May 21, 2019 Interview – Gioia Bruno of Exposé
During the early part of the 1980s, the charts were dominated by a diverse mix of Pop music – ranging from New Wave and R&B to Hair Metal. Then, toward the latter part of the decade, a new style of music emerged dubbing the name Freestyle. A form of Electronic Dance music that began as early as 1983, it would emerge in a big way a few years later thanks in large part to the trio known as Exposé. Becoming the first group to have four top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from its debut album, Exposé rode a wave to the top that make them debatably one of the most successful female groups of all-time.
Possessing a sound that combined irresistible electronic beats and a magical mix of vocals that few could match, their popularity is sometimes understated. Perhaps overshadowed by the trials and tribulations from the legal battles and rights to their name, the ladies endured it all with great fortitude, thus giving Exposé new life well into the future.
Living to tell the tale, longstanding member Gioia Bruno took the time to chat about the wild ride of Exposé that not only made them stars, but also lifelong friends that continue to perform over three decades later.
Cryptic Rock – Formed over three decades ago, Exposé attained a mass of success during the 1980s with a slew of chart-topping hits. Through the ups and downs, how would you describe the journey of the group?
Gioia Bruno – Wow! There certainly were a lot of ups and downs. At this point, we feel like it’s all moving on up; it just feels better now than it ever did before. I think that is possibly because with age comes wisdom and now we have a lot more control. I hate to use the word control, but we are equal partners; we fought for the right to our name, for the right to go out there and continue what we’ve done and what we love to do. The journey is certainly not over and we’re having a great time. We get to hang out together and go through what happens throughout the week with kids, family, and our lives. It’s like a girls’ weekend just about every weekend, and you can’t beat that!
Cryptic Rock – It is great that through it all Exposé continues on strongly. As stated, there was a lot of things to overcome professionally, as well as personal tribulations. What would you say these experiences have taught you as a person?
Gioia Bruno – I’ve learned we’re not invincible. I didn’t think anything would ever affect me, but then I got hit with quite a few blows. When I was ready to talk about it, I reached out to the girls and they were 100% there for me, in tears even with the shock of some of the personal issues I was going through. Having their support throughout everything has been amazingly helpful. I have really grown: I’ve gone from a kind of crazy, wild nut job to a little bit calmer, wild nut job. (Laughs) I just realize that I’m human: we’re going to screw up, we just have to get back up again continue, and be honest and truthful with the people we work with.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. You are healthy and the group is healthy. Let’s look back a little. The group’s 1987 debut album Exposure was a massive hit and really displayed the group’s diversity to perform great Dance songs such as “Point of No Return” and touching ballads like “Seasons Change.” Looking back over 30 years later, what was it like putting that record together?
Gioia Bruno – It was exciting, but at the same time we didn’t really know what we were in for. We kind of thought it was a passing phase type of thing. I didn’t even know what Dance music was at the time, I was more the R&B singer. Jeanette Jurado knew because she was singing in a group prior. I only found out Exposé was anything when my boyfriend at the time said, “This is the song I’m playing, I have the vinyl for it.” The producer walked into the club and asked me to come in and audition. My boyfriend said, “You should really do it,” but I said, ‘What’s dance music?’
After 30-plus years I get on stage and hear “Point of No Return” and I get so excited! The crowd is really what keeps us going because they get so excited. It’s been a fun ride and a ride we’re not going to be coming off of anytime soon. What I thought would be a couple of years is now 3-plus decades. If it’s working, you stick with it!
Cryptic Rock – It is a great story. The group would go on to release two more studio albums, then go your separate ways around 1996, thus pursuing solo careers. You would work with the band Wet and release music on your own, but eventually Exposé would reform. What led to the group’s reformation?
Gioia Bruno – In between the time we weren’t together there were babies being born, lives being lived, and contracts to be sorted out; it wasn’t just something we could just put back together. Eventually, I think it was after Ann Curless had her last child Emily, the stars aligned and the three of us made that decision to follow through. We decided to make it right, treat it as a business, and to make sure all the i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed.
