Jac of all trades: Not wanting to be just some disco diva, Jacinta calls her own shots

A STEP ABOVE | Jacinta plays a hand in all her dance music, from writing to production, which sets her apart from many fleeting singers releasing only singles and remixes.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Let’s face it: The gays like their dance music. That makes the industry ripe for countless Madonna-Britney-Gaga wannabes and one-hit wonders. (You should count the number of remix singles by “divas” that pass through the desk of music writers without actual albums attached to them.)

Jacinta Brondgeest may easily be categorized as just another girl on the dancefloor, but don’t sell her short. She’s brimming with substance.

“I try to be involved in so many aspects of the music-making process,” she says. “I love getting into the production part of it and also, I think what set’s me apart is I create and write my own music. Songwriting is precious to me. I’m always working on different facets.”

Going by only her first name (or her nickname, Jac), Jacinta isn’t just the product of DJs and producers. Instead of leaving her musical career in the hands of others and risking flash-in-the-pan status, Jacinta has been taking steps to fashion a career on her own terms. Part of that includes her live show, which she brings to Sue Ellen’s Friday.

And after finding success in her adoptive homeland of Australia (she was born in Oregon, but her family moved Down Under when she was six weeks old), Jacinta returned to the U.S. in 2002 to give the music industry a try. She thrived in the hot music environment of Austin, but just weeks ago, relocated to Houston.

“Houston is such a bigger landscape for us and more conducive to the style of music we play,” she says.

When Jacinta produced her first EP, Dedicated to a Stranger, in 1996, she decided that if her money was behind her own work, she should start her own label. Thus was born Chunky Music, named after her habit of sampling big chunks of music into her own. After attaining distribution in Australia, she put America in her sites.

“The label encapsulates everything I do, which essentially is pop-rock,” she says. “We do piano, vocals, electronica and remixes, hence our huge dance catalog. And now we’re tri-coastal and based out of Los Angeles, Houston and Australia.”

When the beat goes down, Jacinta also creates and produces meditation music. She admits making 2009’s Past Life Meditation was easy.

“The process of putting the music together was different, but it was an easier project because the creativity was all instrumental,” she says. “I think meditation is a wonderful thing and it was very enjoyable putting that music together.”

Naturally, she found a gay audience with her dance music. Jacinta booked high profile Pride gigs in Australia, Seattle, Austin and the Folsom Street Festival in San Francisco. Her song, “Keep it a Secret,” became a gay anthem of sorts to the audiences who saw her perform it.

“I wrote that in 2007 and it just resonated with the gay community when I performed it so those audiences are very important to me,” she says. “The song reminds people to be uniquely yourself and finding the courage to be that person.”

Sue Ellen’s may not be the first place for live performances of dance music, but that doesn’t worry Jacinta. She’s had her share of lesbian audiences with her first band Maiden Voyage. She says that all-girl bands always get those venues. So how does she identify? Well, she responds in that coy pop star way.

“Well, it depends on whom I’m sleeping with,” she laughs.

Well played.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

That ’70s Show vs. Show

2 music icons who rose to stardom in the disco age — Elton John and ABBA — face off (sort of) with modern takes on classic sounds

In the decade of disco, ABBA was at the top of the charts with hit after hit on the radio and the dancefloor. At the same time, Elton John was making his mark taking glam rock to new levels with his touch of gay flamboyance.

Both have endured — ABBA mostly in nostalgia, John with new albums on a regular basis. And they both hit North Texas this week — in a manner of speaking.
ABBA Mania recreates the live ABBA experience, while John’s tour stops in Fort Worth for his newest album, a collaboration with Leon Russell called The Union.

So which will you lean toward?

In The Union, John teams with Russell, the legendary R&B Okie, and producer-of-the-moment, Fort Worth’s T-Bone Burnett, combining John’s piano boogie and Russell’s bluesy roots — with mixed results. He’s been quoted as saying he’ll make real music now instead of pop fodder. The live show has won raves, with the first half devoted to the new CD and the last filled with John classics.

With John’s new “serious” outlook, will you have as much fun as you could at ABBA Mania? It was hard enough to sit still through Mamma Mia! without singing along while dancing out of your seat. The tribute show has toured the world with the absolute goal of giving the ABBA concert most people under 50 never got to see.

We broke down the best about John and the actual ABBA to see if it could help us make up our minds, but we may just flip a coin on this one. Tough call, for sure.

— Rich Lopez

………………………………

Elton JohnElton John (with Leon Russell)

…. wore outlandish bell bottoms, platform shoes and glittered glasses in the ’70s.

…. won an Oscar for the song “Circle of Life” for the Disney film The Lion King.

…. Does gigs with anti-gay personalities. At the Grammys with Eminem (forgivable) then performing at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding (his $1 mil fee went to his AIDS foundation — still deciding)

…. recorded “Hello, Hello,” a duet with Lady Gaga for the upcoming Disney movie
Gnomeo and Juliet about  garden gnomes in love.

…. conquered Broadway with The Lion King and Billy Elliot; won a Tony for
2000’s Aida.

…. being a gay man, had no ties to disco music during the rocking ’70s, with fellow community member Freddie Mercury of Queen.

…. lost a whole lotta street cred performing a Diet Coke commercial with Paula Abdul in 1990.

…. is a gay icon for being a diva, a legend and even kind of a bitch. He’s not much of an advocate for the community but stands by its side enough.

…. performs at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena, 1201 Houston St. Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. $53–$173. Ticketmaster.com.

………………………………..

ABBAABBA Mania

…. wore outlandish bell bottoms, platform shoes, but with the occasional ascot and lederhosen. Not cute.

…. had a hit movie with their old songs in Mamma Mia! which turned out to be the No. 1 movie of all time in Britain. Oscar their ass.

…. sidestepped most public drama. Even the marriages and divorces within the band weren’t all that controversial.  Snore.

…. inspired the 1990s clones Ace of Base who subsequently inspired the beat behind Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro.” OK, that’s reaching, we know.

…. had a fling with Broadway when Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus received acclaim and award noms for Chess and Mamma Mia!.

…. were all straight and the epitome of disco alongside the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. So straights do better dance music while non-straights can rock your face off. Who knew?

…. maintained their dignity by rarely, if ever, doing anything outside of performing their music.

…. are gay icons for their work on the dancefloor. All they really had to do to secure a spot in the gay pantheon was release “Dancing Queen.” Yes, ABBA, thank you for the music.

… plays at the Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson. Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. $40–$65. EisemannCenter.com/Tickets

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens