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Billboard.biz - 6th October 2007
DEBBIE HARRY EVOLVES TO THE BEAT
After 14 Years, Singer Gears Her New Solo Album To Dance Clubs
When she recalls that her last solo record was released 14 years ago, Debbie Harry has a note of incredulity in her voice. "I guess time flies, huh?' she says with a laugh. The Blondie frontwoman didn't initially set out to record another album, but describes the process behind "Necessary Evil" (Oct. 9, Eleven Seven Music/Alternative Distribution Alliance) as "an evolution."
"I started working with [production team] Super Buddha whenever I had free time between other commitments," she says. "I was funding the project myself and didn't have a deal, but I really liked the team and wanted to work with them. When I had six or seven tracks done, I played it for my manager, who suggested that I keep going and record an entire album."
The result is a glossy record that veers from rock to girl-group harmonies to tribal beats. Topics range from the tabloid fascination with troubled celebrities like Lil' Kim to the internal monologue of a female suicide bomber about to end her life in pursuit of paradise. Esoteric, sure—but Harry says she wasn't gunning for mass-market approval.
Harry's marketing team hopes the buzz will build from the bottom up. "She's made the record for her fans and wants them to discover it and talk about it," says Allen Kovac, Harry's manager and CEO of 10th Street Entertainment. "We've planned a full-circle approach to getting the word out about the album. She played the 'Today' show in June, and then headed out on the True Colors tour in July to preview her new solo material. We're working on Internet and print media right now, and then she'll head back to the 'Today' show in October to complete the cycle." A fall or winter tour, he says, is a possibility as well.
One audience that has already responded enthusiastically has been dance music fans and DJs, who have propelled her first single "Two Times Blue" to No. 37 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. Pro Motion president Brad LeBeau was brought onboard to market the record to the dance community. "We produced two sets of remixes, and the first set took all the DJs by storm," he says. Based on the strong response, he plans to release a second set of remixes in October.
Harry is no stranger to dance clubs, with such Blondie songs as "Atomic" and "Rapture" nestled comfortably at the top of many DJs' playlists. Harry also continues to perform with Blondie—in September, at a Tommy Hilfiger party at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the band played a number of its hits. Still, she wants to make a clear distinction between the work she does as a solo artist and her role in the band.
"If I tour for the new record, I won't play any Blondie songs," Harry says. "I don't want to step on any toes." She also admits that, as much as she loves the hits, "I do get tired of them after a certain point." But Blondie fans shouldn't lose hope just yet: U.S. gigs and a new album, she says, are both likely soon.
Until then, Harry is focusing on a number of personal projects. Aside from "Necessary Evil," she is also gearing up for the release of "Elegy," a new film based on a Philip Roth novel in which she has a starring role. She also continues to write and record new material. After all these years, "I just really like to play," she says. "I never get sick of making music."
Billboard.biz - 6th October 2007