- Stacey Q
Infobox musical artist
Name = Stacey Q
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Stacey Amy Swain
Alias = Stacy Q Stacey Swain Shy Girl
Born = birth date and age|1958|11|30
Origin = Fullerton,
Instrument = Vocalization
Synthpop Dance-pop Electropop Hi-NRGNew Wave Freestyle Folk rock Acoustic rock
Singer Dancer SongwriterSynthesist Record producer Television actor
Years_active = 1981–present
Label = MAO (1982) Enigma (1983) EMI America (1984) On the Spot (1985–1986) Atlantic (1986–1990) Thump (1993–1995) ENo (1997) Thump (2007-present)
Associated_acts = Q
URL = [http://www.stacey-q.com/ www.stacey-q.com] otheruses4|the musician|the self-titled album|Stacey Q (album)
Stacey Q (born Stacey Lynn Swain) is a
synthpopand dance-pop singer, dancerand actress. She is best known for her 1986 hit single " Two of Hearts".
Stacey Swain was born on
November 30, 1958in Fullerton, California.cite web|url=http://www.stacey-q.com/somethings.htm|title=Stacey Q: Some Things About Her|accessdate=2007-01-31] cite web|url=http://www.discogs.com/artist/Stacey+Q|title=Discogs Stacey Q Page|accessdate=2006-01-24] She is the youngest of three children.cite web|url=http://www.stacey-q.com/book.htm|title=Stacey Q: You Wrote The Book|accessdate=2007-01-31] Her mother, Joyce Swain, was a dog breeder whose Cardigan Welsh Corgis have appeared in various Hollywood films and television series.cite web|url=http://home.pacbell.net/awiring/interview.html|title="The AnOnYmOuS Interview" at The Official Stacey Q Fan Club|accessdate=2007-04-20] From the beginning, Swain demonstrated a passion for music, danceand theater. She once stated in a 1989 interview that she had asked for dance lessons as early as age three, but her mother "made me wait until I was five".cite web|url=http://home.pacbell.net/awiring/flashback.html|title="AnOnYmOuS Flashback" at The Official Stacey Q Fan Club|accessdate=2007-04-20] By 1963, Swain was studying classical balletand aspired to become a ballerina. In her spare time, she would spend hours with friends listening to records.
Throughout the 1960s, Swain auditioned for singing parts in various live operas and
community theaterperformances. Although she impressed friends with her singing ability, she mainly spent time focusing on dancetraining. In 1969, at the age of ten, Swain became the youngest member of the Dance Theater of Orange County, a local company that performed at benefit shows in Anaheim. Swain spent a total of eleven years studying ballet and flamenco dancing.
In 1970 Swain became an entertainer at
Disneylandwhile completing dance training at the Wilshire Theater of Artsin Los Angeles. For three years, Swain participated in the "Fantasy on Parade", an annual event scheduled every Christmasat the theme park. She performed in costumeas the "Dutch Puppet", a name she used as a publishing alias during her early recording career. In 1972 she began attending Loara High School. After her graduation in 1976, Swain auditioned for and won a position in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, where she performed her first year as a showgirland her second year as an elephantrider. In 1977 she left Disneyland and the circus for a career in the recording industry.
Swain started concentrating more on singing following her completion of dance training. Her first official singing project began on Los Angeles radio, where she would introduce and announce programs impersonating members of
The Go-Go's. She also worked at other locations across Southern California, according to her mother Joyce Swain:cquote|One time Stacey was a hostess at Ruby Pagonia's. She also worked as a cashier for the valet parking lot at the Mariott. She dyed her hair magenta, they suggested it was a little too wild for their employees. She was nineteen at the time. It was kind of funny because they wanted to keep her on because they really liked her work so they suggested she dye her hair back. She said, "Not on your life!" and was out of there.
teenagerthrough to early adulthood, Swain bought and listened to records by David Bowie. Her favorite albums were "Hunky Dory" and " The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars".cite web|url=http://oldschool4life.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=157&Itemid=2|title="The Stacey Q & A" at OldSchool4Life.com|accessdate=2007-01-31] Swain has claimed her style of music was actually influenced by Bowie and other hard rockartists, including Hanoi Rocks, The Rolling Stonesand Depeche Mode.
