(Read all about Stacey Q after the video)
Stacey Lynn Swain (born November 30, 1958), known by her stage name Stacey Q, is an American pop singer, songwriter, dancer and actress. Her best-known single, "Two of Hearts", released in 1986, reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and in the top ten on charts in other countries.
Swain was born on November 30, 1958 in Fullerton, California. She is the youngest of three children. Her mother, Joyce, bred Cardigan Welsh Corgis that have appeared in Hollywood films and television. In an 1989 interview, Swain said she was three years old when she asked for dance lessons, but had to wait until she was five, when she did classical ballet. In 1969, she became the youngest member of the Dance Theater of Orange County, a local company that performed at benefit shows in Anaheim. She spent eleven years studying ballet, and also learned flamenco dancing. She performed at multiple Disneyland's Christmas Fantasy on Parade events. She studied at the Community Theatre of Performing Arts and the Wilshire Theatre of Arts. She also performed in costume as the "Dutch Puppet", a name she used as a publishing alias during her early recording career. She went to Loara High School during her sophomore year, but then transferred to Anaheim High School. After graduating from high school in 1976, Swain joined the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, where she performed as a showgirl in her first year, and as an elephant rider in her second year. Her first singing project was a Los Angeles radio spot where she would introduce and announce programs while impersonating members of The Go-Go's.
1981–84: Q, SSQ and Playback
In 1981, Swain was introduced to Jon St. James, the proprietor of Fullerton's Casbah Recording Studio, which hosted recordings for the bands Berlin and Social Distortion.
|“||Jon was a big fan of synth bands like Kraftwerk and M; when he met Stacey Swain in 1981, he knew right away that this impossibly stylish former Ringling Bros. elephant girl and veteran of the Disney Main Street parade possessed star qualities perfectly compatible with electronic music, a genre Stacey also adored. She was enamored of the obscure Japanese band The Plastics and The B-52's, and simply could not get over David Bowie. As a student of style, Swain could literally turn rags into a fashion statement. On one occasion she went to the renaissance fair in Agoura dressed simply in two large pieces of soft leather she bought from a shop in Anaheim.||”|
St. James was developing a synthpop group called Q, named after the James Bond character. The band consisted of St. James on guitars, and Dan Van Patten and John Van Tongeren on vocoder and synthesizer. She served as the assistant producer on the band's four tracks for The Q EP when St. James realized they needed a vocalist for their first track "Sushi", which Swain provided as she had previously recorded demos at his studio. She then became the lead singer for Q, although at that time, she still considered herself more of a dancer than a singer.
|“||In 1981, Q (the original project) was Jon, Dan and myself hence Jon Q, Dan Q and Stacey Q. Q, the original name of the project, references James Bond and the scientist responsible for all his high-tech gadgets.||”|
The Q EP received little airplay except on college radio. Its success led St. James and Swain to develop more songs. In 1982, the group added drummer Karl Moet and synth player Rich West, but had to change their name because of copyright issues when producer Quincy Jones reportedly had "established use of the 'Q' moniker". They renamed the band SSQ, which was inspired partly by a fishing endeavor where St. James "was fishing in a lake 'no bigger than a bathtub' and made a joke that the boat was the 'S.S. Q,'" and also that "SS" stood for Stacey Swain. SSQ released their debut album Playback in 1983 under Enigma Records, which featured the single "Synthicide" that was also made into a music video.
1985–87: Breakthrough, Stacey Q and Better than Heaven
In 1985, Swain signed a recording contract with On the Spot Records, an independent label. Using "Stacey Q" as her moniker for solo works, she released her debut single "Shy Girl". Her eponymous album was later distributed in cassette format to limited release. The album contained an early version of "Two of Hearts", which was originally released and performed by Sue Gatlin. After her singles collectively sold several thousand copies, she signed with Atlantic Records with St. James as manager, and the other members of SSQ as backup musicians.
She recorded the album Better Than Heaven in three weeks. Its title track was co-written by Berlin, "He Doesn't Understand" was written by Jon Anderson of Yes, and "We Connect" was written by Willie Wilcox of Utopia Its lead single, "Two of Hearts", received substantial radio airplay, along with its music video on MTV, in the latter half of 1986. It reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the top 10 in several other countries. The album reached number 59 on the US album chart, and was certified gold. "Two of Hearts" was briefly considered for a "Weird Al" Yankovic parody, but the songwriters declined. She would follow up with a US and European club tour.
