Interview with Fabienne Shine (January 2005)
E.C.: What was your first contact with music?
Fabienne Shine: My first contact with music was in North Africa when I was very little 3or 4. My mother used to pay Arab musicians to come to the house to play music on Friday night for the Ramadan. I was very scared of them but at the same time I was turned on by the sounds, the houde, the tarbouka, the percussions of all kinds, the flutes, and I remembered of their camels parked outside! I was born in Tunisia I don't know if I have sent you my last recording of some Arabic songs, I am very found of Sufi music, the derwich.
E.C.: What was the first instrument you picked up?
Fabienne Shine: The first instrument I picked up was a broom...yeah a broom, I used it as a standing microphone in the front of the mirror, and I pretended doing some Elvis but of course I was probably 9 years old. Then around 16 years old I fell in love with Bob Dylan and went to buy a harmonica and learn the harp on «Highway 61 revisited», «It's all over now, baby blue», «Tombstone blues». I wrote a song on my first album «Vampire Rock» (1978), similar style. The blues is the same and I play the Harp.
E.C.: Was there a special band your song that let you start music?
Fabienne Shine: Yeah, that was Led Zeppelin. I met Jimmy Page in 1975 when I just arrived in California for the first time. We fell in love at first sight, and he changed my life by telling me that I am a great singer....After when we went back to Europe, we broke up and I started Shakin'Street with Eric Lewy.
E.C.: What was the first band you played in?
Fabienne Shine: The first band I played with was in Paris at school, we were doing some Rolling Stone songs, «Let's spend the night together», «Under my Thumb», «Wild Horses». We were playing for the fun it was great for me to sing with a drum and a bass and guitar ...the real thing.
E.C.: What inspired you to you play the kind of music you played with Shakin Street?
Fabienne Shine: Pain and love and sadness and incredible wilderness inspired me. And of course I was full of Led Zeppelin concert touring for the last 2 years so I was very good student and wanted to be similar with the heavy rhythms, and slick guitar sound, even Robert Plant was an important inspiration in my way of singing, for ever.
E.C.: It was pretty unusual for a woman to front a hard rock band in these days.
Fabienne Shine: It was yes indeed very unique to see a petite woman fronting a heavy rock band! and how! I was pretty much the first woman in the world to do this kind of music, and of course it was very authentic very wild and raw very reel. I was a delinquent frankly, a runaway, with the rest of the members of Shakin' Street. I left home very young, 15 years old and used to hang with older people anarchist, artist, they were like my parents. Yes, I was a rebel and the words of my songs relate to my life...«No compromise», «Solid as a Rock» and «I want to box you».
E.C.: How was the reaction from the crowd / press when you first showed up?
Fabienne Shine: The press was very excited, very interested. After our first concert live in Mont de Marsan festival, we played with major rock bands like the Damned, Clash, Eddyand the hot rods. We were totally unknown but we got on the front page of a magazine, a big photograph of us in action, we stole the show, you can say. The crowd couldn't believe it, to see a small girl with such huge voice and wild energy. We turned on the small crowd in clubs and the biggest stadiums the same way.
E.C.: Looking back what do you think of the 2 Shakin Street albums today?
Fabienne Shine: I think they sound still modern and timeless. If we make another album I'd like to keep the same sound, very reel kind of garage band sound, with an expensive producer!
E.C.: Compared to Shakin Street your vocal style today (shown on her solo album «No mad nomad») has changed. On one side that has probably to do with the different music you play today. Wasn't it also a bit intentional or did it just turn out this was?
Fabienne Shine: Well I got older and more mature and my emotions are obviously different with age and experiences life makes music. And all your feelings are expressed in the way you sing, and the way you compose your songs. So yeah, it just turned that way naturally, the same way life changes your way of thinkin'. Actually a journalist said that I put water in my wine, but between you and me I like wine without the water!
E.C.: How come Ross The Boss (Dictators) played in your band on the 2nd album?
Fabienne Shine: When we met with Sandy Pearlman, the producer of Blue Oyster Cult, we told him that we would love to be produced by him! So he came to Paris to see us at the University of Sciences, where we rehearsed alot. Sandy loved Paris. He really liked us and Paris so he went to see CBS records to ask them how much money they would give him if he produced us. So it worked he was happy with the answer. After that my great guitarist Armick sold his guitar to buy some heroine, so we fired him. We asked Sandy if he knew of a great lead guitarist so, yeah he called Ross the Boss or Ross Friedman and that was the beginning of our grand success.
