I liked what we wore when we toured for the second album, it was a little more comfortable and less costume like.
The funny thing now is that we were discussing our clothes today. We always kind of did our own thing but had a common thread, color... It's a tough one.
JRT: Is that always a big thing to consider? What you wear...
Gioia: Hey, Women and what you wear? What kinda question is that?! *Laughs* Absolutely. We're older but suprisingly we don't look all that different. We're not going to be going "Vanity 6" on everyone and we'll leave the spandex in the trunk for now..We're looking for some kind of sophisticated, sexy modern, I've been checking out what's going on here in the city, it's fashion week, I'm lost-we're talking to a few stylists, it'll all come together.
We don't have all that much time and honestly we're getting alot of show requests. We actually have to pull the reigns back a bit. We have a lot of fans and people who remember us. The response is overwhelming and we haven't even done a press release on this.
JRT: I also heard you were working with your old producer now...
Gioia: Exposé isn't presently working with him but I wrote a song with Lewis Martinee, called "Why did you call me again". It's going to be released in Italy and France Oct 29th and then distributed world-wide. It's on Mix2It for Pret-A-Porte records. Working with Lewis again was much different than before, much nicer actually. We actually wrote the song over the phone —ironic when you consider the title! Then i got with him in the studio a couple of times and we were done. I can't wait to get it on my phone as a ring tone. This is all exciting a new—I know Lewis would like to work with the group again. I appreciate Lewis, he helped us become what we are today.
JRT: You said you were overseas for several months.
Gioia: Business and pleasure, Brianna home-schooled for two years so we ended up with some extra time before college so we visited London for 3 months, then went through Europe. She's wanted to go since she was 8, she's ask me every year. I finally made good on my promise. It was beautiful—we visited family that she didn't know she had, and we got to experience other cultures, and spend quality time together before college... *sniffle*
JRT: She's entering college right now, right.
Gioia: Yes. We just went shopping recently as a matter of fact, preparing for that. They need so much stuff!
JRT: I know a little about that since I've seen her profile on MySpace. You must love this new technology.
Gioia: MySpace has been very fun. I've gotten in contact with old friends and new contacts, etc. It's been very worthwhile. Brianna's got a wonderful page and she's very picky about who she has as friends—I'm adding new friends everyday, it's a great way for me to connect with my fans.
JRT: Yeah, I agree, although there's been negative uses of it in recent news like spam.
Gioia: I don't look for it so i don't see it. I get really great messages, comments, find old friends i haven't heard from in years. When people want to contact me or ask me a question I do my best to answer. It's good, I don't have to go through a moderator. I can be hands on. Some people consider that a weakness of mine—"Gioia, you're just too friendly" or "you should be more careful." Blah Blah, I do what I want to do. It's a habit.JRT: I've been sort of behind the curve regarding social networking right now. I've noticed the other members using it too.
Gioia: I think it's a good thing, you should try it—especially considering all of the stuff you've done.
JRT: I'd consider it—I'd just need to get used to it. I have my web site and all, and I like to have control over my stuff. You never know who buys out these companies and then changes them. MySpace is controlled by Rupert Murdoch Now...
Gioia: Yes, I know.. Back up your stuff, get spyware you know the drill.
JRT: I see some concern from the media about MySpace being used for negative things now...
Gioia: Y'know, if MySpace charged a buck a year per member and they would've made 95 million now—for what it's given to me I'd be happy to pay it! This thing went from 50,000 people to 95 million in the course of just a year or two. That's massive There are a lot of people out there looking for friends, looking for music. I was talking to a woman today who had pictures of her little girls, they were so cute. I found Jeanette and Kelly on there. I can keep in touch with new fans easily now—I can go out and do a show and invite friends in the area by clicking send It's a lot easier to do this now with a MySpace than it is with a standard web site. Kelly will be on some shows with us... by the way. I'm looking forward to getting to know her better.
JRT: It seems to be popular because it's easier to communicate with that type of network than it is with Web Boards and E-Mail.
Gioia: It's so much fun. I actually bumped into a guy who did some mixes for us back in the day—it's funny, the "six degrees of separation". He went to a BurnLounge meeting in North Carolina, and they were talking about me and my story, and how unfortunate it was that Exposé had to deal with what we dealt with business-wise pertaining to our record deal. He remembers everything from back then, I was spinning too fast to notice. Now he's on my BurnLounge team, we've spent some time catching up discussing new projects.
JRT: Yeah, it sounds like your making a lot of connections. I saw I name I remembered from the past, not just fans. Jeanette's friend Steve Ventic.
Gioia: Steve Ventic—yes, yes! I gotta remember his e-mail address! I did have a conversation with him a couple of times, where we said "we should do some writing together". Yet there are a few people I still want to find but I'm sure I will in time.
