Call Answered: Lena Hall: "OBSESSED: Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
After you see Tony Award winner & Grammy nominee Lena Hall perform, it's almost impossible not to get "obsessed" with her. So it's quite fitting that Lena has released a new music series with SKB Records, called Obsessed, where over the course of 2018 Lena will release 12 EPs covering an artist or band she is "obsessed" with. Obsessed is already heating up the iTunes charts! Her debut album in this new project Obssessed: Hedwig & the Angry Inch premiered in the Top 25 iTunes Pop Charts (alongside such heavy hitters as Madonna & Janet Jackson).
I felt so lucky to go behind-the-scenes with Lena and find out more about this venture! In addition to discussing how this project came to fruition, Lena really opened up to me about her love for Hedwig, her trepidations with song choices, life lessons, memories of starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and so much more!
Obsessed: Hedwig and the Angry Inch is available now via iTunes and Amazon. Lena's next EP, Obsessed: Peter Gabriel releases February 2! Additionally Lena stars in her first feature film, Becks, which won the LA film festival and will be released nationally on Feb 9 in select theaters and VOD.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was born into a family of performers. I grew up in ballet classes, hanging out backstage in the theatre as well as performing on stage. It was always in my blood.
2. You have teamed up with SKB Records for a new series entitled Obsessed where over the course of 2018 you will release 12 EPs covering an artist or band you are "obsessed" with. How did this project come to fruition? It all started with a show at The Cafe Carlyle with Michael C Hall where we covered Radiohead, it was called Obsessed - Radiohead and I had planned on making it a recurring show but scheduling never worked out. A year later I decided to continue the Obsessed idea on my own and record EPs as well as perform small acoustic shows as a way to promote them. I also released a project called Stripped where I posted a weekly video on YouTube of cover songs done acoustically. I met with SKB about the Obsessed albums but after a meeting we decided to combine the two projects and make it a huge year long series combining the albums, concerts and videos into one large project.
3. To kick off this series, you just released Obsessed: Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Why did you want to launch this project with the show that earned you a Tony Award? Hedwig has had the biggest impact on my life. I have a lot of fans that are very loyal to me from that show and I, myself, am a huge fan of Hedwig. I feel this series is a love letter to each of the artists I’m covering and I thought it was right for the very first one to be the music that changed my life the most.
4. What was it like to revisit these songs in the two years since the show has been on Broadway? For me, the Hedwig score has been such a huge part of my life since 1999, when I first saw the show and bought the cast recording, that I never left the songs to re-visit them in the first place. They are in my blood at this point.
5. Did you have any trepidation in choosing any of the songs you picked? I had more trepidation in the songs I didn’t choose. These artists have such amazing catalogues that narrowing them down to four or five songs was tough! I wanted to do so many more.
6. My favorite song on the EP is "Wicked Little Town." So these next two questions have to do with some of the lyrics of that song. First, in this song, you sing "You know you can follow my voice/through the dark turns and noise/of this wicked little town." What are the dark turns and noise this wicked little town (meaning NYC) has made you go through to arrive to where you are now? I have been rejected a lot. Told no constantly, even now. I never let that stop me and instead use it as a way to fuel my fire. To prove to those nay sayers that I can do anything!
7. Secondly, in "Wicked Little Town" you sing "You learn too late you've used two wishes like a fool." What is something you feel you learned too late, in regards to your life or career, that you wish you knew earlier? I don’t believe in regrets and I don’t believe there is a too late. We learn what we need to learn when we learn it. I believe that everything happens for a reason and has a purpose.
8. What is one memory of your time in Hedwig that you can share with us that you haven't talked about before? Before every single show I did as "Hedwig," in order to focus and calm down because I was an absolute mess of nerves, I would recite the serenity prayer.
9. Can you tell us about any of the other EPs in this series you plan on releasing in this coming year? There are a slew of artists from Peter Gabriel to Jack White to Pink. Everything has already been recorded and is all being mixed and mastered. I am so excited for the people who come on this musical journey with me. I think it will be fun to see what people gravitate towards. I hope to expand musical tastes and introduce people to artists they may have never thought to listen to before.
10. I have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now," where I try to clear up misconceptions about people. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about yourself that you would like to finally clear up? I don’t know what the misconceptions would be, but all I can say is that I am as silly as I was when I was an eight year old girl!
More on Lena:
Lena Hall is a Tony Award winner and Grammy nominee who recently received widespread critical acclaim for her performance of the title role in the feature film Becks, which won the LA Film Festival and will be released in early 2018. Following her Tony winning Broadway run in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Lena toured North America alongside Josh Groban on his Stages tour and portrayed the dual starring roles of Hedwig and Yitzhak in Hedwig in Los Angeles (LA Drama Critics Circle nomination) and San Francisco. She originated the role of "Nicola" in the Tony-winning musical Kinky Boots, and can be seen on HBO’s Girls, Amazon Prime’s Good Girls Revolt, and heard voicing the fan-favorite role of "Countess Coloratura" on My Little Pony. Lena's most recent stage appearance was starring with Marisa Tomei in Lincoln Center Theatre’s How To Transcend A Happy Marriage. Lena’s two solo musical revues Sin & Salvation, which played the legendary Cafe Carlyle, and The Villa Satori: Growing Up Haight Ashbury both received rave reviews and have spawned live albums.