It’s all about the Oscars today in Los Angles and at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hill’s Polo Lounge people are walking about the courtyard cafe with the ease of a sun drunk cat.
My friend, singer, songwriter, dynamic performer the lady with charisma exquisitely unhurried sat down to talk to me about how she started, who inspired her musically and her savvy business skills. Miss Wendy Starland has it going on, she has that savoir-faire that is beauty and romance with a voice.
Wendy Starland, also has been in the middle of music business biggest discoveries, as she discovered Lady Gaga and landed her a production deal with producer Rob Fusari that resulted in Gaga signing major label record and publishing deals. Wendy and Lady Gaga have written songs together that were later produced by Fusari, for whom Starland was writing with over a nearly three-year period.
Here is the interview with the amazing Wendy Starland who is one very cool person to hang out with and a lot of fun.
1. Was it always in your blood to be a singer songwriter musician how did it all start for you.
I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. Growing up I had a babysitter who was almost like a 2nd mother to me, named Rosetta Atkins. She was a church gospel singer from the south who taught me different techniques of how to use my voice. We would imitate the voices on the radio – both men’s and women’s voices. By the time I was 9 I had a wide array of ways in which I could sing, and chose the aspects of my voice I wanted to feature in a particular song. I started writing songs on the piano at the age of 7 and have built up a big catalog with hundreds of songs.
Around 14 or 15 I was pulled out of the crowd onto Maceo Parker’s stage. Maceo is the legendary sax player from James Brown’s band who plays incredibly soulful funk. I ended up scatting on his stage for 20 minutes while Maceo got behind the drum kit and let me wail. Afterwards, the bass player wrapped a string from his bass into a small coil and got down on one knee, as if he were proposing. He hushed the crowd and placed the coiled string around my finger like an engagement ring. He then said into the microphone “Wendy, you have a gift from God. If you don’t spend the rest of your life using that gift, you will deprive the rest of us from receiving it. From this day forward you are married to music.” And ever since that day I have been married to music.
2. Who in music biz inspired you solo artist’s or bands?
I’ve gone through various different stages musically and have explored writing in many genres. I am currently in a rock phase and have been listening to the Foo Fighters nonstop. I’ve been lucky enough to open up for Chris Shifflett, guitarist of the Foo Fighters. I love their grittiness that they mix with such beautiful melodies. You can feel their authenticity, which is something that’s very important to me. Other current influences include U2, 30 Seconds To Mars, Kings Of Leon, Coldplay and The Police.
Previously I had been writing music that was more etherial, and was inspired by Sting, Peter Gabriel, Seal, Sade, Norah Jones, and Stevie Nicks.
3. You are very business savvy, where did you pick up all your business skill.
I was lucky enough to be born and raised in New York City, the city of ambition. My family is incredibly business savvy and have rubbed off on me in many ways. I have also always gravitated towards friends who are very sharp and who lead by example. I am grateful to have been surrounded by people I admire.
Its been incredible working with brands like Pink Pump and P2 who have worked with me on a different model for distributing my music to new fans. It has been a successful venture where a percentage of sales will be donated to charity at the end of the campaign. We will be donating to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
4. As a songwriter where does your inspiration come from, dreams, life experiences, or imagination.
All of the above. I integrate as many aspects of myself and my experience into my music as possible. Whether that experience constitutes my real life or my dreams.
5. Are you currently working on a project?
I am working on a new rock album. It is very different from what my fans are used to hearing from me. It is a rebirth of sorts. I’m really excited about this new direction and feel that it reflects my experience since moving to Los Angeles. I have performed some of the new material live while opening up for Sheryl Crow and Jack White, and had a great response. I’m excited to unveil it to the rest of the world soon. My first single, “All The Way,” will be featured in a new ad campaign for MoboVivo.
A man, by the name of Mr. Radar approached me and asked me how was this morning? I lied and told him, it was alright, then my body stared to shake uncontrollably and tears began to flow with the power of Niagara falls, as thoughts of the women who had opened some doors and made some dreams come true had died after her battle with cancer. The media would forget her very quickly as that afternoon Micheal Jackson was found dead.
