Christina Aguilera

Interviews

Early 'Mulan' Interview

Read on to find out what it takes to make a hit and the little tidbits on creating 'Reflection.' But best of all, get to know all about Christina Aguilera, her thoughts on 'Mulan' and singing the role of the greatest new heroine! Plus get the scoop on Christina's debut album! And now, here is the fab songstress on Disney's 'Mulan':

Linasia: How did you learn about Disney's 'Mulan' and what do you think about the legend and the animated movie?

Christina: I learned about Disney's 'Mulan' when my record company RCA approached me because Disney had approached them looking for a girl who could sing the song. The difficult part was having to strongly belt out the high E above middle C. They were also looking for someone to sing the song with the right emotion. As far as my opinion on the movie, I thought the animation was beautiful and the story was incredible. I'm very proud to be a part of such a wonderful project!

Linasia: Celine Dion sang for Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast,' Vanessa Williams for Disney's 'Pocahontas,' and now you for Disney's 'Mulan.' What's the best thing about singing the part of a great heroine in an animated feature?

Christina: The best thing about singing the part of a great heroine such as 'Mulan' is that I think she is a really great role model because she goes after what she wants with such bravery. She didn't let any limitations hold her back and succeeded in the end. Also, it feels awesome to be in such wonderful company as Celine Dione, Vanessa Williams, etc.--in being a part of Disney history! I can't believe I got to do it!

Linasia: Your role in Disney's 'Mulan' was singing 'Reflection.' Did you have to make special preparations for this singing role?

Christina: Actually, in preparation and during recording, I'd received my very first real vocal lesson in helping me find different techniques in belting out the high notes and strengthening my stamina. I loved it, and continue the lessons. I never knew how many different ways you can approach notes. And during recording sessions, I live on hot water and lots of honey--I love it when it comes in those cute plastic bears!

Linasia: The song 'Reflection' brings out a lot of emotions. What do the lyrics in 'Reflection' mean to you?

Christina: I immediately connected with the lyrics to 'Reflection,' finding them so true. I believe that many struggle in their youth trying to find themselves, and so I thought 'Reflection' would be something those around my age could really relate to--others who might find themselves in that situation. I also thought that it was cool that this was a song different from the usual boy/girl, relationship type love, but instead it deals with 'self-love.' The emotion was easy to convey, seeing as the lyrics were so easily felt and understandable. It was such a beautifully written song.

Linasia: I heard it took four hours to record 'I'll Make A Man Out Of You.' How long did it take you to record 'Reflection?' I saw your 'Reflection' video with scenes from Disney's 'Mulan,' I really like it! What was the making of the 'Reflection' music video like?

Christina: I really don't know much on the recordings of the other songs on the 'Mulan' soundtrack, but as for 'Reflection' went for me, I'd say it took about 5 or 6 days to fully record - in and out of the studio. As far as the music video was concerned, it was filmed in one day. The location for the entire video was at the Chinese Pavillion in Epcot Center, Orlando, Florida. It was a long day for me, having to wake up at 4:30 am, be there at 5:00 am for hair and makeup, and start shooting at 6:30 am. They wanted to begin early to capture the sunrise. My favorite parts were getting to release the doves - which wouldn't keep still in my hands - and filming inside the Chinese Pavillion, where they'd set up smoke machines, big gold pots with fire lit inside, and I was completely surrounded on a table by a hundred-some candles. It was really, really cool to be in the middle of it all.

Linasia: Who is your absolute favorite Disney character and which if any do you relate to the most, and why?

Christina: When I was younger I absolutely adored Minnie Mouse. The first Disneyland I ever went to was Tokyo Disneyland in Japan. I lived there from age three to six. I remember arriving in this cute little 'Minnie-like' dress. I bought this little pink cap with mouse ears on it, and I was thrilled when I met her there. Recently, while in Orlando, I met Eyore from Winnie the Pooh, and I loved how cuddly he was. Eyore's just so sad....you gotta love him!

Linasia: Can you tell the fans about your early singing and acting career? I read that you worked on soap operas, the Mickey Mouse Club, and Star Search. What do you see in your future, more acting, more singing, or a bit of both?

