'80s - Hazell Dean (2010)
'Still A Success - Whatever She Does, Where She Goes!’
Hazell Dean is a UK dance-pop singer-songwriter, and producer well known for her husky alto voice timbre, and her hit songs, "Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)", "Who's Leaving Who?", "Searchin' (I Got To Find a Man)", "Maybe (We Should Call It A Day)" and "Turn It Into Love".
She participated twice in BBC TV's A Song for Europe contest. In 1976 she took eighth place with the cabaret ballad, "I Couldn't Live Without You For A Day", written by contest veteran Paul Curtis. 1984 saw Dean finish in seventh place, with another dramatic ballad, "Stay In My Life", that she wrote herself. She also provided backing vocals for Samantha Janus in 1991's Eurovision Song Contest.
Dean produced and wrote songs for Bad Boys Inc Bona riah (produced "House of the Rising Sun") Miquel Brown (produced "It's a Sin") BUT 2 B (co-wrote "Love" Satisfaction ") up and down and Sandra Feva.
Still releasing albums, still playing live, still producing for other artists, we recently had the opportunity to chat one-on-one with Hazell Dean - and asked her all about her career, her earliest TOTP memories, her nightmares, and, of course, ... penguins!
Taking it from the top, and although you started your career in the late 1970's, you actually achieved some major UK chart success in the mid-1980's - under the guiding hand of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Being that they had their hands in every chart hit around that time, what was it like suddenly having them in charge, from writing the songs to how the videos panned out - did you ever feel like a musical puppet to them, perhaps? "My first chart hit was not with Stock Aitken and Waterman - However I was their first artist, and they had their first chart hit with me. No I never felt like a puppet. I had been in the music industry a long time already, so was far from a kid who could be pushed around."
Indeed, you scored your first Top 10 hit with the re-release of 'Searchin' (I Gotta Find A Man)' which peaked at #6 in 1984. I still remember that song today, it's Hi-NRG sound just perfect for the clubs, but can you remember your first TOTP appearance singing it - and at what level of nervousness were you at that whole day? "Yes, I remeber my first TOTPs, I wasnt nervous, very excited, but not nervous. The show was not live, but pre recorded. My second or third appearance on TOTPs with "Searchin" was on a live show, so I guess I was a little more nervous, but the show was such fun to do it was enjoyable and exciting."
The follow-up, 'Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)' was another hit, reaching #4, but subsequent releases from the debut album, 'Back In My Arms (Once Again)' and 'No Fool (For Love)' both narrowly missed the UK Top 40. Being that it wasn't going to be until some four years later, with 'Who's Leaving Who' (1988) that you would have another Top 10 chart hit, did you feel at any time in those in-between years that perhaps it was time to quit the music business? "No. I have always been in the music business and still am. My music career has never been just about making records, it is a job, a career, and passion and a huge part of my life. I love music. Besides which I have always been busy work wise, then and now."
And, for the record, why did all your songs in that era seemingly have bracketed titles?! "No idea. No reason that I know of."
In 1989, and with several non-Top 40 singles behind you, you left the team of SAW and began working with Ian Levine. But during this time you seemed more interested in producing and writing songs for other artists, such as Bona Riah, Miquel Brown, MEN 2 B, Sandra Feva, etc. Did you always see this side of you as a natural progression, and are you still doing it for artists today? "I have always written, and been involved in production over the years and have been fortunate to have collaborated with some very talented musician/producers. I am semi retired now, and dont have time for writing, but have been co producing some new tracks recently, and of course I am 100% involved in the production of backing tracks for my shows, which are updated all the time."
As we haven't seen a new album from you in a while, I was wondering if we would see one in 2010 ... and if so, as we're not called Exclusive Magazine for nothing, has it got a working title yet, perhaps? "I have been working on some new material this year, alas came down with a bout of flu, so didn't get as much done as I would have liked in the first sessions. I am working with Pete Ware again, and am planning to get back into the studio soon - that said, Pete and I are both busy, so that may be easier said than done. Sorry, no working title, havent even thought that far ahead."
