Snap! Penny Ford, Benjamin Lowe (2014)
Autor: Richard Constantinidi
Etichete: Benjamin Lowe, Chaka Khan, Florin Salam, Jackie Harris, Krs One, Luca Anzilotti, Michael Münzing, Milli Vanilli, Nicolae Guta, Oops Up, Penny Ford, Pr & More, Renate Roca-rozenberg, Snap!, The Gap Band, The Madmans Return, The Power, Thea Austin, Turbo B, We Love The 90s, Welcome To Tomorrow, World Power
Snap! is a German Eurodance act formed by Frankfurt/Main-based producers Michael Münzing and Luca Anzilotti in 1989. The act has had a number of line-up changes over the years, but was most successful when fronted by Turbo B and Penny Ford.
Their first hit The Power, spent five weeks at No.2 in Germany (April, 1990), topped the UK Singles Charts and reached No.2 in the U.S. Billboard Charts.
Jackie Harris was used to mime Penny Ford's voice in the video The Power and left the group shortly after and Penny Ford became its full-time lead singer.
In 1991, Thea Austin joined the line-up and helped write Rhythm Is A Dancer.
The producers, Münzing and Anzilotti recruited another US-born singer, Summer (born Paula Brown) to front the act for the third album in 1994. In 1996 the group was officially disbanded releasing a greatest hits compilation. New versions were made for hit single Rhythm Is a Dancer in 1996 and 2008.
Snap! played in Cluj-Napoca, Romania for the first time on November 22nd, 2014. It is here that I met Penny Ford and new male vocal, Benjamin Lowe.
RiCo for CZB: Penny Ford, how did you get to Germany and what kind of culture shock did you experience?
Penny Ford: By the time I came to Germany to do Snap! I had already been to Germany before with other projects, but to make a very long story short, I was singing with Chaka Khan, who was my best friend and we'd taken an apartment in London.
The Germans (Frankfurt/Main based producers Michael Münzing and Luca Anzilotti) called and asked if she would do this rap-dance project and she said, of course not; I'm a jazz singer. She turned to me and said: I don't know this kind of music but you can go do it - and she sent me to do it and here we are now, 25 years later.
RiCo for CZB: Benjamin Lowe, How did you become part of the project?
Penny Ford: (Benjamin Lowe, interrupted) Well, he'd been here for a few months. I had a rapper that had been working with me for several years. He took a very big job in Dubai and I met Will through some friends that I write with in the studio, so he's been doing pretty good. He's just been here a couple of months - so he's very very new (laughs).
RiCo for CZB: When did Snap! start to do the We Love the 90's Parties?
Penny Ford: Probably Snap! started doing the We Love the 90's parties before I came back. I've been back for 8 years now, but until then, Turbo B (the original rapper) had his own thing out. So he was doing the We Love the 90's parties before then but I've been doing them for 8 years now …and am still going.
CZB: What music did you grow up with?
Penny Ford: I'm a straight jazzer and a Gospel singer. I have to be honest with you, when I first heard The Power, I asked myself: What is this crap? I don't get this. I don't know what you want me to sing but I'm going to sing anything and then I want to go home and here we are, 25 years later.
Benjamin Lowe: I'm a little bit younger, so I grew up with 80's and 90's hip hop and R&B and an occasional classic rock I got from my mother.
CZB: (pauses) KRS One?
Benjamin Lowe: Exactly, my all time favorite. You just said it out of nowhere. KRS One, Boogie Down Productions.
Penny Ford: (laughs, staring)
CZB: (laughs, surprised)
The Power video
CZB: How did you feel about being replaced visually by Jackie Harris, who mimed to your voice in The Power video?
Penny Ford: Well, I …that's a very interesting question and a very good old school question… Well, you know, I am happy for her - she made herself into history by miming my voice. This happened because I was on the road with the Rolling Stones and Soul II Soul …the (Snap!) record came out and nobody knew that the record (World Power, 1990) was going to go big, so they had to find someone for the video.
Interestingly enough, we wee on the same label with Milli Vanilli and when the fallout happened with Milli Vanilli, they had to find me wherever I was and they had to give me as much money as I wanted …and I've been doing it ever since then. If you've noticed… you've seen my face pop up by the Oops Up video. So, they've tried to sneak it in and fix things, you know how they do it (grinning).
Jackie Harris doesn't sing at all, mind you.
Oops Up video
Milli Vanilli SCANDAL (RO language editorial)
CZB: There's a lot of nonsense wording in the songs, like: I'm serious as Cancer when I say Rhythm Is A Dancer…
Penny Ford: OK, that's Turbo B.