Swain was introduced to the recording industry by her then-
boyfriend, a local musician. Her career as a recording artist began in 1981, when she met producer, future manager and longtime collaborator Jon St. James.cite web|url=http://www.keithwalsh.us/casbah.pdf|title="Shareef Does Like It" at Walsh Editorial Services|accessdate=2007-04-20|format=PDF] Like Swain, St. James had been a "sound-alike" announcer for Los Angeles radio and was proprietor of Fullerton's Casbah Recording Studio, which had hosted Berlin and Social Distortion. Synth programmer Keith Walshrecalled St. James sharing the same musical preferences as Swain and being impressed by her "star qualities":cquote|Jon was a big fan of synthbands like Kraftwerkand M; when he met Stacey Swain in 1981, he knew right away that this impossibly stylish former Ringling Bros. elephant girl and veteran of the Disney Main Street parade possessed star qualities perfectly compatible with electronic music, a genre Stacey also adored. She was enamored with the obscure Japanese band The Plastics and The B-52's, and simply could not get over David Bowie. As a student of style, Swain could literally turn rags into a fashion statement. On one occasion she went to the renaissance fair in Agoura dressed simply in two large pieces of soft leather she bought from a shop in Anaheim.
In 1981 Swain and St. James formed the
synthpopoutfit Q.cite web|url=http://www.discogs.com/artist/Stacey+Swain|title=Discogs Stacey Swain Page|accessdate=2006-01-24] Q was composed of St. James on guitars, Dan Van Pattenand John Van Tongerenon vocoderand synthesizer, and Swain as assistant producer (Van Patten and Keith Walsh had previously collaborated on Berlin's single "The Metro"). When the band was recording basic tracks for " The Q EP", St. James realized someone was needed to provide vocals for the final track, "Sushi." Swain, who had previously recorded demos at St. James's studio, was asked to sing the lyrics, and her vocals were featured on the final record. Swain became the band's lead singerbased on that performance, even though she was primarily trained as a dancer. According to a statement on her official website:cquote|My voice was pleasant enough, but it was barely above a whisper. My mother couldn't even get me to sing for her. I was not confident about singing. Acting yes, dancing sure, because I had so much training, but singing no.cite web|url=http://www.stacey-q.com/faq.htm|title=Stacey Q: Stacey's Q + A|accessdate=2007-01-31] For the rest of her career Swain found most of her success from singing, although she still considers herself a dancer rather than a singer.
The Q EP" was played almost exclusively on college radio, it was successful enough for St. James and Swain to continue on other projects. In 1982 Q reformed with two new members, drummer Karl Moetand synth player Rich West, alongside the official lineup of Van Tongeren, St. James and Swain. After the reformation, St. James was forced to change the name of Q because of copyright problems (famed producer Quincy Jonesreportedly had "established use of the 'Q' moniker"). Swain explained in a 2006 radio interview that the band was renamed SSQ after Jon St. James "was fishing in a lake 'no bigger than a bathtub' and made a joke that the boat was the 'S.S. Q,'" referring to the current band Q. St. James had another reason for the name: "SS" stood for "Stacey Swain", who had become the most recognized of the band's members.
SSQ first released their debut album "Playback" in 1983 under
Enigma Records. The album contained three of the band's most popular singles: " Synthicide", " Big Electronic Beat" and " Screaming In My Pillow". The video for "Synthicide" premiered on West Coast television and brought greater notoriety for the five-member band. By 1984 Swain was already eclipsing her bandmates in popularity. Programmer Keith Walsh observed that her "star was rising, though no one knew exactly how high it would go." The band ultimately shifted its focus on Swain specifically, with Moet, West, Skip Hahnand St. James as backup performers. Hahn officially replaced John Van Tongeren just before the release of "Playback".
In 1985 Swain signed a recording contract with On the Spot Records, an independent label. Her first solo single, "
Shy Girl", was released the same year, while her first solo album, "Stacey Q", was distributed in cassette format to limited release (the album contained an early version of " Two of Hearts", which actually originated with another artist, Sue Gatlin). As a solo artist, Swain adopted the name "Stacey Q" in reference to the original Q project:cquote|In 1981, Q (the original project) was Jon, Dan and myself hence Jon Q, Dan Q and Stacey Q. Q, the original name of the project, references James Bondand the scientist responsible for all his high-tech gadgets.
