By: Dennis M. Kelly
DK: Good day Athena. First off, who is Athena Reich personally?
AR: I like long baths. I like to find as much sleep as I can. I love watching movies and riding my bike. I am a romantic at heart. Relationships (of all kinds) are really what’s most important to me in this world. I care about connecting well with others.
DK: That is so important and those you connect with can enrich your life so much more too. You began with piano at age 4, and guitar at 15, when did you start performing professionally?
AR: My first professional gig was at age 12 with a comedy improve troupe at a convention. I began doing TV and commercials (as an actress) soon after.
DK: Have you had any formal training in music at all?
AR: Yes, classical piano since age 4. Trumpet as a kid. Now I take private singing, piano and songwriting lessons in New York.
DK: How often do you perform with a full band?
AR: Hardly ever as I love the intimacy of a solo performance. And, it’s rare that venues are able to pay to support a full band.
DK: How did you come to mix cabaret, punk and pop together? (It’s an interesting mix)
AR: Thank you. It just kind of happened. Very naturally. I’m a very emotional person, with a strong background as an actress. When I began writing, a theatrical cabaret styling was what was most interesting and natural for me. I also have a lot of riteous rage so the punk comes out. And of course I love a good song, so the pop finds it place as well.
DK: What have your musical inspirations been during your childhood and even now?
AR: I grew up with opera and classical streaming through the house, my brother playing art rock in his bedroom (Genesis, Jethro Tull, Cat Stevens, King Crimson), and me playing everything from Cindy Lauper to “Jesus Christ Superstar”, to Ani DiFranco. It was a very musical house. My mother plays beautiful classical piano. I still listen to everything from Chopin to Bjork to Eminem to Aimee Mann.
DK: What are some of your non-musical inspirations?
AR: Theater. I go see what I can in New York, when I am not on the road.
AR: People. I am searching for that sense of peace and communion between people.
AR: Politics. We live in interesting times, unfortunately.
AR: My inner life. I had a complex childhood, full of gifts and violence and disappointments and treasures. It leaves me with a wild inner life.
DK: I understand you also act and have been in commercials and movies, what ones in particular?
AR: A commercial for the History Channel, a couple Canadian films (Friend Go Up Higher, The Surprise Party), some commercials for Woolworths in Canada, a part on Missing Treasures in Canada etc.
DK: What is your greater joy, acting, performing, writing new music? Or recording?
AR: Performing & writing new music are my greater joys. I love being in front of an audience. I love expressing myself at 4 am in the recluse of my room.
DK: Are you self managed and do you book your own shows?
AR: Yes, I am self managed and book my own shows. I hire a publicist.
DK: Your description about yourself sounds pretty intriguing,
how has some of the audiences reaction been to your shows?
AR: It varies greatly. Sometimes people scream and cry and line up to buy CDs and get autographs. Other times, I get heckled and no one listens, and people say strange and hurtful things to me after a show.
DK: How do you mix your activist views into your shows?
AR: It happens very naturally. I have an innate sense of justice. Also, I have led an interesting life, as a girl, woman and out lesbian. If I just write about my experiences naturally, people call it activism. Basically, I don’t hide anything. I say it like it is. And I have this innate sense of basic right as a woman, meaning I expect to be respected, to have a voice, and to not suffer violence. That makes others call me an activist. So I gladly accept the term.
DK: You’ve opened for the likes of Sarah McLachlan and Jim Carrey, what other highlights of your career would you care to share?
AR: Performing as a musical guest on numerous regional television stations. Being reviewed and featured in countless magazines and newspapers across North America.
DK: If someone was mildly interested in becoming an activist, what recommendations would you make for someone to start getting involved?
AR: Join a working group. Go to a protest. Check out Michael Moore’s website. Speak up next time something is not right.
DK: If someone were to wanting to buy one of your albums but not heard your music yet, which album would you suggest first? (which is the album that best represents you)
AR: “Stories from the Road” is the full me, in front of a live, intimate audience. It’s fun, bare boned, natural and raw.