JRT: Punch the monkey, get a free Ipod.
Gioia: I'm afraid of those ads—ooh, don't touch the IPod ones. I remember accidentally clicking on one and suddenly I'm in a kissing quiz. It's a bit much, i don't have time to waste but i gotta tell you that kissing one was kinda cute.
JRT: Changing gears, recently you had some news on the blogosphere and that can also be seen on YouTube. Your appeance on...
Gioia: Q-TV? Talkin' about my Sexuality?JRT: Yes...So you basically "came out" on Q-TV, "Brunch with Honey and Scott".
Gioia: Yeah, I did. Basically after I did that a lot of people came to me and said "You too", "I always wanted to". I believe that life is a series of experiences. Some of them stay with you and some don't but they all contribute to the person you become.
JRT: So you felt it was time to reveal it.
Gioia: Well, I'd seen the show and I knew it may get heavy! I didn't have a problem with it. I'm proud of it—it's not who I am, it doesn't define me. Music and Exposé don't define me either I'm a free spirit, I have an incredible loving family who support me and my views. I'm always moving forward, learning something, meeting someone—Smiling—I smile a lot. . I love my life.
JRT: You haven't received any criticism for it?
Gioia: No, in fact people we're mostly pumped up to find out. Very rarely I'll get some silly comment. But really, everybody always kinda wondering about me anyways, and this made them say "Okay, had a feeling". But I'm with a very wonderful man now, it doesn't bother him a bit.
JRT: I haven't seen any major criticism—just a few bloggers who thought you were doing it to get attention.
Gioia: Honey I get plenty of attention. (Sings) You can't please everyone so you gotta please yourself...
I'm an open person but I would not have discussed my sexuality or personal life without talking to my family first. When Brianna was old enough to understand—I had a conversation with her, and we discussed the possibility of interviews like "Q TV", I talked it over with her, we talk about everything. And Brianna was okay with it. I knew going to Q TV controversial stuff might come up there. I told them to be spontaneous, in the past we'd get a list of questions before—that would ultimately be boring. I like the element of surprise, My best interviews, best performances, actually every best experience I've ever had was unplanned. Like my daughter! *Laughs* It's the element of surprise—I'm a Gemini.
JRT: One quick question about that. Under your Wikipedia entry, you're defined as being a "LGBT Activist". Would you describe yourself as an Activist?
Gioia: Umm John? Wikipedia? I believe in freedom of choice, speech, sexual preference. Absolutely.
JRT: I just wasn't sure because "activist" is a very strong word.
Gioia: I don't know if activist is the right word, I'm involved in the Community—I've worked with countless organizations to raise money for people living with HIV/AIDS, to bring awareness and stop complacency. I have a large sphere of influence and a large address book. A lot of my friends are "G","L","B", "T" ...I love my friends and I don't judge.
JRT: I just wanted to see if that was correct on that front...
Gioia: Are you gay? You really spent alot of time on the subject so i thought maybe you wanted to umm ... talk?
Gioia: Oh, okay! *Laughs* You do know I'm just being a wise-ass now, right?
JRT: Yeah, I did. *Laughs*.
JRT: In terms of the rest of Exposé, do you happen to know why Ann and Jeanette have been keeping a low profile these last few years.
Gioia: Well, that's easy to answer. Their both Mom's now! Jeanette has 2 little boys and Ann has a newborn daughter, and two little boys. When I was raising my daughter I kept things pretty quiet too.
JRT: I just thought we'd be hearing more about things from them like solo projects.
Gioia: Sure they've been involved in projects, but family comes first. They're both incredible moms. I love watching them with their kids— beautiful and different, so much time has passed but it seems like yesterday they were holding Brianna or washing lipstick off of her. Jeanette was always kissing her on the head!
JRT: So in terms of raising Brianna, you would have spent some time being "quiet" like Ann and Jeanette did? Didn't you take Brianna on tour with you back in 1989-1990?
Gioia: Honestly, I had no choice, I was under contract with a major label. My only option was to make the experience as comfortable for Bri as possible. I decided to bring the family so I got us a bus made bri a safe little crib out of a bunk. I even brought my Mommy with me.
Ann and Jeanette were always there to help out. We toured that way for about a year. Life is funny; one event, accident—one occurrence can change everything. I don't believe in coincidences.
Had I not lost my voice I would have continued on the road for 3 or 4 more years. I don't know how that would have effected Brianna, I'll never know because we came home. Sometimes I think we raised each other! She's grown into an extraordinary woman, passionate with strong views and beliefs. She's got her whole life ahead of her! You see, it's not about me or Exposé or Ann or Jeanette, not about a tour or a record... it's about how we affect future generations; our children, with the decisions that we make today. Family first, then Exposé