Christina: When I was six I began singing at local block and pool parties. From there I auditioned for Star Search when I was eight years old, and was on as a contestant. I tied with 3 1/2 quarter stars out of a possible four, if you're wondering how I did. At nine, I auditioned for an open audition in Pittsburgh. I heard nothing back until I was twelve. They told me I was too young for the show before, but that they'd kept my tape and wanted me to audition now. And you know what happened from there. As far as any soap opera work, I've never done any. In the future, I'd like to do some acting in films, after maybe my singing career is established, and when the time is right.

Linasia: Can you tell us about your upcoming debut album?

Christina: I'm extremely excited to be recording my very first solo debut album! I've always wanted to do this and one day become a successful recording artist. I'm pretty much finished recording the album. My first single, which I'll give you the scoop on here--it'll be called 'Genie In a Bottle.' As for the content, I've been working closely with Ron Fair from RCA Records and top producers to make it all come together. With an arrangement of ballads, mid and up-tempos, you can expect a fresh-sounding pop album with some R&B influences.

Linasia: What are your favorite places to visit on the web?

Christina: With my crazy schedule I really don't get to visit the web that often, unfortunately.

Linasia: What other movies did you sing for Christina?

Christina: 'Mulan' is the very first movie I've ever sung for.

Linasia: Where are you from?

Christina: I was born in Staten Island, New York. Most of my childhood was spent moving around a lot since my father was a sergeant in the Army. But I consider my hometown a place called Wexford, Pennsylvania.

Linasia: What is your favorite movie?

Christina: My all-time favorite movie is 'The Sound Of Music,' with Julie Andrews. I began singing with that movie and still enjoy reciting the songs and lines for fun with my sister, Rachel. When I was 5, I had the soundtrack on tape and I'd open up my bedroom window and sing out all the songs. I love the opening scene where Julie Andrews appears in the hills, singing out so free. I guess I was trying to mimic that. And of the more contemporary movies, 'Mulan' is definitely on my list of all time favorites.

Linasia: Who do you like better, Mulan or Shang?

Christina: My favorite character has to be Mulan. Coming in second is Mushu. He was so funny!!

Linasia: Wow! Thanks Christina for taking the time to answer all these questions! Not only is Christina a great singer but she's also down to earth and sweet. She sure loves the fans! Make sure you look out for Christina Aquilera's debut album! Her first single 'Genie in a Bottle' is a big hit!

 

Christina Comes Clean : The Allure Interview

May 2002
Christina Aguilera felt caged by her sugar pop image. As she records her new album, a darker, edgier artist is finally breaking loose.

If you think that Christina Aguilera is a diva or a power bitch - as many in America's tabloid media clearly do - she's not entirely surprised.

"I read this story," she says, "that was like 'Christina Aguilera threw a tantrum because her room wasn't perfect.' I don't know why I got pinned with that image. I think maybe some people saw me, in the past, interacting with certain people not in a healthy, good way." Her entourage has left her room at the Mercer Hotel in New York, and now that we're alone, she seems all too happy to talk about what sets her off.

"I used to get so angry - I felt really caged for a while on tour because people were handling me in not a cool way. Like right after the Video Music Awards, I was rushed in a helicopter to do this little show on the Internet - but it wasn't on my schedule; no one told me about it. All these things were going on behind my back."

Christina

Aguilera spent much of the past three years as a money making machine. A lot of people surrounding her got used to pushing the pop princess with the golden throat hard. Too hard. Twenty-three million records (and four number one singles) worth of too hard.

"For a while," she says, "it was to the point that I was losing my voice and I thought I was going to have to be hospitalized if I kept working myself into the ground. I ended up getting really introverted. I wasn't happy." People who see an unhappy, sulky pop star assume that she's an ungrateful, self-absorbed little ninny. "But nobody knows what's really going on," She says, "I need to eat, I need to sleep, and sometimes those things weren't considered. It was like, 'When do you think I'll have time to go to the bathroom?' That wasn't on the schedule."

Those uncool people who overscheduled her are, thankfully, history - she's got a new management team. Now Aguilera is working to wipe out her other image problem: that she's merely a prefab MTV starlet, a manufactured pop confection for the TRL set.

"When you're new to recording," she says, "and you get signed to a label, people decide what you're going to be, but you're so excited to be doing it, period. Then you realize, 'Man, I don't know if this is what I really want.'" With her new record (as yet untitled and due for release in late summer), much of which she's writing and producing herself, Aguilera is backing away from her bubblegum reputation. "Now I'm getting to do my own material and let people know that there's an artist behind the singer."

