( New Straits Times ) |
Vanessa-Mae's Storm-filled day
The Arrival "OH boy, I hope she won't be late," moaned some
journalists who had braved the traffic jam and arrived at Istana Hotel
in Kuala Lumpur at 9.45am for an exclusive interview with violin prodigy
Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson.
"She is always punctual," assured a staff member from record label EMI
Music Malaysia Sdn Bhd.
Vanessa-Mae's schedule for the two-day Storm promo-tour to Malaysia
was very tight and those involved were jittery because any delay would
throw into disarray the agenda and this might lead to limited time for
Her arrival at 10.10am, 25 minutes late, was like a gust of wind ...
swift and cool.
She walked in with a small entourage which included a beefy bodyguard
at the head of the pack, a personal assistant by her side and a make-up
artist following closely behind.
She looked absolutely smashing in a black spaghetti-strapped, baby
doll dress with furry green trimmings and a pair of shiny knee-high black
boots. Her face was, of course, perfectly made up.
A self-assured smile on her scarlet lips and with no apologies, she
walked straight into a secluded corner and started her first interview
of the day.
"She woke up early this morning and went to the gym," revealed her
make- up artist Debbie Cronin, an Australian based in London who first
worked with Vanessa-Mae two years ago.
Aha, now we know the truth. Her lean, taut and toned physique was no
accident but part of her lifestyle and timetable.
After sweating it out, she showered, had breakfast and had her face
painted on which took a good 30 minutes. That was all that was revealed,
with no explanation to her delay in arriving.
The Morning Vanessa-Mae's whole morning was a blur of one interview
after another but if she felt drained, she certantly didn't show it.
In fact, at one point, during an interview with Radio Rediffusion, she
gamely attempted to speak Mandarin, with mom Pamela Nicholson holding a
pre- written answer sheet assisting her all the way.
There were giggles as she tried getting control of the language and
succeeded. But then again, we never expected otherwise.
When complimented, she was modest about it. "I am very bad at it,
which isn't right since my mom is Singaporean and is able to speak the
I should be able to do better than that.
"Oh, she understands more than she can speak," commented her mom who
bears a slight resemblance to actress Michelle Yeoh.
Vanessa-Mae, whose sultry pout in her first pop smash hit Red Hot
became her trademark look in all videoclips, later reworked her makeup
and changed into a red, short-sleeved, knee-length cheongsam and took some
photographs with Norman of KRU for a magazine cover.
When she is all plastered in thick goo, she looks so mature that you
forget she is a teenager. Then you notice that faded stick-on tattoo of
a scorpion on her left wrist and the girlie dimple on her right cheek when
Lunch Time After a zillion questions and several photography sessions
later, Vanessa-Mae got her lunch break at 12.30pm, which wasn't a break
First, it lasted only a few minutes, and second, the only things she
popped into her mouth was fruit. She must have downed tonnes of energy
bars for breakfast.
After swallowing her last slice of watermelon, Vanessa-Mae, with her
entourage which now included her mom and grandmother, went off to her room
for a major makeover for a meet-the-fans session at Tower Records in KL
After Lunch It was 1pm. Tower Records is packed with youngsters as
well as men in their 30s and 40s and they are restless. It had just been
announced for the umpteenth time that "Vanessa-Mae is arriving soon" and
they are not buying it anymore.
Then at 1.30pm, the final announcement came, followed by an excited
murmur in the crowd. "She's here!," somebody screamed.
True enough, Vanessa-Mae's English bodyguard Paul Butler was spotted
pushing his way through the crowd.
The scream grew louder, the crowd pushed forward and behold! A freshly
groomed and lovely Vanessa-Mae in a floral print, baby blue, short summer
dress, smiling and waving her way through to a small makeshift stage.
From then on, everything turned quite routine. The emcee for the
function, radio presenter Tony John, had a short question-and-answer session
with her. Then she gave a short "thank you" speech to her fans, signed
some autographs and was whisked away again.
Vanessa-Mae and entourage were rushed back to Hotel Istana for a Press
conference. But before her grand entrance, she changed her outfit again
and greeted a room full of reporters in a pink-and-yellow Mandarin collar,
Chinese-style blouse and pants.
There were more questions and answers, camera-lights-in-your-eyes and
flashbulb-in-your-face sessions before she was taken away for a number
of `one to one' interviews.
At 4.45pm, she rushed back to her room to change and was promptly
driven to Sunway Lagoon Hotel and Theme Park for more interviews.
