Gary James' Interview With
At the age of twenty, she released her first single, a song called "Touch Me". That song, from the album of the same name, plus three other songs, charted at Number One in fifteen countries and Top Five in many others, including the US. Her tours took her around the world, selling out halls of up to 30,000 seats across Canada and the US. Along the way, she also visited Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and Korea. In Montreal, she broke the box office record. In South America she enjoyed huge record sales and a sold out tour (20,000 seats) followed, sponsored by Pepsi. 50,000 people greeted her at the airport in Columbia. In one year alone, she played to over a million fans, performing in countries where Pop stars don't usually play; Bosnia, Russia, Ukraine and Siberia. In India, she performed to 70,000 people, three nights in a row, breaking the record previously held by Bruce Springsteen. Her newest CD is titled "Angel With An Attitude". Her name is Samantha Fox.
Q - Samantha, I guess the feeling in the US is, if you're not on the charts over here and you're not touring here, your career is over. For you, it looks like your career has never been better.
A - Yeah, I'm still very busy today. I do a lot of touring. There's so many fans in the fan clubs. The website gets a lot of hits. There's always a need for people wanting to come see me 'live'. So, as long as people are still asking me to do it, I'll carry on. Album-wise, I'm still working on albums. Unfortunately my last album, "Angel With An Attitude" wasn't released in America, but now it's available on i-tunes and all major download sites. It took so long to get answers from the record companies, when the release is going to be, when are they gonna do it. In the end, we pulled it from a few record labels, started our own label and released it on the Internet. Sometimes when you license your own material, it can take so long. I'm working on the new one now! (laughs) Always busy. Always writing or doing something somewhere in the world.
Q - You're going to be a talent judge on a show called Putting On The Hits. Is that similar to American Idol?
A - Very similar. That's why I've been in talks with the company about that for about a year now. I'm just still waiting to know when it's going to happen. It's all to do with music. I'll be a judge. Sometimes you get judges and they don't know a thing they're talking about, do they? (laughs) So, I'm looking forward to that. It'll be something different. I haven't been to America for such a long time, it'll be a good window shop to let people know I'm still alive and kickin'. I'm still doing it. Hopefully an American record label will hurry up and sign the album.
Q - What network will be carrying the show?
A - I don't know any of that yet. I think they just wanted to make sure they had me onboard and then they can go sell the idea.
Q - Will you be the only famous judge on the program?
A - There will be two other famous people. I can't reveal the names, but one will probably be a top A&R guy at a label.
Q - You've had great success in Ukraine, Russia and Bosnia. How did people over in those countries hear about you? Is there a record industry over there?
A - I guess MTV. MTV is pretty much world-wide right now. I became very popular basically in the '80s. A lot of those countries like the Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania are still behind the Iron Curtain. Promoters were getting me out there in the '80s. A lot of people said to me "Why are you going to those countries? They don't sell records in those countries. If they do, they're bootlegs." I was like, "Yeah, but I get fan mail from these countries." There's people out in these places that want to see me. I think because it's difficult to get there, I really tried hard and got to these countries and I did concerts. That's why now all these new countries which have opened up, get albums, get records and they're still fans today. So yeah, I'm constantly working countries like the Ukraine, Moscow, St. Petersberg. It's quite amazing really. When I started to go to Russia in the '80s, people saw that I cared and I broke the rules really. It was pretty difficult to get promoters to put concerts on in those days. But we used to get to those places and do the concerts. Whenever there's a major TV show, they always ask me back...and concerts. New Years Eve (2008), I played in Transylvania, outside in minus 10 degrees. (laughs) That was crazy. All the audience were in big fur hats and big fur coats. Me and my dancers in these skimpy little outfits. It's freezing.
Q - How do you do that? Doesn't your voice suffer?
A - You have to make sure you do a good warm-up. Suddenly you go out in the cold, it hits your chest more than your voice. When you got really cold conditions, you can't get your breath. I have to take it a little bit slower and do a really good warm-up. It was certainly difficult the first time I performed outside in minus 10. That was mad. (laughs) I like doing mad things. It's a little bit different.
Q - You were recording at the age of 15 on the Lamborghini label. How successful was that label?
