Recently I discovered Angie Pepper and her beautiful voice when I began blogging with Deniz Tek. Angie and Deniz were married for many years and have two very talented adult/children, Hana and Max. More on Hana (pronun:Hahna) and Max later.....
I emailed Angie in Australia and asked if she would do an interview of 5 questions with which she graciously accepted! I just received her first answer so we'll do segments on AP as the answers come in.
My first question was kind of vague as I didn't really know much about her life and was just learning about her life and music. Here is my first question I sent to Ms Pepper:
RK: I am the mother of an artist daughter Gullacass Gallery (Lesley) and you (Hana) are too. What are your thoughts on raising an artist child that has totally different goals than we had? ( I am not sure where I got that idea but I sent it)
AP: I am very close to both my children, Hana and Max, and they are both very artistic and musically gifted. You’ve asked me specifically about Hana so I’ll focus on her...
Angie and Hana
Hana and I didn’t have completely different goals at all, but in many ways Hana is better equipped than I was to achieve them. Hana is much less susceptible to being disarmed than I was at her age. I was raised with the idea that I could do anything I wanted in life and so was Hana, but I think Hana believes it with more conviction than I did. I hope so, anyway.
I was the youngest of three children in a middle class family, both parents working full time, and in many ways I was left to my own devices. That had its pros and cons. I couldn’t have been more loved by my parents and siblings but I spent a good deal of time on my own.
Hana is my eldest and never lacked attention. I was a full time wife and mom, which became my career. It was instinctive, intuitive, more than a decision. I wouldn’t say my children were spoiled but they had relatively privileged childhoods with lots of opportunity.
I was more vulnerable to having my dreams hijacked, allowing them to be hijacked, or just giving them up for lack of confidence in myself or in the probability of opportunity. I grew up feeling I was destined to do something special but for some reason I always thought that somehow, someway, something would prevent me from achieving it. Perhaps it was a lack of real faith in myself that stood in my way.
Angie on Stage
As a young girl for me it was always art and music. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. From as early as I can remember I was told how artistic I was. I would draw and paint all the time, make stuff, and was praised and rewarded for my ability. My mother taught me to sew and I designed and made a lot of my own clothes.
In my final year of high school for the practical level 1 Art unit I made a coat from raw wool that I dyed, spun, wove, crocheted, sewed…it was a bizarre organic creation with gumnuts, seeds, beads, and all kinds of stuff in it. I thought it would be a catastrophe because I didn’t plan it, I just let it evolve and I ended up winning first place for it. I still have it.
I loved to sing, as I guess most kids do, but I didn’t stop. I remember singing myself to sleep every night, late into the night (I still do sometimes). My parents’ bedroom was adjacent to mine and they’d have to come in several times and “suggest” I stop singing and “try to go to sleep now, honey”. It must have driven them nuts night after night.
My first grade piano teacher was very distressed when I stopped taking lessons. She told my mother it was a crime because I had more musical ability in my little finger that all of her other pupils combined. I liked playing the piano but her house smelled old and musty and was dark and gave me the creeps and I could sing all by myself and anywhere I wanted. I didn’t get praised for much else so it was obvious to me what direction I was to take. Art and music were my natural calling.
I was very shy and didn’t have a lot of friends… nothing like the effervescent outgoing personality that Hana has. Show business was not on my mind at all. I didn’t like being looked at and I always thought of my talents as things for me alone to enjoy, not anything that would be interesting or entertaining to others. That came later.
Hana Tek lacing her skates
Hana and I have lots of seemingly coincidental childhood influences. We both have figure skating in our background. When I was eleven, an ice rink opened a half mile from my school (an unusual occurrence for an Australian coastal town) and I would walk there every afternoon to skate. I loved it. My mom and dad bought me my own skates and I’d started taking lessons.
An ice show was planned and although I wanted to participate so badly, I was scared to death of putting myself out there to be scrutinized. Unfortunately the organizer ran off with the funds and the rink had to close before the show. I got to skate for 6 months. Hana did it for about 10 years, eight of them competitively. Olympic coaches, 4am starts, full on training, totally consuming. She loved the spotlight from birth and she loved performing on ice… and with good reason. She was a natural from her first step on the ice.
Hana and Max
We were at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone Park one winter. There was a frozen pond and rental skates available. Hana really wanted to try it. I was a bit reluctant because she was so little; she was about five years old. Max was a toddler and I had to keep such a tight reign on him in the cold and I feared letting Hana go out on the ice on her own. With my heart in my throat I laced on her skates and off she went.
Mammoth Springs Ice Rink
My fears proved to be unfounded. She took off like she’d been doing it since birth. I was amazed, then I remembered how it felt and I wasn’t. It was all she talked about all the way home. There was an ice rink back home in Billings Montana.
I eventually took her out there and that was the beginning of what could easily be a novel. Hana is a beautiful skater. She had the beauty, talent, skill and style on ice to make anyone else out there invisible. She flowed like water. She was mesmerizing, but couldn’t deal with competition. She’s a natural performer, not a natural competitor. She quit at 15 which was a good thing. She wanted and needed more balance in her life and was wise enough to know it.
