To say that Anastacia is a fighter would be an understatement of the grandest order. She’s battled – and won the fight against – breast cancer… twice. She’s battled with both Crohn’s disease and a heart condition, endured the breakdown of her marriage and fought against a record label which tried to steer her in a creative direction she felt was disingenuous.
But she’s emerged from it all with her spirit soaring and, in the words of her smash single ‘One Day In Your Life’, baby she’s “stronger than before”.
Yes, this is the time of Anastacia’s ‘Resurrection’.
It’s been six years since Australia saw a mainstream release from Anastacia. After dominating the charts throughout the early noughties with songs like ‘I’m Outta Love’, ‘Left Outside Alone’, ‘One Day In Your Life’ and ‘Sick And Tired’, the singer all but disappeared. Sadly, it was into a world of personal and professional turmoil. But it seems her relentless optimism and her cheeky sense of humour has helped get her through.
“We had to do some stuff. Different things happened in my life and you go through the ups, the downs, the ins, the outs and I was super-ready to write a new album. It’s kind of like I found myself again,” she tells us.
“You know how you go through different things in your personal life and your business life? And the record company changed so much, so I just think it was a wonderful opportunity to soul search. And no sooner did I do that than the old spark chick rose her head above the mire and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to come back!?’. I was like, ‘oh god, oh god, she’s not dead, okay let’s write her a couple of songs’. So it’s been really fun.”
Though it wasn’t given a widespread mainstream release here in Australia, Anastacia released an album of cover versions back in November 2012. Entitled ‘It’s A Man’s World’, it was filled with her renditions of classic songs from male-vocalled rock bands like Foo Fighters, Guns N Roses, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. She tells us it was a chance for her to tentatively dip her toes back into the water.
“It was just for me. Of course we had to release it. It really was my reintroduction to music itself,” she explains. “I felt like I had been gone for so long and that the music industry had changed so much that I needed my own ‘go back to school’ moment. So that’s what I did.
“I decided to pick songs that I think are staples of everyones’ lives or that should be continually driven into peoples’ souls as music lovers and set about really understanding what these songs were. I picked songs that I knew I could sing without changing the words to them as a woman, so you know, singing these classic rock men songs brought me closer to the inner artist that in a way had gone away a little bit.
“There was a melancholy for me in that I thought the business was kind of just leaving me – in a very strange artist way. I had to do my own soul searching as to how to try to get that back. When I did the album though… oh my gosh the fire it burned underneath me to want to write music. Then everything started flowing out and it wouldn’t stop.
“So the reason ‘Resurrection’ is here is because of the covers album. To be honest, I didn’t even mean the covers album to really go anywhere or really be this big monumental moment, but there’s quite a few wonderful songs on there that my fans love. It just sort of ends up going almost hand in hand – quite symbolically – with the new record.”
That new record is is released in Australia today. The role of the lead single was played by the sensational ‘Stupid Little Things’. One of our favourite pop moments of the year thus far, it got Anastacia back into the charts across Europe and re-introduced that smoking vocal to her devoted ‘fanily’. She explains what the song’s about.
“We over think. We over analyse. We make too much out of a situation. I think that a lot of us are guilty of it,” Anastacia says. “Or we don’t make enough out of it and then we realize, ‘oh gosh, that was kind of stupid’. So the pressure we put on ourselves… it actually takes away from living your life.
“Being able to have pleasure in what we’re doing on this earth is really what we should try to strive for. Instead we’re focused on the ‘stupid little things’ that really end up keeping you from yourself, the true living, the harmony and all of that kind of spiritual stuff.
“I often use this way of describing it… When you use your finger to point, there’s three fingers curled up underneath and a thumb kinda going over them, but those three fingers that are curled up are pointed right back at you. So really, you’re trying to point at somebody else saying, ‘that, that, that’. But truthfully you should be looking inside yourself. And that’s ultimately what ‘Stupid Little Things’ is about. Taking responsibility for your own actions.
“It’s saying that you’ll be able to get through things a lot easier when you’re not trying to be the innocent victim or whatever you want to call yourself at the time. You can’t continue being innocent and naïve every time something happens. So I think it’s just taking responsibility for what happens in your life.”
‘Stupid Little Things’ sees Anastacia once again teaming up with Sam Watters and Louis Biancaniello, the same song-writing partnership behind her breakout smash ‘I’m Outta Love’ and ‘One Day In Your Life’. In describing how it felt to reunite with the boys, she offers up a delicious analogy.