It took us sometime but we did, and after we got back together, around 2006, we’ve been back out there since. We are really enjoying the time we spend together and getting together with all the other bands that were our rivals at some point when it was about who was going to get to the top of the charts first or who was going to open for who. It’s more of a warm, fuzzy feeling now: everybody’s just happy we are still out there. It’s wonderful working with Lisa and Pretty Poison, Sweet Sensation, Nu Shooz, and all the groups out there. It’s a fun job to have, that’s for sure.
Cryptic Rock – It’s wonderful to see you have been very active touring. As far as new music, the group released a new single back in 2012. That said, has there been discussion of new Exposé music?
Gioia Bruno – I would never say never, but we have to make the time to get together and make it happen – but we also have to have the right song. I don’t think that has come to us just yet. We’re not going to say no to furthering our careers, but it’s our songs and sound that keep us out there. A lot of times people say they want to hear the hits, so it’s a little bit tricky. Plus we have pretty limited time when we are doing a Freestyle jam, which we’ve done quite a bit of. Sometimes we will do a show by ourselves and we can add more to the show, we will make it longer and more complex. Sometimes we only have around 30-minutes to go out there and pump out the ’80s hits. We’ll see! It’s been fun, but maybe sometime over the break next winter we can get together and work on something to share with our audience that old and new will like equally.
Cryptic Rock – That would be exciting to hear. You have done lengthy sets over the years, which are great to see because there is more time to mix in newer songs.
Gioia Bruno – Thank you. There is really a resurgence of ’80s and ’90s music. It’s just not going away for some reason. I suppose we remind them of a certain time of their lives where they can put a song with something that happened. That, to us, is just the best part of this whole thing. It’s a lot of fun! The fact that people are coming out to see us, old and young, is just mind blowing! We love our fans and having all this new social media is really cool too. You get to see people, you get to know them, versus as just getting a fan letter you would get with a stamp in the old days.
Cryptic Rock – It does bring fans closer to the musicians. It is interesting that the sounds of the ’80s are coming back, but they do say everything is cyclical. Have you paid attention to any of the new artists?
Gioia Bruno – I am all about Pop music! I have my playlist going all day long, everyone from Halsey to Ariana Grande to Elle Goulding. I’m loving the chicks coming out now! There is so much great music. I’m rarely listening to the old stuff now. I’m finding myself knowing all these new songs and my friends are like, ‘Who are you, what happened to my ’80s girl?’ (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – There are a lot of really unique, talented female Alternative Pop artists out there now.
Gioia Bruno – There are so many. I can’t believe how much material is out, and it comes out so fast. You will hear someone’s entire album and it’s not just one song after another where they hold on to the next one and release the album later. I’m loving all the duets – I wish we could do something with Khalid or Bruno Mars. Bruno Mars is so funky and kind of has that ’80s vibe going on, and I think it would be a perfect match-up. I haven’t heard this many duets since the ’70s and ’80s. It seems like everyone is getting together and making music. That, to me, is exciting and enlightening, and makes me think maybe there is something that we can do as a duet with someone. I’m putting it out there!
Cryptic Rock – That would be very cool to see happen. Exposé puts on a great energetic live show. After all these years, how would you describe the chemistry you ladies share?
Gioia Bruno – It’s true family. We have each other’s backs, we’re always right there. We’re human: some days we’re not having the best days, or we’re not agreeing on something – we get on stage and it just disappears like magic. Everything is really good and we’re grateful everyday we get on that stage that we have the opportunity to perform for our friends, family, and fans. It’s what really matters to us!
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like a very healthy environment. Last question. Beyond music, Cryptic Rock covers movies, particularly in Horror and Sci-Fi. If you are a fan, do you have any favorites?
Gioia Bruno – I’m one of those people that when I watch a Horror flick, I’m screaming, jumping, and hitting people in the face because it’s so easy to scare me. For that reason I haven’t really watched a whole lot of them. Now that I’m older and wiser, and I know the monster isn’t real, I do enjoy watching a good Horror flick as long as somebody is there. Hey, I’m from Italy, so anything foreign, I’m down with it. I don’t really get much time to watch much television or movies for that matter. I’m just usually playing my Top 20 playlist, singing around the house, and getting ready to go to the next show.