Shy Girl" and other singles sold approximately one hundred thousand copies, enough to attract the attention of major record labels. Swain was signed to Atlantic Recordsin 1986 as a solo artist, with Jon St. Jamesas manager and the other members of SSQ as backup musicians. " Better Than Heaven", Swain's debut record on the Atlantic label, was recorded in three weeks, with tracks co-written by Berlin ("Better Than Heaven"), Jon Andersonof Yes ("He Doesn't Understand") and Willie Wilcoxof Utopia (" We Connect").
"Two of Hearts" and "Better Than Heaven"
1986 was the beginning of Swain's most successful period as a recording artist. "
Two of Hearts", the first single off " Better Than Heaven", became a best-selling effort, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100chart. " Two of Hearts" could have hit the #1 spot, but Swain was signed to Atlantic and On the Spot Records at the same time, and both labels released and promoted the single simultaneously, therefore competing with one another.cite web|url=http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0702574/|title=Stacey Swain at The Internet Movie Database|accessdate=2007-01-31] The follow-up single, " We Connect", was released in 1987 and became a Top 40hit.
Two of Hearts" received heavy radio airplay during the later half of 1986, and the promotional video for the single premiered at the same time on MTV. By the end of the year Swain had performed live on several talk shows, appeared as a panel member on " The Gong Show" and made her first of three appearances as a contestant on " The New Hollywood Squares". As " Better Than Heaven" hit #59 on the charts and eventually hit Gold status, Swain went from being a moderately popular singer to an international star, and even a teen idol. The artist recalled her newfound fame in a 2007 interview with Las Vegas talk radio:cquote|I was already almost thirty years old when that record came out, and everybody thought I was a teenager, but I wasn't...and I had already been on a major label, and I didn't hold out a lot of hope for riding that wave forever!
At the height of the success of "Two of Hearts", Swain was approached by
"Weird Al" Yankovicfor permission to record a parodysingle, "Two Pop-Tarts". The parody was never released, as Swain explained in a January 2007 interview:cquote|Royalties at the record company level were held up because of the 'Two of Hearts' songwriters, so we nicely advised our friend Al, 'Don't bother'.
Following the release of "
Better Than Heaven", Swain embarked on a national club tour and European club tour, performing live in several countries. One of the millions of fans to see her in concert happened to be a writer for the NBCtelevision network. That fall Swain auditioned for and won an acting role specifically written for her on the television series "The Facts of Life".
"Cinnamon" and "The Facts of Life"
Swain's first guest appearance on "The Facts of Life" was an episode titled "
Off-Broadway Baby", first airing on November 1, 1986. The episode was set in New York City, where Tootie applies for the lead singing part in a Broadway musical, using " Two of Hearts" as her audition song. She is befriended by Cinnamon (played by Swain), a talented but "kind of " aspiring singer competing for the same role. When Tootie discovers Cinnamon is also auditioning with " Two of Hearts", she tries to talk her out of the competition, in the process causing Cinnamon to miss her audition entirely. By the episode finale, Tootie allows Cinnamon to audition in her place, and Cinnamon goes on to win the part ahead of Tootie. Swain performed " Two of Hearts" in character in the episode.
Off-Broadway Baby" proved more successful than anticipated. The episode performed well in the ratings during a season when viewership had declined, and also became one of the top-rated episodes of the entire series.Fact|date=October 2007 The show's writers immediately made plans to bring back the Cinnamon character. Some producers went further, suggesting creating a Cinnamon Barbie Dolland possibly even a Cinnamon spin-offsitcom. Swain's record label, however, was against the idea, believing if the singer concentrated too much on acting, she would produce fewer hit singles and be perceived as a one-hit wonder.
"A Star Is Torn"
Swain's final appearance on "The Facts of Life" was titled "A Star Is Torn", premiering on
January 31, 1987. The episode featured the character of "George Burnett", a recurring guest star played by a young and then-unknown George Clooney. The plot involved Cinnamon visiting the regular cast at home in Peekskill after claiming to be fired from her singing role on Broadway. She offers to work at the Over Our Heads shop, where she catches the attention of George and 13-year-old Andy ( Mackenzie Astin). When Jo discovers Cinnamon was about to start a national concert tour, Cinnamon confesses she ran away from her rising fame after the success of her debut album, "Color Me Cinnamon" (a sly parody of " Better Than Heaven"). Swain performed " We Connect" in her second and final appearance.
