Interview with Gioia Bruno, June 2012
Gioia and I hadn't done an interview in a few years, so I decided it was time for me to get the fans an update on Exposé from her perspective.
JRT: Who came up with the Idea to release a Christmas Single Last Year?
G: I think it was Jeanette…
JRT: That would make sense, since it was the song she wrote, and she had released a demo of the song on MySpace several Christmas' ago.
G: Actually, I remember now, it was Ann's idea.
In any case, we all agreed on it and then decided to go into the studio and actually record it in Las Vegas and NY. We were very excited about it, we wanted to give it the Expose' sound and change it up from the original by sharing the vocals. It was great to record a song actually co-written by Jeanette.
JRT: You recorded it, it was released very late into the Holiday Season (a few weeks before Christmas). I did hear it after Christmas on the channels that were playing Christmas Music until New Year's Day—Music Choice and Sirius XM Holly. Ann had told me some of these stations actually get their holiday playlists together in early October.
G: Hopefully it will become another one of those Christmas standards that we hear every year. It has that quality about it
JRT: Have you guys ever decided to do an EP of Christmas Music—I was always surprised that you guys never released a solo holiday track—I know you did the Manilow guest appearance but I was always wondering if you'd either release a Christmas album or just a single. You may want to rework this question since I altered the last one..
G: After that we decided that this coming year we should release a Holiday Album and perhaps do a few more traditional holiday tunes, we'll see. As far as the past—well, as you've covered before this group has had a lot of challenges dealing with things between the Record Label and the Production Company. But now that all the legal battles are over, we feel comfortable recording music again.
JRT: Switching gears, we've heard some rumors through the grapevine that you guys are recording again. Outside of remixes what are you working on? An album, singles, downloads?
G: We are working on quite a few things right now. In fact, we just recorded a with Steve Grove AKA Euge Groove. Steve actually played saxophone on the Seasons Change record. The new song is called It's Only Rain and we're hoping to add it to our album.
JRT: Is it hard to get everybody together? I know you and Ann live within driving distance on the East Coast while Jeanette is on the West Coast and it must be hard to get the three of you in the room together.
G: Yes, that's a challenge. Jeanette and Ann have families with little ones but when we need to get things we do and it's always a great feeling when we complete a project!! Jeanette just finished updating our track and band shows in Las Vegas. Ann is all paperwork and business, and I'm working on mixes, artwork and social media. We recently got together in CA to work with our choreographer Noah Penn for our new show. Ultimately.. at the end of the day, we manage to get things doneTogether we make up one hell of a woman…
JRT: Are you planning to do most of the writing yourselves, or are you working with other songwriters. I know it's a balance—most artists want to write themselves, but sometimes the outside songwriters write the best material that screams hit single.
G: Of course we hope to create hit songs! We've all been working on our songwriting for years now and would love to write, swap, produce each other and the group.. just share overall and that's what we intend to do. But we are also co-writing and accepting songs from writers it really depends on the situation.
JRT: Any specific songs you can talk about. I know right now you are doing the song from Ann's library, the song Shine On which was originally a hit for the UK Group Degrees of Motion in Europe.
G: There are many other songs in the works and so many fantastic producers/ remixers onboard. Klubjumpers, Dj Amy Alderman, Chris Cox, Chris Thomas Vieno, and Oliver Watts to name a few. We're hoping to do more recording in August in New York and Las Vegas.
JRT: Do you go to a specific studio or rent one out, or do any of you have home studios, since the technology has made the process of recording and mixing easier.
G: We record all over the place, NY, CA, NV… It's wonderful .. Ahhhh technology!!
JRT: Is it better or worse to do this without label backing? I know doing things on your own makes things are lot easier as you don't have to deal with any red tape, bureaucracy, or people forcing their opinions on you, but the drawback is that they have more capital and marketing power being them, correct?
G: Ah! Freedom of choice! We've been working together for a long time and we really work well together. Apparently these days you don't need a record label but that means that we need to bring it all together and hussle..For instance, with Shine On, we have the opportunity to have multiple remixes of the track since it's a dance record, so since we are the ones making the final decision it can make it a little tougher to review the mixes and come to a consensus—sometimes all three of us think the same way, other times we have different opinions. Over the years we've learned communicate with each other and come to the “final agreement” ;) 25 years together .. it's like a marriage that WORKS!
JRT: Do you allow outside opinions, have trusted friends or trust outside experts to make the judgments?
G: (Jokingly) No, never! (Laughs)—yes, we do. We've got a fantastic team working with us, Rich Suweidan, Willie Callahan, John Troy to name a few… and my MOM, she's way too cool! Last but not least our children who are a wonderful way to connect to the younger generation… and boy are they honest!
JRT: What Genre's are you trying to focus on here—I know your biggest following right now is the dance stuff but your past releases have crossed the line with R&B and then later Adult Contemporary ballads, for instance. What's your focus this time?
G: We've crossed over to everything in the past. But we definitely want to reach out to the dance audiences… We'll never forget where we came from.
JRT: You've been back together since 2006, which is almost going to be 6 years now—I think the last time I did an interview with you Gioia it was when you were just starting up again with Expose'
G: Yeah, it's time to get really serious (laughs). We're free! It's a whole new world and sky's the limit.. we can do things without having to look over our shoulders.
JRT: How has the touring situation been going this year.