A - It wasn't very successful. Mr. Lamborghini himself, the father, gave his son a lot of money to start his own record label. I was signed to Lamborghini. They weren't brilliant. The record made like number 42 I think, the first one. The second one was like Top 50. They didn't really have a clue in those days and I didn't either. I was so young. I didn't have a clue about the music business. I basically left it all up to them and they weren't really doing a brilliant job. But what it did for me was give me great experience at a young age. I was doing a lot of 'live' work at such a young age. So, when I got success later on in life with my first song, "Touch Me", an international hit, I didn't feel scared because I'd had some kind of experience. If anything, I felt ready for it, because I'd been down that road. I saw the mistakes that were made by the label or even by me to some extent. You only learn by your mistakes, so it was a good learning curve for me. A great time I had. It was great fun turning up at school on Monday, telling your mates you just played a gig at a university and what a laugh you had. The band were great and the audience were lovin' it. It was a brilliant time.
Q - Why do you think the public has continued to follow your career over the years?
A - They corresponded. Before I released "Touch Me", I had a modeling contract with The Sun newspaper for four years. At that time I had like 10,000 people in my fan club, from just the modeling pictures. When it became international, it just grew huge. I'm very hands-on with the fan club. It's very personal. And the fans really seemed to like that hands-on approach. I keep in touch with 'em. My fans are very, very loyal. They know without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. If you look at my website, it's very personal. When it's my birthday and there's a few friends in my house, I put pictures on. I talk about my holidays. I talk about my feelings, my thoughts, my fears. Also, when I do gigs, if they're in the fan club, they know they're gonna get to meet me. They meet me backstage afterwards. Some of those fans I get to meet have been my fans since 1983 and suddenly we're meeting. That makes their day. That makes their year. So, it's the least I can do. I think that's why. I've kept my hands on with my fans and basically let them all know without them, I wouldn't be here today.
Q - Why aren't you still recording for Jive Records?
A - The contract came to an end. I had a four album deal with Jive. My last album had been "Just One Night". It was such a shame. It was my last album with Jive. We were probably gonna continue with another four album deal, do the "Greatest Hits" after the fourth album and then sign another deal for four or five albums. On the fourth album, Jive had a licensing deal with RCA Records in America. Jive started off as quite a small label in Britain. They weren't very big in America, so they needed a big label. The last album got recorded. We did a video for the single "Could Hurt Me, Hurt Me". We flew back to England and kept waiting and waiting. We were so ready to do the promotion for it and get back to America and all over the world to promote it and basically they were in talks. Jive Records was in talks with RCA for about two months over a contract, whether Jive would renew their contract with RCA as a license, at which time my album was just sitting on a shelf. Nothing was happening with it. I guess it was such a sad time for me. When the "Greatest Hits" came out, Jive didn't even ask me to promote it. It just came out. So, that's why I didn't continue with Jive Records. My album suffered because of politics, not because it was a rubbish album. We worked with top European producers. There was no expense spared. It was a great album. Unfortunately, I suffered because of politics between Jive and RCA. It just got left on the shelf. The single came out, "Hurt Me, Hurt Me", but I didn't do any promotion for it. After that, I took time out for a couple of years. I did a couple of movies. I did a couple of things I wanted to do. Then, I started to do more touring. When I was signed with Jive, the promotion side of it was so flum, that when I used to say "I want to go on tour for six months", they were like, "Well, you can't because this album is coming out and this single is coming out. You gotta promote it." They weren't really into the touring side. So, a couple of years after I left Jive, I did a lot of touring. I loved it. Then I signed another album deal with a European label from France. It did OK in Europe and the Far East and South America. Again, not a lot of success in America. I wasn't with the right label. My new album now, well I call it new, it's three years old now, it's not been out in America. I was waiting so long for a release date from the company. In the end, I had to start a label in order to put it on i-tunes. So, we did that and now it's available for download world-wide. What was happening, people would buy it on tour and it was costing fans a fortune. So, that's why I've done this.
Q - What a strange attitude Jive Records had. I always thought a record company wanted an artist to get out on the road and tour.
