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  #1  
Old 03-07-2015, 11:20 PM
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Shania Twain: ‘I want to love where I’m going but it’s a challenge’

http://www.macleans.ca/culture/shan...ts-a-challenge/

As the bestselling female artist in the history of country music, Shania Twain’s place in popular culture has had a domino affect. Acts such as Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood are indebted to Twain’s mighty crossover into pop—a feat accomplished with ex-husband/producer Mutt Lange. It was her unprecedented reign over the Billboard charts during Twain’s 20s and 30s (with hits ranging from Up! to From This Moment On) that made many people conscious of the rising new country genre. Much of her success, which includes five Grammy wins, 12 Junos and 26 Canadian Country Music Awards, is due to the Timmins, Ont., native’s knack for writing lyrics that reflect the psyche of the ’90s/early ’00s single, working woman. At 49, after a long sabbatical from the studio and the stage (save for her recent Vegas revue at Ceasar’s Palace) Twain is shifting gears. She’s taking a stab at writing an album alone (due next year, to coincide with her 50th birthday) and gearing up for an upcoming 48-date tour this summer.

Q: I’d say the biggest standout moment on your new DVD, Shania Still the One: Live From Las Vegas, happened during your performance of Honey, I’m Home. This is where you [step down] into the audience and all these women surround you and you share a cathartic moment. Why do you think a song like that—which pokes fun at sexist country songs in its lyrics—still has legs today?
A: A lot of women relate to needing that support at home and being the working resource in the household. The need for the guy to kick in and take on the role of the caretaker is there as well. I think it’s a lot of people’s reality now.
Q: Do you think the song was ahead of its time?
A: It wasn’t ahead of its time but the song was released on the brink of the change. Honey I’m Home was in the collection of songs that I wrote that [had lyrics] that were considered by some to be a little too harsh on men and a bit too demanding. It is interesting how much we’ve evolved since then. The challenge was with Any Man of Mine, which was considered to be too strong from a female perspective by radio. Not so much by the public—they were with me.
Q: Whose Boots Have Your Bed Been Under is part of that trio of songs often called out as a feminist anthems. Do you agree?
A: They champion a typical woman’s plight. Especially in our day and age. They just do it with a sense of humour. People have taken those songs on like some sort of weekend support group. There is a camaraderie that develops around songs like that.
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Old 03-07-2015, 11:20 PM
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Q: Beyoncé once told me that when she writes songs, she feels like a therapist. Do you feel the same way?
A: I feel like the therapy is more mutual. It is very therapeautic for me to write the music. The pleasure is sharing what I’ve created through my own process. When I take the music to the people, it all comes full circle. The reward is if my music is empowering or encouraging, or whatever. That motivates me.
Q: Because of its title, Man, I Feel Like A Woman is one of the top songs performed by drag queens around the world. They’ve learned so much about performance from you. Have you learned anything from that world?
A: A lot of people in the artistic side of the industry are gay and do drag and they have this great vision. There’s not a huge gap between what we both do. I don’t see much of a seperation there. Entertainment doesn’t have a gender. The fashions that ended up stringing together my career—especially the epic, iconic looks—[go] both ways. It can be drag queen-y as easily as it can be a sophisticated woman. We created a seamless, natural place for all of us.
Q: Do you still use some of the tricks of the trade you learned from your days headlining at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ont.?
A: Yes. Deerhurst was the first time I was directed on stage and it was the first time I had dancers. It educated me. When it was time to put together my show in Vegas, all that dazzle wasn’t foreign to me. I was familiar with the whole feel of a big stage show because of my being there. It was like a mini-Vegas! Or like attending a Vegas performing arts school.
Q: Canadian country singer Mary Bailey was one of your earliest supporters. How did being around someone who wrote songs such as Too Much, Too Little, Too Late shape your own writing?
A: I heard her on the radio and she was one of the main female artists backstage at many of the events where I would perform. She’s such a wonderful, genuine person and then has all of this artistic talent as well. I was 10 or 11 when I met her and she is a bubbly, enthusiastic lady. Her passion for music made her a huge influence on me. She still is. We are very close friends—we are like family.
Q: Many critics say that today’s country music is missing its rebels. Not bad boys—of which there is a surplus—but women who speak their mind through lyrics. It’s all about “bro country” right now—so many high-profile male soloists are writing hits about about women that still refer to them as “girl” in their lyrics.
A: Balance is important. Whenever it goes too far in one direction, it just gets boring. It’s very dominated by men right now. A lot of people are saying this to me as encouragement. We don’t have enough women. Maybe it’s more romance that country is missing right now. Women have a lot to say but it takes a lot of courage to say it. Women are the greater risk-takers. When they step out of what’s expected in this genre, they are really stepping in the line of fire.
Q: Obviously you are speaking from experience…
A: When I was first coming out with songs, it could have gone either way. It was never going to be anywhere in the middle. There were definitely people criticizing what I was doing.
Q: When you see someone like Taylor Swift getting criticized, does that give you flashbacks?
A: Anybody who makes it to the top knows what it’s like. I sometimes relive it when I see it again. I feel for that person, I really do. I thinking, “I hope they are being strong right now and they have good support.” I hope they aren’t taking it too personally. I have compassion for them.
Q: What wisdom would you pass on to the women of country today who need that strength to take more chances?
A: It’s not about being tough or writing lyrics about being strong or sassy. It is deeper than that. I think it’s about true self-awareness and having a real vision of where you belong in society. It’s not about conveying a superficial, ultra-beautiful, boss-warrior. We can go deeper than that.
Q: You suffer from dysphonia [a disorder, sometimes stress-induced, in which the vocal cords seize up when one is trying to speak or sing]. How has that changed the way you put together tours like the one on which you are about to embark?
