On a sunny morning in Mumbai, the opportunity to speak candidly with the highly acclaimed American blues-rock singer Dana Fuchs presented itself. Often likened to legendary figures such as Janis Joplin and Tina Turner due to her captivating voice and dynamic stage presence, Fuchs shares insights with Rolling Stone India before her performance at the 2024 Mahindra Blues Festival. With a blend of rock, soul, gospel, and blues, Fuchs captivates audiences worldwide with raw emotion. Her albums consistently garner rave reviews and chart success, including top 10 rankings on Billboard. Not only a renowned musician, Fuchs also boasts an acting career, notably starring in Across the Universe. Her latest album, “Borrowed Time” was released in 2022 via Ruf Records.
Rolling Stone India: Your vocal prowess and stage presence have drawn comparisons to iconic musicians like Otis Redding, Tina Turner, and Mick Jagger. How do you channel the raw energy and emotion of these legendary artists into your own performances?
Dana Fuchs: “You know, I feel like anytime I get on stage, I must live up to the reputation of just putting on a great show that the audience can feel connected to. And I think that’s part of the reason I get those comparisons. Because those iconic artists who are who I emulated and it wasn’t just their voices, it was the presence, it was the energy, the way they embodied the music. And I remember, the first time I ever saw a clip of Otis Redding singing live at Monterey Park, I was like, 19, and my jaw dropped. And I said, ‘That’s how it has to be. It must be that kind of emotion. It has to be that real.’ So, it’s just something that I have to find every time I get on stage.”
Rolling Stone India: As both a singer and actress, you’ve showcased your talents in various mediums. How do you approach the creative process differently when recording music compared to preparing for a role on screen?
Dana Fuchs: “In the studio, it’s quite different. It takes a minute. What I found in the last few albums I made, which, you know, it took a few albums to learn, is that I am such a live singer and I really need to feed off of the musicians. So in the last few albums, I had to be in the room with them. And we had to make it in a way that we could keep some of the original vocals because when you go back and try to redo it and you’re not with the band anymore, you’re separated. It was never as good. So now it’s just got to be live. There was a reason they think back in the day they made albums in just a few days and everybody was just live, feeding off of each other. Yeah, that’s the trick for me because the studio is so different. Then I love the fact that you can add all these different colors and flavors as you go, which I can’t do live.”
Rolling Stone India: Your performances are known for their ability to evoke deep emotions, ranging from sensitivity to intense energy. How do you balance vulnerability with power on stage, and what do you hope audiences take away from your live shows?
Dana Fuchs: “That’s such a great question. I’ve never been asked that. I think there is power in vulnerability. I think if you can let yourself be vulnerable, you gain that much more power. Because it lets people in, in a way, and when you let people in, and then they come after the show and say, ‘Wow, I experienced something like that in my family or in my life,’ you’ve made this instant connection. And that’s where I get the energy from the people.”
Rolling Stone India: Your role as Sadie in Across the Universe garnered widespread acclaim, showcasing your acting talents alongside your musical abilities. How does your experience in film inform your approach to storytelling in your music, and vice versa?
Dana Fuchs: “I think that’s also a really good question. What’s so interesting about your question is that it just answered a question for me. I remember when I would film and sometimes you would go in at two in the morning, and you’d be brought back the next day at four in the morning. Just bleary-eyed and I could never go to sleep unless I blogged about that particular filming day, and I ended up writing a whole blog about the making of the film. And it really got me into this storytelling mindset. Yeah. So I think absolutely, you know, everything we do creatively, I think feeds that creative side in us and you can always tap into it and merge them. Yeah.”
Rolling Stone India: Ahead of Mahindra Blues 2024, which is centered around celebrating the women in blues, what message can you share with Indian audiences looking forward to this lineup?
Dana Fuchs: “I just want them to come and have a good time. Let’s be vulnerable together. Let’s celebrate life together. I used to call it my rock-and-roll church of the non-religious. Just really come out and let’s all just throw off any inhibitions, forget life for a few hours, and go.”