Mitsou Interview

"Entertainment Tonight" called her the Madonna of Canada. She earned a Juno nomination as Most Promising Female Vocalist in Canada, in 1989, followed by the Best Album of the Year by a New Artist by ADISQ, the French-speaking Canadian recording association, in 1990. That album, by the way, was a debut album, and was certified platinum.

The artist who's creating all the attention is known simply at Mitsou.

With Canada all a-buzz about her, Mitsou has set her sights on the U.S. Her debut album here is appropriately titled Mitsou, and can be found on the Hollywood Records label.

We talked with Mitsou about the stir she's created recently with her music and videos.

Q: Wasn't it rather unfair of "Entertainment Tonight" to compare you to Madonna? Doesn't that put even more pressure on a new singer like yourself?
A: I am not scared of what's going to happen in my career. I know where I'm going. I know people relate me to Madonna, but I think it's more because of the sexy image. But, there are so many singers who have that in their soul and they are compared. But, you won't compare rap artists. Maybe there's less singers of the type I am, so, sometimes, people tend to compare us. At the same time, I don't mind being compared to her as a person who has her own vision, who will do whatever she wants to, who is a strong woman. In that element, I am not scared to be compared to her. I am scared when people compare us, in terms of style, and in terms of I would copy her, because I would really not. There's some things I enjoy about her, like she's a very good businesswoman, and she's very strong. If they say I am the same type of girl, it's OK. I don't mind. But the rest, in terms of artistical expression, is not the same. It's not the same songs. It's not the same lyrics.

Q: So you don't feel the pressure to be as good, if not better, than someone who is an established performer?
A: I don't feel that. Not at all, 'cause I know where I'm going, and what I want to be, and I don't want to be her. I don't want to be like her. I don't want to do the same things. I just want to get the chance to get known. In Canada they compared me to her (Madonna), but they don't do that anymore because they know me. They know my personality. They know me because of interviews, because of songs that I did, and they realize it's not the same. I just want the chance to get known, and then I will prove.

Q: Is Canada an easier place to break into the music business than the U.S. is?
A: Maybe yes in a way because we are less people and there are less records on the market. But after that, to get into the States, it's much, much harder today. You get to a point where you're known all over Canada, but, if you want more, then you have to work a lot, which I am doing.

Q: Where did Hollywood Records see you?
A: There was a video of mine which was named "Dis-moi, Dis-moi," the one with the nudity in it, the black and white. This video was banned in a few parts of Canada. The Video Jukebox was playing. I don't know how they got the video, but they started to play it. So, one of the bosses of Hollywood Records saw the video a few times. Then, it started to play more and more, and it went to Number One for many weeks. So, they were wondering who was that Canadian girl. So, they found out and we talked with them, and we signed a record deal with them. That's how it happened.

Q: Is it true that in another video you made, "Deep Kiss," you appear topless?
A: No. That's not true. I always like it, when it's suggested, but it's not that obvious. I'm topless behind my chair.

Q: Whose idea was that, yours or the director?
A: Those ideas have come from me. It would be awful if a guy asked me to appear nude against my will. If I do things, I will do them, because I think they are right. I have the chance to have good people working with me. It's not a big team. It's more like a duo with my manager, who has known me since I was 13. We started working together when I was 15. So, we're like old friends. He's very young, too. So, he's 32, and we have the same taste in music and the same goal, and .the same vision, the same generation type of thing, so I don't fight against anybody. It's always discussion. I create as much and maybe more, than anybody else on the team. I would never do something that I don't like, that I didn't want. But, I don't mind things like that. For me, nudity is not something bad.

Q: Would you say that nudity takes people's attention away from your singing?
A: You have to fight more to be respected for sure. You have to prove a lot. You have to be 200 times better.

Q: But if you kept your clothes on, you wouldn't have to work that hard would you?
A: Yeah, but I wouldn't have as much fun. For me, shocking is not only nudity. I'm not doing that only to shock, and, it's not the only way I will take. It's just one of the things that add color to my life, to life of other people, because you don't see many people doing that. It's one of the things that is inside me, and I don't want to be dull, in another way. It's not only about nudity, but it's about song, it's about energy, about color that you will put in your world, that I want to put in everybody's world. I don't want to be boring. For me, being like the girl next door is boring. An artist is there for that, to make people dream. That's why I'm doing it. All my family are artists. My grandfather is a writer. He was the first one in Canada to do talking movies. My father is an actor. My mother was always into that. So, at four I knew what I wanted to do. We always sang in the house. It was always very colorful. My parents were hippies. We used to travel. I'm into show business, in the big way of show business. The big things I like — Las Vegas. I like very colorful things, and nudity is a part of that. It's not the main thing. I'm not the girl who gets nude in front of everybody, who gets nude every time she will sing, but sometimes I like to do that, like in "Dis-moi, Dis-moi." You can see people nude in videos, then you can see women in bikinis singing around guitars, and that's OK. That is bad, because seeing that is more sexist than what I do. These nude bodies were works of art. They were like statues. There were guys and girls. It was something very sensual, and very nice, and not disgusting, and any kids could see that.

Q: At the age of 13 you were in your first band. Did you enter show business at four?
A: At the age of five.

Q: Why did you wait so long? Just kidding.
A: (laughs).

Q: You've said, "I do whatever I want, when I want." But, with success comes demands on your time, so you can't do whatever you want anymore can you?
A: Some of the freedom you lose for sure. There's good and bad things about that, but I knew already. It's not a shock for me. It's my life. Yes, there are things I can't do anymore. It's good that I lived my youth very early, because now at 22, 1 don't feel deprived of anything. I did all the crazy things I wanted to do. At the same time, being in show business, keeps you very young, it keeps you very active. You can create more, and you are less in those barriers. In all the ways, you don't feel the pressure of normal life. But, it's discipline and responsibility. Sometimes you want to give that freedom message, but you have to work hard to give it.

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