An opera star in true form, Radmily Lolly’s vocals are evocative, so too are her fashion designs. This Russian-born singer and fashion designer live her motto that life is too short to be ordinary.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF – YOUR FORMATIVE YEARS, SCHOOLING, ETC.
Growing up, I took a lot of lessons for many different instruments, but I didn’t actually develop a passion for instruments until very recently, about three years ago. However, my passion for the voice began young with my formal vocal training beginning at the age of 14.

Radmila Lolly, Rhonny Tufino 12

YOU STARTED YOUR FORMAL VOCAL TRAINING AT THE AGE OF 14. WHICH GENRE DID YOU CHOOSE AND WHY?
When I was growing up, I loved the vocals of Céline Dion, Whitney Houston, and Christina Aguilera. When I began singing, I was actually very disappointed, because my voice didn’t lend itself to the same style as theirs. My voice was very big but in a more operatic way.

However, I felt that I couldn’t really express myself through opera; instead of telling my own story, I was showing someone else’s. Also, although my voice was large and powerful, it needed to be reigned in and controlled, like a Siberian tiger (as a teacher told me once).

Thankfully, I had a teacher who encouraged me to find my own type of music to sing; she told me to take what I have and who I am, and that if I develop it that I would find my own musical niche and voice.

Radmila Lolly, Jojo

YOUR FIRST PERFORMANCE IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE WAS AT A PRIVATE RECITAL IN LONDON AT 16 YEARS OLD. THAT MUST HAVE BEEN NERVE-WRACKING. HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO STAY CALM?
To be completely honest, I did not calm myself! I kept repeating to myself over and over the words, I was about to sing; my number one fear was to forget the lyrics.

HAVE YOU EVER SLIPPED AND FALLEN ON YOUR FACE?
Funny enough, my other biggest fear in my first performance was that I was going to trip and fall on my face! Actually, about a year ago I had a pretty good-sized show, and as I was walking across the stage while performing my song Black Widow (Tango), my heel fell into a hole on the stage!

The difference between being 16 in London and being 32 in New York, was that I managed to stay calm, and played it off by performing a tango step called a bolero to unstick my heel from the hole. Nobody even noticed because I maintained my composure and continued performing, but in my head, I was saying all kinds of PG-13 phrases!

Radmila Lolly, Rhonny Tufino

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST MISHAP IN TERMS OF PERFORMING, IF ANY?
At that same show, I was performing with both an electronic track and live musicians as I usually do, and we had a conductor as well. I moved on to the next song on the setlist after the hole in the floor issue, Black Widow (Shamani). As I sang the first two vocal phrases of the song, I realized something wasn’t quite lining up.

At first, I wondered if I had come in wrong but quickly realized that the track and the orchestra were not in the same place in the song, and it was not going to work. I looked at the orchestra, then I looked at the audience, then I swished my dress around, held up my hands and said: “I’m sorry everyone, I can’t do this to you”. As the music faded out, I explained to the audience “we are having a technical problem here, the orchestra and the track are not lining up; let’s try one more time and if it doesn’t work, we will move on”.

We started the piece again, and the same error happened once again so I held up my hands again and just said “NEXT!” The next song on the setlist went perfectly, then I left the stage for my final gown change of the concert. When I returned to the stage, I finished the performance, and had an impromptu moment as a comedienne; I told the audience they would now have to listen to me talk for three more minutes since that song was not performed, and the theater was booked until 10!

Radmila Lolly, Midnight Visuals

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A PERFORMANCE?
I try to drink a lot of extra water three days before, I have quiet evenings leading up to the performance, don’t go out or socialize. I have a throat spray that I use to protect my throat. It can be hard to sleep with the anxiety of a performance, but I do try to sleep a lot a few days before I’m due to perform.

WHAT TECHNIQUES DO YOU USE TO STAY RELAXED BEFORE A PERFORMANCE?
If I need a distraction, I like to watch mid-2000’s chick flick comedies!

YOU ARE ALSO A FASHION DESIGNER AND DESIGN YOUR OWN RANGE UNDER YOUR OWN LABEL RADMILA LOLLY. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
I would create gowns for myself for all my performances. Afterward, people would always come up to me and ask where I got my dress from. At the time, I would usually brush it off by saying that I got it from a small unknown boutique; I felt like I had to choose to be either a singer or a fashion designer, and that if I told people that I designed clothing too they would get confused and try to put me into one box or the other. I’m happy now to be able to be an artist of multiple facets.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ITEM OF CLOTHING TO DESIGN?
A gown that flatters the wearer’s body.

AND FAVORITE COLORS?
Red. I think it represents passion, confidence, and I also think it’s an attractive color.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE WEARING?
A red gown!

I LOVE YOUR MOTTO ‘LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO BE ORDINARY’.
I believe life is too short for a lot of things; I think we should all shine in the most positive way that we can. No matter what you choose to do, it doesn’t mean it has to be ordinary. I think we can all leave a legacy in some way; it doesn’t have to be anything as large as building a skyscraper; it could be something as small as having a positive impact on somebody’s life.

Radmila Lolly, Eugene Manning

I BELIEVE YOUR MUSIC AND FASHION GO HAND IN HAND?
I absolutely believe that. When I compose music, I envision in my head the gowns or other creations that will go together with it.

WHERE IS HOME?
At the moment, it is Miami and Los Angeles; previously it was New York. New York will always have a special place in my heart because that is where I developed into the person I am today.

Radmila Lolly

WHAT CREATURE COMFORTS CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?
For me to be comfortable, I really need to have a clean and tidy home. I’m not saying I am always perfectly neat, but if I do things like make my bed in the morning, it puts me in a good frame of mind for the rest of the day.

I ASSUME YOU TRAVEL FOR YOUR WORK AND HOPEFULLY FOR PLEASURE TOO. WHICH PLACES HAVE LEFT A LASTING IMPRESSION AND WHY?
To me, work is my pleasure, so usually, I travel only between the places where I have work. Specifically, I spend most of my travel time in Los Angeles, where all my music production and recording takes place. I happen to have a lot of friends there, so the best reward after a busy day of work is to go out with my girls and have silly chats. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

YOU ARE IN ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT SHAPE. WHAT IS YOUR FITNESS ROUTINE?
I like to vary my workouts for both my body and my mind. My personal trainer is a professional boxer, so we do everything from weights and resistance training to tennis, basketball, and swimming. I have recently started incorporating dance into my routine; I have been working with a choreographer to develop dances for my performances.

ANY PARTING THOUGHTS?
Start living right now, not tomorrow!

About The Author

Helene Ramackers

Heléne Ramackers is a freelance journalist who enjoys interviewing local and international celebrities but thinks she has found her calling amongst the travel writing fraternity. A creature comfort girl at heart, she loves all things opulent. Her first taste of the bushveld was all it took to get bitten by the ‘bush-bug’, an absolute life-altering experience. She now longs for the expanse of wide open spaces, a pollution-free sky and the roar of a lion lulling her to sleep. When she’s not fantasizing about her next leopard sighting, she thrives on taking photographs of her family and loves capturing the beauty of sunrises, sunsets, rainbows and the magnificence of the full moon. Born and bred in Cape Town, this wife and doting mother love visiting the beauty that is right on her doorstep – the splendor of Table Mountain, the crashing waves at Bloubergstrand and the alluring scenery of the Winelands. To add Upscale Living to her portfolio is a dream come true!

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