OK, here's a fun one, looking at the cover artwork (all found on your website) for these five (5) singles, please describe in just 5 words or less each per cover, what was going through your mind at that time - 'Searchin,' 'Whatever I Do,' 'Back In My Arms,' 'Always,' and Who's Leaving Who'? "Ha ha, no idea, I barely remember what was going through my mind an hour ago! No chance I could remember anything about any of those shoots - Although I'm sure I was having fun, I always enjoyed photo sessions, although didnt always like what they did with my lipstick, and I often had battles with make up artists."
It also seems from looking at all these 7" single covers, that for the majority of them (1984-1989) you are leaning to one side or the other! In reflection, as subsequent artwork concentrated more on your face thereafter, do you recall why that seemed to be the case - was it your choice, perhaps? "I don't think there was any great science involved in the choice of shots - or the direction I was leaning. We did the shoot, the best shots were selected. Obviously I had an opinion, but the sleeve concepts were worked on by designers and the images selected as appropriate."
I actually met you once, at a UK radio show's live broadcast from, I believe Earl's Court back in the mid-80s. Well, when I say met, I was coming down the escalator and you were on the other side going up! For some strange reason, as Keren Woodward, Nik Kershaw, and David Essex were all also there during the long day, my meetings with them are blurry, but that one of you passing me by on the escalators is - to this day - ultra vivid! Indeed, you were on the only star I didn't get to sign my little black autograph book that day. Hmmmm, thoughts :-) "It's a shame you didnt ask me to sign you autograph book, I'm quite a nice girl really!"
Being that you were referenced in both Little Britain and Doctor Who, how much pride does that give you to watch those moments today ... or have you not even seen one or other of them yet? "Ha ha, it makes me laugh, I have been mentioned on Eastenders twice (which took my by surprise as I was watching at the time) plus Coronation Street too - I think my friends and family are more aware of it, as to be honest I have never seen Little Britain! I do tend to get inundated with texts, emails and calls from family and friends when it happens, which is quite funny."
Fun Five - OK, it's now time to fire off some quick questions - to allow those that think they know Hazell Dean to perhaps think again!
a) Disco Diva ... Queen of Hi-NRG ... Empress of Eurobeat ... Duchess of the Dancefloor ... which of these titles do YOU really associate with - or perhaps see being closest to the truth, through the eyes of your adoring fans?! "Oh, it has to be Queen of HiNRG. I was given the grand titles of Empress of Eurobeat and Duchess of the Dancefloor to Pete Ware!!!!"
b) Is there one of your songs that you look back on and would today change the title to, or a line/lyric from it - and if so, which one, and why?! "How could I change any of them, they have all got a life force of their own, and are special. How could "Searchin" possibly be anything other than that?????"
c) Do you have a recurring nightmare or dream - and if so, how does it usually end? "I have panic dreams that I am late for shows, or cant find the venue. I wake up in a panic and usually sweating, and late for the show. I have had these dreams for my entire career, and am sure I will still have them long after I am retired!!!"
d) What is your sweetest, guiltiest pleasure (food wise!) late at night? "I have no food vices, and I dont drink. My guilty secret is a nice mug of Horlicks at bedtime."
e) If you could meet any deceased celebrity, who would it be - and what would be the first question you would ask them? "Sharon Redd, not to ask her anything, as she was a dear friend, but it would be nice to have the chance to say goodbye properly."
My God ... ever since mentioning it above, I just cannot get 'Searchin' (I Gotta Find A Man)' out of my head now! Is there a secret to removing it from being stuck in there now, or have I awakened something laid dormant for 25 years that wants to roam free within my mind for the rest of eternity?! "Sorry, I can't help you on that one, it's only in my head while im singing it, and after that its on to the next song, and after the show ... GONE!"
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today...and why? "So many great songs, it would be hard to pick one or even two - and as I am recording at the moment maybe I AM recording one of them??????!!!!"
And will the USA ever get to see Hazell Dean tour over here? There's the Here & Now, Rewind and Regeneration tours, but we never get to see you named on the bill for the American side of things. Is there anything we can do to change this? "Ha ha, no you wont see me on any of those tours, sorry. I do come to Miami and New York to do shows, and maybe there in May."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins (the flightless bird, not the chocolate bar!) ...do you? "I love penguins, although they stink! I particularly like Mumble the dancing penguin."
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
If you’re interested in knowing more about Hazell Dean, visit her website:
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