I met Farrah in New York city. It was my first trip to the big apple, I was invited by a man who at the time was the wealthiest man in the world. I had no idea how the universe was going to unfold, I was going to just go with the flow. What a flow this was, it forever would change my life, in that New York minute kinda-way. Arriving at La Guardia I jumped into a yellow taxi and headed for 641 Fifth Avenue. The taxi sped away then braked, whizzing in and out of various lanes, over bridge’s and under tunnels it invoked a fond nostalgia of a city I had seen in films and on television shows. The city that had been near bankruptcy, graffiti scared subway cars, escalating crime, dwindling population, where you considered yourself lucky if you made it alive from point “A” to “B”. It was also the city where so many had arrived to make their fortunes. I knew full well that life is defined by opportunities even the once missed and other’unexpected. Farrah and everything hereinafter was unexpected. As I stood on the sixty-seventh floor of the Olympic Towers, I took in the vast vista of the city. It gave me a heady freedom. I saw the city with wide endlessly appreciative eyes. Unlike Toronto, New York, had no time for the niceties of life, it was aggressive, its people it seemed did not believe in wasting time. It was like two cities, a glitter world where everybody else lived and one where famous and wealthy played in a luxurious bubble. I had arrived in this city by-passing all its gritty aspects it had to offer and standing in the apartment office of a Saudi billionaire I was in the bubble of wealth and luxury. I had an exhilarating awareness that immense events were playing out right in-front of my eyes. Adnan Khashoggi, (if you want to know who he is just click on his name for my video on him ), arrived, he shared with me the view and sensed my excitement and offered to give me a tour of his two-story apartment perched high above Manhattan, with everything one can imagine including a full size pool. Upon learning that it was my first time to the city, he picked up the phone and instructed someone to book me into the Helmsley Palace hotel towers and arrange for me to dine somewhere fun. He then informed me that I would be staying the night all the arrangements were made and asked if I enjoyed the theater. This presenting me the opening to speak about the film I had made in grade school, theater and acting steering the conversation towards the artistic world. He was delighted that I had a creative side and invited me to a Broadway play in which he had an investment. I was advised to check into the hotel, refresh and meet at Olympic towers for the ride over to the theater.
The play starred Farrah, it was called “Extremities”. It was Farrah’s Broadway debut and I was utterly surprised to learn that I may have the opportunity of meeting her. Where oh where are all the guy’s from school now, I thought. The play was heavy drama, a far cry from “Charlies Angels”, the television hit show that had made Farrah a big star. After the show I was introduced to Tatum O’Neal, Ryan O’Neil daughter. Soon afterwards, Farrah appeared to meet and greet my host and his entourage. When my time came to meet Farrah, I attempted to muster some superlatives to define her performance and was unable to find any. Then Farrah smiled, putting me at ease with her comforting, warm Texan manner. Superlatives began to fall from my lips like apples from a tree. She was playfully amused. She was as I had expected pretty, her famous blond hair, was thick and rich with gravity-defying mellifluous curls. Her eyes had a warm glow, luminous and penetrating. Her skin had a fragrance of bubble-gum freshly unwrapped. The lips invoked image’s of wild cherries, and if you kissed them perhaps they would taste like cherry soda. Farrah and I formed an instant bond. This may have been due to my shyness, or not being fazed by her. She had an aura that was disarming, comforting, and warm. There was a calm around her and we stood side by side and chit-chatted. I extended her an invitation for dinner. She declined in the most alluring and charming manner. She had a previous engagement with a Saudi-Prince. What the hell was I thinking. She saw that I was holding the playbill for the show, in my hand, reached out, took it, “Tim or Timothy?” she asked “Timothy” I said and she autographed it. My trip yielded me a business relationship with my host the Saudi- billionaire with homes around the world, private jets, yachts, one currently owned by billionaire Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal and infinite global connections. The partnership was about to propel me into instant orbit. It also commenced the leisurely process of drowning my innocence.
Soon afterwards I was asked to go to California to see what was going with a film “Cotton Club”, I hardly knew anyone in California let alone Los Angeles, I needed a quick education a fast track into the fast lane of Hollywood, and it’s in’s and out. I called Farrah. Los Angeles being one of those places that open’s it’s doors to you quickly if you know the right person, knowing a super-star, well that really helps.
Arriving at the Beverly Hills hotel in Beverly Hills, one look at the hotel gave me the impression that it dearly needed a face lift. This was my first impression. It was known in the industry as the pink palace, it was painted all in pink. Upon being checked in, I was taken through the side entrance of the main lobby of the hotel through green, lush, tropical gardens and into bungalow number six. Inquiring if a Ferrari could be rented, I was informed that Beverly Hills, Budget had one. I raced over and picked up a gleaming red Ferrari. Making a u-turn on Crescent I parked the Ferrari in front of my bungalow.
