Taylor Dayne's competitive spirit keeps her on top

November 02, 1990|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

Taylor Dayne knows exactly what she wants from success: She wants more.

Granted, she's already fairly familiar with life at the top of the charts. Her first album, "Tell It To My Heart," was a certified smash, thanks to "I'll Always Love You" and the title tune, while its follow-up, "Can't Fight Fate," remains on the charts a year after it was released, thanks to such singles as "With Every Beat of My Heart" and "Love Will Lead You Back."

Even so, Dayne can't help wondering how to improve on that track record.

It isn't greed that drives her, however. "It's a competitive edge, it's a hunger," she says over the phone from her New York home. "That's what keeps me awake at night. It's not [about] having the billion dollars in the bank or all that. I feel like I have something to say, and I want to be out there, I want to perform.

"I want to be -- I don't know if it's just being recognized. It's obviously more than that. But if it means that I'm at two and somebody's at one, well, I want to be at one. You know what I'm saying? In that spot now!"

Ironically, mass-market success was the last thing she and Ric Wake, her producer and songwriting partner, had in mind when they first hooked up. "We were really trying at the time," she says. "Before that I was doing a lot of rock stuff, was in a lot of rock groups in the [New York] area, and just wasn't cutting it."

So she and Wake tried another approach, putting together their own production company to make dance singles. "We were looking for the right vehicle, and that song was 'Tell It To My Heart,' which we found through a publishing company. I said, 'Look, let's not do it light. Let's go for it. Let's combine the rock with hip-hop.'

"And that's what happened."

Or that's how the single happened. What followed was beyond their wildest dreams. "All I was expecting was to get paid back the $5,000 that we invested in producing it, plus a little on top of that," she says. "And hopefully get signed by a major."

Instead, she wound up with a smash hit, and a deal with Arista records. "We certainly got more than we asked for," she laughs. "It took me six months after that to put an album together, because nobody realized it would break as heavy as it did."

Since then, Dayne has worked hard not only to maintain her success, but to keep it happening on her terms. "What I set out to do between the first album and the second was not make 'Tell It To My Heart II,' " she says.

Instead, she wanted to emphasize her credibility as a singer. "In the end, 15 years from now, that's what's going to save my soul," she explains. "If people understand that I am a voice, and a personality, too. It's not enough to be this dance diva. I never set about to do that. I set about to break different ground, to hold my own."

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