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Izabelle Gagnon Interview – Against the Gecko Wall

Izabelle Gagnon Interview – Against the Gecko Wall

Izabelle Gagnon Interview – Singing in the Rain?

Canadian singer, dancer and model Izabelle Gagnon is the first to go Against the Gecko Wall and answer a list of questions compiled by Go Udon Thani and Hector the Gecko. The last question is from Hector himself. A question that will push Izabelle firmly back against the gecko wall and make her think real loud.

Izabelle was born in Montreal, Canada, and is the former leader of all-girl pop bands A.K.A and Akasha. A.K.A featured on Ubisoft’s video game, Just Dance 4, with the song Hot For MeJust Dance 4 was released in 2012 and features A.K.A performing a lively dance routine – the Fab Five dressed in American football outfits tread the boards to Hot For Me. Izabelle did not know then that football (soccer) would become a big part of her life.

Izabelle and her all-girl band Akasha performed in many countries across the globe – America, Canada, Mexico, Macau, Malaysia and Thailand among them. In 2013 while performing in Malaysia she met her partner in life Australian footballer Adriano Pellegrino who at the time was playing for top Malaysian club Kedah FA. Their careers both moved on to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and in January 2015 when Adriano signed for Udon Thani FC the couple moved lock, stock and football sock to Udon Thani city.

Go Udon Thani Proudly Presents the Izabelle Q&A Interview

udon thani gecko wall of fame

Love, Life and Thailand

Your partner is Udon Thani football club’s Australian midfielder Adriano Pellegrino. How did you first meet?

I was on a three months tour with my previous band from Canada and we were performing at the Hilton hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Back then, Adriano was playing football in Malaysia for the premier league team of Alor Setar which is a few hours away from KL. He went to the capital for a couple of days and guess where he stayed at? Yes the Hilton. He ended up seeing our show one night and that’s where we got introduced through mutual friends. We kept in touch and couple months later we had our first date and here we are now.

It’s a long way from your home city Montreal to Udon Thani. How do the two compare?

Well, I was born in a small town so there’s a lot of things that are similar in a way. Also, I have been coming to Asia every year for the past 10 years before deciding to be permanently based in Asia two years ago. So I kinda slowly eased to it, it wasn’t a big shock. But I still get surprised, shocked and amazed by new things regularly. The hardest part is the language barrier obviously. I think we are lucky to live in a good city like Udon. People are very nice and welcoming, the city is beautiful and quite modern with a lot to enjoy.

Where do you and Adriano like to spend your free time in Udon Thani?

Well first of, I do have a lot more free time than him due to his busy schedule with the football club. On the every day basis we like to discover new places to eat, go for a drink, dessert, breakfast, coffee… Udon Thani has many nice lil’ places. We have our favorites spots of course but we are always looking to try new ones.

We also like to visit the city’s popular spots like the markets, the parks, the lakes, enjoy the beautiful weather, walking, biking, riding around town. When we get a couple of days off together we like to explore different parts of Thailand.
So far we went together to visit Bangkok, NongKhai, Phi Phi, Khon Kaen and we’re hoping to visit Chiang Mai soon.

Does your family visit you in Udon Thani?

My parents are not really the travelling type unfortunately. They never took the plane and they don’t speak English, although they would love to come visit. The traveling time varies between 25 and 40 hours depending on the airlines so it would be a lil’ bit hard for them to travel this far. My lil’ sister is pretty busy back home with her career but my little 20-year-old brother might come visit next year. I would be so happy to show him this beautiful part of the world!

On the other hand, we had the amazing pleasure to have Adriano’s family with us for two weeks in June. It was such a pleasure to spend together and share a lil’ piece of our life here with them. They even came to one of the UDFC games. They loved their experience and we had a really good time.

What is your favourite childhood memory?

Spending time in my beautiful hometown. I used to hate living in the countryside, I thought it was boring back then but after seeing different parts of the world, every time I go back, I can’t help but realize how lucky I was to grow up in such a peaceful and beautiful environment. Lot of trees, greenery, mountains, fresh air, fields, farms, four seasons… Canada is a truly beautiful place.

izabelle 5Most girls have a cuddly toy collection. Tell us about yours?

