Tuesday, May 06 2008 | 00:00

It’s not the kind of place you’d like to spend the rest of your life in. An old courtyard behind Munich concert hall Metropolis, desolate, dilapidated and somehow useless. But Remy Shand doesn’t want to get up. He should be going to the soundcheck, according to his schedule. But he’s ignoring them all, the tour manager, the mixer and all the other record company people congregated around him. He just stays in his seat and turns the discman up a bit. He only wants to listen to this. Music he doesn’t know, but that makes him forget where he is and why. I can sing to you without fear/Even when my notes are wrong when I sing my songs/I have no pride, I wanna tell you that’s inside… Venus Malone is sitting next to him and is smiling. She has just won a fan. It will soon be more.

Venus Malone is from Columbus, Ohio, where nobody turns into a star over night, where a strategy of small steps based on a healthy foundation of family, skills and passion is preferred. Her mother taught her love of music, at the age of ten she’s on stage for the first time, at 15 she writes her first song, and at 15 she begins to study music at Ohio State University. Always eyes on the prize, as they say in Columbus. Which is why she doesn’t hesitate for one second when in 1988 she receives the offer to come to Germany for the girl group project Femail. Only a few days later, she is on stage on Munich, pretty in her dress, and gives the German soul diva to a semi-playback. She had memorised the lyrics within two days. After that she tours with Gil and Aaron Carter.

After a few weeks, Venus is fed up and leaves the project. She doesn’t, however, regret her move across the Atlantic. She knows what she has learned and keeps going. She performs with cover bands in music bars, chills with the local hip hop massive, tours as a background singer for Brooke Russell and Sabrina Setlur, sings for commercials, meets like-minded people and ignorants… Every day another experience that will one day help her. Already in her second year in Germany, major labels are knocking on her door, but Venus resists the temptation of the fast deutschmark, choosing to focus on her goal instead: to make only the music she so loves, and nothing else. In autumn 2000 she finally finds the right people to turn her visions into black gold. Sights are set on Pretty On The Inside and 15-hour days ion the studio become commonplace. And when she isn’t rehearsing with her band afterwards, she hangs at the jungle club, jams with the Jazz’n’ collective Megashira or drops a few rhymes over the hip hop beats of DJ friends. The name of the game is versatility (as can be heard on the fantastic Kabuki vs. Venus Malone 12, soon to be released on GAP).

Now, almost two years later, Venus Malone’s world of words and sounds becomes palpable at last. After she was just featured on Lone Catalysts’ 12 Destiny (on the flipside track The Hustle), her first single Eye On The Prize/One On One is released now. Her connection to Wanna Battle Crew continues as Lone Cat J. Rawls is behind the beat on both tracks, proving once again that he is rightfully considered one of the promising new talents at the more soulful end of the hip hop spectrum and the last bastion against synth terror and preset mania. It is one of those nice little anecdotes that Venus had to make the detour via Cologne Groove Attack HQ to meet J. He lives only three blocks from Venus’s parents’ house after all! But better late than never, which became clear after the amazing Eye On The Prize remix by Rawls’ 3582-partner Fat Jon (Five Deez) with himself rhyming and also to be found on the single.

But it is only in the flow of Pretty On The Inside, Venus Malone’s first album, that the tracks show their full potential. Ten songs plus the Fat Jon remix as a bonus track. So honest, so euphoric, yet as self-confident as many others fail to be even after 20 years of experience. And venus doesn’t need a Clive Davis or Kedar Massenburg to back her. This album is my album. It’s about me, about what I have created for myself since I went to live in a foreign country all on my own at 18, a country whose language I didn’t even speak. ‘Pretty On The Inside’ is like my diary, because music is my way of going through life. I’ve been making music every day since I was 10, and nothing means more to me than music. That’s what I wanted to show people with my album: that they mustn’t love me because I have good make-up artists, stylists and photographers. They must give me their attention because of my music. That’s what I mean by saying I am ‘pretty on the inside’. I’m not J.Lo, but I am beautiful – as all people could be if they discarded the notion that it is only the outside that makes them beautiful.

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