Wow, what a
wacky day yesterday was... you know, I think it's the first October 12th I've
lived through that had enough action to warrant a diary entry. It was, of
course, my day with Lamya, the sexy, gorgeous Omanese pop hip/hop
You remember last week I was hoping to get to talk with her
-- for sure to see her concert -- as she swings through Toronto on a mini-tour
to showcase her multi talents to the music movers & shakers in east coast
major markets. Well, I did get the interviewing gig -- it turns out Culture
Court pulls major weight -- and according to instructions from the local
record company flackette, a pierced little blondie named Sue, I was supposed to
meet Lamya at her hotel on Saturday at 3 o'clock.
I show up
pre-punctually, my digits clutching my digital tape recorder, digital video
camera, and digital pen... hey -- it can't all be hi-tech. Our trysting spot is
the low-tech Comfort Inn, a semi-squalid downtown hotel that indicates Lamya's
lack of a platinum cd. It's in an interesting part of Toronto -- about a
blowjob away from the heart of this burg's gay & lesbian centre -- but I
find out more about this later...
Sue is there, and it turns out I'm
first on the interviewer's list -- a good spot because we all tend to ask the
same questions and I've found from experience that music stars tend to burn out
telling the same yarns over and over. Will we do the interview in the hotel?
No, Sue decides, we should go to a cafe or coffeeshop to do the deed. I'm
figuring Lamya has a messy room -- I once interviewed Fleetwood Mac as we all
draped over their hotel beds -- so Sue deeks out and returns with news there's
a Starbucks (natch) across the street. We head over, find some tables, and I
get set up for The Star to arrive.
And arrive she does. She's taller than I
imagined, poured into skintight low rider jeans, with her torso squished inside
a torn denim shirt, stylishly decorated with chrome biker buttons on the left
shoulder, and some frayed fringe on the other. The ripped front dives deep over
her deeper cleavage, and I can plainly see a pink pushup bra, lifting and
separating her butterscotch boobs up for review and admiration. A small line of
drool appeared at the corner of my mouth. Her face is not recognizable as the
few sexy-artsy photographs on her website, but she's definitely an arabic
beauty, with aquiline nose, stupendously huge eyes, luscious lips, and very,
very long jetblack hair, held in a ponytail by an equally long piece of cloth.
Her eyes are, unfortunately, hidden by big, wraparound Gucci glasses. One
finger on her right hand displays a monster ring... which is a letdown, as most
of her official pix show hands which have been art directed by Richard
Up she comes to my table, breathless and apologizing for
being late. Hey, man... why do they do that? Like I'm gonna get pissed off and
leave? Anyway, I welcome her to Canada, and she sits down to her coffee --
low-fat latte, I think. I start off by showing her a copy of my CC review of
her cd, Learning
From Falling, and she seems pretty excited to get it -- in fact, she
starts reading it right away. I remind her we only have 15 minutes to make her
famous, and then I interrupt myself by asking her to autograph her cd. She's
curious about my "Ojo" nickname on the review, so I explain it's Spanish for
"eye" -- the eye of my camera -- and she thinks that's cool, so she signs my cd
To Rick, 'eye, eye' thanks so much for the informed support, yea, verily,
yea, Lamya. Yea, verily, yea?... for a second I thought I was with Danny
Kaye in The Court Jester.. does the chalice from the palace have the
brew that is true?
So I finally stop ogling and she stops autographing,
and I try to get down to it. As you know, I'm interested in the creative
process, so we start there. I know she writes all her lyrics, so I wonder where
the melody comes from. No, no, I write the music, too, she says. In the shower?
I hopefully ask. Sometimes, she says... that's a deadend, so I ask about the
genesis of the songs on her cd. Empires, it turns out, isn't an ironic
statement about imperialism and femininity, but stems from the fact she's a
recluse at home, and likes to have the TV on without any sound. She was amused
one night when a program about the initial development of America was followed
by another show on an upcoming election. Her list of "men to match her
mountains" has nada to do with her breasts, but actually is a shopping list of
the type of imperialists needed to grow an empire. Jeez, man, I liked my sexist
In Black Mona Lisa she calls herself
a "lone bohemian", so I was interested in why a 20-something hip hopper would
use a word like bohemian as a self-describer. That's right out of the later
50s, early 60s, I said... coffee shops, beatniks.. yes, she says, her eyes
lidding provocatively, I was born too late... I would much rather have been
around in the 60s... I'd like to be your age. Hey, man... dig that... we may be
old, but it seems to be a small price to have been there during the "golden
I then move on to her finger-pointing songs: Judas
Kiss and Never Enough. The cd liner notes dedicate Judas Kiss
to "JT of DD"... now, we know she used to tour as a backup singer for Duran
Duran, and JT has gotta be John Taylor, right? No, she says coyly... it just
says JT... that could be anyone. Yeah, sure, Lamya. Is the addict in Never
Enough also a real person? Yes, she admits, but she's not saying who... and
then drops the name Peter... I still dunno who's she's talking about.
My research has revealed that one of the cd's better songs, Never's Such A
Long Time, is dedicated to singer/songwriter/actor Ian Dury, and I'm
wondering about that. It turns out she met Ian before he died of cancer, and
was drawn to him because he was afflicted by polio -- as is her father. She
waxes on about Ian's career, and then we move on.
I'm getting into
this now, but my reverie is interrupted by a tap on my shoulder. It's Sue, our
mistress of ceremonies, and I've got two minutes to wrap it up. Time to cut to
the chase, I think, so I ask if her arabic background has caused her any post
9-11 problems. I'm thinking of nutty americans here, man, but I'm startled by
her answer -- it's not the infidels giving her problems, no, it's the Muslim
community. I was really afraid of being threatened like Salman Rushdie, she
admitted. But it's OK now. Whew. Altho I gotta say I was tempted to let her
hide out in my basement. For free.
