According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, kismet is “…a hypothetical force that determines the course of future events: fate, destiny.” It’s also the name of the Belinda Carlisle’s new five-song EP, her first new English language studio recording since 1996’s A Woman and A Man. What makes the name of Carlisle’s latest project so appropriate is the way it came about in reuniting her with songwriter Dianne Warren who penned the hits “I Get Weak” and “World Without You” when she first worked with the California native on her 1987 sophomore bow Heaven on Earth.
“I wasn’t planning to do anymore English-speaking pop songs in the same vein as Kismet,” Carlisle explained. “My son [Duke] ran into Diane at a coffee shop in L.A. and he introduced himself. She said, ‘Oh my God, what is your mom doing? Get her on the phone.’ So they called me and it was out of leftfield. My head was spinning. She told me to get to the studio because she had hits for me. I didn’t say it out loud but I was thinking I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that because it’s a big commitment and I was in the head space of slowing down like I said. But you don’t say no to Diane Warren, so I went to the studio. And she played me ‘Big Big Love,’ which I immediately fell in love with and I said, ‘Okay, let’s go.’ So that’s how it happened. It was all kind of a whirlwind making it and having it out. But if you had told me two years ago that I’d be doing press for new material, I would have said you were nuts.”
While Carlisle is best known for fronting The Go-Go’s, her solo career has taken quite a winding stylistic path. The sexuagenarian vocalist’s solo career started out after the band broke up in 1985 and the following year released her solo debut Belinda, which yielded the Top 5 hit “”Mad About You.” That same year, Carlisle wed political operative/film producer Morgan Mason (son of actor James). And while the singer’s musical journey continued down a conventional pop path, a travel bug that led to Carlisle and Mason living in myriad countries including India, France, Morocco, Austria and now Mexico washed over into the singer’s creative choices. Her most recent recorded forays include 2007’s Voila, a mix of French-sung pop tunes and chanson standards and 2017’s Wilder Shores, a selection of Sikh chants. So it’s no surprise the couple’s desire to slow things down having made Mexico City their latest (and ideally) final home.
“We’re ex-pats through and through,” Carlisle said. “We left in ’94 and tried coming back and going home. We thought it was time to go home so we went home about 10 years ago and that didn’t work. We knew Mexico was always going to be in the cards because it’s close to family and friends. We just didn’t know it was going to happen so suddenly like it did during the pandemic. I don’t want to move again. I love it here. We’re gypsies who have lived in eight different countries. We love learning about different cultures and languages. We’re not escaping anything or looking for anything—we just love the adventure. Now what we’ve been doing it for a while, I think we’ve found our place and we love it.”
With this unexpected pivot back to traditional pop, Carisle is happy to indulge fans with a mix of solo and Go-Go standards along with her newer material.
“Folks coming out to see me live can expect material from most of my solo albums and my hits of course,” she said.” There will be a few Go-Go’s songs and I’m going to be doing a couple of the tracks off the new EP. I did this tour—it was a little run last fall in the States. I did a month in the UK in January and February and the response has been good. People are craving this kind of uplifting pop music. Everybody has been really happy it seems.”
And while The Go-Go’s late career renaissance has included a Broadway musical based on the group’s songs (2018’s Head Over Heels), a documentary (2020’s The Go-Go’s) and a postponed reunion tour capped off by the group’s 2021 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Carlisle admits that chapter of her life has concluded.
“I think it’s finished,” she said. “Everybody has their own lives. It had to stop at some point. I think for some of us, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was a great way to cement the legacy of the band. Then I got on the phone with Pat Smear—we were in our first band together—The Germs. And we thought it was funny to go from The Germs to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—who would have guessed? It was probably one of the best evenings of my life. It was exciting. To feel that wave of love from the audience that night was pretty amazing. And then of course Drew [Barrymore]’s induction speech was incredible. Where do you go from there? It wasn’t like everybody was on the same page, but most of us were and we decided to call it a day.”
For now, touring and the completion of a before times recording tentatively dubbed Once Upon a Time in California are in the cards for Carlisle.
“That’s the project I was working on before the pandemic that I need to finish up,” she explained. “I’ll probably finish it up at some point next year. I’m sure it will be out the end of next year or the year after. There’s no hurry.”
Belinda Carlisle will be appearing on July 17 Sony Hall, 235 W. 46th St., NYC. Visit www.sonyhall.com or call 212-997-5123 for more information. She will also be appearing on July 18 at NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd.. For more information, visit www.livenation.com or call 877-598-8497.