A: Well, I’m concerned with the order of the songs. I had to be very intelligent on how I pace myself—it was all about tonality. When I need to refocus the voice, I have to have just the right song. It’s very technical—with dysphonia, it about resetting the voice. It’s like dancing; there are certain starting positions to each piece of choreography.
Q: Having done a reality show with Oprah, did you dare to rewatch the series after it aired?
A: Yes. It was awful to watch. I did that when I was really suffering. It was a terrible time. All the things I had to go through to get here [have been] tough. I want to forget about it because it was a real rehabilitation. The prodding and the doctors and the insecurity were bad but the biggest hurdle was putting my voice to the test—which happened close to showtime in Vegas. [The disorder] is something I have that doesn’t go away but I’ve overcome a lot of the physiological handicaps of it by wearing [an] orthotic in my mouth for over a year. I slept with it. It’s like wearing a back brace.
Q: With the rise of acts such as Avicii and Hozier—who both have taken country music into the EDM realm—is dance music going to be part of your upcoming comeback album?
A: I’ve had lots of remixes of my music and that’s really how my music has lived on—through the gay club scene. They have these dance mixes that go on forever. I love hearing what DJs do with my stuff. I would carry on doing that. I’d like to try it at some point.
Q: How different would you say the new songs for this album are from what you did with your musical partner/ex-husband, Mutt Lange?
A: I’m so different now. I’m still writing on my own and I haven’t co-written yet. The music will be more organic, it will have more rootsy elements, it’s more soulful than people are used to hearing from me—vocally and lyrically. I find the songs more vulnerable and transparent. I don’t want to put out a melancholy album, but the trueness and authenticity of my emotion is sincere. It’s moving.
Q: In an interview with Oprah, you said you felt “enslaved” in the partnership/marriage you had with Mutt Lange. Do you feel your music was not a true reflection of who you were?
A: No. Everything that I put into my music was always me. I never changed for a hit. I was less independent creatively then. It couldn’t have been a bad thing, because look at all the success. But it was frustrating. It wasn’t the wrong thing—it yielded good music—but it is liberating to now be independent. Mutt directed a lot of where I went. I have less direction. And that means I have less censorship. It’s more pure.
Q: Your autobiography, From This Moment On, was unguarded. One of the things you wrote about was struggling with money and family problems in your hometown of Timmins. You wrote: “It got so bad that they only way to survive, was run.” Do you ever think about what kind of person you’d be if you stayed in Timmins?
A: If I hadn’t ran, I would have done something more traditional with my life. I’d be a veterinarian or [have] gone into architecture. Maybe I would have not pursued music as a career but I’d always be an artist.
Q: You also wrote about your relationship to your body. Has gearing up for Vegas and getting into shape given you more confidence with your looks?
A: No. I’m not 25. I don’t have the body that I had anymore. I want to love where I’m going, but it’s a challenge. It’s an adjustment, so I understand women my age and what they are going through. Now I have to work five days a week. Now I have to watch what I eat. Thankfully, I have performing—it has become part of my workout. The Vegas show is 90 minutes of cardio so I get to work out while I’m working. If I was at an office job, I’d have to go the gym three hours a day to make up for that.
Q: Madonna is someone who keeps trying to outdo herself. This year at the Grammys, she was scrutinized for being sexual on stage. Should she be scrutinized?
A: It’s like saying once you reach 70, you should stop having sex. I don’t think anybody can decide what’s best for you. I think being aware of the consequences of what you are doing is smart. If you can’t live with the consequences of whatever [your performance] brings, then rethink it. Art is a platform where self-expression should not be limited. There will be consquences if you do something that is socially unacceptable or inappropriate by certain people but you just have to live with it. Should art be controlled? It would be painful if we started to overregulate self-expression—especially when it has to do with age. I’m here to inspire. There is no age limit to that.
Q: When you are on stage and doing these love songs like Forever and For Always, Don’t!, and You’re Still The One—that were written about and with your ex-husband—do you compartmentalize, or do you tap into old memories?
A: Any of those songs are triggers. Every time I hear the music and sing the lyrics, it brings me back. It’s all good. It evokes emotion but it’s one of the blessings. It keeps me connected. The fans make everything better. Even though the song might be a memory that is 20 years old, the audience is also reflecting and creating a new moment.
Q: What would you say are the main differences between the Vegas show and this upcoming Rock This Country Tour?
A: There is a drastic difference in the whole concept. This upcoming tour will be more freestyle. It will still be sexy but not necessarily a reflection of the Vegas shows, which [focused on] the key iconic looks throughout the history of my career. Although they were so hot in the Vegas shows, this tour will be edgier and unfortunately have no dancing cowboys. Now, it’s more about the band and the instruments.
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Old 03-08-2015, 03:54 PM
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THAT IS AN AWESOME INTERVIEW. Now, I know it's a print interview but these lengthy interviews I wish aired on TV. Shania's responses sound confident and ready to go. I feel like there was more of an insecurity to her answers in interviews throughout the past few years. It's understandable but it sounds like she is gearing up to take charge. It honestly sounds like new music is on its way. In an interview, (I can't remember which one) that a Canadian friend shared with me, she said that technology has made it easier than ever. She can take her Protools program (which is what is used to produce/mix/record an album) and she can record demos at her leisure. It's nice to hear that there are producers involved but they are allowing Shania to take on her own direction. This will undoubtedly be her most personal album.
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Old 03-08-2015, 04:46 PM
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Did you watch the Backstage Pass on the DVD? She was really feeling the insecurity leading up to the Vegas show. She said its just in her. She said she is insecure yet her image is one of total confidence.