By the end of the episode, George and Cinnamon officially started dating, and George announced his decision to become a
roadiefor Cinnamon's concert tour. The ending was written to explain Clooney's departure from the series and provide the possibility of a spin-off sitcom starring Clooney and Swain. When Swain's managers voiced their opposition, however, NBC canceled all plans for a spin-off series.
Although Clooney claimed he was fired by
NBCproducers, he has since referred to his time on "The Facts of Life" as a "fantastic" experience.Fact|date=October 2007 Swain also fondly remembers her time on the series, and reportedly became friends with Cloris Leachmanand other cast members. George Burnett and Cinnamon were never heard from again, though some fans still hope to one day find out what happened to the fictional couple.
Following the success of "
Better Than Heaven", Swain released her second album, " Hard Machine", in 1988. The singer changed her image for " Hard Machine", dying her hair from blond to red (she is a natural brunette) and adopting a new wardrobe influenced by punk artists. " Hard Machine" also employed other producers besides Jon St. James, resulting in more musical symbolismand tributes for two historic musical personalities, Karen Carpenterand Jimi Hendrix. The album's final track, "Another Chance", was written almost entirely by Swain herself. The track was never released as a single, but Swain has said in interviews she considers it one of the greatest songs she has ever recorded.
Hard Machine" was not nearly as successful as " Better Than Heaven", although the single " Don't Make A Fool Of Yourself" hit #66 on the Billboard Hot 100, and a remixed version by Shep Pettibonewas a top five hit on the Hot Dance chart. "Don't Make A Fool Of Yourself" was featured on an episode of " Full House" where Swain briefly appeared as herself ("D.J. Tanner's Day Off").
"Nights Like This"
Nights Like This", Swain's last record under the Atlantic label, was released in 1989. The singer changed her image again for " Nights Like This", this time adopting short blond hair and going for more of an underground appearance. Her new tour wardrobe, a black dress with a white arrow down the front, was popularized in the music videofor the album's first single, " Give You All My Love". " Nights Like This" was recorded with backing vocals by The Weather Girls, best known for their hit single " It's Raining Men". The second single from the album, "Heartbeat", featured backing vocals by Timothy B. Schmitof The Eagles. Like " Hard Machine", " Nights Like This" experimented instrumentally, including songs using Kawaikeyboards. The members of SSQ had largely stopped working with Swain after the release of " Hard Machine".
Hard Machine" and " Nights Like This" were considered stronger albums than their predecessors and received more praise from critics, but were virtually unheard compared to " Better Than Heaven" and earlier singles.Fact|date=October 2007 After the release of " Nights Like This", Swain began another national tour performing at clubs across the United States. She continued her acting career in an episode of " Mama's Family", where she played a member of an all-girl band, "The Bonecrushers" (" Bubba's House Band"). She also starred in the action film" One Man Force", featuring two songs from " Hard Machine", "The River" and "Another Chance".
Post-1980s solo career
One-hit wonder status
In 1990 Swain left
Atlantic Records, two years following the departure of her SSQ bandmates. The 1990s also brought a decline in the popularity of 1980s synthpopand dance-pop. Swain and other artists initially tried to update their sound, while at the same time not driving away longtime fans.
In 1992 Swain and producer
Jon St. Jamesbegan production on " Stacey Q's Greatest Hits", a digitally remastered collection of some of the artists's singles. The following year Swain recorded her first single of the new decade, " Two Hot For Love", released by Thump Records. The single was structured toward an early-1990s dance sound and featured sexually suggestive lyrics, representing another change in direction for the singer. She later followed with a guest appearance on the 1993 compilation album" Rap Rhymes! Mother Goose On The Loose", produced in part by Jon St. James.
