Interview Date: 10/16/2009
Run Date: 11/11/2009
The difference between the Kaci Battaglia that vamps it up in the video for her Dance Chart-topping “Crazy Possessive” (if you haven’t seen the clip yet, go here at once) and the Kaci Battaglia that we spoke with on the phone, to borrow a phrase from comedian Larry Miller, is like the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. She might threaten to muck you up when she has a microphone in her hand, but when we caught her between recording sessions for her upcoming album, she couldn’t have been sweeter. But don’t take sweetness as a sign of weakness – this is, after all, someone who scored a worldwide hit at the age of 13, and walked away from the business, only to give it another try. As far as we’re concerned, anyone who tries to carve out a career in today’s musical climate has balls of steel.
Bullz-Eye: For the record, you have the easiest cell phone number I think I have ever seen in my life.
Kaci Battaglia: Thanks, I did that on purpose. I remember sitting on the phone up there going, “Nope, not that one. I want something more simple.” Finally, I got that one. You would be surprised how much it confuses people, actually.
BE: Wow, that is really sad. So where in the world are you right now?
KB: I am in New York City.
BE: What are you doing in New York?
KB: I’m going to record today, actually. Which I am totally excited about because I haven’t had the opportunity to record in awhile.
BE: Yeah, now is there a record finished? Is this what you are working on right now?
KB: My album or just this record?
BE: Either. When I look you up on Amazon, all I see is the single. But I’m assuming you have an album finished. Right?
KB: No. I am in the process of making it right now.
BE: Oh, got it. So who are you working with?
KB: I’m working with a bunch of different people, you know? Right now I am trying to figure all of that out. Today…oh crap, I’m not sure what their names are. I have to look at them again. I think it’s Kyle and Ethan or something like that. And then tomorrow is Ray Rock and Damien. I’m also working with Isaac Hayes and the Clutch. I don’t know if you know who these people are.
BE: Did you say Isaac Hayes?
KB: Well yeah, his son. (Note: That would be Isaac Hayes III, also known as Ike Dirty.)
BE: I was going to say…
KB: Wouldn’t that be cool?
BE: Yeah, I would be very impressed if you could record with the dead. That would be awesome.
KB: Yeah, his offspring. His offspring is very talented. I’m working with a bunch of people, hopefully. I don’t know, we’re still working all of it out.
BE: All right, well let’s talk about the single. Okay, so “Call my man again, and I’ll muck you up.” All right, be honest with me: how much of you is actually in this song?
KB: Actually, it’s pretty funny because I’m a pretty nice person. You know, I think when most other people meet me, they wouldn’t think that my first single would be this. They would think it would be something really sweet. There comes a point in time when you have to learn to stand up for yourself, even if it means maybe taking drastic measures. And it doesn’t always mean you’re crazy. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. Now that doesn’t mean that you should just go out and fight people. The song is contemplation; it’s what is going on in my head. It’s not me actually, physically doing anything. It’s me really questioning my relationship with my best girlfriend. And going back and forth from, “No, it’s me; I’m going crazy. I’m just being crazy.” And then I say, “No, it’s you and I’m going to muck you up.” And I think that going through that process is actually pretty empowering, because a lot of people just come to decisions before they really think. So anyway, the song is a lot me. I just, like, own it because this story is true and this is what I went through.
BE: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.
KB: It’s okay. Everything is cool now.
BE: What has the response been from women? Do they look at it as a fun role-playing song along the lines of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” where they just pretend to be a little nuts, or are you getting challenged by psycho women saying, “You think you crazy? Oh, I’ll show you crazy.”
KB: All I know is that in a crowd, they freak out and they love the song. And that’s very exciting. Everybody bops up and down like little Mexican jumping beans. It’s great! Every time I’ve performed. And girls take to it really well. They say it’s like their anthem, you know, a lot of them. Because a lot of girls, and I mean I’m all about girl power, and I would rather go to the guy and be like, “It’s you. Girls rule and we stick together.” But sometimes, that’s not the case and you have to stand up for yourself. And sometimes girls can be kind of catty. So, I don’t know. I find it’s something that a lot of girls can relate to. Whether it’s role playing for them, I’m not sure. You know, I think a lot of girls just have this experience.
BE: Well on the flip side, is it harder to meet men now that you’re the “Crazy Possessive” girl?
