“There are things known, and things unknown, and in between are the doors.” That’s how Jim Morrison once explained the meaning behind the name of his legendary group. And then, there are decades known to everyone on earth and decades that almost disappear in a grey past like in fog. Between them, it seems, there are still epochs hiding, about whose apparently immense secrets nobody can say anything. The songs Ariana Savalas writes seem to originate from such an era. From a forgotten time, from a forgotten city, and yet undisputedly from this earth.
The road is long which led Ariana from attending a catholic convent school, to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art studying Shakespeare in London, to the burlesque theater and performing worldwide with the famous retro-band Postmodern Jukebox, and now to the release of her first major album, THE DEAD DANCE. The wonderful collection of profound, mysterious, mischievous, and somehow erotic songs on her record seems to build its own little world, reminiscent of little that is already known, but harkening to the dark, mystical world of the Weimar German Cabarets and Parisian Burlesques.
Listening to the likes of both Robbie Williams and Ella Fitzgerald as a young girl, Ariana found her inspiration as a songwriter in a universe somewhere in between. "I was always a little too naughty for traditional jazz,” the American says. “When I was in that convent school with nuns, my uniform skirt was always too short, and I broke rules almost every day. I loved to give my teachers occasions to whisper about me. I loved singing music and dressing in a way that was shocking and provocative. Music was my way of expressing myself in those ways I was afraid of, without consequence.”
After leaving the convent, Ariana moved to Los Angeles to become an aspiring songwriter. “Most nights, when I was a young singer in LA, I sat at home alone at the piano writing music until three in the morning. Then, the next evening, I would be out in the jazz club scene singing Sinatra.” She didn't even know "what burlesque really was, only as part of the Postmodern Jukebox did I get close to all that. When I first performed in Paris, I went to see Crazy Horse and Moulin Rouge, and these shows changed my life forever. I began writing and performing songs for my own burlesque reviews.”
Ariana toured the world moderating the hustle and bustle of the vaudeville stages, but why does a girl, and former pupil of a Catholic girls' school, have such an immortal crush on music from days when silent films with giant monkeys could still frighten cities like New York? "There are several reasons for this," says Ariana. Her father, the Oscar-winning actor Telly Savalas, who became famous worldwide long before her birth, was one of them. "He was a whole lot older than me and would be almost 100 years old now. He was dear friends with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. And my grandmother Gloria, who was younger than my father, was a musician herself and introduced me to all of this music when I was a little kid.”
Ariana strokes her male wiener dog Ludwig over his head and sighs smiling. It has been a long journey which led her from Los Angeles to studying Shakespeare in London, to the Burlesque Theater, then finally to her life as a recording artist. Fortunately, there's no end in sight, but instead her artistry is blossoming more and more colorfully.