It had started to pour and Vanessa-Mae, who was running a bit off
schedule, was stuck in a bad jam. She was supposed to do four interviews.
She only managed two and had the two radio interviews shelved after
Show Time The performance was supposed to begin at 8pm but started 30
minutes late. Nobody minded though the crowd was restless. The moment she
came on stage, however, time became unimportant.
Clad in a pair of straight-cut shiny black pants and a gold-black
square neck blouse, Vanessa-Mae shimmered and glowed.
The seductive nymph laughed, waved, shook hands with the audience and
attempted a short chit-chat with everyone.
Then she held up her white electric violin and started to play. She
stomped her feet, danced with her band which included her mom on keyboard,
clapped her hands and sang. The crowd went bananas.
It was a testosterone-charged night and screams of "Vanessa, I love
rang loud and clear.
The show was like her current hit single Storm that kicked off the
performance. A string of old and new songs which included Retro, I Feel
Love, I'm A Doun, Hocus Pocus and Red Hot followed and it ended with yet
Of course her fans weren't about to let her leave, so they screamed
and pleaded until she agreed to play another song. But it was not to be
as Vanessa-Mae discovered that the passionate last track had resulted in
a broken string for her violin.
So the show ended, but not before a fan threw her a blue tote-sling
bag and a cute teddy bear.
After The Show Well, the show may have ended for over 200 adoring
fans, but not for our violin genius. She still had two radio interviews
before retiring to bed at 1am.
The Enigma Delicately built yet tough-looking 19-year-old Vanessa-Mae
Vanakorn Nicholson took up violin when she was five and made it her passion
as well as bread and butter.
She chalked up world-wide sales of over five million copies of her
four albums and recently sold 15 thousand units of Storm in Malaysia alone.
A talented young girl, she looks Asian but has a strong English
She is demure but not soft-spoken. She has this elegant, aristocratic
air about her... flawless complexion, huge eyes which are never without
thick, black mascara and dark eyeshadow, full lips and nice cheekbones.
This is the girl recently voted by People Magazine as one of the most
beautiful people in the world. She is sweet, always cheerful and has a
smile on her lips that never fades but never quite reaches her eyes either.
At her interviews, one gets a sense of deja vu. Like a broken record,
the media would quiz her on the same topics, to which she would give prepared
answers. She is like an actress reading cue cards... very politically-correct
But one has to hand it to her, she smiles and she remains cool and
How does she cope?
"Oh, it's part of what I do. There will always be shows, concerts and
tours and interviews and fans. I don't expect anything different. This
is my job, my career," came her very PC reply.
She may only be 19 but she is far wiser than she seems and she is very
much in control.
"I don't worry about finances. My accountant takes care of that.
Besides, my parents are lawyers. I have my music which I am very
serious about and when I am not working, I hang out with friends my age.
I am just a normal teenager," she maintained.
"I also don't worry about getting an image consultant. When I am not
doing any photo shoot, I wear anything I want. All the clothes you saw
today are from my closet."
The one thing that she seems to dislike is when one mentions her sexy
image. "I am not a model, I am a violinist," came her cold reply.
No matter how mature or controlled she may seem, there is a bit of
that cheeky teenager in her that peeps out from time to time.
The incident with a music critic which resulted in her taking out an
advert in a British paper was one example.
Another example is evident in her Storm videoclip, a video where she
is shown to be adored to the point of being kidnapped.
"The part where I was seen kicking a cup of drink into the face of an
angry-looking man was me saying I don't care what old fuddy duddies say
about me or my music," she explained.
It really is amazing how she handles every bit of negativity said or
written about her. After spending an entire day with a person you would
expect to know her just a little bit better. But in truth, that wasn't
the case with Vanessa-Mae.
Note * Storm, just released this month, is a 70-minute album with 14
It is a collaboration between Vanessa-Mae and producer-songwriter Andy
Hill, who first worked with her as producer of her hit single I'm A Doun.
The music in Storm ranges from the sublime (on the song A Poet's
Quest) to grand (The Blessed Spirits) and arrogant heroism (Leyenda). There
is also witty mischief (I Can, Can You?), blinding virtuosity (Hocus Pocus),
cool (Retro) and sultry earthiness (Embrace Moi).
She even turns disco diva in I Feel Love, then switches to laidback
R&B chic with Aurora. So check it out.
COPYRIGHT © 1997 BY WORLDSOURCES ONLINE, INC.
Tan Ling Ai, Vanessa-Mae's Storm-filled day., New Straits Times, 12-15-1997.