DK: What are your plans for the future?
AR: I’m considering moving to Berlin to check out the music scene in Europe. I am also applying to do the Fringe tour across North America this summer. I have a new album brewing very soon…
DK: Thank you very much for your time today!
AR: Your welcome. Thank you!
Athena Reich Biography
Athena Reich is a singer/songwriter, actress, TV Host/Personality, and Songwriting Teacher. She has performed and taught in schools, performance halls, colleges, and on radio & TV across North America. Athena is originally from Toronto, but is currently based out of New York City.
Most recently, Athena appeared on the Food Network as host and contestant in a new Cooking/Dating Reality Show called $12 Challenge. In the show, Athena hosted her segment, created her storyline, competed, and won! Also recently, Athena booked an ADVIL commercial in which she talked about pursuing her dreams, and sang one of her original songs, LITTLE GIRL DREAMS.
In October 2009, Athena released her 5th CD, LITTLE GIRL DREAMS, produced by the Emmy/Grammy Winning Cynthia Daniels (Melissa Etheridge, Dave Mathews Band, “Producers” on Broadway, etc.) Athena’s music is storytelling pop, and can be compared to Annie Lennox, Sarah McLaughlin, and Regina Spektor.
Recently, Athena was hired to write the theme song for LIVING IN CAPTIVITY, a TV pilot currently being shopped to networks. The theme song was animated by Emily Hubley (who did the animation for Hedwig and the Angry Inch). LIVING IN CAPTIVITY was an Official Selection of the New York Television Festival and the Independent Television Festival (LA) and is currently represented by KTA, Kolstien Literary and Talent Agency.
Earlier this year, Athena produced a documentary entitled ‘LISA LOEB SONGWRITING’ in which Athena and Lisa Loeb taught songwriting to a group of girls at a public school in Brooklyn. Lisa Loeb had no experience in teaching, so Athena’s role was to teach Lisa how to work with kids, and to guide the songwriting workshop. The documentary premiered at Tribeca Cinemas.
Athena has been teaching songwriting, music and drama since the age of 19. She has worked for the Manhattan New Music Project, The Brooklyn Museum, Oregon State University, Lincoln Center, and dozens upon dozens of public schools, organizations and workshops across the tri-state area. She has taught songwriting to every age level (4 to adult), ability level (autistic to gifted), socio-economic background (Bronx to Manhattan Private schools), and ability level (beginner to professional). Athena’s ability to connect with children of all backgrounds, encourage them to open up about their thoughts and feelings, and translate them into song has moved countless teachers, parents, and community members to laughter and tears.
As a host and arts correspondent, Athena has worked for PBS, Air America Radio, 103.9 FM in Toronto, and Here! TV. Her ‘How To’ videos on Songwriting and Acting on ExpertVillage.com and YouTube.com have garnered over 100,000 hits.
As an actress, Athena has appeared in numerous commercials, Film, TV and Off-Broadway productions including Love Sucks at the New York Musical Theater Festival (which was adored by the NY press), Fran in The Day They Shot John Lennon and principle roles on the History Channel, CNN, etc. She won Best Comedy at Canada’s YTV Achievement Awards (Judge Eugene Levy). In 2002, she was commissioned by WCS to write a poem for the new NY Aquarium. Her poetry and music is currently displayed at the Museum for Peace in Uzbekistan.
Athena has thousands of fans across North America. She has toured across the continent 3 times, released 4 CDs (not including the upcoming LITTLE GIRL DREAMS), performed on countless TV & Radio shows, and been featured in dozens of newspaper articles. She has shared the stage with Jim Carrey and Sarah McLaughlin, and is set to appear with Jeannine Garofalo in the new year.
Athena’s sense of humor, insight, ability to connect with children, and overflowing talent continues to touch lives across North America.
Athena Reich online: www.athenareich.com