A - Jive was more of, let's say more of a dance label with people like 'N Sync and Billy Ocean. I guess I really should have been signed to somebody like a good ol' Rock 'n' Roll label. (laughs) It was important for me to know that I was real, that I wasn't this manufactured piece of Pop. Do you know what I mean? Here's your songs. You sing it and this is the video. I was a true artist and wanting to get out there and tour. It was just as well that it came to an end 'cause they would never have supported me. I remember I got Disney dates, which is quite a feat to get, where you play Disney for two months for all the high school grads. I was working with EMF, New Kids On The Block. It was really a big show. We were playing three shows a night in Disney, in Florida. I was reaching a lot of people who weren't necessarily my fans. The record company didn't even come to see me play. They weren't interested.
Q - In the early days, Jive Records was trying to sell you as a sex symbol, weren't they?
A - Oh, yeah.
Q - Did that bother you?
A - Well, I said to them, with something like "Touch Me", we don't have to go over the top. The song says it all. At the time, I guess I knew what kind of rubbish they were looking for 'cause I auditioned to sing the song "Touch Me". But they were looking for a British Madonna. At the time, Madonna had a controversial hit with "Like A Virgin". They wanted to find to same. They were looking for a pretty girl with a cheeky song and I obviously fitted that role I guess at that time. I'd been modeling for four years prior to "Touch Me" where I posed topless. I'd done Playboy. I didn't really feel we had to really harbor in about that. If anything, it kind of hindered my career in England because I was so successful as a model up until "Touch Me", that I think a lot of people thought it was a joke, I wasn't serious. So, I kept saying to Jive, if anything, it's not gonna help to keep promoting the body, the body all the time. To me, I couldn't see the longevity in it. We got to a happy medium in the end, but first I remember with "Touch Me" they wanted me to give out a calendar, a sexy calendar to the DJs. I was like, "Can't we just do one gatefold picture in a little pair of jean shorts and a t-shirt?" They wanted a bit more than that, more like the Sports Illustrated vibe. I was like, "We don't need to. The song stands up." You've got to be so careful when you use sex to sell something. There's a real thin line you don't cross. The one thing I didn't want to be was intimidating to women or to man. I wanted to be approachable and by being too sexy, it's difficult to get accepted sometimes. Some women can be so overly sexy they scare men off and make women feel insecure. You don't get a happy medium. So, I said to the record company, "but I want to do it with a smile on face. I want to do it tongue-in-cheek. It's got to be sexy, cheeky. Not in your face sex." And I think I pulled it off, because you're always seeing in the videos, I've got a sense of humor and a cheeky look on my face where it's like saying "Don't take me seriously. This is a song." I'm not using sex as a weapon as such.
Q - Did you know there is a porn star out there with the name Samantha Fox?
A - I know. This one broke America?
Q - I have no idea.
A - It's not something I Google very often. (laughs) She's probably real old by now. I remember in the '80s when I started, she was about 40 then. So, she's probably about 60 now. What can I say? She was lucky she was born before. She picked the name before I was born. But, it is my real name. It's not her real name. She picked it before I was born and she registered it. So, there's a couple of us out there. (laughs)
Q - You knew at a pretty early age that you were going to be in show business, didn't you?
A - Oh, yes as a kid, definitely. I would disappear into me bedroom, getting dressed up, miming along to a song, coming down showing me Mom and Dad me new outfit, or me new dressing up look, singing 'em a song. It was like an audience. (laughs)
Q - What would've happened if you had failed in your attempt to become a model or a singer? Did you have some kind of a back-up plan?
A - Oh, definitely. I always had a back-up plan. My Dad was fantastic like that. I remember my Dad saying at school. "Take typing Sam, 'cause you never know. You can fall back on being a secretary if nothing else works." I remember taking typing, which I hated. I did look at other careers, although when I was in the sixth form at school, we had to go a careers teacher and tell them what we wanted to do for a living. I said I wanted to be famous. I said I wanted to be a singer, an actress. I wanted to be a star. They're looking at me like I'm very modest. "You're very modest, Samantha. You've got to pick something." Then I said "OK. I want to be a policeman. Really, I want to be a private detective. I want to by-pass that a bit and be a plain clothes police." (laughs) They just laughed at me. So, I had to write to the police force 'cause I had to show that I was really looking for a proper job. So, I wrote to Hendon Police Force and they wrote back to me saying I was too short. I was quite pleased, actually. (laughs) So, remember, I was still in school when I became famous. It was very odd to go straight into show business.
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