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Dilana Jansen van Vuuren was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 10, 1972. Her surname changed to Smith when she was about two years old, when her mother married her stepfather, and he adopted her. Dilana, also known as Dilana Robichaux, is a singer, songwriter, and performer who is also known as the runner-up contestant on the CBS reality television show Rock Star: Supernova in 2006. So far she released two solo albums "Wonderfool" in 2000 (when she was living in The Netherlands) and "Inside Out" in 2009. This summer the singer is back in Holland for a short club tour. LazyRocker.com had a chance to talk to Dilana just half an hour before her last show of this tour (you can read the gig report HERE).
Back in Holland. How is it to be on the road again here?
Right now I am really tired, but it was really interesting. Of course I love to play live, to meet people and to share my songs. It was really hard for me this time because I came with all new songs. And I think a lot of the public expected the same girl from 11 years ago. So they wanted to hear covers, they wanted to hear old stuff. The very first show this tour I didn't have any covers or old stuff so I realized I need to adjust myself and now I do one older song and a few covers. It is interesting so see how some people put themselves in a box and how hard it is to get out. For me it really was a challenge.
Was it the first time you were back in Holland?
I was back 6 years ago but I got really really sick then and I had to cancel the tour. I did only one show.
First time you caught my attention was when I heard the single "Do You Now" on Dutch radio. I was blown away. Melissa Etheridge got world fame with "Like The Way I Do". Well, I thought this was even much better. But after all it wasn't that succesful as I thought and hoped it would be. What were your expectations?
I think we all had high expectations. But the big problem was that I was represented by the wrong label and the wrong management. There was hardly any promotion for that song. Okay, the song was on the Dutch radio station 3FM, but that wasn't enough. As an artist I did everything I could. You can say it still was a success as it managed to peak at, I believe, nr. 5 in the Dutch charts. But hey, who measures success. For me it felt successful that a record company wanted to release this song. If I wasn't good enough nobody would ask me. But I changed now. I know I can have things more in control now. I realized I have to open my mouth.
To me "Wonderfool" sounds like the perfect soundtrack when you are on a roadtrip in the USA. Was it ever released there? Did it sell over there?
Nope. Not at all. That's what I mean... the label should have taken care for a global distribution. Not even a re-release after I did Rock Star: Supernova in 2006. What they have done is raise the price for the album online.
Talking about soundtracks. "To All Planets" became the soundtrack for the movie "Lek". And you did the same titled soundtrack for "Soul Assassin" released in 2001. A track written by Birgit Schuurman. What can you tell us about this song? How did this happen?
I just got a call one day from these producers who said they were working on the soundtrack for that film and they had a song that Birgit wrote and they wanted me to come and sing it. And that was it. The movie was shown on TV in the USA. And also released on DVD.
Then you disappeared from my radar. Last thing I knew you moved to the USA. Thanx to internet I found out after a few years you became 2nd in Rock Star: Supernova 2006. A kinda show like 'Idols'. I was surprised to read that. To me you didn't seem to need doing this.
Normally I would never do that cheesy stuff, but I watched the first Rock Star and I really loved it because it is really all about the music and nothing like Idols.
Preparing for this interview I found out that this was a huge show, hosted by Dave Navarro and Brooke Burke, featured 15 contestants competing to become the lead vocalist for a newly formed supergroup featuring Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, and former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke. Was this show on national TV? How big was it in the USA?
Well, I can tell you that that show was massive! It was broadcasted in so many countries around the world. It was huge. I thought if I manage to get in that show only for 1 week I would get so many global exposure. Imagine 25,000 people from all around the world auditioned for that show. Television is so powerful. It changed my life. I go anywhere in the world and get recognized. That show finally convinced me I am a good singer and artist, because I always doubted myself.
Your 2nd album "Inside Out," originally entitled "Darklight," was ready in mid 2008. Due to the label's shutdown and the following negotiations about the ownership of the master recordings made that it was released not earlier than November 2009. That must be frustrating.
You did your homework... a lot of people don't know that. The label got bankrupt. I didn't own the rights. But then one of my fans won the lottery... 85 million dollars and bought the record from the label. I thought this is going to be so fucking great this time. He's got all the money of the world to put me on tour and promote the record, but... I never signed anything... the contract he offered me was so insane. He had never been in the music scene. He is an accountant. My lawyers said "if you sign that you sign your own death sentence". So I had no choice. But he owns my record.
I read somewhere, because 'Wonderfool' did not sell enough when originally released, all the proceeds go to label Red Bullet. So now you released 2 albums so far, but you do not make any financial benefit from sales from both?
Not a fucking penny. I am still paying back my first record, because they gave me an advance. So actually I am still waiting for the day I make money haha. But it doesn't matter to me because I am passionate about what I do. Because I much rather sing my songs and pay my bills then to stand in the kitch if you know what I mean. I am still living my dream.
What is musically the moment you treasure the most?
Holy shit, that's a hard question. There has been so many amazing moments. It's about moments... it's very rare when I stand on stage, close my eyes and get goosebumps from the moment. And when that happens live seeing someone in the audience crying because my song moved him/her, that for me is probably the most rewarding. To see and hear my fans are touched by what I am doing. Yeah, that's my answer. I never thought about that... it's not about scoring a hit or making money.
Talking about goosebumps... I still remember the first time I saw you live on stage... At Bospop. It was the first time I had goosebumps during a live show.
Wow Bospop! In 2000? I gave you goosebumps first time ever? I do remember that show. We started at light and it was getting darker and darker. If I remember well I came out on stage in a wedding dress. I love Bospop. I hope I will come back there with this Dutch band I am working with now, The New Shining.
That's a great band!
Yeah, I love them to death. I played several shows with them this tour. They are amazing! I don't wanna go home because of them. We connected instantly. I probably come back in November to write with them for an acoustic record.
What are your other future plans?
Really busy... a shit load of gigs! Opening for the Doobie Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd... playing in Vegas two nights in a row, a bunch of gigs for the troops. And a new album of course. With Nax (singer of The New Shining) I am very serious about that acoustic record. I love rocking out, but right now my soul is more with laidback acoustic stuff. Ehm, acting in two movies "Silence" and “Here After”. I just finished my first one "Angel Camouflaged" for which I also did the soundtrack ...and now I have to get the fuck out of here for very near future... tonight's gig!