We love it when a pop star lady plays up to diva status. The more camp the better. And when you’ve been a founding member of Alcazar, starred in those videos, emerged onto the Melodifestivalen stage in Globen out of a giant discoball, and left the group being carted out on a stretcher by two ambulance men – well that gives you the licence to run and run and run (in six inch heels) with the camp diva icon status for as long as you wish.
And that’s what Mi Amore Annikafiore has done ever since. Largely laying low from the limelight since her Alcazar days, she’s ensured that the few times she does step back to the centre of the stage, it’s done so with enough style that you’ll remember it – during her next leave of absence. Gifting fans with two reinventions of her creative self in half a decade, Annikafiore already knows what you thinks of her – and she relishes it and feeds it.
This year she’s blessed us with her first solo EP – ‘Preaching To The Choir‘. And within that there’s been the fan favourite of a single, ‘Don’t Wanna C U Tonight’. That has in turn received not just a remix, but a veritable reinvention by SoundFactory. And it’s that track which has been amassing the plays on You Tube, climbing the Swedish dance charts, and brought the lady herself back out into full on promo mode – which led to a Stockholm Pride gig and a UK radio interview at the beginning of last month.
So when a big fan of hers, Dave Higdon, offered to interview Annikafiore for scandipop.co.uk, of course we said yes. We’d love to hear some nuggets of wisdom and gossip from the elusive diva. And any fan who worships at the alter of Annikafiore (mmmm, can you imagine how intoxicating that alter wine is?!) will obviously know exactly what needs to be asked. She didn’t disappoint of course, and gave an interesting retrospective of her career from pre-Alcazar to a projection of post-‘Preaching To The Choir’. And an overdue insight into the mind behind the music.
Have yourself a read of this;
Hello Annikafiore! Let’s start at the beginning. Did you always know you would be a singer?
My dream was never to be a singer. It’s always been about creating music, storytelling, and communication with an audience. I just think singing came very naturally for me, but growing up dancing, acting and writing songs was equally important to me.
I read that you were the lead singer in a girl group called “The Dreamettes.” And a dancer and backing vocalist for another group called “E-type.” Plus, as teenagers, you and Mitch (from A.v.E.) made music together. Any chance there are any early recordings that fans could hear?
Well, The Dreamettes was a Dreamgirls inspired group I created with Laila Bagge, Malena Laszlo and Åsa Fång all of us singing lead, sharing the spotlight. We did some TV like TV 4 on New Year’s Eve of 1994. As one of E-types back up singers I did a lot of TV.
I hope they end up on YouTube soon! How did you meet Andreas and Tess? And how was Alcazar formed?
We hung out with the same crowd of people, and wound up doing everything together. Then Alexander Bard contacted Andreas and we became a disco mènage-a-trois.
Is it true that Alexander Bard christened you as “Annikafiore”?
Yes, and I don’t know why. Maybe it was from Casta di Fiore in the Tintin comics? But I love flowers and Italy so I kept it.
“Crying At The Discoteque” was such a club hit around the world. Did you ever meet Richard Gere? Or hear from him about what he thought his name used in the song?
Yes, and he’s been hiding in the mountains of Tibet ever since. 😉
How did the group dynamics in Alcazar change when Magnus joined the group?
It divided us in to girls and boys, where the boys got most of the attention and the girls became more backup singers. But it also brought Magnus’ beautiful voice and a new friendship. And since Magnus was famous in Sweden, we got the national recognition we craved.
Which Melodifestivalen performance is your favourite, and why? “Not A Sinner Nor A Saint” or “Alcastar”?
I loved Sinner/Saint and think we could have won that year, if people had known more about us. I’m so proud of that. Still haven’t watched Alcastar, don’t like watching myself after a show, and although it has a good chorus I never understood the lyrics. And people say my lyrics are weird …
When you broke your ankle on the set of “Start The Fire”, that was the end of your time with Alcazar. Did you know then, that would be it?
That unfortunately was a nightmare coming true. Bad hair day, indeed. Couldn’t wear heels for 6 months.
Ouch! You didn’t talk to Andreas and Tess for a long time after that. But now everything seems to be OK, right?
I’m so thankful to life, how it all turned out for me and I wish them all the best.
Alcazar fans have taken great comfort knowing that you really like Lina, and that you are happy that Alcazar continued on. Have you ever spoken to Lina after she joined the group?
I always loved Lina as an artist, and I think she’s perfect in Alcazar. I could never get away with wearing that much pink. 😉
You were recently at Alcazar’s last show. What was that like for you?
Exciting, and a totally different Alcazar. New and reinvented. They did a great job transforming, and seem so united style-wise.
More happy party, less ”tears on the dancefloor” and bittersweet, than what we were going for creating the first edition in 1998.
Your first music venture after Alcazar, was with a group called Avatar versus Eve. You were the vocalist, and Mitch was the producer. Who was Lola?