-Chris
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Old 03-08-2015, 05:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbspock
Did you watch the Backstage Pass on the DVD? She was really feeling the insecurity leading up to the Vegas show. She said its just in her. She said she is insecure yet her image is one of total confidence.


-Chris

Yes, I did. I understand that she her public image of total confidence. I just hope that she is as excited about this new album as her responses suggest.
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Old 03-08-2015, 05:19 PM
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I think she is, I think that is why she decided to just go for it with one last tour. I also think that is why she is taking time with this album, working with multiple producers since the critics are going to be out with the knives. Although I am sure we will love it.


-Chris
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Old 03-08-2015, 05:42 PM
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Exactly! I am looking forward to it.
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Old 03-08-2015, 06:31 PM
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I know they are going to dump on her if the album is not a seller like her previous ones, while not considering the changes in the music market. Anything she releases will be compared to the older albums, but doing something completely different she changes the whole equation.


-Chris
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Old 03-08-2015, 11:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbspock
I know they are going to dump on her if the album is not a seller like her previous ones, while not considering the changes in the music market. Anything she releases will be compared to the older albums, but doing something completely different she changes the whole equation.


-Chris

You stated that perfectly. I'm concerned with it being such a personal album, and Shania writing it all herself, that critics will find someway to tear into her no matter how good the material is. I don't have doubts in her talents at all, because I am a fan. But, not all critics are fans. In fact even the ones who are, often have to find a way to critique a project. She's no stranger to that. However, she is a private, more insecure artist. (As she has recently let the world in on). I wonder if this will have an effect on whether we get another album after #5. I know I should take one album at a time, but in recent interviews she said she plans to make records the rest of her life. And, in her most recent ET Canada interview she said that the next album following #5 would most likely be a Christmas album, before returning back to more original stuff (on #7)... (if we count a Christmas album as a true #6).
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Old 03-08-2015, 11:46 PM
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I think she is beyond the critics at this point, but these morons like Toby sang about in his song do have some influence. I think she is more interested in what her fans think, and really she has nothing to prove at least to us. She may have something to prove to herself and this album couldn't be easy for her. It was the next large step in her "recovery" process. The last step in unwinding her professional and personal life that was. I think in the end it will work out best for her. Up! basically tapped out where Mutt could take an album production wise. The albums followed a similar progression as Def Leppard did between Pyromania, Hysteria, and Adrenalize. The Green Up! album should have been what she did with Alison Kraus. The good part about their collaboration was that Shania was always the lyricist, and would contribute a melody ever now and then. Now she has total control of everything something she didn't totally have. She also learned how to write better songs and what makes a song work. So now is like the perfect time for a solo effort compared to how she wrote back in 1993. She is also working with multiple producers so this album is going to be pretty unique for Shania compared to her big 3 albums. From the Vegas show and how her songs were tweaked she understand what made those songs work and work in a live environment. She won't have to deal with a producer who will make her sing out of her range etc. I also hope the producers she picked aren't just yesing her to death, and they challenge her because that seemed to bring out the best in her collaboration with Mutt.

