JSaysOnline: It’s been four years since Danity Kane’s final release, Welcome to the Dollhouse, and the group’s disbandment. What’s happened in that time for you professionally and what are you pursuing presently?
Bex: Since DK was officially disbanded in ’09, I took a full year to spend with my husband and focus on the next journey. Then I headed down to Nashville. Started writing and really exploring the type of sound I wanted. The process is still moving forward. I’m not working with a label, which means a lot of creative freedom, but it also means the process takes a lot longer if you want to do it right.
JSaysOnline: What is your ideal goal as a recording artist and who inspires you the most creatively?
Bex: My goal is always quality of product and the brand I represent as a person and artist. Gwen Stefani is a wonderful representation of a well thought out brand: from her style [and] songs, to LAMB [Stefani's clothing line], to how she balances her family. Everything has a beautiful streamline and consistency. I’m very excited to see what she does next.
JSaysOnline: In 2003, you placed second on NBC’s Fame. You survived Making the Band auditions and got a place in Danity Kane, but the group ultimately disbanded. Starting and stopping seems to be a big part of pursuing a music career. How have the ups and downs impacted you emotionally?
Bex: The entertainment business is always starting and stopping. You have to find a good balance between investing into your work and personal life. You never know when your last gig, job, [or] concert will come. The consistency in your life will come from family and friends. A music career can break you emotionally. So be confident in who you are and what you bring. Don’t make moral sacrifices to succeed in the game. That way, when it’s all said and done, you know you did your best and you didn’t compromise.
Bex: It takes a lot of dedication and perseverance. If you’re looking to get into this business to make millions--or even thousands--of dollars, you shouldn’t be in it. Your focus can’t be monetary. In the height of touring and filming Making the Band, I would fly back home and work at another job on my time off just to make ends meet. I never had time off, still don’t. Haha! You have to love what you do first and foremost. It is a full time job if you want to do it right.
JSaysOnline: Speaking of financial matters, some would assume that an artist is wealthy because they have a gold or platinum record like Danity Kane had. How true is this assumption?
Bex: …I can’t begin to count how many people assume I have a mansion right next to Puff. Honestly, it’s quite sad how hard artists work and how the lack of support and good management and bad business can affect them. That’s why you hear so many stories of celebs going bankrupt. There is so much to understand and learn outside of the stage and nobody takes the time to show you. My time with Danity Kane was a crash course. It was a very educational, hands on experience. The number one thing I came to understand is that it’s truly 90% business, 10% talent. That’s why many extremely talented people don’t make it…they don’t understand business or have anyone around them to help.
JSaysOnline: Coming back to your experience in Danity Kane, I think there was a lot of growth between Dollhouse and the first album. Did you see this growth? What do you think Danity Kane would have blossomed into if not for the split?
Bex: DK was so excited when Dollhouse was finished. However, it didn’t start out sounding like the finished product. There were a lot of phone calls, meetings and frustrating conversations with Puff, A&R and the label. If we didn’t say anything, it would have been good, but more of a slow R&B album. We knew it had to cross-over and be an international pop-dance record. Thankfully, Puff understood what we were trying to accomplish on this record and he released a lot of creativity to us. As for our future, we would constantly talk about the vision of DK. That’s why when I say we didn’t know the split was going to happen, it’s an honest answer. Eventually, we envisioned releasing five albums down the line that would compliment each girl’s individual style. For example, Aundrea’s CD may have been pop with a Latin influence, while mine would have ventured down the country path. Giving each girl a chance to shine in their strength and style, while all five CD’s would have still shared all of our voices and a common DK thread.
Bex: It was so surreal! I couldn’t believe I was hearing the words come out of Puff’s mouth. It was one of the most vivid memories of all four seasons I have. I honestly can say I had no idea what type of meeting we were walking into that night. My mind was swarming that entire last episode. We (DK) even wondered if it was staged for ratings, since it was the finale. Months after, reality set in that it did happen and it wasn’t for show. I still was trying to figure it all out. Even now, I find myself picking the whole thing apart. At some point, for your own sanity, you just have to move on. Respect the past, what you got to experience and learn from it. Especially when it’s out of your control to change anything.
JSaysOnline: What do you think is the biggest misconception about the breakup?
Bex: That we couldn’t figure out a way to get along. I will never claim we had it perfect, but for being competitors, we pulled through many difficult situations together. I still get messages from people telling us to “Get our act together,” “Grow up and get along,” etc. I just sigh. It would take more than 10 questions to really dive into the entire inner workings of this business, let alone our unique situation. I always want to respond with “It’s not as easy as it looks; there are so many players involved besides the five of us,” but that is just scratching the surface. Best to leave it alone.
JSaysOnline: In the last live Making the Band season finale that Danity Kane appeared in, MTV VJ Sway asked why Danity Kane broke up. You responded that if you all had an answer, it would’ve been given and ‘It wasn’t just one thing’. Now that you’ve had some time away to reflect, are you better able to identify and explain what you think the contributing factors were?