Nah not me. Not really my type. I have only one really small stuffed elephant, it’s a lucky charm my sister gave to me when I left to go on tour oversea a few years ago, she said it would protect me. So I bring it with me every time I travel ever since.

Do you scream on roller coasters?

I try not to. Being a singer, I am aware that screaming can damage my voice so I try as hard as I can not to scream, at least not too much. I failed many times. Hehe. I love roller coasters!

Are you a good cook?

I used to be. Well that’s what my friends say. In Canada we cook a lot more than we eat out. I love to invite friends over and cook a nice dinner for them, drink wine, talk and have a good time. But since we moved to Asia it is really hard to cook the food I used to cook. The products are different, there’s less variety, imported goods are expensive and eating out is so cheap. On top of that, since we live in Udon there’s no kitchen in our apartment. Just a fridge and a micro-wave. Cooking has become almost impossible. But the food in Thailand is so delicious, can’t really complain.

Any tattoos?

I have two. One on my finger that says ”Live” with a lil’ star on the side. For me it means to live life to the fullest and it represents the pleasure I have to sing live on stage. It is the best feeling and where I feel alive the most. The second one is a black and white rose on my ankle with a quote on the side of my foot saying  ‘everything happens for a reason’. Which means to me that whatever happens in life there’s always something positive that’s gonna come out of it. Life brings us where we are supposed to be. I got it done the last time I was in Malaysia, when I was about to start my new journey living in Asia and being a solo artist for the first time after 10 years performing with my previous girl band Akasha.

What scares you the most, ghosts, spiders or snakes?

I would say ghosts but since I am in Asia … spiders are getting bigger, more dangerous than back home and they’re 100% real. Hehe so spiders.

What’s best, UD Town or Central Plaza?

Ouf.. tough question. Mmm… I would say UD Town. I like the atmosphere.

Can you speak Thai?

Nit noy … very basic.

If you could implant one Thai characteristic into Canadians, which one would it be?

Street food, good food, fresh food, cheap food, everywhere, simply cooked, sold and bought by anyone. Which brings me to the food sharing – how everybody orders different meals and share it. I really like that whole culture with food in Thailand and how it brings people together it is so refreshing.

Describe Thailand in five words?

Delicious FOOD
Nice WEATHER
BEAUTIFUL SIGHTS
SMILES (nice people)
CULTURE

Quick-fire Questions

izabelle gagnon interviewPizza, pie or papaya pok pok?

What is papaya pok pok? If it’s som tum (papaya salad); I choose this one.
I’m not a big fan of junk food.

(Go Udon Thani) – Papaya pok pok is som tum, though the phrase is more used in Pattaya than Udon Thani. My theory about the name is that ‘pok pok’ derives from the sound made by the mortar and pestle while creating the fireball dish.

Skirt, dress, shorts or jeans?

Dress all the way.

Introvert or extrovert?

Definitely extrovert.

KFC, McDonald’s or Burger King?

I really don’t like junk food. I would say McDonald’s but very occasionally. KFC – not a chance!

Massage, shopping or cinema?

A few years ago I would have said shopping but when you travel a lot, you learn the joy of owning less stuff. I like ’em all equally, once in a while.

Gold, diamonds or money?

Money, you can buy experience, travel with money. I am not a materialist person at all.

Lottery, racetrack or savings account?

Saving. I hate gambling.

Birthday cake, Easter bunny or Santa Claus?

SANTA CLAUS!!!!! I love Christmas soooo much!

Train, plane, boat or car?

All of them, depends where I’m going. Plane is faster so it leaves me more time to enjoy my destination. Boat can be very nice way to enjoy the ride and car and boat gives me great sightseeing but I sleep most of the time in the car, I can’t help it.

Music and Memories

izabelle gagnon interview 04

Do you play any musical instruments?

Very very basic piano and a few percussions (shakers and tambourine). I learned in college when I was studying Jazz Pop vocal. (our equivalent in Canada of the first part of university/after high school we go to college then uni), but I’m better at creating electronic music (with my computer).

Which people have been the greatest influences in your life and career?

Beyoncé (she is my idol, she is so talented, true and versatile.)

My parents, they always supported me and teached me so much. I am truly grateful to have great parents like them.

My ex-manager and all the singers I sang with and coached for the past 10 years in my previous band. I learned so much from working with everyone of them. They became like my second family and I had such a great time on tour, travelling the world, doing what I like the most with them.

