Monday, July 22, 2013

Memoirs of a Geisha-in-the-Making™ … How the Song Came to Be

As mentioned previously, GEISHA-MANIA!™ practically wrote itself -- after years of deliberation. Here's the story …

What did I know about recording a song -- or physical comedy for that matter? Not much, if you discount the east coast record company I worked with years ago in the 90's. Now THAT was funny. Talk about delusions of white girl grandeur. Let me digress. Back then, I actually found a label that would meet with me to discuss recording a so-called "comedy album," but when I walked into a room full of real rappers and music producers, all I could think was, "Holy sh*t!"

They sized me up and said, "Ok, sing." Just like that. My response was "Now?" followed by, "Can we at least close the door?" Doors shut, I mustered as much Bronx-bred bravado as possible and sang. (Well, I wouldn’t quite call it “singing,” but you get the drift.) And when I was done, five big black dudes were slapping their knees, stomping their feet, and hooting hysterically. I kid you not.

I actually recorded a comedic novelty song with them, but wasn't thrilled with the contract and refused to sign. That song was never released, but I walked away with a TV track (instrumental version). Regardless of what could have been, I've always known how much I loved making people laugh. From a baby's belly-laugh to adults chortling liquid out their noses, it's still music to my ears.

Around that same time, I created a goofy geisha cartoon and thought it would be funny to bring her to life, like a female Austin Powers-type character. ("Very GEISHA-NISTA, baby!") Of course she'd need a theme song, so I used that same TV track to “produce” the original version of “Geisha-Mania."

Armed with a second-hand karaoke machine, I somehow recorded vocals and layered the chorus to sound like a crowd. (Sort of.) I have no clue what I did, but soon found myself on radio morning shows back in NJ, opening nightclubs in Brooklyn, and center stage at the Atlantic City Film Festival with an over-the-hill Sally Kirkland, who stuffed herself into a black spandex dress like sausage at San Gennaro. Don't even ask. 

All that was great fun, but back then I honestly didn't know how to spin the character to the next level -- nor did I have the time or money. I was a struggling single mom who didn't have the luxury of playing wannabe performer. Forced to put “Geisha-Mania” on hold, I knew I'd figure it out at some point. 

Early last year was that point. While working as a senior writer for Disney Interactive, I started re-thinking the project, but couldn't finalize an angle for the character or new lyrics. "Gangnam Style" started ruling YouTube, and I knew a K-pop revolution had begun -- the timing was right. I was still mulling it over until September, when my entire division was laid off right after Labor Day.

Later that month it all became clear -- the lyrics, the angle, everything. Like manna from heaven. “Geisha-Mania” would be GAGA GONE GANGNAM! Seemingly lychees were being laid at my feet. With Psy's wacky horse dancing and cheesy moves all the rage, my crazy "Lady Geisha" character was perfectly poised to follow in his footsteps … but how? 

Again, I knew nothing about recording a song so I called various industry peeps to find out what was needed -- a music producer, beats, mixing, mastering? The guys I spoke with listened to my story and gave good advice. I scheduled meetings with several producers, but one really stood out after our conversation -- Rico Lucky, owner of Lost Angels Studio in the Hollywood Hills.

I met with Rico and never went to my other appointments. We hit it off immediately. He liked the project, thought it would be fun, and explained exactly how the production-recording process would unfold. We worked on the music together at the studio (he's a-MAZING) and two weeks later I was in the recording booth. Three days after that, he sent over the master copy of GEISHA-MANIA! as we now know it, which presented a new conundrum – how do I sell this thing?