“It’s like diving deep into the best tasting cake in the world and it has no calories,” she laughs. “It’s like ‘oh my gosh, this cake has no calories, this is so cool’! They are so easy to work with. In fact, we did try to work together even on ‘Heavy Rotation’, but the record company at the time was trying to direct me with a little bit more of an R&B twist.
“But it just wasn’t me, so obviously I wasn’t drawn to that natural chemistry that Sam, Louis and I have. But once it was back right on track it was like, ‘oh I can write a song, yeah!’ It was so easy for us to write songs for this album. It was so much fun and I really really love that the first single is ‘Stupid Little Things’, which happens to be the producers and the team from ‘I’m Outta Love’. It’s just very resurrected in the ultimate way.”
Lyrically, ‘Resurrection’ deals with the reemergence into the light from what had been a dark period in Anastacia’s life.
“Well there are a few things that happened in my life. There’s leaving of a record company too. I think sometimes artists sometimes don’t really know how the industry works, then you work with managers but you’re not sure how to work with them. And you interchange people here and there in your love life and then oops, a disease or two comes around. I’ve had my fill of just going ‘whoopsie, my checkboard’s just a little full’,” she says.
Though Anastacia has achieved unprecedented chart success throughout the world, staggeringly, the one place that’s not embraced her musically is her homeland, America. She explains that the reasons for that came about right from the outset.
“In the beginning, I think there was this promotion big wig. My album was supposed to come out first in America and then go overseas,” she tells us. “I think the person either got fired or left and it wasn’t a very good thing. There was a lot of stuff going on during that time where we still paid for radio and all of those kind of things. Back in the day.
“And I think somebody didn’t get paid… I have no idea. I don’t point fingers at anybody, but it was not too good, so they just threw me overseas because they couldn’t make it happen in America. I think it really tainted a lot of ground, because I was the major thing coming out at the time.”
And from there, she says, it just snowballed.
“It really did. Actually I did ‘Divas Live’ and there was never a negative reaction with how people heard me or liked me, but radio was very insular and I think you maybe make enemies with the wrong person and you just might as well not try. It’s not worth it.
“So I just really didn’t worry about it because I was so very busy and so very grateful to be busy that I just allowed America to be this amazing place that I could go where I’m just a blonde girl hanging out.
“They tell me I look like ‘her’, which is really nice. With my name, I think people assume I’m going to have some kind of an accent. And I’m like, ‘erm no… I’m from Chicago’. It ends up completely depressing them. They want me to speak English. They think I’m German… ‘Oh you’ve got such a good American accent’…”
Europe, of course, fully embraces Anastacia and in later years in particular, it’s there she’s been able to achieve widespread mainstream popularity.
“And I’m really grateful,” she says. “Because being able to travel many times… Now at 46, I feel like I know the world in this way that has broadened my horizons as a person immeasurably and I wouldn’t ever change it in any way. I wouldn’t go back and be like ‘ooh I’d love to have America’.
“I have Beyoncés and many different people saying to me, ‘girl, you are so lucky. To have a territory that doesn’t demand you to work and do all that and you can still have your career’. It’s really hard to wish for that in your life, but I made it a positive instead of a negative.”
Anastacia has seen many changes in the music industry since the days of ‘I’m Outta Love’. And now that she’s in her mid-40s, we ask her if she feels she needs to adapt to the changes, many of which are outside her control.
“Well I adapt to what my body and my mind need. I don’t really think about who’s coming out and what they look like or how naked they are. They just are,” she laughs.
“Eventually girls are going to have to put some clothes on because they’re all naked. So at some point, they’re just going to have to reverse it and go backwards. ‘Cause right now, I know everybody’s everything.
“I’ve never been that kind of an artist and I never will have to be that kind of an artist, because it’s just not my style. Maybe if I was 20 and I was just coming out now and that’s what everybody was doing, I might fall into suit, but it’s not really my thing.
“I still wear the jeans and the leather jackets and I have my hair and sometimes I wear glasses, but sometimes I don’t. It’s just who I am. Kind of like Blondie or Cyndi Lauper… they just are who they are. They just get older. And we age, we continue singing. I don’t mind getting older. I love it. I enjoy life way more than when I was younger, so it’s just calmness I have now.”
After enduring the pain, heartbreak, personal and professional struggles across the past six years, we couldn’t think of a more apt title for an album to celebrate Anastacia’s return to the music scene. She’s triumphed over her every challenge to emerge healthier, wiser and stronger than ever.
This is indeed the time for Anastacia’s ‘Resurrection’.