Farrah had made the lunch arrangements at the hotels restaurant the Polo Lounge. The Polo Lounge was not just any restaurant. It was the epicenter in the land of earthquakes of the entertainment industry. It’s booths where coveted by the super-stars of the silver screen, the power brokers, movers and shakers and the rich and famous. To get a table albeit a bad one required clout. A booth reservation required your latest status according the silver screen guide of A-list, people in show-biz. Upon entering the Polo Lounge I noticed that each of the booths was equipped with a telephone. These were not the iPhone days. I was zig-zagged past tables of important looking people, into the court-yard garden oblivious of the importance of table or booth, indoor or outdoor or the perception of being seen with Farrah in this town at the Polo Lounge, I thanked my lucky stars that I had Farrah, in my corner.
The garden was drenched in sunlight, with its lush banana trees, palm trees, flowers and an immense tree which formed the hub of the garden restaurant. The tree’s octopus branch’s giving the false impression that they where growing at will. It seemed some of the people seated where just talking gobbledygook. The garden courtyard was surrounded with booths on its outer limits. I saw Farrah, sitting in a booth intended for six, highly visible, it’s placement signifying it’s rank. The sunlight drowned the tables covered in starched crisp pink table cloths. It would be lunch with sunglasses on. That fashionably LA. I greeted Farrah with a sense of kinship, she extended her hand across the table, taking it, I leaned over the table and she offered her cheeks for a kiss. Sitting down, making small talk, waiting for the server to arrive, I noticed that Farrah seemed to be drinking a refreshingly looking drink in a tall glass with ice. The drink complimented not only the climate but the decor of the
restaurant. Soon the server arrived in a bright white jacket and black pants. I ordered, the drink Farrah was drinking. It was cranberry juice, with Evian water, al a mode at the time. Our small talk had evolved into an easy-going rapport. Farrah was acquisitive, sensitive, intoxicating and energetic. We spoke about her upcoming part in a film, set in Paris and what I wanted to see in LA. Farrah ordered a Cobb salad, and suggested I try the McCarthy, she also suggested that I needed a make-over and so began my Californication.
Having finished our lunch, we proceeded to exist the main building, Farrah, stopped at one table and then another as we attempted to exit, to shake a hand or say hello. Slipping out the side of hotel into the gardens leading to my bungalow and Crescent road where Farrah had parked her car. “It must be crazy for you to get around this town?” I asked, “It’s not that bad at all, really, the Polo Lounge, it’s another story”, she commented on our exist, “You don’t say!” we both laughed. Farrah had been driving Jaguar, a recent present from
Ryan O’Neal, for her birthday. I pointed out the awaiting red Ferrari, “Your kidding me, you just landed, when did you get the Ferrari?” she asked, looking surprised at my inordinate expense. Farrah looked at me and smiled, like a girl seeking a playmate and finding one and said, “It’s going to be fun shopping with you, Timothy”.
My wildest dreams had not taken into account that such a moment would arrive, where I would be driving Farrah in a Ferrari in Beverly Hills. This unbelievable event began to feel not just familiar but preordained. As I fired up the Ferrari, I looked towards Farrah and confessed, “Farrah, I’ve got to be honest with you now, I don’t know if I’ve been bit by a rattler, fucked or shot”, she screamed out a laugh over the Ferrari’s roaring engine. We were off to Melrose. The lipstick red, gleaming, Ferrari raced down Crescent purring like a wild cat past tall palm trees, under the blue California sky with a few floating clouds. Soon we arrived in the valet parking lot for Johnny Rockets and Tommy Tang. I handed the car to the valet parking attendant a surfer looking dude, who gave you the feeling that this was a regular occurrence.