CZB: At the end of Oops Up, how did you come up with Oh-Poo-La?
Penny Ford: Because Oops Upside Your Head, the original song, was done by The Gap Band and I did my first album with The Gap Band in 1984, so I was familiar with that.
I didn't know how they wanted me to sing that, so I asked how they said Oops in German …they said: Oh Poo Lah, so I just added that to the track and added it to the end. I'm old school too, so I started recording at a time when we didn't have Digital… we had Tape and if you messed up there was a guy who had to cut the tape and put it back together and so I learned at a very young age to say something crazy into the track. That way, if I didn't have the vocals, I would have to re-tape the vocals. So I say this: Little Miss Muffin… and I'm just joking …and I said: OK, you can erase that… but they were saying: No, we love this! So, I'm like: My mother's going to hear that… so it's there.
(everybody in the room laughs).
Oops Up. The Gap Band (1979)
CZB: What's one of the funniest or most interesting things that has ever happened to you onstage or offstage since you've been working together?
Penny Ford: We did Norway a couple of weeks ago for TV2 and it was a proper Ballroom atmosphere, with ball gowns and tuxedos and it was very stuffy and when we came onstage I had never seen so many ball gowns standing on tables …they lost their minds… so that was pretty interesting.
For me, like I've been doing this for a long time but he's been doing it for two months.
Benjamin Lowe (Will): It was like they were all from the high society but everyone was standing on tables wearing ball dresses and tuxedos …it was definitely something interesting to watch.
Penny Ford: For me I would say that one of the most interesting things that has happened since the beginning of Snap! was playing Leipzig on the other side of the (Berlin) Wall, before The Wall came down, in front of 350.000 people. You can YouTube that…
That was very very crazy.
CZB: For people who want to make music a full time profession, what advice would you give them?
Penny Ford: I would say that they are hiring friendly people at the Post Office every day (laughing)… I would not suggest in good conscience and good heart for anyone to get in this business. The only people I say that should be in this business are people who were doing this when they were toddlers, before they could even understand words and they were doing this - they are the people that were made to do this. You can't just decide at one point. Most people don't understand the hard work that goes into it. They think it's all party, party, party and when they find themselves in the middle of the hard work they go: Well, this isn't what I wanted. I tell people all the time: There is music and then there is music business. They are two totally different things. There really is no music in the music business. It's all twinkling and boobs and sort of (laughs out loud) videos with chicks and stuff like that.
CZB: So what do you think of the current trend… it's been quite a few years now since we've had The Voice of whatever country or whatever country's Idol. What do you think of these competitions? Are they good or bad for the industry then?
Penny Ford: It depends. You know Randy Jackson from the original American Idol produced my last album, do I'm very familiar with these shows. I think that they eliminated Arts & Repertoire Men (The A&R record company departments). It was an easier way …instead of the A&R departments of actually going out and trying to find music, they just started shows and the record company people would all line up.
I mean, I don't watch them anymore. I watched the beginning, with the silly parts when the crazy people come on but I mean, you know, everybody has there chance of doing something I guess (laughs).
Benjamin Lowe: I would say if you want to go into the music business, you should always have a good Plan B.
CZB: Just before the interview started you told us that you like Manele - and you listen to Nicolae Guță and Florin Salam. How did you get to discover this music?
Penny Ford: I met a woman who doesn't speak very much English and I don't speak Gypsy but we are able to communicate and she said to me that she did 14 years in prison for her son because she didn't want her son to do the time and so she did the 14 years and she said that were it not for The Power, she would not have made it through this. So I hired her and she is like My Mama. She takes care of me; she takes care of my home. She takes care of everything. She has had the key to my home for seven or eight years and so she and her friends have turned me on to Guță and Salam and we sit around and play the music from our individual countries.
CZB: Will, my last question to you is: What is it like working with Penny Ford and what have you learned from her so far?
Benjamin Lowe: We don't have enough time for me to tell you everything I've learned. Working with her is awesome; in my eyes, she is a legend in the music business. This is awesome and the things you can learn are just …like I've said, we don't have enough time. I've been on the road before. I had my own group (10:20); I had two record deals but it's nothing compared with what you do with Snap! It's really legendary when you see it up close, in person.
Discography (studio albums)
- World Power (1990)
- The Madman's Return (1992)
- Welcome to Tomorrow (1994)
Interview conceived by: RiCo for CZB.ro
Thanks going out to Snap! (2014)
and Renate Roca-Rozenberg from PR & More
for making this interview possible.
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