The success of "Two of Hearts" led Swain to television appearances on talk shows as well as guest panel appearances on game shows The Gong Show and The New Hollywood Squares She appeared as the character Cinnamon in the episode "Off-Broadway Baby" of the NBC sitcom The Facts of Life where she performed "Two of Hearts". In a follow-up episode, "A Star Is Torn", she performed "We Connect". Cast regular George Clooney made his farewell appearance when his character, George Burnett, decides to join Cinnamon as a roadie.
1988–92: Hard Machine and Nights Like This
Swain released her second Stacey Q album, Hard Machine, in 1988. She changed her hair color from blond to red, and adopted a punk rock-influenced appearance. The album had other producers besides St. James, resulting in a different musical direction. The single "Don't Make A Fool Of Yourself" peaked at number 66 on the US Hot 100, with a remix by Shep Pettibone making the top five on the Hot Dance Chart. The single was featured in the Full House episode "D.J. Tanner's Day Off", where she briefly appeared as Stacey Q. The songs "The River" and "Another Chance" were featured in the cult action film One Man Force, where she also had an appearance.
Nights Like This was her third and final album with Atlantic. Released in 1989, it also marked SSQ's last participation. Its title track featured backing vocals by The Weather Girls, and its second single, "Heartbeat", featured backing vocals by Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles. The musical style involved more experimenting with instruments such as Kawai keyboards. She promoted the album with another national tour at various clubs. On television, she appeared in an episode of Mama's Family where she was in an all-girl band called The Bonecrushers.
1993–97: Stacey Q's Greatest Hits and Boomerang
In 1993, Swain released the single "Too Hot For Love", under the independent label Thump Records. The single was structured toward an early-1990s dance sound and featured sexually suggestive lyrics, representing another change in direction for the artist. Thump would also gather material from her first Atlantic Records album as well as tracks from Q and SSQ that had never been released on CD into a 1995 compilation album, Stacey Q's Greatest Hits. Most of the tracks were either slightly remixed or re-edited entirely from their original versions in an attempt to modernize them.
In the mid-1990s, Swain traveled to Tibet, where she was introduced to the monastic dance and song of the Far East. She also lived in Nepal where she studied at monasteries with Buddhist lamas and was trained in the ancient art of cham dance. In 1997, she released the album Boomerang, which reflected her experiences there, as well as her conversion to Buddhism. She also released a cover of a Janis Ian tune called "Tenderness", which reached number 5 on the Jamaican charts.
1998–08: Other projects and hiatus
Swain continued to be involved in various music and acting projects. She appeared in a gay-themed art film called Citizens of Perpetual Indulgence, and had a "special non-sexual appearance" in Playing the Odds. She collaborated with director Geoffrey Karen Dior on the compilation album Porn to Rock and Dior's 2001 album S E X. In 2000, she played the lead female character Yeshe Tsogyal in a production of "The Life of Padmasambhava" by the San Francisco-based Namsay Dorje Theater Company. In 2002, Swain guested in the "Identity Parade" round of the VH1 game show Never Mind the Buzzcocks. She provided vocals for "Hear The Feeling", a 2003 single by Divine Frequency (Simply Jeff) that was used for the soundtrack of a documentary on raves. She voiced Karin Kikuhara in the English-language version of Stratos 4, a Japanese anime series. She provided vocals on the debut album of the Echo Junkies, a duo of former SSQ bandmates Jon St. James and Skip Hahn.
Thump Records released another Stacey Q compilation in 2007. Queen Of The 80s contained original versions of many of her solo songs as well as songs by Q and SSQ. In November 2008, she appeared on CBS's The Early Show as part of the show's 1980s flashback segment where she sang "Two of Hearts".
2009–present: Color Me Cinnamon
Swain provided guest vocals for Hydra Productions, a songwriting duo consisting of Shawn Winstian and Shane Condo. Their debut album, Liquid featured appearances by other dance-pop artists of the 1980s, including Tiffany and Gioia Bruno of Exposé. Hydra Productions signed her to a solo deal where she released her first solo single in 12 years, "Trip", in 2009. This was followed by the album Color Me Cinnamon in 2010, and the maxi-single "Pandora's Box". The album was produced by Jon St. James, and explored a modernized electro-house sound. In late October, she released the Halloween-themed Going Goth EP, which featured remixes of many songs from Color Me Cinnamon, and "Trick or Treat" maxi-single the year after that. Since then she has participated in various freestyle music festivals.
In June 2016, Stacey Q and Scott Larson released three songs on iTunes: I Need His Voice, Love Shouldn't Be That Way and Just A Little Bit. In November 2016 a new song called You Are Hawaii to me with Scott Larson was released.