E.C.: How did you get to know Damon Edge (Chrome), who died in 1995?
Fabienne Shine: During our American Tour in 1980, we had a house in San Francisco for the group. That night The Ramones were playing at the Coliseum in Oakland the suburb of San Francisco and we had the night off. In the crowd was Damon. He saw me and wrote me a note with his phone number and the name of his band that I didn't know because I was new in town and Chrome was very industrial..punk..avant garde. So I called him a few days later for Halloween and we got married 2 months later. We loved each other very much!
E.C.: Why did Shakin Street split?
Fabienne Shine: Shakin'Street split in a very natural way, very common way! In fact we started to argue a lot and the guitarists Eric Lewy and Ross the Boss couldn’t stand each other anymore. It was hard to continue to play together and especially compose new songs. Music is Love communication. So any interference is a blockage to creativity. We had to separate.
E.C.: What did you do after that?
Fabienne Shine: I was very depressed, I just got my green card to be able to tour in the States and no band to tour with. I sang on Damon Edge recordings for Chrome, Damon was really happy and then we went back to France for a few years and there I started a solo career. I signed to Mercury Records my album «Tango» and continue to sing Chrome on stage on their French tour. But I sang in French and my fans didn't like it at all!
E.C.: What made Shakin Street reunite?
Fabienne Shine: Shakin' Street got back together for a gig in Paris at the Olympia exactly. Very glamorous theatre where only talented artists are performing. So it was a great opportunity for us to play thereafter 20 years, for a festival of Rock of the eighties. What a blast it was! A date to remember June 18th 2004.
E.C.: What is the response from the crowd so far?
Fabienne Shine: It was so warm. Surprisingly they wanted more, the press wanted to know if we would get back together, if we will go back on the road, but unfortunatly nothing is sure. A record company released an old live album and also our second album «Solid as a Rock». It did pretty well and hopefully we should make another Shakin Street album in 2005.At least I would like that.
E.C.: You actually fit perfect in the new wave of Hard rock and Metal with bands like Darkness.
Fabienne Shine: Yes, I agree we fit perfectly in there. But I would like to change our music into something new, less classical, more original. And change my style of singing into something more innovative, more unique, use middle eastern sounds, a little bit like Page and Plant did in1995. And yet I am very fond of blues and strong emotions in the voice. You see what I mean. Do you know the Velvet Revolver?
E.C.: What is the difference for you when it comes to music between the US and France?
Fabienne Shine: France copied R&R , America is the creator of R&R and Blues! The reason I moved to the States is R&R! French music sucks! All the rockers in France know that, and by the way I am very grateful to my fans in France who knows the difference! Amen.
E.C.: How different to you approach songwriting compared to when you were in Shakin Street?
Fabienne Shine: Well it's a big difference because when I used to write with Shakin'Street I was writing with a full impact of the 5 members, I felt more aggressive, more delinquent, outlaws, we were like a family, like a gang. Now I write more personal. I feel like expressing myself as one to one , more intimate, like talking to my best friend or to my brother or my lover.
E.C.: What is important to you when you write lyrics today?
Fabienne Shine: I try to write for all the people who listen to lyrics, since a lot of people don't because they get more into the beat. Sure that's important too in fact the beat means the same thing as the words it's just another way of expressing. What is important for me when writing lyrics is that I want to help people who feel sad to feel better, for people who feel depressed that it is necessary to go ahead. I like give the message to my listeners that freedom is accessible, that love is the key of happiness, never believe in the «No's» or «can't». You must believe in yourself because Every Woman, Every Man is a star ! That we must all share the joint. Amen.
E.C.: What would you kill for (referring to the song «Kill for love» on «No mad nomad»)?
Fabienne Shine: Wow!! Well, I would kill someone who kills someone I love. But really I wrote that song «Kill for Love» for the footballer O.J. Simpson, who killed his wife and her lover because he was jealous. I was very impressed by this case.
E.C.: What plans do you have for the future?
Fabienne Shine: I am leaving to go to Austin, Texas next week. I will record with Helios Creed and the musicians from Chrome. Helios is very talented and ask me to write some songs together with him. I will also sing. And then I am planning on making a solo album with my musicians in Los Angeles, with some very eclectic sounds and middle eastern instruments. Hopefully, I should start to play live in L.A. and who knows maybe out of town if everything goes right.