A little over a year ago, at a local block party, I heard an angelic voice, the voice of an opera singer. It was Giselle. When I first laid eyes on her it was literally love at first sight. She is one of the prettiest and most talented people I have ever seen. At first I didn’t even think she lived in Jersey City! I thought she was some sort of European Opera singer here on a visit. I finally met her a few months later at a JCITFF event, and she was such a sweetheart, so humble and down to earth. I remember telling her “I need to interview you”.
Time slipped by and I would run into Giselle at various local events and would always tell myself that maybe it wasn’t the right time to interview her. I really believe that timing is everything. In recent months, Giselle made a switch from Opera singer to Pop singer! She teamed up with producer Adam Tilzer and is releasing a new EP in the next few months. During the interview I asked her to sing in her Opera voice and then switch to her Pop voice mid-song…. as soon as she switched to Pop her demeanor completely changed, she became relaxed, at ease… it was as if that was her true style. It was really amazing to watch.
Giselle is going to be a huge star and I am so excited to follow her journey.
What are your names? Giselle. Adam Tilzer.
What do you guys do?
Giselle: We are performers; I’m a singer, songwriter.
Adam: I’m a producer, songwriter, musician.
So I want to rewind a little bit. Last year when I met you, you were an Opera singer.
Now that I’m interviewing you, you’re a Pop singer.
Giselle: Yeah, so, my journey has been evolutionary now because it’s just such a quick change. When I was introduced to Adam, I was just solely singing Opera for a project and that was supposed to be it. And then I was singing along to some track in the studio right?
Adam: We were recording some Opera and between takes I was just putting on Spotify listening to random things and I caught her singing along to something and I stopped the music and I said, “What’s that voice? We should do something with that. Let’s explore that.”
Wait you have two different voices?
Giselle: Well the ranges are different and like I’ve been trained to sing classically all these years and so the music, it’s kind of like, like I don’t sing my Pop music in the same position as that I sing Opera. Like with Opera you don’t typically use microphones, you’re with an orchestra, you’re singing other people’s music not your own, it kind of sounds like two different voices.
Adam: But the Pop voice is your voice.
Giselle: It’s mine, yeah.
Adam: Like the natural sounding voice.
Giselle: It kind of sounds like my speaking voice just lengthened. I told Adam that I had two songs that I wrote, but were not completed. My thought was that I could sell them to other artists. Adam told me to finish them and sing them myself. And then I finished them as is and then I’m like, “Well, I have this song, One Night I Woke Up,” and I didn’t finish it, but I had written these two songs in-completed and I was like, “I don’t know maybe we should like sell them or I don’t know what we should do with them,” he’s like, “No. Finish them.” And then I finished them and we played them down and then we kept writing more and more and it sort of just manifested into what we’re doing now. A lot of doors have been opening to do the Pop stuff and I kept closing them. I was like, “No, this isn’t what I do. I do Opera. No!” But then meanwhile, it was such a struggle with the Opera world too so it’s kind of like, when am I going to wake up and just realize this is what I should be doing? My classical training has helped me with a lot of things and I still love Opera and it’s part of me, but this, it’s so much more vbulnerable and it’s my writing and it’s fun.
It’s more you.
Giselle: It is, it is. And maybe that was the scary part too. I don’t get to be Puccini’s character, I don’t get to be Verdi’s character, I have to be me and everyone has to see it that way.
You’re definitely more vulnerable.
Giselle: Yeah, Definitely.
I remember seeing you, the first time singing at a street festival here… you were so queen-like and then when I met you you’re like this bubbly personality. I was, “Wait, is this the same person?” I didn’t think you even lived in Jersey City, I thought you were from Europe or something, some famous Opera singer.
Giselle: That’s awesome.
Giselle: It’s true ‘cause it feels like bigger than me because you’re doing something so much bigger. I thought because of my personality and everything I could bring a younger audience to Opera, but I feel like in order to make Opera blossom, people who are already in that position, already up there need to do it. I was kind of fighting an uphill battle and you know, it’s a long journey with Opera. Where it’s like, “Okay, Renee Fleming gets to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl,” but Renee Fleming is over 40. So it’s like, “What do I do in the meantime?”
It’s seems like your battling with it. It seems like you’re trying to convince yourself…
Giselle: Now, it’s because I don’t do it anymore. I feel like the reason I’m talking this way too, it’s for my Opera fans.
It doesn’t mean you still don’t love it.
Giselle: It’s like telling them, “I still love you! But this is my journey.”
So you don’t do Opera anymore. How did you get into Opera in the first place?
Giselle: So a voice teacher—I was in at a performing arts high school and I would sing in choir and I was the girl that was told, “Giselle, you need to stop singing, because you stand out too much.” You know, but I would do well on solos and things so I was just really confused, “What is my voice wanting to do?”—and so she introduced me to Opera and I was like, “Oh, this is cool. This is cool.” And so I went to school for that and came up here and sang at Carnegie Hall, I met my voice teacher here and did all that stuff.
