This Ex Pussycat Doll’s Album Will Be Your Summer Soundtrack For Getting Lit
If you’re a lilâ€™ too young to remember MTVâ€™s â€œDiaryâ€ show, you’ve probably never seen the infamous episode where Christina Aguilera performed at the famed Viper Room with the live burlesque show called â€œThe Pussycat Dolls.â€
Yes, before there was a chart-topping girl pop group called The Pussycat Dolls, they were just a humble burlesque troupe and J Sutta was there from the beginning.
â€œThe clothing was sexy, styled with corsets, bras, and thigh highs,” recalls J. “Very sassy, but it still maintained so much class to it. I loved doing the show. It felt magical and made you feel like you were embracing pussycat spirit inside of you â€” thatâ€™s why the majority of the audience were women. Seeing the show, they could feel like that too. Thatâ€™s why the PCD motto was, ‘Inside every woman is a Pussycat Doll,’ and I still agree with that today.”
Today, J Sutta has a new sound, but she hasnâ€™t forgotten all that she learned from her PCD days.
â€œI have heard so many ‘no’s’ throughout this journey,” she says. “Transitioning from a major girl group into a solo artist has come with colossal challenges.”
Her new album is aptly called, â€œI Say Yes,â€ and it’s full of dance hits thatâ€™ll have you boppin’ and unable to stay still anywhere you play it.
Check out J Suttaâ€™s tunes and peep our Q&A with her below.
How would you say your sound is different from your Pussycat Dolls days?
My voice has opened up and strengthened a lot since then. I have worked very hard on building my vocal range, and of course I believe that growing as a person and getting to know yourself reflects on your confidence in every aspect of life, which applies to my art. When you start to believe in yourself, the possibilities are endless. I really love to sing. Itâ€™s such an expressive form of freedom as an artist. In terms of the sound of the album, sonically it is more dance oriented and lyrically more mature than the sound of the Dolls, which was amazing for that era.
What did being in the Pussycat Dolls teach you that you have applied to going solo?
PCD taught me how to cultivate a strong work ethic. I also learned all about time management. I think that is a very important tool to help you not go crazy when things get crazy. Also, I performed on stage in front of hundreds and thousands of people [with The Pussycat Dolls] so it gave me stage experience and developed my stage presence, which canâ€™t be taught, just lived. Iâ€™m very grateful for that.
At what point did you join the Pussycat Dolls? Back when the show was performing at The Viper Room?
I joined the PCD back in 2003. I was doing a public service announcement for Smokey the Bear and Robin Antin (creator of PCD) was the choreographer. We hit it off and she said, â€œCut your bangs, I want you to be a part of this group Iâ€™ve put together called The Pussycat Dolls.â€ I did start performing at the Viper Room at the very tail end of the burlesque act, and there was a cast of about 50 girls. It had the coolest underground vibe and the who’s who of Hollywood was in regular attendance. It also attracted many stars that performed in the show, like Scarlett Johansson, Charlize Theron, Pink, Christina Aguilera…I mean the list goes on.
The line to get in would go all the way down Sunset Boulevard and wrap around the corner of Larrabee. If you know the Viper Room, it doesnâ€™t hold more than 200 people comfortably. Imagine 300 people crammed into a smoky Hollywood lounge (because you could smoke in venues back then), a small stage with a five foot catwalk and a heavy red velvet curtain. It was truly an experience! When the show started, the curtain opened and it revealed Â â€œDOLLS.” Each letter was about 4 feet tall made out of silver sequins â€” and of course, a ballet barre placed in front.
What was it like collaborating with other artists for this album, like Pitbull and Rico Love?
It was a dream to collaborate with such extraordinary artists. Every feature on this album brings such a unique element. I really don’t ever want to have a feature for the sake of having a feature. It had to make sense artistically or it wouldn’t be something I would be into. Fortunately, on “I Say Yes,” every collaboration adds value and enhances the song in terms of sonics and story. Rico is family now. I am honored to have worked with him and am forever inspired by his work ethic and talent. Pitbull is from Miami like me, so it was great to have a hometown collaboration. He is a superstar through and through…his energy is incredibly contagious. I’m so excited to have him on the album!
Youâ€™ve hopped around a bit in terms of your sound and even labels â€” How are you feeling with your current sound and where you are at now?
I am very proud of where I stand as an artist today. Â I am really happy with my current sound that we collectively created for this album. As an independent artist, I have the freedom to experiment with different sounds, singing styles, choreography, and fashion. There are no boundaries when it comes to true art and self expression. How do you grow and get to know yourself without life experiences? Doors closing always lead you to openings where you are destined to be. Yes, I have hopped around, however everything I have been through made me stronger and wiser and I’m grateful for every single experience.
What made you decide to call the album â€œI Say Yesâ€?
People are dismissive and not always receptive to the idea of taking time to get to know you as an individual. They don’t always give you a fair shot and I learned to develop a thick skin to keep moving forward regardless of that. After hearing â€œI Say Yes,â€ written by Rico Love and produced by The Cxde, I knew right away that song needed to be the heartbeat of my album. It applies to my journey so closely and I think a lot of people will be able to relate to the concept.
What would you say, or what kind of advice would you give, to others who may hear â€œnoâ€ more often than â€œyes?”
â€œNoâ€™sâ€ are not always a bad thing. In fact, through my life experiences, those â€œnoâ€™sâ€ lead you to the â€œyesâ€™sâ€ that will completely change your life forever. Especially when you say â€œyesâ€ to yourself. If you love what you do, work as hard as you can, and give all of yourself to your passion and craft, then the journey shapes you as a human being. You always hope for the best results, but if you obsess with the parts of life that are out of your control, you set yourself up for disappointment and miss the point of the journey.
What are your plans next?
I plan to tour the US over the summer promoting “I Say Yes” starting April 1st in Chicago and the East Coast from there. I’m also planning to open the door to acting this year. I really love exploring my artistry. The album is definitely a â€˜get to know meâ€™ album and as I keep growing on this journey I will keep finding new ways to express who I am through art that represents me as authentically as possible. I will keep avoiding the shortcuts that would compromise the things I stand for and stick with doing what I love and loving what I do.
For More on J Sutta
Listen to â€œI Say Yes:”