It is a true gift that I had the chance to share the stage and my passion with people who strive the same dream. When you put all your energy and talent together on stage, the result and the feeling you get you can never find when you are performing as a solo artist. I’ll never ever forget that. Theses are some the best life memories I have.

I once read you wanted to learn to sing a Thai song. Any progress?

YES! I finally managed to learn ”Kau Jai Tur Lak Bur Toh” by Yinglee. The reaction from the crowd shows me it was really worth the hard work.

You’ve sung in a lot of different countries, does any particular one have the best memories?

I would say Malaysia. We went so many times to perform there, that every year we had more and more followers and we became well-known by the KL community. The public was definitely in our top 3 best public, they really like live music and they are just insane and so supportive. Singing along, jumping, screaming, so receptive. They showed us so much love, I will never forget it.

Chelsy, Emy-Lee, Kate and Alexe are your former Akasha band members. Do you still keep in contact?

Oh yes! They are my best friends. Like I said before they’re like my second family. We speak every week and I miss them like crazy. Every time I go back home we have the best time together.

If you could record a duet with any living or past singer, who and what song would it be?

Beyoncé , Lady Gaga or Shakira.

Have you ever sang in the rain holding an umbrella?

Probably, I sing everywhere all the time.

Where do you see your music career heading?

That’s a very good question. As far as I can I guess. I am currently working on my original music. And try to get my songs on the international market. (radios, clubs etc..) Let’s see where this will bring me. I love singing and performing and as long as I can do it and that there will be people to enjoy and listen to what I do, I will be happy.

Is the song Hot For Me by A.K.A your pension fund?

I wish! Unfortunately we are currently fighting for our rights and royalties in court, along with many other international artists who performed on ”Just Dance” video game as well. The music industry is a tough one and is unfortunately full of fake promises and of people taking advantage of artists. So we’ll see how this will end.

Favourite….

Song: ‘Run the World’ by Beyoncé.
Film: ‘Queen of the Damned’ & Harry Potter.
Food: Salmon sashimi and salmon tartares, Mediterranean food, sea food, Spanish tapas. 
Drink: Wine, gin & tonic, cucumber martini, vodka & soda, Hoegarden white beer. 
Holiday destination: I want to visit Europe so badly, otherwise anywhere where there’s a nice beach and the weather is nice. I loved Phi Phi.
Computer game: Candy Crush Soda (on my phone) it helps me relax.

‘Oh No’ Moment

Tell us about an embarrassing moment in your life?

Slipping on stage and falling on my bum in front of 5000 people. I tried to pretend it was kind of planned and I think it worked. Me and the girls were trying so hard not to laugh. Or when the mic slipped out of my hand and went flying in the crowd…. Thanks to the lady who quickly managed to bring it back to me… Thank God it was still working. In fact I was kinda well known in the band for dropping my mic quite often … hehe

Mensa or Densa?

The correct spelling is misspell, misspel, or mispell?

That’s a tough one…for sure not ”misspel” .. I would say ”misspell”. Well if I get it wrong I have a good excuse : I’m French Canadian and my first language is French. hehe.

(Go Udon Thani) – Correct.

Two From the Funny Farm

Should Thailand’s Lipton Tea workers be allowed to take coffee breaks?

Definitely! Even a Kit Kat break if they like!

Why does Batman wear his underpants on the outside?

Because that’s brilliant!

Save the Best to Last – The Gecko Question

It’s the 2022 World Cup Final between Australia and Canada. The score is 1-1 and Canada are awarded a last minute penalty. Adriano has placed big bucks on the Socceroos winning. Do you want the Australian goalkeeper to save it?

Of course I would want the goalkeeper to save it. I support my man before anything else. But I would definitely make fun of him a lil’ if he doesn’t save it and Canada wins… hehe.

izabelle gagnon interview 02

Izabelle Gagnon is the first name on the Go Udon Thani Gecko Wall of Fame. A big thanks to Izabelle.

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© 2015, Martyn. All rights reserved.

56-year-old wannabe Thailand expat currently living in England. Thus far, my writing career has achieved very little - one published short story in Things Asian Press book, To Thailand With Love by Nabanita Dutt. Life scrolls on but my ink is getting low. Looks like I'm not gonna make it big time.

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