It was fun to see their song writing notes at STC seeing who crossed out who as the songs were written lol

-Chris
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Old 03-09-2015, 12:29 AM
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This first part may be off topic, in terms of the thread discussion. I love this board because the fans here are WAY less harsh and "greedy" for lack of a better term. I enjoy your responses and this board gives me a nice break from college work.

As for Mutt's work topping out at "Up!" I agree. From what I understand about their songwriting collaborations, they would tear up each others work. I never got the chance to visit the STC and see the handwritten lyrics and various work they did together. I know Shania mentioned in previous interviews (I believe prior to divorce) that she kept a lot of her material to herself without even showing many songs to Mutt. I think I am going to enjoy this album most, due to the fact that she is free to self-express unlike ever before. I do agree with many, in saying that Shania and Mutt were a crazy good combination of talents. Although, I am sure Shania has learned so much from him, and anyone else during their time together, I think Shania could do VERY well on her own. The market has changed drastically since her last release. She may have a challenge with that, but as you said, she may be more concerned with what she feels and how her true fans respond.

I cannot stress enough that I hope that Shania is getting some push from the new producers. I hope they aren't "yessing" her along, as you said. Some direction is nice. But, in terms of the overall album, Shania can definitely make the right decisions which allow her to finally stand on her own, as she had wished from the beginning.



This album, has me so intrigued. Her descriptions via recent interviews are putting all kinds of ideas in my head. When "Up!" came out, I had turned 7 a few months prior. I didn't understand all the logistics. It was her voice which really captured me and has helped me through so much. I am stoked!!!!
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Last edited by codyj100 : 03-09-2015 at 12:33 AM.
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Old 03-09-2015, 01:41 AM
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I am looking forward to this album for the same reasons. Her descriptions of it are intriguing. She is also aware that the fans aren't expecting "the same" stuff she has done in the past. She is also saying don't expect it, and don't expect her to do what is popular currently in music. Which is good because someone has to end "bro country" and "pop country" needs a new template since the many clones of her ground breaking work in the 90s sounds bland and boring and all the same. It does seem that women are also less dominate in country music now then when Shania was around causing trouble disrupting the status quo. I think she has the opportunity to set the next trend. She has the perfect opportunity to once again re-invent herself. With her Vegas show she sort of broke the mold because as Robin Leach has said she set a new higher bar for artists. When some of us here saw the first show it was confusing for the fans because it was in a theatre, so how were we supposed to act, and it wasn't quite a Shania arena show, for the last 3 songs we were all on our feet because at that point it was like her old show just with more effects, etc. I think the show started out as a Vegas Show with pieces of a Shania arena show trapped in it but by the end of the run it was a Shania arena show with Vegas trappings. She didn't perform the songs the same they had new arrangements some being more pop / rock while others she turned more country. The Red Storm intro to MIFLAW the DVD does not do it justice, it was even more incredible sounding live.

Anyway back to the album she doesn't really have to worry about radio there are so many more channels for her music to get to the fans it will be interesting to see how she takes advantage of streaming, XM/Sirius, iTunes, Netflix, etc. I also have a feeling she will use her albums to continue to support her foundation. Hopefully she also avoids Mercury bobbling the single releases. If country radio can play a totally pop Taylor Swift I don't see her having problems getting onto radio as a matter of fact they will probably beg for the first single.


-Chris
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Old 03-09-2015, 02:14 PM
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From a recent interview ----


Afterwards, she says, she’ll be leaving the stage but not retiring — a long-awaited new album is in the works, with songs she’s penned herself. She claims the music will be “soulful … I don’t know if the public will consider it the best work I’ve ever done, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m enjoying it so much, and I don’t want it to end! That’s why I think I need to say goodbye to the stage.
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Old 03-09-2015, 07:31 PM
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I don't understand why that means she has to say goodbye to the stage. I think she is going to miss performing and being with the fans and will again tour some day. At least I hope so!
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Old 03-09-2015, 07:35 PM
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I don't understand why that means she has to say goodbye to the stage. I think she is going to miss performing and being with the fans and will again tour some day. At least I hope so!



I'm sure she doesn't want to do the whole on the road thing. She knows how to but a Vegas show together, so she could always go back there instead of hitting the road.

I just wonder what her other musical bucket list items are.



-Chris
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