She cites R&B legend Etta James as a particular inspiration for her new direction. "I did a cover of hers, 'At Last' on tour, and I'm doing one on my album: 'I Prefer You' - a sassy uptempo song."

Now 21, Aguilera has been belting out big songs for the masses since she was a little kid. Growing up in suburban Pittsburgh (her father was in the military and "wasn't home much" so most of the parenting was done by her pianist/violinist mother), Aguilera first grabbed the spotlight by singing at local events, which led to an appearance, at age 8, on Star Search. (She lost, but the following year got to sing the national anthem at a Steelers game.) By 12, she'd landed in the New Mickey Mouse Club's now legendary class of 1993 (Britney Spears, NSync's Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez and actress Keri Russell were castmates). After singing "Reflection" on the soundtrack for Disney's 'Mulan' - which earned her a Golden Globe nomination at 18 - Aguilera rocked to international fame with her first single "Genie in a Bottle."

"Now people are going to get to see the real me," she says, because her record is packed with lyrics inspired by her own struggles - with love, family traumas, and particularly, artistic integrity.

"I'm growing up," she says, "and getting vocal about what I want to do." She mentions her sometimes outlandish fashion and make-up statements as one way in which she's becoming her own person.

'I'm growing up and getting
vocal about what I want to do.'

"I'm not conservative," she says, laughing. "I cannot walk into a tattoo or piercing place without getting something done. This [pointing to her bottom lip] is my latest one. I got it in Atlanta. My friend wanted to get her nose pierced, and I was like 'Well shoot, I'm going to get my lip pierced!"

How many piercings is that now? "Eleven. I'm not going to tell you where they all are, but you'll probably imagine."

It's a far cry from her early days (if you call the late 90's "early days"). When she was first signed to her label, Aguilera says her look - wardrobe, hair and make-up - "was basically monitored by RCA representatives to make sure it was cool. Everybody wanted their all-American girl." She pauses, then lets out another generous laugh.

"Maybe that's why I'm rebelling!"

Not that she's unwilling to occasionally make a compromise. Her performance at the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, for instance, was low-key - by Aguilera's standards - in keeping with the organizers wishes. "I was really mad, though, that a lot of people thought that was my comeback performance. It wasn't."

"My comeback performance," she wants you to know, "will be explosive!"

Strip Show
"I'm not trying to do as much vocal gymnastics. Before, to make up for the kind of music I didn't want to be doing, I would over-riff, to prove that I have talent. It was too much. For this record, everything's stripped down to the bare necessities."

Scream Therapy
"[Musician/producer] Linda Perry [formerly] of 4 Non Blondes taught me not to be scared of my voice. She'd say, 'You have to stop worrying about that technical stuff, the riffing and ad-libbing. Just let go and sing - whatever comes out' She's like, 'I hear something in you. You've got this repressed, darker side.' I think it's stuff from my past - my father and stuff. One of the new songs is more rock, and Linda got me singing/screaming for the chorus, 'I just want to get away!' It's about freedom. It's finding strength in myself."

Star Search
'Even when I was little, I knew I was meant to perform. I would watch specials on TV or videos of Janet or Whitney, and I would start crying because I was like 'I want that so bad!'"

More quotes in Allure

Family Values
"I was raised by my mom and my grandma. They were supportive 100 percent about what I wanted to do. They were always saying, 'Now, there will be people who try to do this to you or that to you.' Even in my hometown, it was hard to find out who my real friends were because of the celebrity thing. But my mom was always like, 'This is going to your head! We're cutting off the singing!' So it was a very grounded situation."

Baby Steps
"Before my last tour, it was just me and label heads who were 20 years my senior. You grow up fast that way, but I had nobody on the road who liked to go clubbing and all that. Then when my dancers came into the picture, it was like, 'These are my boys! These are my dawgs!'"

Going to the Dogs
"Jorge [Santos], my ex-boyfriend, bought me both my dogs. They're papillons - they're so cute. They had to be small enough so I could travel with them. Stinky and Chewy are their names. They come on shorter trips. They're going to be mad at their mommy when I get back."

Almost Famous
"I was in this elevator with this drunk guy in Atlanta. I'd been working all night in the studio. He was like, 'You're Chrissstinnna Aguilerrra!' I was like, 'I'm her cousin.'"

Funny Business
[On Eminem obscenely trashing her in his 2000 song "The Real Slim Shady"] "When you insult a girl [like that] - I'm not going to go 'Ha ha What a kidder!' As women, we have to deal with enough crap like that. I'm going to retaliate. If you've got words to say to me, say them to my face. You can find my number through your people."

