Stella Soleil
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Stella Soleil

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"vh1.com"

Stella Soleil Lip-Works Her 'Kiss Kiss'  
After initial misgivings, singer gives in to appeal of track, a remake of a 1999 Turkish hit.
 
by Shaheem Reid
http://www.vh1.com/artists/news/1443115/04242001/soleil_stella.jhtml

Most artists prefer to cultivate their albums to their own liking. Had that happened with Stella Soleil, she likely would not have recorded "Kiss Kiss."

As the Chicago native would tell you, when you get a call from The Man requesting you record a particular song, you take his suggestion under advisement ... even if you're not feeling the idea at first.

"Doug Morris [Universal Music Group Chairman/CEO] called me," Soleil began, "and said that there was a Turkish song by this guy named Tarkan, and he wanted me to cut it."

After hearing the track in question — "Simarik," a 1999 hit by one-named Turkish superstar Tarkan — Soleil was still skeptical. "I was so confused," she recalled. "I called [Morris] back and he said, 'Let's get a translator.' [Some lyrics] got lost in the translation. It's sort of nonsensical."

Soleil (pronounced so-LAY) realized she had the makings of a hit while she was recording the rewritten song, which became the first salvo from her LP Dirty Little Secret, due out May 22. Now with the "Kiss Kiss" video garnering big spins on the usual outlets, Morris is looking like a genius in his artist's eyes.

"Doug was probably right about the song," Soleil said, laughing. She allowed that the kissing sound in the chorus is her favorite part of the track.

Directed by Hype Williams, the video for "Kiss Kiss" was shot on a beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, though the exotic location wasn't all paradise for Soleil.

"In this one scene," she remembered, laughing, "I'm on top of this rock formation in the middle of the ocean. It was so scary. [Williams is] riding by, way down at the bottom on a wave, like, 'Hey girl, how you doing?' I was screaming down, 'I hate you!' He's so great."

When the singer first met with Williams, "He got me within 30 seconds," she recalled. "He was calling me Debbie Harry and stuff. But I'm going to kill him, though."

Soleil added that she and Williams — whom she calls "the single most gifted director around today" — got along so well, they teamed up for a hip-hop remix of "Kiss Kiss," with Williams producing the track.

The singer, whose real last name is Katsoudas, said the rest of Dirty Little Secret will involve a lot of tongue-in-cheek sexual humor. To gain inspiration for the album, she took a two-year trek around the world, during which she read, wrote in journals and practiced yoga while recording in five different countries.

"I spent two years by myself," she said. "[The label] was really supportive that I needed to go across the Atlantic to reinvent myself and to find my voice and my writing muse." - vh1.com/Shaheem Reid


"TeenFx.com"

What were your dreams for the future (if any) before you started singing? Did you ever consider another area of work?

I wanted to be a ballerina. I studied ballet for 19 years.
Tell us about you album, “Dirty Little Secret”?

I wanted to make a record with a twist. I wanted to prove that you could make a record that concentrated on song craft but that was still fun, something you could listen to and love and even dance to, but not hate yourself in the morning. I think I did that. Most of my lyrics come from my own personal journals that I have kept over the years.
Tell us about your lead-off single “Kiss Kiss”?

That song cracked me up so much when I was recording it. I had a difficult time blowing the kisses in the chorus, because I would just start to giggle. They actually had to bring in other girls to do it. The producer was so mad!
What do you do that most appeals to teens?

I am realistic about being young and what that means.
Are there any artists that you would like to work with in the future?

Billy Idol, I just worked with him on his Storytellers for VH1 show. He's got such a strong voice. Trent Reznor is someone who I've always respected musically. He's an amazing songwriter and producer.
Is it hard to stay close to your friends and family with such a busy work schedule?

No, I live on the Cell phone. But my work schedule does make it tough. In the end, it’s always important to actually see people and reconnect.
Do you have any questions that you like to ask the teens?

What music turns you on and why?
Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

A yoga school.
What would you like to tell teens about yourself, what kind of message would you like to send to today's teens?

I'm not the kind of person who says, 'this is the way things have to be’. I collaborate on everything. I went into the studio thinking I needed to put my ego in my back pocket. And I think I wrote some great songs because I wasn't afraid to listen. When I was younger I thought I needed to know everything, but now I'm not afraid to admit my weaknesses. I totally went in open-minded, and beautiful things happened. I am not a quitter. Anytime someone says, "’No’, I work until they say 'yes'. Persistence and belief in yourself is key. - TeenFx.com


"Hiponline.com"

When did you start working on Dirty Little Secret?
Two years ago. I've been writing and recording it and I went to London and went into seclusion and wrote volumes of journals. I wrote eighty-six songs.

Wow.