She was a wicked plastic makeup doll head, with a huge ego and a tiny voice.
The first A.v.E. single was “Party People.” It came with a nice remix package, but there was no video. Why not? And if you could go back in time to make a video, what would it have been like?
The goal for me was to learn how to write songs and create music. At first I didn’t want anyone to know it was me. I wasn’t ready to go Fiore yet. I wrote a script to the video but the timing was off. It was however, inspired by ”Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and that Capote kind of decadence I love so much.
The second A.v.E. single was the fabulous “I’ve Still Got The Highest Heels In The Room.” This time, it had a wonderfully campy video. And you looked amazing. Yet, the song was not available for commercial download. Can you tell us what happened?
Record label stuff … Did the video, signed and waited for them to do their job (like watching grass grow). So we parted with the label and they promised to retract everything. But the other day I found it on Spotify, so someone (not me) is making a dime on it I’m sure. Buying shoes meant for me. 😉
Well that doesn’t seem right! A.v.E. Performed at Copenhagen Pride in 2009. You sang an amazing cover of “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Was that to be on the A.v.E. album that never was?
Yes, that and ten other songs. R.I.P
Next up was your remake of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” with Sophie Rimheden. How did that come about?
We are from the same small town and were asked to do a tribute to Bruce Springsteen. We had so much fun, so when she asked if I’d sing it, I said yes. I love the way she makes her own statement.
In 2010, you released your first solo single, the amazing “Forbidden Love”, which was also the official anthem for Copenhagen Pride. Was it your first time working with Antti Vuorenniemi?
When I decided to go solo, I contacted him wanting him to produce a couple of songs I’d written. He challenged me to develop a new sound and after a few sessions we started writing songs together. I think he’s a very gifted songwriter and producer and I love the way he can do all kinds of music — everything from punk to disco. We wrote FL after I read about Uganda’s horrible treatment of gay people. It’s outrageous! It wasn’t the first song we did, but this one was so full of feelings and pain that it changed our sound for the future. Daring me to leave my comfort zone and sing with a broken voice, telling the story full out and him combining African drums with Scandinavian style strings.
WOW, that is amazing. You also let your fans have the first single for free when they went to your new website. That was very nice of you! What made you decide to give it away for free?
Well darling it was a combo PR for my new website ;), but also that it wasn’t thought of as being a first single but a statement. For free love.
The video for “Forbidden Love” was brilliant. I still can’t believe you wore your wedding dress in the mud, and it came clean in your pool. (All of this I know from your blog on Annikafiore.com). Did your husband mind?
Until I reminded him that I’m not gonna use it again … and then he saw the beautiful men I shared the mud pit with and appreciated the amount of fabric between me and their naked bodies. 🙂
In March of this year, you filmed the video for “Love 2 Live”, which was intended to be the first single from your EP. Will it be the next single?
I have no idea, but it’s a really stylish video …
Your first EP “Preaching To The Choir” is amazing! And so many people loved the melancholy opening track “Don’t Wanna C U 2nite”. Is that how it came to be the first single?
Yes, absolutely. As the title of the EP suggests, it’s for fans and friends. I love all my songs equally, so I have to listen to the reactions. And that’s the magic of websites and Facebook — getting the feedback right away.
SoundFactory really made the song a dancefloor stomper! How did you feel when you heard the remix rework your song into a dance hit?
I am all in awe and a huge SoundFactory fan, so I love it!
What is next musically for Annikafiore? Did I hear there are two more EPs on the horizon?
At least right now, it’s all about getting my single out, on dancefloors and radio, but there are a lot of songs in the pipeline.
Would you consider taking the lyrics to “Party People” and “Highest Heels” and recording new music with them to make them your own solo songs?
For Party People, I think that the perfect version has been made all ready by SoundFactory, but for ” I’ve still got the highest heels in the room”, I will re-record and produce it differently for sure. Without Lola.
What? Lola sings on “Highest Heels”? I’m confused!
Yes, Lola is singing too. But she couldn’t be in the video, cause she got drunk and went on a gay cruise, and we haven’t seen her since. Last thing I heard she’s modeling wigs in Canberra, Australia. She was very upset cause she thinks that Lady Gaga stole her body …
I heard that you have a solo version of “Crying At The Discoteque” for your live shows. Are there any other Alcazar songs you perform live or remake?
I’ve done ”This is the world we live in”, ”Sinner/saint” and ”Don’t you want me”, in my own versions on longer shows, but I won’t remake them for a release. But I will release ”Crying” one day.
Do you think you would ever join Alcazar on stage again? Say for a 20th reunion show?
I’m sure Alcazar will be back, but with the present cast. Lina earned her place in the group, and I respect that. ? And I’m having a little too much fun doing my own thing. 😉
Well, thank for the interview. Good luck in the future. And congratulations on “Don’t Wanna C U 2nite” having success on the Swedish Dance Charts!
And thank you, Sir. 🙂