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Interview with a Funkywhitegirl
Christina Fasano: Live & In Person
By Sounni de Fontenay
(more articles from this author)
2000-04-12
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Christina Fasano, aka Funkywhitegirl, (www.funkywhitegirl.com) has been making quite an impression on the music scene; including being a two-time winner of MusicDish's Battle of the Bands. From her homebase in California to around the country, Christina has been solidifying her position as a diva of funk & soul. Read on and find out what Christina Fasano is all about: her music, her spirituality and more...

[Sounni de Fontenay] Christina, can you give insight to our MusicDish readers on who you are?

[Christina Fasano] Gosh, who am I.... Well I'm a silly, serious, passionate person who is driven to give of what my soul lives. I am kind hearted but I hate bullshit and can smell it a mile away, but I can be gullible to jokes! :) And of course there's more, but I'd be moving the readers into the 'boredom' factor!

[Sounni] You started out as a singer in a gospel choir. How has that impacted your music today?

[Christina] I actually started out as a singer 'pining' to be in the gospel choir that continually ROCKED the wild Pentecostal Church my family attended in Oakland, CA when I was around eleven. I was and am extremely influenced by the real blues gospel sound. Aretha, when she was with the Southern Baptist Choir back in the day. That music always moves me to tears. Mavis Stapes of the Staples Singers...awesome!!!

[Sounni] Who are your musical influences?

[Christina] Prince and every incarnation of Prince; Chaka Khan-Rufus; Maxwell; George Clinton; Cameo; Bar Kays; Ohio Players; Michael Jackson; Ike & Tina Turner; James Brown; Aretha, Mavis; anything with raw juicy soul and fat funkafied groove.

[Sounni] What has been the evolution of your music and views?

[Christina] Hummm..well the evolution of my music started when the 80's thing was in full swing and I was still tuning into the soul stations - and songs like "Rubberband Man" and "Shackles On My Feet," were making me ache for more funk. I remember being at home one day and hearing "Private Joy" by Prince. I about went out of my mind!!! I went to the store that very moment and got everything he'd done that I could get my hands on. Of course the blues/gospel influence had already been making it's home in my soul, and I was also very influenced by Rock. I was heavily into a group called Robin Trower because of the deep whaling blues wah wah guitar he used on every song. And I loved Bad Company when Paul Rogers was with the group. I feel all these early influences paved the way to my involvement in bands that went from hard blues rock because of all the energy, then pure blues bands because I'm a natural for blues and then Funk because that is what I feel I am made of.

As far as the evolution of my views - well life has given me countless opportunities to fuc...up and I've taken almost all of them. Most of them I took impulsively before my consciousness could get in it's too cents about common sense and stop me! My views, opinions, outlooks, have mostly come from humbling experiences where I have either screwed up or made a fool out of myself! And unfortunately death has taught me a lot. Death of loved ones and strangers. And ever since I was a child, I've always had a horrible sadness for cruelty among humans. The race/color thing being my number one hatred. Any judgment of anyone because of their color or their beliefs, or their sexual preference, or their age, or their weight, or what they are doing, is hard for me to take.

And I know I'm not done evolving. Until I lie down in Mother Earth, I feel I will continue to be hollowed out until I'm empty. And even then, who knows. I'll tell you this...I really try to go along feeling like I've got my shit together, but at times I sit here and realize, I know nothing.

[Sounni] You also have some acting experience....?

[Christina] Yes. My favorite 'brag' memory is when I was in High School. I'd been at this school for a year and I'd taken drama that year. It was also my graduating year. I had done two Single Acts - one comedy and one drama and had won 1st Place ribbons at the acting competitions. On the last day of school, my drama teacher took me aside and told me "Christina, I wish I would have had you in class all four years." I thought that was the nicest thing he could have ever said to me. Also at one of the San Diego Globe Theatre's Acting Classes I attended, we had to perform a monologue using a poem and interpreting it using a story line we created for the poem and the class had to guess what we were doing as we were reciting the poem. When I was finished, the class stood up and clapped and the teacher said to me "I have no critique to give to you, that was incredible." It was actually a little embarrassing, but of course I loved it.