So how did you guys get together?
Giselle: My manager introduced us and again, just to do Opera.
Adam: Her manager brought her to the studio to just see. She had met Giselle a few weeks prior and knew that she was a huge talent and was just trying to see what could be done with her. She didn’t specifically only want you to do Opera, but that’s what she knew as at the time. So when we told her, “Oh we’re going to try something else,” she was all for it.
Giselle: She was so excited; she was like, “Yup!” I was just more worried about people’s reaction, but it’s been so positive and then when I was booked to sing for the FX show “Louie,” it was like another affirmation.
So tell me a little bit more about your upcoming EP.
Giselle: Yeah, we’re recording it this week and we’re going to lay the band down. It’s a lot of the members from Louie who I recorded with and we’re doing that in Manhattan.
Adam: At Terminus Recording Studios in Midtown.
Giselle: So we’re going to start on that. We don’t know how long it’s going to take us, but it’ll be out soon. We want to take our time with it.
Giselle, How long have you been here?
Giselle: In Jersey City? Three years.
What is your favorite Jersey City hangout spot?
Giselle: Port-o Lounge obviously. I got to Park and Sixth a lot. We were just introduced to Porta and the rooftop and we really liked that. I got to Cocoa Bakery. Oh! Brewshot, I love Brewshot!
Adam: Well this is the only place I’ve hung out so it’s great.
If you were asked, “How do you define your style?” would you say Pop?
Giselle: Yeah, it’s Pop. At first I was having a hard time when we were switching from Opera, I was like, “It’s Pop, it’s Pop.” He’s like, “Yeah, it’s Pop, but it’s not Bubblegum Pop.” So it’s like there’s a little more substance to it.
It’s Bluesy-Pop, like R&Bish.
Adam: I just feel like there’s so much bad Pop music in the past 15 years.
Hmm, who would I compare you to? Nobody, Giselle.
Adam: Well in the 60s, all the different styles of Pop were called Pop. It’s only now that so many people dislike so much Pop music and you want to define it differently which is fine.
Well when you think Pop now these days, you think like Katy Perry with the crazy outfits, or Beyoncé.
Adam: Well I think Adele is Pop, but if you go on Adele’s Wikipedia page there’s like a paragraph of genres because people don’t want to say just Pop for her. I think she’s Pop, I think Amy Winehouse is Throwback Pop, but it’s still Pop and there’s nothing wrong with that. People just get too obsessed with sub-genres.
Giselle: And like Florence is more Pop.
Now you had a video “Fever” come out and you shot it here, can you tell me more about it?
Giselle: This goes back to Jersey City being awesome because if we would’ve done this in Manhattan, we would’ve needed permits and all kinds of things. So Louie came out, the “Diarrhea Song” came out, who would’ve thought everyone would’ve been obsessed with the song.
Adam: We wanted it to be rushed; we wanted it to be out soon, but when that happened with Louie, we said, “Alright, now we have to get it out.” So we’d already intended on getting it out when we did. So it was the crazy coincidence, timing.
Giselle: And Marco Antonio Martinez, the director, I met through the film festival, he did one of his videos opening night, Dollar Night. So I called him up, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh! I loved your film! Do you remember meeting me? Please, please, please?”
“What’s your budget?”
“I don’t have a budget.”
“When are we shooting?”
And so I called up Port-o and they’re like, “Sure you can use it.” Cocoa Bakery let us use their location. Everyone had two days’ notice.
Adam: That bar next to your place.
Giselle: Liberty Prime let us use their place.
We have a great community honestly. Everyone comes out of the woodwork and pitches in, it’s insane.
Giselle: And I was worried. We shot the video in Lincoln Park not Liberty State Park and a police officer came. I’m like, “Shit, they’re going to close it down,” and then he’s like, “No, no, no. I just want to watch.” So he just parked his car and watched us for a little bit. And it was just so nice how everyone pitched in, and it’s like boom. Marco, he did everything, like some of it was done on the iPhone. Now we’re doing the EP and “Fever” and I thought it turned out pretty good.
What’s next for you guys?
Adam: We’re starting the EP this weekend; as soon as it’s done we’re putting it out, there’s not wait time for physical copies we’re just going to distribute it online. Keep the promotion going and keep building the fan base and start performing live.
Where can people find it?
Adam: It will be on iTunes.
Anything else you’d like people to know about you or your music?
Giselle: We have an event coming up soon. The event is on September 29th at the Liberty House from 6-9.
I’m just excited to release my new music. It’s back to that new feeling, back to that excited fluttery feeling.
You can see the video for “Fever” here: https://youtu.be/ePyrHYTzLZ0