G: It's always a great experience going out with the girls.. we continue to bond in new ways with every show. Backing each other up.. supporting each other … 25 years and we're still learning new things about each other. The new show, the new photo's, the new music.. we're excited about the future ;)
JRT: Let's switch gears for a bit and talk about your solo stuff. I know you ended up releasing 4 or 5 CDs worth of material direct to fans who paid you via the social media networks like Facebook.
G: That's my little grass-roots project. It all started with a friend who asked me for music, I sent him a few CD's and he spread the word.. I used Facebook to communicate with and get to know people a little bit before I send them music—My music is part of my personal life.. Stories and experiences that changed my life and I hope in some small way people are inspired..—I haven't sold anything to anyone who isn't a friend on Facebook..
JRT: What do you think with all the changes on how music is distributed nowadays. I mean, the whole business and format of music has changed since the heyday of Expose'. For instance, now I end up buying new albums as MP3s from Amazon.com, and I know iTunes especially is really important nowadays.
G: I think it's fantastic! No more middleman.. Download or not.. there are still fans who want CDs, and even other formats.. My daughter wanted to transfer digital to cassette a few months ago.. said it was the new thing.. LOL— At the same time I had a Dropbox request so I copied my entire collection to him..
JRT: You mentioned that you we working on a project with your friend Sue Veneer?
G: We've been writing together for 10 years. This has been a project that we do for the love of music.. no formulas no deadlines!! We keep creating new songs, but finally decided to take the best of these, and create our first album. This music covers a few different genres, Rock, Pop and Alternative. It's just amazing working with her—sometimes we can write a song in an hour, sometimes it takes weeks. We're looking forward to performing together and plan to distribute via Facebook first and then move on to a more traditional outlet after that. You may have heard a few of these as temporary demos I've previewed. The working title for this project is “Midnight Sessions.”
JRT: Switching back to Expose', what additional things are you guys working on?
G: We've really been trying to enhance our show. We've re-recorded and remixed the original tracks. Similar to how we worked with the song Angel, which is done in concert a bit different than the album version. We've just pre released “Shine On” with 6 mixes and the Re-recorded versions of Point, Let Me Be the One, Come Go With Me, and Seasons. We'll be releasing another record in the next month with new dance remixes of our hits and a new song titled, “Could've Been.” After that we'll be working on our Christmas album.
JRT: I must say with all the shows I've seen, you really perform well, both vocally and with your interactions with the crowds. I wish you guys were more popular because I think a lot of people are missing out. The energy from the crowd I've seen at both Disney and that set of shows at Mohegan Sun is really powerful.
G: It's been 25 years and we continue to perform to sold-out audiences, and in this business to have such a solid and loyal following for a quarter century is a rarity, as you well know. Styles change too, so this is why were are trying to keep it fresh, not just a cover band of ourselves.. lol—We appreciate the hits that we've had and will continue to perform them for our wonderful fans.. They're the reason we continue.
JRT: When you work with other artists on one bill, those Freestyle shows, what's it like to be working in close proximity with other famous artists, some of them your peers at the same time in pop culture.
G: It's always fun. We've all gotten to know each other over the years so whenever possible we hang out after shows, and support each other when life happens.. I'm notorious for swiping comp tickets for our guest list.. I probably drive Lisa a little crazy but she's always there for me. We had a killer party with Tiff and her band after the Miami show a couple of months ago.. it was a blast! Stacy Q is another one.. Always brings me something, clothes, jewelry, belts.. she's so thoughtful.
JRT: Have you ever thought of taking some kind of scheduled retreat where the three of you can get together?
G: Yes! Absolutely! We're working with our schedules now, and hopefully it will happen this winter.
JRT: Before I forget, you did a project with one of your old friends a few years back—it was called 2012 The Mayan Apocalypse.
G: Yeah, he wrote an audio book and I was the voice of the lead female, you can download the book…
JRT: Yeah, I purchased it a while back, I listened to it on my long train ride a few years ago.
G: How did you like it? I haven't listened to the whole thing. I have a hard time tolerating my voice … especially my speaking voice. I honestly don't know how my friends put up with me. JT, the writer of the book, is also a Grammy winning engineer so it's not your typical audio book.
JRT: I would say it's a good first book. I wouldn't call it “Grammy award-winning”. It's dealing with many supernatural tropes in popular fiction nowadays—Vampires as a separate species, good and evil versions of them, Holy Blood Holy Grail, Apocalypse fiction, stuff. It seems very derivative though of things like the Vampire: The Masquerade RPG, for instance. I just felt it needed some originality or a more personal spin on it to be effective, and I think they tried to do too much at one time. It's a good effort but it will need some practice before it would classify to be in the best seller league. It might have been too long for its own good—it was a DVD of MP3s, so it was really lengthy, but I'm not a good judge when it comes to the length of audio books, having only gotten a few in my time.
G: I understand. I think he did a great job overall—I was really honored to be asked to be a part of it. He took a risk on me.. My sister played my therapist.. funny how art follows life…
JRT: No, you did a good job—I was just being a critic of the story, the audio and production was good and very well done. Voice acting can be lucrative if you have the right talent. You have a really good voice for it. Your sister was also in it too…
G: Yes, she did a phenomenal job—you can tell she's a star! JT said he wrote my part with me in mind, and told me to be myself.
Last, I wanted to mention that Jeanette is working on a solo album as well. I've heard a couple of her songs and they're incredible. I can't wait to hear it in its entirety. Unfortunately, I have very little information on that so you'll have to ask her for details directly.