So yes I've had acting. But the truth is I'm just a big ham and somehow I can naturally climb into the essence of characters and bleed them all over the stage. I would like to someday act in independent/art and foreign films. I love um!

[Sounni] Spiritually Wet is your first release. What is the inspiration for the CD?

[Christina] Spiritually Wet is my calling card to the stage. It is a complete artistic package of who I am and how I see the world at this moment, for those who are interested. For those who aren't, well they can just enjoy the music or ignore me! It's all good. It touches those it needs to touch.

The inspiration kind of evolved just like my life has evolved and I think that's what art is in any form that it comes in. It's an evolution of humanity. Of one person's humanity - molded and formed by their acquaintances, friends, family, experiences, events, history, etc. And that is why so many people can relate to it. My opinion is that when you buy a piece of art - a CD or a painting, sculpture, whatever, that you are getting the 'artists vibe.' The artistic package. You are buying into that artist. I buy into Prince and his thing. Many people buy into Wynonna and her thing. Every artist should have a 'thing.' Many don't. I'm not into artists that don't have a complete 'artist' package. A full rounded vibe with some depth of their living, of their life for me to experience when I listen to their music and read their lyrics. I mean I want to be touched, moved, riveted! I want to feel what they are feeling. I want to relate and share what life is in all of it's various expressions. In my mind this is what I want out of an artist and it's what I want to give as an artist.

[Sounni] In your bio, you mention how your lyrics bridge the "dichotomy of 'freedom within density.'" How do you accomplish this?

[Christina] By suggesting 'Freedom within Density.' Life is very dense. I mean our lives are full of dramas and complications and intense moments. Boredom as well is an intense emotional state. Loneliness, happiness. There is no judgment here on my part as far as all the 'dense,' 'thick' things we go through in our living. 'Freedom within density.' Non judgment in a world full of judgment. Asking one to step outside the normal beliefs and mindsets and contemplate maybe a way of looking at the world without judgment...maybe we can be who we really are in our core and survive. Maybe we can live out who we are, and do what we need to do without judgment. Live our essence. Play out our roles fully. Not hiding skeletons in closets. OR what we 'think' are skeletons. The Chorus lyric from my song "It's Just A Funk Thang" goes

"Do what we wanna do
Be who we wanna be
Open our minds and see
It's Just A Funk Thang
Act how we wanna act
Feel how we wanna feel
Move on into the real
It's Just A Funk Thang"

We constantly judge and get judged and I feel it causes so much of our unhappiness. Confidence is tested again and again. Judgments will continue. I feel we need to start on a personal level practicing non-judgment for ourselves. For our own lives. Freedom within density. Freedom in life. In all of the moments - trusting and feeling free enough to feel, do, be who and what you really truly are. Freedom starts deep within one's soul and moves outward to the skin. If you read the Spiritually Wet poem on the back of my CD booklet you will see the lines:

"A place below skin, fluid, wet...A moist essence of spirit, bare, revealed in its freedom. A Place unbound by personality, mind, limitations held only by love and it's demand for growth - the unending drive to fulfill the life that its been given."

Stepping into ones place of being Spiritually Wet is beginning to live in this freedom within density.

Every lyric on my CD has at least one stanza that can lead you into this contemplation, if you want to go there. If not, hey, again...it's all cool, you can just dance!

[Sounni] What has been the response so far of Spiritually Wet?

[Christina] That it makes people 'feel good.' Over and over again I hear this. It lifts their moods. It makes them want to dance. And the more they listen the more they hear and respond to within the arrangements and lyrics, etc. My site at Amazon.com is full of Customer Comments from people who love it for these very reasons. One MP3.com radio station fan told me to 'quit my day job!' I loved it. Major Industry of course doesn't know what to do with me. I'm a white girl doing pop infused FUNK with contemplative lyrics. What is that? Where does that go???? In today's music 'box' formats, I don't fit. I will say this to any industry person that wants to listen "Funk is coming back...it's sneaking in." "Catch the wave, first in...last out." And...."expand those format boxes...there's money to be made!! People want more than what you got comin' out of those boxes."

[Sounni] Are you planning any tours to support your album?