KB: (Laughs) Oh that’s funny because sometimes when I meet people and I say, “Hey, my single is ‘Crazy Possessive,’ they are like, ‘Okay, nice to meet you. Bye.’” Just kidding. But no, all in all, if you talk to me and get to know me; if you go out and have a coffee, it has nothing to do with the song, you know, it doesn’t affect it. Thank goodness, I couldn’t imagine.
BE: Let’s talk about the video, where you basically kill yourself.
BE: So which one of you gets out of the pool: you, or the other you?
KB: The sane me. Not the one who is creating all of the illusion. You know, because that’s what the whole song is about. Half of it is illusion and half of it is logic, and which half is it. So the empowered one comes out. That’s my take on it anyway.
BE: You left the music business to study international relations and economics, and you came back to music at the lowest point in its history. You are a brave, brave woman.
KB: Thank you. Yeah, some say brave, some say crazy. Thank you so much. It’s nice to have somebody appreciate that.
BE: Well, I’ve got to be honest. I’m not sure I would get into music now. It’s extremely hard to carve out a long-term career at this point.
KB: Yes, yes it is. And then there’s a lot of other politics that have nothing to do with the state of the industry, and everything to do with just my situation that compounds that issue. However, you take it day-to-day and you overcome one obstacle at a time because this is what makes me happy. And that’s what living life is all about.
BE: When you walked away from it earlier, did you ever have a thought that you would come back? Did you leave that door open or did you think, “All right, I had my time and now it’s time to move on”?
KB: I kind of waffled back and forth on that notion. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to come back at all. All I knew was that I needed to get away. And I knew that I needed to get an education. Actually, you know I pretty much at one point made the decision that I was done, right before I decided that I wasn’t. Like I really ended it and I think that’s what really sparked the beginning again, because I said, “You know, it’s not stable. I’ve been through so much. I’ve had my time. It’s been a great run but now I need to go and get my education.” And when I studied abroad at Cambridge and I had the opportunity to do that, it really sparked my desire to go back to school. So I was gung ho about school. I was like economics, international relations; all the way. Let’s do this and then go to law school. Do whatever I want to do after that. As I continued to go to school, I noticed that I couldn’t shut up about music. I just kept saying, “Well, this one time when I was in Europe…and this one time when I was in Asia…and this one time when I was on this tour bus…” It just kept going and the stories kept coming. I probably drove people crazy talking about music. And eventually I just broke down in my car. I started crying and was like, “Wow, I can not live without music.” As unstable as it is and as much as…because I always kind of put it down in a way, in my mind. It was like oh, being a recording artist, it’s not curing cancer or something. But you know, at some point you have to realize the power of music in the sense that it moves people and it can lift people and inspire. And be a release. And those are very important things to any human being. There’s nothing more exhilarating and fulfilling than getting on stage and singing a song that you perform, that just does that to the mass of people.
BE: Being a doctor is noble and all but if you write the right song, it will bury us all, you know? It will live forever.
KB: Yeah, exactly.
BE: And I forgot to mention you’re also a kickboxing instructor, which has to make you the world’s first singer/songwriter kickboxing economist.
KB: (Laughs) That’s awesome.
BE: Any other hyphenates you’d like to add to your name before all is said and done?
KB: That’s awesome. Well I’m learning how to fly…no, I’m just kidding. That’s about it for now.
BE: I’ve spent the morning watching your old videos, and you were so cute in that “Paradise” video that I just wanted to pinch your little cheeks.
KB: Oh, thanks.
BE: Well it’s funny, because most kids in their early teens or younger, about your age, are usually embarrassed by whatever song they get as a hit a few years later, but “Paradise” is a damn fine little pop song.
KB: Thank you. Yeah, “Paradise” was so much fun. It really is what has me here still, to this day. Because I had so much fun that time, it became undeniable that I had to do this. It’s incredible, as much as it’s very, very hard now, I was very, very fortunate then. When I went overseas, I walked in going to all of the biggest television shows; doing all of the biggest radio stuff; and having a Top Ten hit within like two weeks of promotion, you know? It was just extravagant and it was life-changing. And I was so grateful for it. And now, all of a sudden you have to really start from scratch and build, and work and work and work and work. But either way, it gets to the end result that you want.
BE: I can see where seeing the world as a teenager might warp your view, in terms of career opportunities. I would probably want to stay in music as well.