Yeah. This album reflects an intense two-year period of self-growth. I really concentrated without distraction.

How did you choose out of all of those songs what would make the record?

I didn't. I couldn't. I sort of partnered up with my label this time and listened to what they had to say. Instead of fighting them, which is my natural tendency, this time I took a step back and said explain. And much to my surprise they made a lot of sense. I trusted them enough to choose from my demos. To tell you my truth, it was all my work so I didn't care what wound up on the record and what didn't. I love them all and I didn't want to choose. It's like choosing your kids.

Are you holding on to the songs left off?

Yeah. It's great because now my publisher will have this catalog to work with, and also I really found out in the last two years that I love writing. I've always written my own stuff, but I was always concentrating more on being an artist as apposed to being a writer. This record I was more of a writer and let the artist come out instead of creating a character. I let it all happen naturally. So now I love writing so much that I think I'd like to for other projects too.

Same here. My fun things to do are working on movie scripts.

Really? That is so cool.

But I can't give up interviewing because truly it's something I do out of love. It's the one thing I really look forward to.

You know, I'd love to do something like that too because I have tons and tons of questions.

- Hiponline.com


"Hear/Say Online"

Stella Soleil: Dirty Little Secret
Universal

Energetic ex-ballet dancer Stella Katsoudas was the driving force behind Chicago techno/industrial/dance/rock band, Sister Soleil. The group became known for its incendiary performances, driven by Stella's charismatic stage presence and adventurous vocalizing. The group disbanded shortly after releasing 1998's Soularium on Universal and now, calling herself Stella Soleil, she's going it alone.

Dirty Little Secret shows no trace of the girl who used to sing for Ministry and Chemlab and whose restless voice leapt across genres and cultures. Instead, Stella has set out to re-conquer the new wave era. Anyone who has ever watched a VH-1 '80s weekend will instantly recognize her array of bright 'n' bubbly pop influences than span from Blondie at the beginning of the decade to Madonna at the end.

Bouncy synth-pop dance tunes like "Kiss Kiss" (the only tune revealing the Middle-Eastern keening she was once so fond of) and "Imperfect" share disc space with glossy ballads like "Love You to Death" and "Dance With Me" that recall "Open Your Heart"/"Like a Prayer"-era Madonna, with lavish melodies over synth rhythm tracks. "You" is perhaps a little too mainstream '80s. With lyrics like "You are so beautiful and special/you're my hero and you don't even know," it's mostly evocative of Journey.

But elsewhere Stella keeps things light, fun and infectious. "Let's Go to Bed" helps itself to the title of an early Cure hit, though the song is a jaunty R&B influenced dance pop workout. And "Pretty Young Thing" borrows the spirit of producer Phil Spector and his famous wall of sound production, topped by a generous ain't-love-grand vocal that sounds like Belinda Carlisle in her prime. It's big, warm and uplifting. Certainly, some of this material is a bit lightweight for a singer of Stella's range, but she seems to be having such a great time that it's tough to quibble about it.

By Anastasia Pantsios

- Anasatsia Pantsios for Hear/Say


"All Music Guide"

Dirty Little Secret Review

Stella Soleil's debut is an infectious collection of dance pop and contemporary soul. As one would surmise by the album's moniker and sexy cover art, the songs all center on the perils, pitfalls, and triumphs of romance. What Soleil lacks in vocal prowess, she makes up for in attitude. Her voice is thin, yet her phrasing captures the listener's attention with a subtle vibrato and occasional whisper. For a dance album aimed at the youth market the lyrics are realtively insightful and mature as the Chicago native often draws from personal experience and erotic fantasy. The song-craft is undeniable as well. One could render these tunes in any genre and win an audience. With an all-star production team that includes Thom Panunzio and Brain Rawlings and mixes that dispaly a cutting edge electronica sheen with a strong backbeat, this disc is set to conquer Top-40 radio. ~ Tom Semioli, All Music Guide

- Tom Semioli


"PopMatters Music Review"

Stella Soleil
Dirty Little Secrets
(Universal)


by Patrick Schabe


What a strange, interesting little album. In as many respects that it conforms to the conventional expectations of contemporary pop music, that is, pop music made for radio-friendly, TRL-receptive audiences, it also defies such simplistic categorization. Much like, apparently, Stella Soleil herself.

Stella's story is almost important to appreciating this album as the music on it. A trained dancer who began a music career by accident, Stella's background is as unique as that of any other pop diva. Through stubbornness and perseverance, she managed to get herself a job in the recording industry which she then used to create her own label, her own band, and acquire a recording contract. She sang back-up for bands like Ministry, 16 Volt, and Chemlab. When it was time for her to record her own music, her band Sister Soleil managed to get signed on at major label Universal.

