When the MadonnaTribe team met Madonna's
Confessions Tour backing singer Nicki Richards
in Paris last August and spent some time with her, we left
with the mutual promise of sitting down for a nice chat
about her carrer and her tour experience with M, as soon
as the tour would have ended.
And here it is.. MadonnaTribe meets Nicki Richards!
MT: Hi Nicki and welcome
How did it start for you in the music business?
NR: I studied music any which way I could,
started gigging in high school... I scrounged and found
ways of making demos and showing up at every jam session
and gig in Manhattan I could get into (underage!). I was
so serious! I'd say to the musicians, "I don't want
to date you! I'm ready to work."
MT: You were born in Honolulu and you
now live in Manhattan - not exactly two places close to
one another - how has it all happened and is your life
today different from the one you would have guessed a
few years ago?
NR: My Dad was an officer in the military,
so my family moved around quite a bit. New York was always
the dream, the place where all the cool musicians were
(the ones whose pics were up on my bedroom walls) and
I just couldn't wait to be a part of that cool, mythical
scene... I always wanted to get to right here, right now.
MT: By the way, congratulations
for your voice Nicki, we think it's quite unique...
MT: You also starred in movies such as
"Colorz of Rage", shot videos and commercials,
and appeared in several stage productions. How
different are those experience from singing live on stage
or in the studio, and which is the most fun?
NR: I don't like to feel limited in any
way. I'm just happy to wake up in the morning and have
a place to go where I can do any of this stuff! It's fun
every single day.
MT: You had already recorded and performed
with some amazing talents in the music industry, how did
you happen to be part of Madonna's Confessions Tour?
My friend Lisa Fischer (Madonna Live 8, Rolling Stones,
Tina Turner) recommended me to Stuart Price.
Stuart called me & asked if I'd be interested. Um,
MT: Did you happen to audition
for Madonna? Were you nervous?
NR: I did
indeed audition, and it was good. She was funny and professional
and knew exactly what she wanted right away. I respected
MT: Were you already familiar with Madonna's
music before the show? Do you have a favourite Madonna song?
NR: The first time I heard "Everybody"
I thought I was gonna fall down, it had such great energy.
Just sassy! I was in a store today and they played "Die
Another Day" over the speakers, and me and everyone
in the store danced and sang along. Hysterical.
I love "Music", "Like A Prayer", "Vogue",
"Nothing Really Matters", "Justify My Love",
"Frozen", "Bedtime Story".... I could
keep going.... The songs with a message appeal to me. She's
talking about some deep stuff.
MT: Is this
the first time you happened to be in a show that is more
like a theatrical presentation, where you have to dance,
sing and act, all at the same time?
NR: No, I've always done things where I'm able
to do it all, luckily.
MT: How was
it working with Stuart Price on the musical part of the
I think everyone at some point or another upon knowing Stuart
will have a gigantic crush on him! He is one of the sweetest,
funniest, most giving people I know. Musically it was cool
because he knows what he wants, communicates it clearly,
no muss no fuss. There was a lot of experimentation and
He's quite the droll little bad boy.
Was it hectic behind the stage during the tour?
but it was more like an elaborate dance; I go under the
stage and pass Sofia on the left while a crane lifts the
cage overhead before I crawl into a "toaster"
and pop up out of the floor.. You have to know where you're
going and exactly when if you don't want to get run over
by 80 other people!
MT: Do you have a favourite moment in the show,
even if you're not on stage?
NR: You know I'm going to say "Lucky
Star", because that's when I get to interact with both
the audience and Madonna. I got to talk mess and trade jokes
for a second. Best part of the show!!
MT: Soon after
the birthday show in London on August 16th we spoke to Donna
and she said Madonna was really surpised by the surprise
of you two on stage singing happy birthday.
She said she was worried you were on stage because you were
supposed to have your hair done for the next number... What
do you remember of that occasion?
NR: That was fun... The look on her face
was priceless! Donna and I just wanted to bring the love
and get everyone in the place to sing "Happy Birthday".
it definitely was a quicker, more hectic Charlie's Angels
Hairdo moment, but we managed to still pull it off!
MT: That couple of nights were also special
because they were shooting the DVD.
It was great for us to be front row those nights and see
how the cameramen worked.
What do you recall of those night with all those extra cameras
NR: The cameras were fine... I was going
to say that you get used to them, but you never really do!
We were all so in the swing of things by that point that
our mission was to just do what we do, make it hot, try
to forget the cameras, and let the magic take over. I like
to think that's what we did.
MT: With this
tour Madonna visited some countries for the first time,
like Russia and the Czech Republic. Did you feel the audience
had a different energy in thosecountries and what do you
remember of those days?
was interesting. The fans in London, Paris, Rome or New
York are wonderfully enthusiastic. They ferociously let
you know if they like what you're doing as soon as you walk
out of the hotel, say.
Prague and Moscow were so interesting because it was almost
like they weren't quite sure it was okay... I'd walk out
of the hotel and they'd just watch silently, until I said
"Hi!"... Then the enthusiasm came pouring out!
Just as excited, but not as used to it in the same way,
maybe. Once they got going, though, they were truly moving.
I hugged and cried with more people in Moscow than anywhere
else. Oh yeah, I'm excited to say that I'll be back in Moscow
in December with Tina Turner, if you can believe it. I mean,
who gets to go there twice in a year?
The Moscow show was also unique because you all sang "Give
Peace A Chance" on stage before "Drowned World",
in the moment when Madonna usually has her longer speech
with the audience.
How did it feel to take part of that special moment?
really knows how to shake things up and move the world.