KB: Exactly. Seeing the world and not only that, but how I walked in to every situation, you know when I went abroad, it was a different kind of life. I went in doing the television shows, doing the radio stations, staying at amazing hotels. I mean, the whole lifestyle was living my dreams. You know, so that really teaches you at a young age, like wow, not only is this possible, I’m doing it. And now I want to do it on a bigger scale.
BE: The catch with a lot of the kids who do get in to music at that early of an age, is that they don’t get to have a childhood. Now did you get to have a childhood?
KB: I did. Actually, for a while I didn’t. I didn’t while I was in the industry. As much as I thought that I did…even if you have time where you can hang out with your friends, like you know, where you’re not just working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is what happened some times. But when you could come home and have even a month off, or two months off or whatever it was, which was rare, but you’re still consumed…for instance, I was so whacked, my view of reality was so weird that I would go walk the dogs in designer clothes and makeup because I was so used to always being on call basically, you know, being on ‘on.’ Because in Europe, when I walked outside there was press. So I just had this weird view of reality and how I conducted myself when I went to somebody’s prom. I don’t know, just different kinds of thoughts. I always saw myself as a product and I didn’t really know myself as a little girl. So when I got out of the industry, and I’m talking late, like 17, somewhere between…well first it started at 15, that I started to question everything. And I went through some really tumultuous times in my life, where I got depression for a while and I had to deal with a lot of stuff. And that didn’t have to do with just music, that had to do with my whole life. I was questioning my religion and I had family members passing away. You know, internal family issues and myself. I had my own issues to deal with and just so much happening. Life really hit me hard after this huge rise of “Paradise” and all of that great stuff. When I came off of that, I had to deal with life and what life is when it’s not like that, you know?
So I decided after all the stress of all of that, to get out of it. And that’s when I really discovered who I was. I think that was another beautiful thing about studying abroad for me, is that I really kind of let go of all the pressures of being a public figure and being in music, and all of those questions that I had. And really just laughed and smiled and was carefree. It’s so weird being 18, 19 years old, knowing that you are emotionally going through things, and socially going through things that everybody else went through when they were 14 or 15. I was so innocent and naive when it came to even how to deal with friends, because I wasn’t around friends every day. I was running meetings, not going to class, you know? So I was kind of retarded, actually. When I would go out, I had close friends with me that had to guide me, like, “We don’t do that” and “Don’t let them say that.” And like they really helped me out. So it’s nice to finally know who I am as a human being.
BE: And you’re crazy possessive.
KB: Yes and damn it, I’m proud of it. No, I’m kidding.
BE: So you are working on a record right now. If you could bring anybody in to work on it with you, who would it be?
KB: Well, this is when you do alive or dead, because idealistically, I would like to work with Judy Garland. I think that would be the coolest thing.
BE: I was thinking of the living.
KB: Oh, the living. Okay. I want to work with some rappers, actually.
KB: Not too shocking. I think it’s appropriate. With some of the songs that I have, I would like to work with some heavy hitting rappers. You know, I don’t know whether that’s Lil Wayne, or Fabolous, or Ludacris, or Flo Rida or one of those. You know, I would be excited about all of those. So we will see.
BE: What does the rest of your year look like?
KB: Busy. Like, I’m not going to have time to breathe. I’m just going to be going around, promoting “Crazy Possessive,” finishing up my album and securing my second single. And international dates because of course, at some point, I am going to the U.K. And I’m going to Australia and I’m going to promote “Crazy Possessive” there. So setting up all of that as well. And, I mean it’s funny, you perform a lot around the holidays. That’s when you make the most money, so I am sure I’ll be performing on all of my family holidays. Which will be odd for me because I’m a family girl.
BE: You’ve been very gracious with your time since we started late. But I did want to mention one of the things that I did like about your vocal delivery, is that you don’t do any of that melisma nonsense. I just wanted to thank you for that.
KB: Oh, thank you. I learned that actually from people in my family. They would say if you’re going to do it, do it tastefully. But don’t do it too much.
BE: Yeah. As wonderful a singer as Mariah Carey is, she’s such a bad example. Everyone felt like that’s the only way to get noticed, is to show off.
KB: Oh, well thank you so much.
BE: Well have fun making the record. Have fun in New York and best of luck with the European tour. You’ve already hit Number One here, right? On the dance charts?
KB: Yep. Very excited.
BE: Do you have a tentative release date for the record?
KB: Spring. Oh, I’ve got the next [interviewer] calling.
BE: All right, I’ll let you go. Thanks.KB: All right. Thank you.