[Christina] You betcha! Two bands are in the works. Da Jam Band, who I will tour with doing my material as well as some of the other members doing theirs and a few covers. And then another band that I am assembling to do showcasing and CD release parties, benefits, etc. My songs are loaded with synth/keyboard parts..hammond, etc. and so the main holdup to my performing has been finding a keyboard player that wants to climb on board for what could be the funkiest ride of his/her life! But ya know, everybody just talks and nobody really buys into what anybody is saying. The good players have heard all the 'hungry' dreams before and have been disappointed and/or disillusioned over and again and so aren't as willing to give a newby on the block a chance. So once I'm out there and burning up some stages, well I might get some more people coming to the table. I have some things in the works as far as a tour, but until they materialize, talk is cheap -as they say.

[Sounni] What is a Christina Fasano live performance like?

[Christina] An intense, sweaty, hip grinding, movin,' groovin,' in yo' face, muther funkin' time! And we go from wildly intense to subtly sexual (I've got witnesses!) :) I believe in giving the people a SHOW. None of this standing around lookin' pretty, choreographed stuff. Most anybody can look pretty. Who can GET THE FUNK DOWN???? Me. That's who. A little egotistical? Yes??? Sure seems like it, huh. Nope, not at all. I was born for the stage and this is what I live for, and I know what I can do. That's all. I give from the marrow of my bones and I don't stop until I drop or they drag me away. When some money comes in to help support the tour, I want a full on live horn section, percussion, two keyboard players and all the rest, jammin' down to our bones on the stage. I'm so jealous of what Prince gets to do with his shows!!!

[Sounni] Do you do all your own offline & online promotions? How about the website?

[Christina] So far yes, with help from Gina Thompson, Artist Relations in Los Angeles, and some administration help from Loren Page here in San Diego. The website was put together by a web designer at OnlineGraphicsWest.com. I was very active in the design, colors, layout, etc. I'm a very hands on artist because, again, it's very important to me to give the fans the artistic vibe in everything I put out.

[Sounni] What is your online/offline marketing strategy?

[Christina] When opportunity knocks...open the door right away. Follow up after a week, two weeks. Keep following up until you get a response. Don't complain, don't blame, don't hold grudges. Get over it and move ahead past negativity. The music business is much to hard to break into to waste energy on things like this. Realize mistakes. Don't burn bridges! Be real, sincere, and professional with everyone. As an artist, if you do offend someone or if they offend you, communicate. Call them, email, whatever, clear the pathway. These things come back to haunt. And for me the most important thing in all my daily comings, going, decision makings is intuition. Gut feeling.

Of course all of the above goes into the usual routine of getting radio play, bookings, promotion, reviews, selling CD's, etc., which has not changed. There is just more opportunity (esp. on the web and it's not going to slow down). So you have to really figure out what is going to be the best use of your time, etc. And, besides trying to get industry attention, what is the most lucrative route and use of that time.

And... one more very important thing I try to do is honor my fans. I try to make sure they know how appreciated they are by always thanking them and occasionally offering special deals for all their work as my 'Front Line' helping me to forge my way through the Indie Trenches! :)

[Sounni] What sites & services have you found to be most useful in giving you exposure? Sales?

[Christina] I actually don't have a good answer on exposure because I don't know who hits my site from where. I've had around 10,000 hits on my official site since it's debut in December. But all the sites that have given me reviews/interviews/awards, and you know who you are, these I'm sure, have contributed greatly to my exposure factor.

As far as web sales, my own site has been good as well as Amazon.com so far. But not great. CD sales on the web are not what Indie artists dream they will be. However...the jury is still out on a couple of web distributors that I recently signed up with through your site, MusicDish.com - The Global Pipeline and DegyShop.com. There seems to be a lot of marketing power behind these two groups, so here's hoping! Overall I feel that live performance via the stage is still the King of sales for Indie Artists.

[Sounni] What is the single most difficult aspect of being a full time musician? Most rewarding?

[Christina] The most difficult thing is having to prove that my CD is worthy of industry attention. That it is marketable, sellable. That is the ongoing game. It's a continual and rather stressful stance.