Sister Soleil was a strange, interesting band as well. Combining techno and industrial sounds with dubs and loops, a tinge of goth, and a hint of pop, the band released one album for Universal, 1998's Soularium. While such a combination of sounds might not seem like the most innovative music out there, the album's strength lay in the fact that the songs were, for the most part, extremely distinct with one another. While one song might opt for a goth dance floor edge of Eastern rhythms and chant, the next took a dive towards hip-hop, and still another towards mainstream radio pop. It might be that Sister Soleil's strength in experimentation and variety was also their weakness, creating a disjointed collection whose mood shifted too much, but for whatever reasons, the band was dissolved and Stella began working on her solo project.

Fans of Sister Soleil might be surprised, and maybe more than a little disappointed, that Stella's solo disc weighs heavier in the direction of formulaic radio pop than it does towards aural experiments. It's difficult while listening to Dirty Little Secrets to reconcile that this same person ever sang on a Ministry track. But if the listener manages to keep an open mind about the whole thing, a comparison between Stella Soleil now and those who sell bubblegum records to teens shows that Stella has a whole lot more to offer.

True, songs like "Kiss, Kiss", "You", "Angel Face", and kooky, yet fun, "Let's Go to Bed" (a bizarre cross of Britney and Ani DiFranco), would probably sell as soundtracks from a summer teen movie. True, the record was manipulated and polished by a round of big time producers. But for all that, there is enough originality and depth to this collection of songs that it doesn't sink under a saccharine weight. Here and there the airy tones of luminaries like the Cocteau Twins (a band Stella cut her teeth on) and Danielle Dax shine through. At other moments more mainstream comparisons could be made to Meredith Brooks or even a less raw Alanis. Songs like "Imperfect" even bring to mind Garbage in their lighter moments.

First and foremost this is a pop album. Despite the intimacy and personality that Stella brings to these tracks, they're all variations on love songs and there's only so much room to maneuver in pop love songs anymore. Yet Stella herself is sexy and beautiful in a way that the current crop of airbrushed teens can't even begin to understand. She even manages to make these songs seem genuine, which they are, but it's rare that you actually believe a Mandy Moore or Jessica Simpson when they croon about the depth of their love. So for what Dirty Little Secrets is, it's a pleasant surprise that it's so well done.

The media kit for Dirty Little Secrets quotes Stella saying, "I wanted to prove you could make a record that concentrated on songcraft but that was still fun, something you could listen to and love and even dance to, but not hate yourself in the morning. I think I did that." And the strange, interesting thing about Dirty Little Secrets is that for all the lightweight moments, for the fluff around the good stuff, she actually managed to achieve this goal. - PopMatters Music Review


Discography

Ep-
Drown Me in You (Katharsis Records 1997)
Lp-
Soularium (Universal Records 1998)
Dirty Little Secret (Universal Records 2001)
Singles-
Red (Katharsis Records 1997)
Torch (Universal Records 1998)
Butterfly (Universal Records 1998)
Kiss Kiss (Universal Records 2001)
Pretty Young Thing (Universal Records 2001)
Gazza/Eyes, with Dolphin (Universal Records Moscow 2003)
Videos-
Torch (Universal Records 1997)
Kiss Kiss (Universal Records 2001)
Eyes Without A Face/To Be A Lover/ Mony Mony with Billy Idol (Billy Idol’s VH-1 Storytellers DVD 2002)
Gazza/Eyes with Dolphin (Universal Records 2003)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Stella soleil has had a long and winding road of a career. Starting out in 1996, in the Chicago industrial scene, she recorded with legendary Wax Traxx acts, such as Ministry, Chemlab, KMFDM, 16 Volt, and Die Warzau amongst many others. She started her own label (Katharsis Records) and put out her first ep under the moniker of SISTER SOLEIL. As a result of her efforts and radio play she received, she was approached by all major labels, and found her home with Universal Records where she was taken under the wing of legendary CEO Doug Morris. She put out two albums for universal, SOULARIUM (1998) AND DIRTY LITTLE SECRET (2001) which spawned a hit single (Kiss Kiss, produced by Jimmy Iovine and Thom Panunzio) and garnered heavy rotation at top 40, MTV, MTV2, and VH-1. After extensive touring and promotion supporting DIRTY LITTLE SECRET, she took a well deserved break. In her hiatus, she began working on a book, which is near completion and in the past year she began writing new material and is now ready to present it to the world. She also has been writing for other major label artists such as Tommy Lee, Sean Stuart, and she scored a hit called "Gazza/Eyes" with a Russian artist named Dolphin. This prompted a press tour, MTV TRL/Moscow and top radio appearances, and a video shoot in Berlin. This video that can be seen on this epk.