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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Exclusive Interview: Pretty Poison's Jade Starling Celebrates a Year of Deep Healing While Readying New Music for 2018

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(All photos via Jade Starling's Official Facebook)

Some songs just stay with you. No matter how many years have passed since the first time that you remember hearing it on the radio, four seconds in and you recognize it as YOUR jam. Sure, it might be one of a handful of songs that you classify that way, but it's still YOUR jam. Pretty Poison's "Catch Me I'm Falling" has always registered as one of mine. It was just the right song at the right time for me, one that to this day leaves me dancing. It has worked that same kind of magic on a lot of people. I say that because, in between heating up dance floors worldwide, "Catch Me" has also found its' way onto the soundtrack of at least a dozen movies, as well as television shows like Breaking Bad.

I recently had an opportunity to catch up with Jade Starling, who has had a roller coaster ride of a year. She has helped to love and rally her bandmate through cancer, hit the stage on numerous occasions and has found an enormous amount of personal healing in the #metoo movement. Every step of the way Jade has remained grateful, gracious and infectiously positive. Keep reading and you'll find her just as endearing as I have!

Cate Meighan: In a few weeks we'll be closing the door on 2017, how has this year been for you?

Jade Starling: As I reflect on 2017 it really has been a very busy and productive year. We've done a lot of tour dates this year. We were out on the Lost 80's Live Tour and we shared the bill with some incredibly famous groups that I've idolized forever. Missing Persons, Berlin, Wang Chung, Naked Eyes, Spandau Ballet- just all of the really great music that I grew up with. Here I was, on tour with them and it was just such a great experience.

The year started off with a challenge though. At the beginning of the year my longtime partner in the group, Whey Cooler was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer and he had to go through chemo and radiation treatments for about three months. I always knew that he was one of the strongest people, if not the strongest person that I've ever known in my life. What he went through was just the worst, but being a strong person and one that is blessed with unconditional love, he managed to find the strength to get through this. The support of his friends, family and the fans was amazing. Everyone really rallied around him and lifted him up. I would say by May his treatments were over and we started going out on tour again. Honestly, he was just coming off of treatment and probably shouldn't have been on the road, but he wanted to go and I think in the end it was the best thing. He needed to get out there again. He was never someone that didn't do anything, so he was in the studio every day right up until those last weeks of treatment. He worked like he wasn't sick and I admire that so much. We had been working together for thirty years and so getting back out onto the road just made sense. As of today, he is almost back to normal and has been in remission for three months.

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Also our classic song “Catch Me I'm Falling” was featured in the movie "The Big Sick" (available on pay per view) this year. Having our song in the movie brought a lot of recognition and we've been sorting through more offers for tour dates and things like that so that song really is a gift that keeps on giving (laughing). Who knew that Catch Me would be such a blessing?


CM: "Catch Me "I'm Falling"  was such a huge song and I think it's one that is instantly identifiable even 30 years later. Do you ever feel boxed in by the success of it?

JS: I don't feel boxed in by it but it's like the pinnacle of everything. People will always compare everything we do to our biggest, worldwide hit, I never like to dwell on the past. I'm grateful that the song keeps reinventing itself. It has been used in a dozen movies and it has been on tv shows like Breaking Bad. I'm not mad at that at all (laughing) because it's fantastic. But we are still working on new music and we've had amazing success at the dance or club level for the last decade or so. We've had over a dozen or so songs chart on Billboard's dance chart and six number ones on there. Also in the last few years, I released my first solo album called Captive and it spawned three Billboard dance hits. I think we're still relevant, especially in the dance community.  I think our style is pretty diverse. We're actually award-winning songwriters. We've written songs for other people and have worked with other artists like Joss Stone.

Also, we're revered in the freestyle world. I don't know how that actually happened but I'm really glad that it did. I don't think that we're a freestyle act but we seem to be lumped in with that type of music and I don't mind that, it's another thing I'm not mad at (laughing). We get invited to do big arena freestyle shows and there are the same dozen artists or so that do these, so I'm happy to be part of that family.

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CM: The freestyle world really is like a family, isn't it?

JS: It's funny how the more things change the more things stay the same. All of the acts and groups on tour just do seem like more of a family. It's like a relationship with the family members that you only get to see a few times a year. It feels right and natural. There's nothing strange about how comfortable it all is. I prefer working with people that I like to be around. I like positive, upbeat people. I don't like the drama and I really like to build people up, especially other women. I'm very supportive of other female acts in the industry. I feel that you get what you give in the music industry so I always try to put out the positive and hopefully that's what I'm getting back. I'm all about love (laughing). Think about the love of the fans when they're singing our songs! It's very touching and it warms my heart so I try to stay in touch with our fans. I do answer as many messages from them as I can. It's important to them and it's important to me to keep that relationship going. It's amazing what social media has done and can you imagine if we had it back in the day, how big things could have been? It just seems like the more that I'm out there on social media promoting myself and responding to even basic things, it really does so much. I can make someones' day, or they can even make mine. It just means so much. It's not that hard to be kind and what comes around goes around.