The most rewarding thing happens when I'm on stage and Christina has disappeared and something else in me starts to run the show. The performer is performed type of thing. It happens and in those moments I belong to every soul in that room. For me it feels like we are all performing together - energies going back and forth. It's like really FANTASTIC sex where you get lost in places of nothingness and complete ecstasy at the same time.

[Sounni] How difficult is it to be a women in today's music industry?

[Christina] I don't know. I actually don't. I have never felt it was difficult although I know of many women who say it is and have told me their horror stories. So I respect that it must be difficult for some women. So far I'm not one of them. I hope to never be.

[Sounni] Are you looking for a label deal or do you prefer to continue on the Indie route?

[Christina] I don't necessarily 'prefer' the Indie route, but I feel that the major route is not a good avenue to pursue right now. I feel I need to continue on the Indie route making as much noise as possible until I need the help of a major distribution or promotion deal to move me up to the next level of exposure. Unfortunately, right now I can only do so much. And there will be a time when I don't have time to sit here and promote and plan shows and email fans and I will need some big time assistance either from a larger Independent Label or a Major. The reason I hold back from attempting to secure a major deal is because of all the stories of getting burned and CD's shelved and artists just used for tax write-offs, etc. Who wants to step into that? If that was not the case, and I could negotiate a decent deal with artistic control, I'd probably sign in a second, 'cause being an Indie is rewarding work, but it sure is hard.

[Sounni] Which awards/press do you cherish most?

[Christina] All of them. Every little single word written.

[Sounni] You recently released an MP3.com D.A.M. CD. What made you choose to go with MP3.com?

[Christina] To generate a bigger fan base from new fans that are hopefully exposed to my music at MP3.com. Plus it is the most used word (if it is a word!) on the Internet and on the street when it comes to music on the web. I chose to release a D.A.M. CD because the sales of the CD are supposed to help your position on the MP3.com charts. I hit number 12 on the Funk Charts the first day that I sold two. Only two! Ha. I kind of think it's silly to sell a D.A.M. CD, however, because my own CD has the full enchilada as far as Artist vibe. And it has all the songs which flow nicely into one another and all the lyrics and it's just a very pro package. So I feel the D.A.M. CD is a good promo item for fans to give away as a taster when they want to help promote me.

[Sounni] How has the response been so far?

[Christina] Pretty darn good. Others affiliated with MP3.com have been adding me to their MP3 Radio Stations and they write incredible things about me and my music. So even though the D.A.M. CD sales are not very high yet...I'm starting to get a lot of attention. And I've gotten a few 'new' fans as well.

[Sounni] Half the proceeds from the D.A.M. CD is going to charity. Can you tell us more about this?

[Christina] Yes...I have a thing for pine trees. Big pine tress, small pine trees, any pine tree! Ha.. I am deeply in love with nature. Nature in all of it states is a huge metaphor for most aspects of our lives. When you stand in a forest of ancient pines and breath in the silence, you feel that you have pretty much come in contact with God. There is no way to explain it except to go there and be. And so I want to help protect those trees that have been here and those that will be born. There is still so much threat to many forest lands, especially in Northern California, and I'm not even going to go into the ecosystem balance that is so crucial to our survival. I want to donate funds to that cause from CD sales and from specified benefit concerts. However, I am also totally open to doing benefit concerts for other causes.

[Sounni] Where else is your CD available?

[Christina] funkywhitegirl.com / amazon.com / degyshop.com / globalpipeline.com / amazingcds.com / doughboymusic.com / y2k-music.co.uk / nwez.net

[Sounni] What is your favorite book and why?

[Christina] Currently it's a book entitled "The Grass Grows By Itself" by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, because it speaks to my soul. It pushes me to look deeper at things. Beyond surface truths, beyond and below skin.

[Sounni] Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview...

[Christina] Thank you for allowing me to ramble on about me, me, me and me!!! It's all about me!!! (...somebody slap me!!!) :) Seriously Sounni, you guys at MusicDish and all your affiliates are the greatest!!! You are a very valuable resource for independent musicians. Thank you.

Review of Spiritually Wet

Visit Christina's webiste @ www.funkywhitegirl.com


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