Stacey Q is thoughtful, grateful and dedicated. From her early days in synthpop band Q, later renamed SSQ, to her solo career and records—I adore her! Many people know her for the ‘80s hit ‘Two of Hearts’ (if you do, I bet just reading that, the catchy song pops it’s your head!) but, the thing is, she’s been constantly writing and creating this whole time. We recently chatted about all that as well as Buddhism, David Bowie and more… AND in two weeks I get to see her! Stacey will be in Australia to perform as part of the Totally 80s tour. I can’t wait!
When you were young you studied dance (ballet for 11 years); what first drew you to dancing?
STACEY Q: Well, I don’t think that it’s special to me but, when young children choose that, they’re trying to find a way to express themselves. We weren’t extremely verbal in our house, so that’s why I think I choose ballet. My older sister also went to ballet, I naturally did the things she did. It’s also what I really wanted to do, be a ballet dancer. I choose dance instead of singing because it’s non-verbal.
Was there things that you learnt from dance that inspired other parts of your life?
SQ: What I learnt in dancing has influenced everything about me, no doubt about it. To me, myself, I probably make records today because I’m trying to do well at singing. All the years studying ballet and being in a ballet company, really wanting to do that—it’s made me the gal I am today! [laughs].
What do you enjoy most about performing?
SQ: What I enjoy most about performing is the audience, the people. I never thought in a million years I’d be able to stand up in front of thousands of people and sing. Jon [St. James] taught me to do that though and now, you can’t shut me up! [laughs].
I understand that in the mid-‘90s you travelled to Tibet and Nepal and studied monastic dance and song; what is one of your favourite memories from that time?
SQ: Oh I have so many, oh my gosh! Going to India and going to Nepal was wonderful. I met me Root Lama here in America, a year after I got back from Nepal. All of the monastic dances and those things I’ve learnt here. We do them every summer, we’ve been doing them for 24 years in retreat in the Santa Cruz Mountains, you have to come see it. I can’t even begin to tell you about the karmic ramifications about the merit you get from it, it’s absolutely beautiful. The monastic dances were never for girls, that’s brand new in the West; it was only for monks, not even nuns in nunneries learned those dances. So, I feel very, very special and very, very happy. I would love to teach you.
I would love that! For the last 16 years I have strongly resonated with Buddhism myself. I know that Buddhism and its teachings are important in your life; do you consider yourself Buddhist?
SQ: What I always say is, I don’t know what it means to be Buddhist, that’s for the real Buddhist but, I’m practising. I have been for 24 years straight, the Vajrayana tradition. I still practice but, I’m one of those people, I love Jesus and prayer. Sometimes people think you have to pick, either you’re a Christian or a Buddhist, but that’s just silly, you don’t have too!
Your singing career took off when you met Jon, you mentioned him before, I’ve read that you really fell in love with the recording process; what do you love about it?
SQ: The thing about us, about all of our projects, we’ve made them all computer-based. That’s probably something that a lot of people that know Stacey Q and know of ‘Two of Hearts’ don’t know about me. That’s usually different from most people.
Another thing I think people might not realise is that you had a hand in creating the music too!
SQ: Yes. Sometimes somebody else’s songs are going to end up on the album more so but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the band wasn’t writing [laughs]. We’ve always been writing. I have some demos that are all my writing, but I love collaborating! I love getting together with people.
I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about music, dance and art, it can bring people together! That you can connect through that and share something amazing that can transcend the cares of the world, it also offers a common ground. I often feel like there’s a lot of negativity in the world and that by constantly creating and trying to keep things positive in my work I can counter that.
SQ: I think you’ve absolutely right. There’s not so much more… I think, in degenerate times… this isn’t what someone taught me or it’s not what I believe Buddhist-wise but for me, I think in degenerate times everything accelerates. It might appear to us that there is more bad but, I don’t think that’s true. I think it would be better if people could get together and find some common ground and then start to solve problems that way. I’m definitely against violence but, I’m also not for being stepped on! It’s so much there’s more bad, just in these degenerate times, it looks that way.
What are you working on now? New music?
SQ: Yes! We’re always working on new music. I guess you’ve heard about the Color Me Cinnamon album [released 2010]? Still to this day we are recording, we haven’t grouped them together yet but that’s one thing that Jon and I have in common, we love to work in the studio. I just got to say, speaking with you, people like us, if you group us together, there’s more of us than the bad ones! We need to group together and we can stand up and rise together against the icky. Talking to you, you seem like a very good person; there’s more of us than there are of them!
Thank you so much, that means a lot. I realised a long time ago, when I was younger, that we’re here to help each other. That’s what I try to do with my work.
SQ: I have to say, ‘cause I’m like your grandmother [laughs], you’re still very young. We need more folks like you.
Awww thank you. I read an interview with you once and you commented: “Recording out of Casbah recording studio. We all really worked hard and had perseverance because it is easy to get knocked down”; can you please share a time in your life when you were knocked down and how did you deal with it?
SQ: I want to say that looking at things now, I wish to not think that anybody… that I’ve allowed somebody to make me feel like they were knocking me down, and that happens a lot. You know what though?
SQ: People can’t knock you down unless you let them! Many times I thought, oh my gosh! It just seemed to me that I can’t win for losing. You have to change the way you think about things. You can’t just let the way you were brought up… you know, if you behave that way, than surely people will be able to knock you down. It’s a new day, there’s all kinds of people. Let’s say you for instance, when I speak with you, it very much cheers me up and gives me hope for myself. You have to allow yourself that credit and let people help you up and not allow people to knock you down again. If you feel like that, if you think like that, then you really feel like getting up—giving up is not a consideration.
What are some things that are important to you?
SQ: People not suffering, an end to people’s suffering, an end to all being suffering is important to me—the MOST important!
Last question, I know you’ve always been inspired by, and have a great love of David Bowie; what does his work mean to you?
SQ: Now that he has passed away?
SQ: Awww you are very sweet and kind, you didn’t even want to say it to me, did you?
SQ: Well, I was in retreat when he passed away. That was awesome because I was doing my practice for all beings, whether they are living or in a transient state. I heard it as happy news, I didn’t boo-hoo my head off. I was happy to steal some sort of feeling from him after he passed away that, yes, I got some sort of confirmation that what I believe, and what he believed, is absolutely true—that we don’t really go anywhere! The body fails, yes, but the you, that is you, doesn’t really go anywhere. I didn’t fall apart. Most of my friends were like, ‘oh my god, I’m scared to ask but, why aren’t you balling your head off?’ It’s because, I’m older and wiser now and I don’t feel like he has gone anywhere, if anything closer!
Images courtesy of Stacey Q’s fb; mixed media collage art handmade by me with love.