First Love
"I'm very career-oriented, plus I have vulnerability issues. My mom went through a really bad marriage, and seeing that hurt me. I thought, I'm never going to let a man do that to me. I thought of being in a relationship as being weak. But then when my relationship with Jorge happened, I wanted to give, I wanted to be there. I'd never even had a huge crush on a guy before. Then it just happened, on tour. We were dancing together, spending a lot of time together, and we fell in love. Even though we're not together anymore, we still work together. He's a really great person. And I love him."

Moulin Rude
"Everybody said, 'Don't do "Lady Marmalade,' it's too urban for you!' But I wanted to do it. The girls [Pink, Lill Kim, Mya and Missy Elliot] were great to work with - it was like, 'Let's play dress-up for a day!' If you're doing a video for a movie like 'Moulin Rouge' - I mean, it's about a whorehouse - you have to get up there in some fun costumes. I love taking chances."

'I love taking chances!'

Christina's Secret
"If I were home alone right now, I'd be wearing a white tank top and guys' briefs. There's a line of underwear called Skimpies. They're my favorite things."

Gut Check
"I'm a pretty petite girl. I have a fast metabolism, but my age has been kicking in this year, because all of the sudden I'm like, 'Where does this little stomach come from?' I feel it on my thighs too, so I'm getting a trainer. But not to lose anything, because I like being a little thicker."

Booty Call
"I love to see a girl with a good booty. Curves are supersexy. The thing I hate is a girl who's got big fake boobs and no butt. I'm like, 'What happened to her?'"

Boxing Christina
"My trainer and I box, but I haven't actually fought yet. As far as really going at it with somebody - we'll have to see what that's like. I want to get a ring put in my house - a real ring."

Christina Vs. Britney?
"Presenting with Britney at the 2000 MTV Awards was my favorite part of that night. Because we were on the Mickey Mouse Club together, we used to be best friends - and it's so weird how our careers have taken us to these places where there's this supposed rivalry. But I understand it because everyone's always looking for something to talk about."

Behind the scenes at the shoot

Mulan's Rouge
"I love Stila Moonlight eye shadow - it's kind of a white frosty thing. I use regular eyeliner - Revlon ColorStay - and Max Factor mascara. I really don't like to pay too much attention to my lips unless I'm performing or something. I wear hard Candy in Blur (a light pink gloss), a lot of MAC, and Channel lipglosses. I like dots or stripes right down the middle of my nails. I've been using the same thing for my face since I was 12: I'm a total Noxema girl."

Double Platinum - The Photo Session

Who? Christina Aguilera
What? Allure's May cover, shot by Michael Thompson
Where? Lux Studio in Manhattan
When? January 30th
Why? After a year of collaborations with artists like Pink, Mya, Lil Kim and Ricky Martin, the three-time Grammy winner has finished her fourth album, scheduled for a late summer release.

Wake-up call: Ponytailed and make-up free, Aguilera arrived at 11:30 am in clingy white velour warm up pants and a brown hooded sweatshirt with the word Xtina on the back.

Hair Peace: "We were trying for a natural look - no bright colors or curls," said New York hair stylist Serge Normant. After misting Aguilera's hair with a flaxseed styling spray, he blew it dry with a flat brush and ironed it straight. A dab of hair serum added shine. "It's different than what she's used to," Normant said. "But she was open to it."

Prim Rose: Make-up artist Scott Andrew smoothed pink blush onto Aguilera's cheeks and swiped rose lipstick and sheer gloss onto her lips. To make her eyes stand out, he chose a few shades of mauve eye shadow and mascara and lined her upper and lower lids with black pencil.

Hostile Makeover: Andrew and Aguilera disagreed only once. "She wanted me to cover up her freckles," he said, "but I think they're beautiful." (The diva won in the end.)

What a Girl Wants: Aguilera skipped the catered lunch - lentil soup, spinach ravioli, and roasted vegetables - and went for a fast food fix instead. For lunch it was a six-inch Subway turkey sandwich; for late afternoon snack, she had McDonald's Chicken McNuggets.

Sleeping Beauty: On the eve of the shoot, Aguilera went club hopping at Manhattan hot spots Lotus and Bowery Bar. Even her blaring Busta Rhymes CD couldn't sustain her night owl's energy - she dozed off during her manicure.


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