To be a part of that in any way is just staggering. She
meant it from the heart, we all meant it. It's important
that folks heard it.
MT: How was working with Jamie King, the musical
director of the Confessions Tour?
I first met Jamie on Anastacia's gig... He is the hardest
working man in show biz! I don't know how he does it. And
he manages to stay so calm and gorgeous, even when thing
are completely hectic! He's also so great at giving direction.
He tells you why he wants what he wants and engages everyone.
MT: The group of people working on this
Madonna tour seemed really like a big family. What's your
fondest memory of touring together with the dancers? Do
you have a favourite one?
The dancers cracked me up daily. They have so much energy
so they're always moving and cracking jokes. Cloud and Mihran
could make me laugh so hard my abs hurt all day, 'til the
tears would just run freely. Charm is just like a little
sister to me.
I loved watching everyone's rituals before a show... Hypnosis
was funny in rehearsals and completely focused at showtime.
I love the whole gang.
The tour schedule was really tight and the show very demanding,
so let me ask you, which was your best day off?
Any day off felt completely decadent! And a day off still
didn't mean you could just chill out... There still were
workouts, maybe laundry... The best days off would have
to be the ones where I could really stay in my PJ's all
day... And you know there weren't too many of those!
I loved the days I could wander around whatever city I was
in - Prague, Rome, Dusseldorf, my beloved Paris...
MT: And what about
Donna De Lory. She is great and you became great friends.
You even gave her a nickname calling her Delroy...
NR: Donna De Lory
is a tiny little angel here on earth... Yes, she's just
my soul sister DelRoy! She's
warm-hearted, mischievous, fun-loving.
take no for an answer! She does a lot of yoga so I tease
her and call her "Bendy".
This was an intense summer and we've been through a lot
together. It means so much when you know you can really
count on someone when it comes down to it. It was a blast
singing with her onstage and off, and we're trying to put
some things together musically now.
MT: Do you stay in touch with fellow
crew members of the Confessions Tour?
NR: Everyone is from a different part of
the world, and the internet has been a great way to stay
connected with some folks...
working with Madonna somehow different from the other artists
you teamed up with? Is there something you brought with
you from these 6 months - as a professional singer and of
course, as a human being as well?
NR: Absolutely! I
don't know if I've ever worked so hard in my life. I felt
respected, encouraged and challenged. My discipline muscle
got kicked up a few notches!! There's no half-stepping when
you know you'll walk into rehearsal the next day and Madonna's
going to be there, warmed up, ready and working harder than
anyone there! How she works and how she thinks really raises
the bar, and I will always keep that with me.
MT: How was your relationship with the Madonna
fans. You meet many of them around the world, including
the Tribe team.
We were very impressed by the energy and joy you have when
you interact with people!
Tribers are the best!! Y'all brought the love... Couldn't
help but have fun! People were great everywhere.
I was new so people were sweet, but you should have seen
them around DelRoy!! Out of control!! lol
Going back to music, you wrote and co-produced your own
album "Naked to the World" on Atlantic Records.
How would you describe the experience of working as a solo
artist, what inspires you and how different is the relationship
with your own audience?
NR: Being a solo artist is so great. It's
such a blessing to be able to write a song about what's
on your mind, play and sing the mess out of it and then
have maybe someone hear it, and maybe even like it!
I'm just standing here in my truth with the music. It's
so obvious to me how powerful and omnipresent music is when
I hear from people that are listening from all over the
world. It just blows me away.
MT: What are you working on right now?
I know there's a single coming out with David Morales called
"Keep It Coming".
Personally I grew up listening to dance music and every
time David put his magic touch to a song for one of his
remixes it was pure brilliance. His remix of "Deeper
And Deeper" is no exception.
Did you have a great time in the studio recording the song?
The vocals are so full of energy...
NR: Oh, wow, I've known David Morales for
a long time, and we'd been threatening to do something together
for ages. He's incredible. His music is indeed exciting….
Makes the butt bump! Can't help it! It's always a party
when David's in the house. I adore him. I got to sing my
face off on that record, and he gets that little half smile
when he likes something... It was too much fun.
MT: And what are your plans for the future?
I read that you are working on a new record, so I guess
the one-day-of-jet-lag-per-hour went away quickly :-)
See, there's that influence! Yeah, I'm hot and ready to
go. New tunes, new vibe, great musicians. Should be a good
MT: Xmas and the end of 2006 are coming,
what is in retrospect the biggest gift you have received
NR: The gift I received this year was the
gift of an unforgettable, incredible life experience! I
learned some life-changing lessons like what's going on
with global warming (I went and changed out all my lightbulbs
for energy-efficient ones, for instance), I traveled the
world with a wild bunch of colorful people, I performed
in front of and connected with audiences as big as 85,000
strong in the most successful show on the planet. Now that's
what I call a freakin' gift!
MTribe: This is something we ask all the
artists we interview to usually close our interviews. What's
your fondest memory of Madonna?
Nicki: Successfully making her crack a smile at
the beginning of "Lucky Star"... Or anytime she
laughed; I was just moved...
MTribe: Ok, and is there something you wish to
"confess" to our readers to close this chat?
Price has the cleanest underwear in the band... lol
(What? He did his laundry...) ;-)
MT: Thanks a lot for having
been chatting with us Nicki :)
pleasure, truly. I Love y'all!!!
For more information about the very awesome Nicki
be sure not to miss her official website www.nickirichards.com.
This interview © 2006 MadonnaTribe.
All pictures © 2006 MadonnaTribe - All rights reserved.