LA Eye Works, was a trendy hip store in vogue. It was Farrah’s preferred store and that was all that mattered. It was apparent that the staff was at ease with her presence, yet while attending to us, gave the illusion of aloofness allowing us the feeling of space. Indulging in the space provided we began tried numerous pairs of eye wear. Like cave dwellers painting their skin with ochre and charcoal, we painted ours with charcoal, black and various shades of color sunglass’s. Farrah found herself two pairs while I settled for a pair of Persol’s like the once worn by Marcello Mastroianni in “Divorce Italian Style”, and Steve McQueen in ” The Thomas Crown Affair “. I now had an urge for a vanilla shake. Farrah, led me into Johnny Rockets, a fifty style dinner. Having satisfied the spontaneous urge we made our way to the car. The attentive valet attendant seeing us had the Ferrari, running and ready. Existing the parking lot, I allowed the Ferrari to make its zoom, zoom sound
unique to a Ferrari, and raced down Melrose. Farrah, smiled. She glowed in the sunlight. It was clear that sunny days were applauding her. I was instructed to stop the car in the parking lot on Melrose of Fred Seagel’s. Farrah had embarked on her project of Californiaiding me. The button-down, loafer wearing east-coast kid was about to be transformed. Farrah, found me some jeans, a t-shirt and a new pair of driving shoes. We drove off,however missing from the blend, like a martini missing olives, was music. Farrah the Ferrari needed only music. Eagle’s “Hotel California”, It would complete the package. Farrah directed me to a music store Tower records on Sunset, where the sales staffer found Eagel’s “Hotel California” in world record time. Finding myself back on Sunset, I made the childish attempt to let the Ferrari fly. Sunset between Whittier and Beverly Glen offers you two beautifully banked S-curves, perfect for my desperate longing to throw the Ferrari into the twists and turns that this section of Sunset provided. The Ferrari eat the curves as a seasoned lover unclasps a bra-strap with a single hand. Farrah had a slight smile appear on her face, a girl being teased, “you handle this car well”, she said, “thanks, Farrah, I love sport cars, I’ve grown up with them”. As the music began and the Ferrari sliced through Brentwood, we headed to the ocean and found yourself back on Sunset. Soon “Hotel California” blared as the Ferrari took one curve after another with as much delight as a mans tongue on the glassy smoothness of a women’s body. Farrah’s head bobbed side to side, we screamed out the words “Welcome to Hotel California”. Flicking, through the Palisades, Sunset dropped towards the ocean. At Pacific coast Farrah gave me a hand signal to make a left turn. Along the coast Ferrari with Farrah, we arrived in Venice Beach. Leaving the car at a local Venice beach restaurant valet, Jones Beach, we walked towards the beach and the famous boardwalk of Venice Beach. The boardwalk was vibrant with energy, it almost appearing like a hallucination that is neither entirely past or present. Walking along the boardwalk we took in the local sights, and flavor. The sun was about to set, so we walked on the sandy beach(found a spot and sat down, and without any words so as not to spoil the moment watched the sun set. As we walked back towards Jones Beach, a man who looked starved for money and food, yelled out” Farrah baby, how ya doing girl?”, Farrah gave him a wave and a smile. Filling him. It was time to head back to Beverly Hills. Farrah, wanted me to meet her father for dinner who was visiting from Texas. The Ferrari growled into curves, of Sunset, screamed over gentle hills, and descended screeching, and into another curve, as I changed gears, downshifting, while accelerating on winding road provided by nature. Farrah, was lip singing the words “desert highway, cool wind in your hair”, as her hair blew in the warm evening air. We had arrived back from where we had started Beverly Hills hotel. I removed the various shopping bags and walked Farrah over to her parked Jag. As she opened the door, she spun around in a ballet like move, and hugged me. Her embrace was warm and gentle. In an attempt to kiss her cheeks, to express my thanks for a wonderful day, our lips met and we were lip to lip for a fleeting moment. This fleeting moment lasted the space of time that it takes Star ship Enterprise to race across your television screen. My body shuddered. The seductress of television had just kissed me. Her saliva, lingering on my lips an elixir seducing me to this land of make belief, where so many try to make dreams come true, and where magic had just become real. I was a boy in a town of irresistible attractions, I would have to keep my wits about me. My feet on the ground. How, would I manage all this. Farrah had just elevated me and put me into orbit. I was smitten, I was spinning at speed of earth on its axis. Step by step, slow it down. One may think, of love and say you’ve fallen in-love, but no, I was far to young to fall in love, had no idea what it was, love. Yes, Farrah was a star, but I was used to being in the company of stars.
My mother, had cancer. She survived it’s shrapnel’s. Farrah, did not survive hers. She, had to endure it’s beating’s and bashing’s. Farrah, the Farrah that I come to know was no coward. I will miss her. Life is not a paragraph and death I think is no parenthesis. As Becket put it, “If life is a cursed thing, fated to the end before all promise is fulfilled”. Life’s volatile natures are teeny-weeny, nancy-pansy, compared to the tormenting torture of cancer. The memories she gave me will live forevermore to retain in my mind and transcend time, till it will be my time to die. Farrah, instilled in me the desire to be a knight for her, who would move hills for her. Move a field around her and move the sun, so her eyes could restfully soak in the view, of a blue sky with clouds of grey, of massed lights, together, as if trying to give itself shape, like a rain drop trying to form a river, and float away in fields of clouds. Farrah enriched my life and for this I am blessed. Thank you, Farrah for all those moments, some eerie, and hooking me like a junkie to crack, a vampire to blood to the seductive nature of California. The television goddess that hurled me into space with a fleeting kiss. Dream, let the universe unfold, because magic is real and dreams do come true.