The EURO DIVA, Tres Hanley-Millman is back -only this time with theatrically based musical Valentine “A SIREN’S ODYSSEY,” and we caught an exclusive Valentine’s Day interview with her right here on Entertwine!
Entertwine: Hi Tres, thank you for speaking with us!
Thank you Jackie, it’s so nice to connect with you! And also to have this opportunity to talk about the album!
Most of our readers know you from your 2007 club single “DANCE OF THE EURO DIVA” which you did with the rapper BURCH. “A Sirens Odyssey” is a very different project for you!
No-Not really! In 2005, my 1st album “TRES BROADWAY” was a Theatre music album. The dance single was actually a one off project for me, but it gave me the opportunity to be introduced to a whole new audience. It was truly an international collaboration. The music, by French composer Eric Serra, was originally written for the movie “The Fifth Element” (which starred Bruce Willis). And of course I got to perform with Burch, who is a fabulous Asian rapper!
What was your inspiration for A SIREN’S ODYSSEY?
Where do I start?! Well…I had been very sick in 2009, at one point the prognosis wasn’t good. But I was very lucky. Though I would have a long road to recovery ahead. My friend and collaborator Daniel Moctezuma agreed that I needed a focus, a project, a goal, to get me through all of it.
Believe me, you think a lot about your life after going through something like that. So I thought, I can’t do an album about my life, but I can do an album about my journey to find love, which was ultimately what got me through. As well as wanting it to be something that everyone could identify with.
Also around that time I had read something – it was an ancient—uh, I think Asian proverb, or saying which tied the idea all together for me. It said:
No matter how many people we date or have relationships with, we all have but three ‘loves’ in our lifetime. The ‘1st’ love is the one who awakens our heart. The 2nd burns us with passion but through the pain we learn our greatest lessons. Then our 3rd, is our clarity. Our true love, soul mate, our destiny.
So I took this and made it personal, based it on my three loves. Which is why I say it’s an autobiographical song cycle. So A SIREN’S ODYSSEY is technically my story, but it’s everyone’s story to some degree or another!
Tell me more about the title song, which you co-wrote with Daniel Moctezuma?
Oh yes! First let me tell you a bit about Daniel, He’s a brilliant musician, arranger and composer. We met in NYC about 7-8 yrs ago now. He was straight out of uni, working as a pit pianist for “In the Heights” on Broadway. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as talented as he. I predict he will win an Oscar or Grammy for his music or arranging someday. Not to mention he makes a mean pie!
We shaped the album to feel a bit like a ‘one woman show’. We even have an overture -which he also composed called “Athemoessa”. Anthemoessa is the name of the island the sirens lived on. When you hear it, you feel as if you are about to embark on an ocean journey.
Then we go into the title song, which serves as a prologue, an overview of the album the story about to be told. One of the things Daniel has done which is genius, is that he’s tied the musical style/arrangements of each section to the corresponding ‘love’ theme.
For example, the 1st love section is very simple, like that love. Pure. Then the 2nd love, it’s very sensual, uh, sexual, hypnotic, turbulent. And the 3rd love section is very grand, majestic, flowing. The musical arrangements mirror the relationships, the loves. This is stuff that listeners probably won’t even be aware of. But hopefully it will touch them on some level, draw them in more.
Another cool thing is the way Daniel tied the story together. In the beginning, the young Siren sings of her dreams in SAIL ME THERE, which we get brought back to musically at the end of WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE. There is so much symbolism in the album I could go on and on!
I see the songs are a combo of original pieces and covers of some lesser known theatrical tunes.
Yes, but the covers, are all done with a new spin.
One of the best examples is in the second section. The song “THE MUSIC OF GOODBYE” which was the theme from the movie “Out of Africa”. It bears no resemblance to the original duet version done by Melissa Manchester and Al Jarreau. Ours is very tempestuous, erotic.
I noticed one of the songs was written by Charles Hart, who is best known for writing the lyrics to the mega Broadway hit “Phantom of the Opera”. I didn’t know he also composed as well?
Charles is an amazing composer! His works should be known more! He and I dated a while back. And at that time he had just completed composing a song cycle for BBC radio. And there was a song from that, I remembered and thought was perfect for the album. We have remained friends over the years so he was more than happy for me to include it! What has made this album even more personal and special for me was having so many friends contribute to it.
Not only Charles, but my dear long time friends, Dolores Claman, who is probably the most famous composer in Canada and Bryon Sommers who’s composed lots for Disney.
What’s in store for 2015?
Daniel and I had so much fun writing together we’re doing something hopefully a bit more pop, ‘commercial’ with our next project. We’re writing most of the material ourselves. So it will truly be our baby! We might include 2 or 3 covers of some obscure material but the rest will be ours.
Both of us come from theatre backgrounds so it’s our comfort zone. We want to step out of that and hopefully expand our audience.
A longtime friend of mine who was very celebrated film composer, committed suicide a couple of years ago. It was not publically reported it was suicide, but everyone close to him knew it was from the message he left for some of us. We spoke often, right up to few days before he died. I knew he was down about something he was working on, but never thought he was that depressed. Needless to say it hit me hard.
So I wanted to write something for him. It was therapeutic for me to do, but also I wanted a tribute to him. It was the first song Daniel and I wrote for this new project.
But also this gave us the idea to explore the dark places people go. That so many of us never discuss or are never aware of, never let the world see. Let’s face it, we all have secrets or struggles of some sort.
Of course not everything is going to be so bleak or heavy! That’s why it’s called Shades of Darkness.
Oh! I must mention! Since many of my listeners, fans are based in Europe; I’m having 2 of my friends from Denmark duet with me, on it!
The fabulous singer Søren Ulrichs and my gorgeous multi talented girlfriend Malena Belafonte – who I must brag about! A few years back she kicked some serious butt – taking 2nd place on the Danish version of DANCING WITH THE STARS.
What’s really cool is I met Soren and Malena independently of each other. Only to find out later that they knew each other as kids! Malena’s dad taught Soren music! Talk about 6 degrees of separation!
Needless to say we’re all excited about working together on this.
I hope everyone will keep checking in on my website and facebook fan page for updates on the album! And I want to thank all the fans out there for their continued support!
I wanted to ask you one more question, is it true your profits from your music are donated to charities?
Oh yes, I’m very passionate about a few causes, I’ve lost many friends to AIDS/HIV, my mom is visually impaired and I’m a staunch animal rights advocate. So my portion of the profits go to these causes which are close to my heart! I’d like to think my passion for music is also helping my other passions. Using it to change the world for the better. So every song download or album purchase everyone contributes too the greater good!
Connect with Tres:
iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/a-sirens-odyssey/id732366359
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j2-J-7Lcuw