SALLY SHAPIRO with JOHAN AGEBJORN, WILL MUNRO and WOODHANDS (DJ set) at Wrongbar (1279 Queen West), Tuesday (March 4). $12. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
When buzz started spreading about Sally Shapiro’s icy Swedish take on 80s Italo-disco, part of the myth was that she refused to sing in front of anyone (including her producer, Johan Agebjörn), wouldn’t let anyone take her photo or reveal her real name and didn’t do interviews. Some people even questioned whether she was an actual person.
It appears that Shapiro is starting to let go of that infamous shyness, though, as she and Agebjörn embark on a DJ tour, and the reclusive singer has started giving interviews. Does this mean that she might finally consider live performances in the future?
“Right now it doesn’t feel like that, but maybe I’ll see how it feels after these DJ gigs,” Shapiro explains via Internet chat from her producer’s studio.
Well, we can at least hope she’s becoming a bit more extroverted. You have to wonder how Agebjörn even realized she would be a good fit for his synth-disco experiments, considering her unwillingness to perform onstage.
“We worked at the same office, and at first we didn’t talk music at all. It was in fact after we both quit the job – we had sporadic contact – that we sent each other some mix tapes and recognized that we had the same music taste. We met and sang some Christmas carols together, and Johan said my voice fit the Italo-disco sound.”
So was that the only time he’s heard her sing in person?
“Haha, hmm, yes maybe. We have sung together a few times more, but that’s it. Never when I’m singing solo – he’s banned from the studio then.”
I get the sense that she’s been completely taken by surprise by the project’s success and is still coming to terms with her new status as a pop singer. Preparing for her first tour abroad, she’s unwilling to admit that this might be a career for her.
“My life hasn’t changed so much because of this; it’s still just a hobby. It feels like we have to decide if we want to keep it on that level or if we should put more into it, taking the time and energy from other stuff. I also have an ordinary job and so on. So it will be a question of priorities in the spring.”
It’s bizarre that she’d even consider “ordinary” jobs over this, but then again, few singers are as reluctant to be pop stars as she is.