Stacey Q's Greatest Hits" was released in 1995 and received decidedly mixed reviews from fans and critics. Many fans agreed the album was the definitive compilation of Swain's career, since it contained tracks from Q and SSQ that had never been released on compact disc(including "The Model", which was recorded for the soundtrack of the 1986 film " Crystal Heart"). Most of the tracks, however, were either remixed slightly or re-edited entirely from their original versions, and no songs were included from " Hard Machine" or " Nights Like This". The public had also largely forgotten any of Swain's songs aside from " Two of Hearts" and wondered how her career warranted a "Greatest Hits" album if she was only a one-hit wonder. Because the artist was so associated with " Two of Hearts" and 1980s dance-pop, some critics had written her off as another Madonna wannabeof the 1980s.Fact|date=October 2007
Conversion to Buddhism
Although Swain had found her fame as a
synthpopand dance-popmusician, she had grown up listening to rock artists and was mainly interested in genres like glam and punk rock. She had tried to branch out musically on her last two Atlantic records, but wasn't allowed to stray too far from the electronic dance genre that made her a best-selling artist. By the 1990s Swain had the opportunity to experiment with a much broader range of styles.
After deciding on a different direction for her future releases, Swain traveled to
Tibet, where she was introduced to the monastic dance and song of the Far East. For a time she lived in Nepal, where she studied at monasteries with Buddhist lamas and was trained in the ancient art of cham dance(she is "one of the few Westerners trained and authorized to teach" in this area).cite web|url=http://www.myspace.com/officialstaceyq|title=Stacey Q at MySpace|accessdate=2007-01-31] Swain's experience abroad profoundly affected her as a person, and resulted in changes in her musical style. After the release of " Stacey Q's Greatest Hits", she began recording "an inspirational, pop-oriented album" and her first collection of new material in almost a decade.
Swain demonstrated the new spiritually minded side of herself on the 1997 album "Boomerang", released by
ENo Records. "Boomerang" was an album completely different from previous Stacey Q records. The album was a reflection of Swain's conversion to Buddhism, evidenced by a cover version of George Harrison's " My Sweet Lord". It also focused more on folk-leaning tracks rather than dance-popor technopop. "Boomerang" never gained the popularity of Swain's Atlantic releases and didn't prove to be the album some fans had hoped for. However, the follow-up single "Tenderness", a cover from Janis Ian, hit #5 on the Jamaican charts. The album was generally well received by fans and critics, who were impressed by Swain's musical maturity.Fact|date=October 2007
Career to present
In the years following the release of "Boomerang", Swain became a lead and background vocalist on records by various house musicians in the
United Statesand Europe. In 1998 her vocals were featured on "Delicious", a single by the Dutch trance duo Rudy & Grey. She returned to acting with an appearance in the gay-themed art film " Citizens of Perpetual Indulgence" and a "special non-sexual appearance" as a "Chinese Food Delivery Girl" in the gay porn film " Playing the Odds". Swain and director Geoffrey Karen Dior began a brief collaboration after the film's release, even performing " Two of Hearts" at the Gay Erotic Video Awards.Fact|date=October 2007 Swain consequently appeared with Dior on the 1999 compilation album " Porn to Rock" and Dior's 2001 album " S E X". She has since gained a tremendous following in the gay community.
Swain began 1999 by providing vocals for "Falling", a single by DJ
Auratone. She also recorded an unreleased remix albumincluding new versions of " Two of Hearts" and various songs from "Boomerang".cite web|url=http://home.pacbell.net/awiring/q&a.html|title="Stacey's Q & A" at The Official Stacey Q Fan Club|accessdate=2007-04-20] In 2000 she returned to theater in "The Life of Padmasambhava", a musical dramatization of one of the most revered characters in Buddhism, produced by the San Francisco-based Namsay Dorje Theater Company. Swain played the lead female character, Yeshe Tsogyal, in a multiculturalcast of actors and musicians. As a singer Swain appeared on "American Dream", a 2001 single by DJ Jakatta. The single was a sampling of tracks featured on the soundtrack of the 1999 film "American Beauty". It became a top five hit in the United Kingdomand a Hot 100hit in Australia.