CM: Freestyle music really took off in Miami right?


JS: Yes. Pretty Poison was originally based out of Philly but we were doing the majority of our shows in the tri-state area. That's really where it started for us and then it spread out to Florida, especially Miami because that was a big dance hub for sure. It took a long time but I think dance music has finally come to the forefront. It's commercially viable especially with XM Radio and things like that you can just channel in on exactly the music you like and individualize each genre.



CM: You have been involved in the music industry for so long, how have the negative aspects of the business affected you?

JS: Well, during the 90's after our Virgin records deal ended we signed with a small label. The president of this record company was always groping me and touching me. He felt like he could have his hands on me. I ended up suing for sexual harassment and I won because we settled. The recent news coming every day with these people in power, you know you see what they want you to see. They look like these great people that are respectful and would never do anything wrong and yet, so many people have gone through the same thing that I have. 

I've had a gag order to keep me from talking about it and for so many years I've suppressed those feelings. Now, with all of these other women coming forward because of #metoo, it's almost like the burden has been lifted off of my shoulders as well. It makes me feel vindicated and it has taken me a long time to be able to say that. I feel like I wasn't alone now and for so long I couldn't talk about it and I felt like I was having a breakdown. It was so embarrassing and I felt belittled and trapped. This person would threaten to take away a budget because I wasn't doing what he wanted me to do. It wasn't in private. He was touching me and making me feel uncomfortable in public and in front of other people. 

CM: I think a lot of people think that this is a new issue rather than one that has been swept under the proverbial rug for so long. But it has always existed.

JS: I'm just happy to see so many people and women coming forward to tell the stories about their abuse by these creepy guys. It just messes with your head and it messes you up. I don't care if they're multi-millionaires, they are still despicable. That behavior is disgusting and should never be condoned. It's never okay, in any situation.

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CM: What else have you been up to, besides the music?

JS: I work out a lot. I go to the gym because it's good for my head, my body, and my soul. I have to work out, gotta keep it looking good (laughing). I really do enjoy weightlifting, kickboxing, yoga things like that. I've also been working with people on developing skincare products. It's something that I'm really into. Natural things, natural ways to keep your skin looking young. That's something that I'm really working on and it's in the developing stages no so hopefully in the next year or two it'll come to fruition.

It's really important to get into good skincare habits when you're young otherwise you wake up one day, look in the mirror and say,'what have I done or what haven't I done?'. I'm happy to say that I've never done any kind of plastic surgery or injectables. I just don't believe in it unless things are totally falling apart (laughing) and I feel like there's no choice. I think sometimes people get carried away with it. If someone says that another person had work then I think they've gone too far with it. You don't want to look like you've had work, you want to look like yourself and that you haven't aged. I find that with some topical skin care products you really are getting lots of anti-aging and nourishment which is great. It also comes from the inside out. You have to feel joy and happiness in your heart because when you do it shows on your face. Smiling is like an instant facelift.

I just like to spread positivity. When you're with someone that's negative it just brings you down, it's contagious. Misery loves company. There are so many things that we're blessed with and it's not that there aren't hardships, everyone goes through them. But honestly, I praise God every day. I have strong beliefs and I just always tell people to pray. Use prayer, it helps. My best friend got through cancer and I truly believe it had a lot to do with positivity and prayer. When you think that you've hit that rock bottom and that all is lost, it really isn't. There is still that little spark of hope, so hang onto it.

CM: This really has been both a challenging and rewarding year for you. What comes next?

JS: We're very blessed and lucky. We have been working in the studio on new music and we're going to be releasing a new album in 2018. We're really excited about that. There have been opportunities for us outside of the group but we're still working very hard in the studio. I can't say when exactly but there will be a new single released in the first quarter of 2018 with a new album to follow. There will also be some new remixes of "Catch Me I'm Falling" thanks to some big-name producers and remixers we're working with.

CM: What would you like to say to the fans that have followed you and have really lifted you up this year?

JS: Oh great big special thanks to all of the fans for their undying continued love and support.They are the reason that we're still here doing what we love to do so much.

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Check out Jade and Pretty Poison's official site here
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