Suzanne Rhatigan Interview
She's worked at a medical research center. She's worked as a television presenter. She's worked as a back-up singer in a recording studio.
Now Suzanne Rhatigan is working for herself. The linage Recording Company has released Suzanne's debut CD titled, "To Hell With Love."
We talked with Suzanne about that CD and what it takes to make it in today's recording industry.
Q. Suzanne, now that you have a CD out, how is the world treating you? Have the critics loved it or hated it?
A. They've liked it. I've been very pleasantly surprised. I really wasn't sure how it would be received, by the critics. You never can tell. Not being very familiar, particularly with the American press media. I really had no idea what to expect. Generally, the critics have been very complimentary. I don't expect everybody will like it, but so far I haven't come across any horrendous reviews.
Q. Suzanne, you have said that throughout much of your life, people hated you. What did you do differently to turn your situation around?
A. I didn't really do anything differently. I guess what I had when I got the record deal was something to offer that I didn't have before. That was songs and a specific idea. When I say people didn't like me, I'm talking about when I was a child, growing up, and my teen years and stuff like that. I felt like people didn't like me because I was kind of cocky, and a bit precocious as a child, and nobody likes a precocious child. I suppose I was a bit precocious, but then that kind of worked to my advantage as an adult, when it came to getting this record deal, because Terry Ellis (record company president), particularly loves people to be quite up front and precocious. He likes that. So I was very lucky that I stumbled across him. I did have trouble getting a record deal. I don't think it was so much that people didn't like me. They just couldn't make head or tail of my music, in Britain. They had trouble finding a place for it. So, that's why I eventually succeeded in getting a deal here.
Q. What is a television presenter?
A. I did a little television presentation for Irish Television. They had a show on every Sunday called a video show, it was like three hours of music. At the time, we didn't have MTV in Europe and so this Irish television channel used to devote three hours on a Sunday afternoon to videos. They would have video jocks, you know people like the MTV jocks who would just introduce key videos, maybe do an interview, things like that. So, I did that. I used to do that occasionally for that show.
Q. You then taught yourself piano, and started writing, which in turn led to interest from publishing and management cos. Did you send out demos?
A. I did. Originally when I moved from Ireland to London, I got involved in session singing. I did a lot of backing vocals. Obviously that enabled me to meet a lot of people. It was so frustrating for me because I definitely wanted to be an artist in my own right, and I probably wasn't taken terribly seriously at first. People were only interested in hiring me as a backing singer, in the studio. Eventually I decided the only way I could probably get my career together as an artist was if I started writing songs. I was in my mid-20's before I started writing songs. But, I had made a lot of contacts, and knew a lot of people in the business in England. So, obviously, I was able to go to them with my demos, and try and get some interest going.
Eventually through my lawyer, I got my first publishing deal, which was structured to develop me as a songwriter.
So, that's how that all happened.
Q. What was it like to be a session singer, and who did you work with?
A. I worked with quite a diverse range of acts. Sometimes it was enjoyable. Sometimes it was absolute hell. Most of the time it was very frustrating because I had ambitions beyond my status. I did a lot of work for Stock Aitkem, and Waterman at the PWL Studios, who at the time were probably the hottest pop record producers in England, and probably even the world. They produced acts like Rick Astley and a dozen or 20 acts that were huge in the rest of the world but not so big here.
Q. You auditioned for a big name record producer in New York. Who was that?
A. Russ Tietlemann. He's a very big producer, and A and R guy at Warner Bros. I don't know if this is actually true, but he heard my tape and reacted very positively and almost overnight flew me over to New York to meet him. I did to a little showcase for him in a rehearsal studio. We chatted. Nothing came of it, as a lot of these things don't. It just never went any further than that. I think at the time he was looking at two female artists, singer/songwriters that he was interested in, and I think he ended up going with the other girl, whose name I honestly cannot remember.
Q. Before Terry Ellis and Imago Records would sign you, they wanted to see you 'live.' You said, "Hey, I'm brilliant, sign me."
A. See how people don't like me when I say things like that?
Q. Did you showcase for him?
A. I did. It was quite funny. We were sitting, having lunch together at this restaurant, and I had never met him. It's always very strange going into a restaurant and meeting somebody you've never met before. We had lunch and we chatted, and he said he was very interested, but he would have to see me 'live.' It was absolutely his rule that he would not sign any artist, until he saw them 'live.' He had to make sure that they had it. When you say it, I asked him, do you mean they have that certain something that makes you want to watch them and listen to them? He said yes, that's it. I said, well, take my word for it, I have it. I was joking with him. He laughed and said, 'I'm sure, I'm sure but I'll still have to see ya.' So, I did do a show for him in a club in London. He came up to me afterwards and said, 'you were right.' So, that was kind of nice.
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