In 2002 Swain appeared on the short-lived
VH1version of " Never Mind the Buzzcocks" as a guest staron the show's "Identity Parade" round. Two vocal appearances followed up to 2003: "I Need", a single by the German DJ Oscar, and " Hear The Feeling" with DJ Simply Jeff(credited as " Divine Frequencyfeaturing Stacey Q"). The latter is featured on the soundtrack of a documentary on raves. Swain also appeared as one of the singers on " Taste The Secret", an album by the hip hop trio Ugly Duckling. Her appearance came at the behest of Jon St. James, who was brought in for mixing certain tracks on the album. In 2004 Swain became a voice actor by providing the voice of "Karin Kikuhara" on the English-language version of " Stratos 4", a Japanese animeseries. Her vocals for Ugly Duckling were featured on the trio's third album, " Combo Meal (Taste the Secret + The Leftovers EP)".
Stacey Swain currently lives in Fullerton with her mother and is still active in the recording industry. She continues to perform at live arenas, often venues involving a retro theme or a celebration of the 1980s in music. Although she was mainly popular during the 1980s, her hit song "
Two of Hearts" was featured on the soundtracks of three recent motion pictures: the 2000 Adam Sandlercomedy "Little Nicky", the 2003 film " Party Monster" and the 2007 Andy Sambergcomedy "Hot Rod".
In February 2007 Swain released her latest album, "
Queen of the 80s", a compilation of hits from her SSQ and " Better Than Heaven" period. She later appeared as one of the female singers on the debut album of the Echo Junkies, a duo formed in 2004 by Jon St. Jamesand Skip Hahn. In April 2007, Swain announced she'll be collaborating with St. James on an upcoming Stacey Q album.
In 2008 Swain provided guest vocals on "Liquid", the debut album of the Australian-American rock duo
Hydra Productions. The album featured appearances by other dance-pop artists of the 1980s, including Tiffany and Gioia Brunoof Exposé.
* [http://www.muffshardware.com/action.jpgStacey Q shooting scenes for the "Insecurity" video] (photos by Skip Hahn)
*The teen couple in the "Give You All My Love" video (on the street at the end of the video, dancing with Stacey) was played by Justin Nylander and Christiana Eastman, who went on to become [http://www.t-h-e-m.com/ T.H.E.M. Thee Human Egomaniacs]
*Stacey Q is sometimes called by her nickname "Shy Girl" (the name of one her songs).
*Rumor has it that Stacey was romantically linked to her producer/bandmate
Jon St. James.
Playboy" pictorial was titled "Stacey's Lacy".
*Stacey Q recorded an album called "Stardust", which was never released. However, in 2003 the album was copied onto
CD-Rs and sold exclusively through eBay, the online auction website. The album contained eleven tracks: "Stardust", a previously unreleased track, and all ten tracks from the " Better Than Heaven" album.
*According to a July 1995 interview with "
Dance Music Authority", Stacey Q's appearance on "The Facts of Life" was broadcast in Australiabefore the release of " Two of Hearts", causing some Australians to believe " Two of Hearts" was borrowed from the actual television series.
*The South Korean girl group
Wonder Girlssampled " Two of Hearts" in their hit song "Tell Me."
Stratos 4" (2003) ...as Karin Kikuhara (voice, English version)
Never Mind the Buzzcocks" (2002) ...as herself
Citizens of Perpetual Indulgence" (2000) ...as Stacey
Playing the Odds" (1998) ...as Chinese Food Delivery Woman
One Man Force" (1989) ...as Leah Jennings
Mama's Family" (1989) ...as Ciji
Full House" (1988) ...as herself
*"The Facts of Life" (1986; 1987) ...as Cinnamon
The New Hollywood Squares" (1986; 1988-1989) ...as herself
*"Cavegirl" (1985) ...as Brenda
Red Hot Rock" (aka "Sexy Shorts") ...as herself
* [http://www.stacey-q.com/ Official Site]
*imdb name|id=0702574|name=Stacey Q
*tvtome person|id=7572|name=Stacey Q
* [http://www.music.com/person/stacey_q/1/newreleases/ Music.com]
* [http://www.mp3.com/stacey-q/artists/4746/summary.html?q=stacey%20q Stacey Q's MP3 page]
* [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/bio/index.jsp?pid=5744&cr=artist&or=ASCENDING&sf=length&kw=stacey%20q Stacey Q's information from Billboard.com]
* [http://www.ukmix.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=25402&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=100 Stacey Q Chart]
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