I could list a few bullet points, but I would need to really get into each one to explain. It may just be something only the five of us truly ever understand. I’m sure one day we will all come together and have a huge Q&A about it all :)
Bex: I won’t name any names. To be honest, this entertainment industry has many problem people. Many are out there just trying to make it and survive. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s at the expense of another person's dream. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good quality people who I’ve come across that work hard to do it the right way…my advice for new artists is to trust someone’s intentions are business-related and not emotional like yours may be. This is your dream, so you’re going to think with your heart and passion, but the team members you bring on will be thinking strategically with their head and how to make money. Which is why you get a good team together. You have to respect and agree with how they do their business. Not only will that reflect onto you as an artist and who you are associated with, but also how they do business will affect you and your business.
JSaysOnline: Danity Kane is among many music groups who have spilt or had lineup changes. In your opinion, what are the do's and do-not’s for record labels and managers when forming a group or band?
Bex: If I had the answer to that, I’d form a successful group myself. There are too many factors, from personalities, situations, talent and etc, to really come up with a perfect formula.
JSaysOnline: If you could do it over, would you audition for Making the Band again?
Bex: Of course! It was a wonderfully exciting and stressful experience. I learned so much and have many amazing memories.
JSaysOnline: Have you kept touch with anyone from the group? If so, who?
Bex: [Aun]Drea and I have always been close and connected. Aubrey and I sometimes get to see one another, since we live on the west coast. I communicate with D. [Woods] through Aubs and Twitter sometimes. Dawn has been so busy with Puff, it’s hard to connect. I know she’s working hard on her own stuff now. They all know they each have a place in my heart. I’ve never said anything different. I respect each of them and thank them for the time we had together. I wish everyone the best; always have and always will.
Bex: I’ve always been open to a reunion. The timing has to be right though…for everyone and where they are in their solo pursuit. It would have to be all five to be right :) I know the fans would want it that way.
JSaysOnline: At this point, would you prefer to be an independent or major label artist and why?
Bex: The industry is constantly changing right now. It’s not like it used to be. Nowadays, you can do so on your own. I’m not against working with an independent or major label. However, I won’t give up control and what is rightfully mine. I’m completely free right now, owning everything, so it would have to be the right deal.
JSaysOnline: Some in music journalism have made the argument that artists who are the product of reality-show competitions can’t be taken seriously because they’ve ‘gained success overnight’ and haven’t ‘paid their dues.’ What do you think of that opinion?
Bex: I understand the thought process. The fact is, in our situation, we had huge success because of being on TV; I don’t deny that. It’s a great platform to be on. Does that undermine our talent? Not at all! Puff wouldn’t have picked untalented artists to represent his brand. As for not paying dues? For me that is not the case. My personal journey has been filled with many auditions, performances, phone calls, demos, playing in bars, at fairs, birthdays, weddings, joyful moments, tears, meetings, etc. You name it! As an artist, I don’t think there is ever a day where you stop working hard and stop paying your dues. There are always dues to be paid in this business.
Bex: No, it’s not glamorous….but fun? At times, yes! And it can offer a great opportunity if it helps to showcase your talent. As far as attaining fame, you have to be careful in how you behave and what you say. The outcome of your fame will depend on what type of reality-show you are on and your purpose for being there.
JSaysOnline: Back to music, what genres do you primarily listen to?
Bex: Right now? My demos and writing sessions...I’m constantly writing and rewriting. It’s been hard to just put a song on and escape. I’ve always listened to many styles of music. From country, pop, and R&B, to oldies.
JSaysOnline: Please list your favorite artist in each genre: Rock, R&B/Soul, Country, Pop and Rap
Bex: There are so many more I can think of, but I’ll keep it to the ones that come to my mind first :)
Rock: Aerosmith. How could you not like Aerosmith?
R&B/Soul: Beyoncé. She’s just amazing!
Country: Garth Brooks. Amazing performer, honest.
Pop: Maroon 5. Great to dance to; stay true to their sound.
Rap: Eminem. Though I’m not an avid listener, I respect his talent and the lyrics he writes.
JSaysOnline: Who is your ‘guilty pleasure’ artist?
Bex: Puff haha…just kidding…I’m not sure I have one.
JSaysOnline: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned while pursuing a music career?
JSaysOnline: Is there anything that’s happened personally in the last four years that you would like to share?
Bex: If you mean did I have any babies? No ;) My only creation over this time is my next project. The labor pains are getting closer….it’s about time to deliver! ;) (Shannon is currently raising money through Pledge Music to support an EP. To participate click here.)
You can catch other DK members Aubrey O'Day on this season of NBC's "The Apprentice," Dawn Richard with R&B/hip-hop group Diddy Dirty Money & D.Woods at MissDWoods.com. Bex was the only member to respond to press requests; information for Aundrea Fimbres was not found.