We wind up with a quick peek at the
future -- yes, she thinks she'll be touring "forever", and she's already gotten
another cd written, with some songs already recorded, and she's been making the
obligatory rounds of late-nite and daytime TV shows, putting in the hours and
paying her dues. Tell ya the truth, I'm surprised she's got another cd already
done... the usual routine is you've got your entire life to use as fodder for
the first, and then it gets harder for the second. But I get the feeling she
can write about damn near anything. She laughs, then surprises me with an
admission -- she's always wanted to do an album of songs by guys who have
committed suicide! Hey, man... that would be cool, eh? But she can rattle off
the names -- Tim Buckley, Nick Drake, Phil Ochs (mow, that would be zany -- I
Ain't Marching Anymore... I'm Hip Hopping). And then the bombshell -- she
admits she often has thoughts of suicide herself.
The interview ends
with a promise to meet up again that evening at her small club music industry
gig, and her final words -- do you have any requests?. Black Mona Lisa,
I say... and she screws up her face. Duh, I say to myself, of course she'll
sing that one. OK, Judas Kiss, I offer. She smiles. Take that, JT.
So, LR, what's she like to talk with? Oddly difficult. First, a coffeeshop
on Yonge Street is not an acoustically great place to try and record someone.
The high ambient noise was exacerbated by Lamya's very soft voice, her upmarket
Brit accent, and her endless weaving, bobbing, hair adjusting, and most
interesting -- wiping off the minuscule beads of sweat that glistened on her
rich, full upper lip. Yes, indeedy... Lamya's a sensual treat. She's one of
those touchy-feelie people who like to wave their arms around when they talk...
and often those waving hands and those long, musical fingers land on you...
shoulder, arm, wrist, back of your hand. It's obviously a cultural thing, but
ya gotta love it... especially in our current paranoid bubble, where pretty
well nobody lays a hand on you without those grotesque rubber gloves.
Interview done, I hang around for another 15 minutes, surreptitiously taking
video of her while she no doubt told the same things to the next interviewer.
Then it was away and time to get reorganized for the evening concert.
The gig was at a small bar on the western fringe of Little Italy (the largest
community of Italians outside of Rome), and it was doors at 6, show at 7:15.
Early, yes, but this wasn't really a money-making concert, as half the crowd
was invited by the record company to showcase their new talent. I caught up
with a couple members of the band during the wait, and found out this was just
a touring unit of three guys -- percussion, guitar, keyboards/bass/backup
vocals -- and I could look forward to some interesting variant renditions of
what turned out to be a 10-song set.
Remember I told you the hotel was
close to Tranta's gay community? Well, I find Sue and she tells me Lamya is
hugely popular among gays. Why, I stupidly ask. Actually, Sue's not sure --
something about the diva thing, she volunteers. Sorta hopefully. Whatever the
reason, they're out tonight. I remember yr famous analysis, LR -- I've got it
here somewhere. Oh yeah, you wrote: "Gays? Sure. All these fatales have
a large gay constituency. In fact, it's the gay club scene that keeps them
going. That Verve Remixed CD finds its biggest audience with the gays. Think of
the implications of this, the anthropology of it. The matriarch, the queen, the
feminization of culture. The traditional male singer has been marginalized.
Elvis either embraces homosexuality or neo-nazi revisionism." Cool stuff, man.
I check the crowd. Are there any neo-nazis around? Then I see a guy who was
also one of "The Four Who Interviewed Lamya", so I sidle up to pass the
Who you write for? I ask.
A website, he says.
So do I, I say, Culture Court. You?
Gay Guide Toronto dot com, he
says. All one word.
Cool, I say. Is that like a bus tour?
the front of the stage a group has formed, led by some cat wearing a porkpie
hat, a weird little red poncho-shawl, and white sleeveless shirt. Extroverted?
Well, his left eye was encased in black makeup that stretched up over his
forehead, and his hair was mostly shaved, except for a tadpole-shaped furry
patch with a tail that curved across his neck. Wild and noisy before the show,
he would later become even more of a complete idiot.
Lamya et al
finally arrive onstage 30 minutes late -- she's wearing the same reveal-all
outfit from the afternoon -- and off they go, trying to play and sing over the
insane howling of the aforementioned matador/madador, who becomes almost
delirious in the face of his femme fatale. She shoulda told him to go
kill somebody. After a couple songs, damaged by his howling, one of the record
company henchmen swanned in and quietly asked him to cool it. It worked for
The concert itself was marred by very bad sound... too few
speakers, so the soundman cranked it to oblivion. In a sense it didn't matter
much, tho, cause regardless of the sound it was very apparent this lady's got a
magnificent set of pipes and can belt out an amazing range of notes -- in fact,
I think she showed a greater vocal range at the live gig than she does on the
Hi-lite of the concert was Empires, and she does
it like it's done on the video, with her singing and beating the hell out of a
couple drums. The song really cooks, and the crowd was singing and swaying
along in a very unchristian rapture. Did it go all night? Sadly, no... nine
songs and the band left the stage, and Lamya was cajoled into doing an
encore... and then... gone. Apparently she was having din dins with the
president of BMG Records Canada, and you don't keep the label brass
waiting (too long).
I ripped off a poster for my collection, said bye
bye to Sue, went out, retrieved a parking ticket from the car's wipers and
drove home. It was only nine o'clock. About 25 years past my bedtime.
© Rick McGrath 10/02