Stacking The Deck with Christina LaRocca
Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.
Donnie and Marie Osmond had a hit way back in the day titled “A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock N Roll.” In the case of singer-songwriter Christina LaRocca, she’s a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll, a little bit R&B/soul, and as her upcoming releases will prove this year, she’s even a little bit hip-hop.
She’s also more than a little bit dedicated to her craft.
Originally from NYC, where she was both an active musician, and concert booker, a few years ago she packed up her guitar, and the rest of her things, and moved out to LA. There she has found a new life, and new inspirations, and as a result of this, she’s been creating plenty of new music.
I caught up with Christina LaRocca in the place where we originally met – The Bowery Electric in NYC – to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversation on embracing new experiences, the wide variety of music she counts as influences, and how hardcore hip-hop can make you better at business.
I went to Pollstar last year – Pollstar is this conference where all the talent buyers, and all the agents, get together. It’s not like a SXSW, or anything like that. It’s strictly music – and Gene Simmons was the keynote speaker. He was announcing his new franchise of rock and roll airport diners that he came up with.
On the musical side of things, they’re not really that great of a band, but they are geniuses at developing a brand. They really are a model for, I think, how a lot of artists should be. Not that everybody should go painting their faces, but just the brand, and the consistency – their fans know what they’re gonna get.
And this isn’t to say you shouldn’t experiment, or change with the times, because that’s not right either, but they’ve done a great job over the years, and they’ve stuck it through. They’re probably one of the #1 selling bands of all-time.
I was lucky enough to go to the Grammys and see Adele’s fudged up (tribute) performance to George Michael. It was beautiful, though. She was amazing.
He was such a strong person, especially in his time, in the ‘80s, to be proud of who you are, and not give a fuck … there’s a lot of that in his artistry.
I think the less you care what people think, the freer you are to be an artist, and I think it’s an important thing to live by.
He went from “I Want Your Sex,” to “Freedom ’90,” to dance club music. Would you ever make radical musical shifts like those?
Absolutely. I’m from New York, born and raised, and grew up listening to a lot of soul music from my mom playing Stevie Wonder, and Natalie Cole. Then getting older, and loving hip-hop, and stations like KTU coming out and really bringing that house sound to New York, I loved all that.
My first band (in NYC) was very bluesy and soulful. Now that I’ve moved to LA I find myself being more influenced by the sounds of the Southwest.
Just the desert itself is so inspiring. To go from a place like New York City, where at no point in time do you have anybody further than ten feet away from you – even if you’re in your bed sleeping, someone’s in the apartment on the other side of the wall – to just the middle of nothing, and openness … it’s really life changing.
I just did a tour, I did the whole West Coast, and the Rockies. I even played a show in Wyoming, and that drive from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Laramie, Wyoming, which is like an hour outside of Cheyenne, I’ve never seen so much nothing. It was just land. There’s something so freeing about it. I never thought I’d say this in my life, but I loved Wyoming. Just driving on the highway is like driving through a national park. The whole state’s like a national park.
I’m influenced by a lot of that, but I’m not a country singer. So now it’s like I have all this soul, and (I have) Southwestern (influences), and I’m just trying to find a way to bring it all together that makes sense.
I’m not country enough for country, but I’m not soul enough for a hip-hop band, or an R&B band, so I’m really just trying to find my niche and stick with it. I’m trying not to be afraid of the evolution. (I want to) embrace it. Embrace it like George.
LL Cool J
I loved LL Cool J. He was so sexy, and I just always loved his music. He was positive. He wasn’t like a gangster rapper.
Which video made you fall in love with him?
“Doin’ It,” and probably “Hey Lover” with Boyz II Men. That song was so sexy … and everybody loved Boyz II Men, too. Amazing voices. That was a great combo.
I loved “Doin’ It” because there was a female rapper on it. She was badass, and she never got any cred. I have no idea who it was. It wasn’t like LL Cool J featuring so and so.
Do you know who I’ve actually fallen in love with recently? Cardi B.
She’s so hard to dislike.
She’s so badass. She’s another one who doesn’t give a fuck.
I always loved Lil’ Kim. My mother literally threw that CD in the garbage, but I thought Lil’ Kim was ahead of her time. She was fierce, and she didn’t let all that get to her. She was who she was, she said what she wanted, and she was a tough bitch in an industry that was all men.
I don’t think she gets enough cred, either. Maybe now with the whole feminist movement coming out again … I can’t believe I have to say this – there’s still a feminist movement – she was kind of at the forefront of it in her time.
And Cardi is making it happen now.
The first couple times I heard (“Bodak Yellow”) on the radio I was just like oh, whatever, and then I was like, actually, I really like this song. It gets stuck in your head, and do you ever just put on gangster rap and roll down the windows? Maybe (that should be) Business 101, you want to be a badass businessman? Listen to hip-hop. Get inspired, take no shit.
Bell Biv DeVoe
Before I went to LA I had a cover band out here called Money Delicious, and we used to cover “Poison.” It was one of our favorite songs to cover. We had a male singer in the group, but I did the backups. It was a great band. I miss those cats.
Money Delicious. That’s a Cardi B song waiting to happen.
I thought about tattooing it on my chest.
I trademarked it, so don’t even think about (stealing) it, McDonald’s!
So you see this juxtaposition in my life, loving hip-hop, and yeah, I’m a white girl, but I’m Italian, and I’m a New Yorker through and through. I was born in Brooklyn, but I play an acoustic guitar. I don’t want to be put into a “oh, you’re a rapper,” or, “oh, you’re this” category.
The new music I’m starting to write, there’s an interesting blend.
I’m looking to bring the Americana, and the guitars, and the rock n roll, over hip-hop beats.
National parks meets Rucker Park.
Yeah. Blasting Notorious B.I.G. through Yellowstone National Park, just to clear my mind.
For more Christina LaRocca, check out christinalaroccamusic.com.