I went to Art school after high school and dropped out after a year and a half. I was bored with life in Newcastle and wanted more excitement. One Friday night after classes, I was coaxed into getting up at the local pub to sing with a blues band that had no vocalist that night. It was the first time I’d sung with a full band and I LOVED IT. They offered me a paying gig and I jumped at it. I was broke, $10 was a lot of money to me, and nobody paid me to go to art school. In high school I’d played guitar and sang with a couple of other girls.
We represented the school at various events and competitions so I had some experience with an audience. But this time I had a whole band to back me up and I got to carry the vocals all by myself. What a high! I was hooked. Strangely enough, I’d never felt so uninhibited, self-confident or oblivious to judgement ever before in my whole life. I felt so at home.
This was where I belonged. I sang with them (The Electric Jug Band) for about a year in Newcastle. The highlight was a support to Bo Diddley when he came to town. I was about 17. He was very complimentary, said he loved my voice and suggested I go to the States. My flush of pride dwindled to embarrassment when “thank you Mr Diddley” was met with a belly laugh from him. The girl on stage and the girl off stage are completely different. Jekyll and Hyde. Lion and mouse.
Done with Art school, I headed to Sydney. I knew one day I’d be singing again. The rest is documented history.
In Hana’s last year of high school in Montana she was asked to sing with a high school band, The Shrimpers. They covered some Passengers songs and it was eerie watching and hearing her sing “Girlfriends Boyfriend” and “Only One Way Out”. She looked and sounded so much like me…except her voice is deeper. We don’t actually sound the same and she doesn’t try to sound like me but if you heard her you’d know she was my daughter. Unlike me, her persona on and off stage is more consistent.
After high school, Hana had done an apprenticeship with renowned tattooists Art and Steve Godoy (The Golden Breed, Last of the Badmen). Hana loves tattooing, really wanted to get back to it, was bored with Art school and, being in Sydney, already had too much excitement in her life to make it to classes. Hana dabbled in Sydney’s nightlife and music scene (2003-2004) before becoming a dedicated tattoo artist.
See Hana's Art HERE
Read Hana's Latest News Article HERE
I dabbled in Sydney’s nightlife and music scene (late 70’s… Radio Birdman etc) before joining the Passengers in 1979, which I believed then to be the beginning of a lifelong singing career, unaware of the imminent simple twist of fate that would spin me out in a different direction.
1979 was a huge year for me and one of bizarre twists and turns. I was a single girl, happy, had formed a fantastic band with great friends, having the time of my life and that was all I needed. The Passengers played our first gig on March 17th, Jim Dickson’s birthday, and by October of the same year I was living in the frozen wasteland that was Detroit.
The power of love can move mountains and it certainly moved Angie Pepper way off her anticipated course to one she had never imagined. I guess I’ve always been dominated by my heart and, right or wrong, I ride with it regardless. I never imagined it would be the end of my singing career.
I didn’t realize I couldn’t do it all but once my family with Deniz Tek had been established, that became my passion and my career. Nothing was more important. It was not practical for me to have a career outside of our family.
Deniz effectively had three careers in play at the same time and we decided my value was at home. It was consistent with the role my mother-in-law had, which was a proven valuable one. We moved frequently during our time in the military (Deniz a trained Navy pilot/surgeon).
Geographically, we never had extended family support and in that regard we were isolated. I was a full time wife and mom by necessity and my goal had become to help Deniz, Hana and Max accomplish theirs. Regardless of the consequences of that decision, I’ll never regret it.
We’re all the product of our parents and ancestors and Hana often thinks of herself as a carbon copy of me. I see me in her and a lot more. I’m not a competitive person but I’ve always tried to be the best that I can be at anything I did…the best ME I could be. Hana is the same and we both hate letting ourselves and anyone else down.
Hana is a frontier girl and a family girl. Her great, great grandmother had children then ran off to be a bareback rider in a traveling circus. I can easily see Hana leaving the kids with granny to sporadically run off to do her thing. Hana is well on her way to accomplishing her goals. She has worked hard and achieved something that no one can ever take away from her. She has a good foundation and I doubt she will ever find herself in the position of having to deny or exclude any of her goals or natural callings from her life.
Max Angie and Hana
I know Max will be a full on, hands on, dedicated family man. Nothing will be more important to him. I’m not saying Hana won’t be. Of course she will be. It’s in her genes. She’s just got more bird in her than Max. She needs to spread her wings and glide on the wind. Max is master of the land. He’s more sure footed.
Max has a great voice and possibly the most musical aptitude of all of us. His pitch and timing are perfect and he has very eclectic taste in music. He is definitely his own man and I’m sure that if he didn’t shun the limelight as he does he could be a successful actor. He definitely has that talent. Max reminds me a lot of my dad. My dad died when Max was six years old and Max didn’t get the chance to really know him but they are extremely similar. Just goes to show you we don’t arrive as a blank page and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
For such young people Hana and Max have great wisdom, self assurance, self confidence and insight. They are further along the evolutionary plane than their parents.
Angie has written a beautiful historical view of her life but I really want you readers to hear Angie Pepper sing Miss You Too Much! Blows my mind... This song prompted me to ask for the interview.....
RK Angie Pepper is still singing and you can order her catalog of music at Citadel Records