Rob Fusari proves that it's never too late to make a change in your life. Even though he produced hits for Destiny's child, Will Smith and Whitney Houston and took an unknown singer named Stefani Germanotta and helped transform her into Lady Gaga, he felt empty and playing a role he believed didn't fit.
"Being trapped inside my body as someone else was a torture of sorts," Fusari once said. "I was trying to be what I thought I needed to be in order to achieve a certain standard in life."
Preferring to go by the name 8bit, he's now the front man for the electro-dance group Cary Nokey. With their music, Fusari finally feels free be his true self. It's futuristic and takes elements of the '80s with artists like the Pet Shop Boys and David Bowie and brings them in today's world. Their new single is called "American Dream," and it expresses how Fusari views his life.
"It's almost like me writing in a diary about this person as a child and young adult who wanted all these things that I thought would bring the American Dream," he said. "Looking back, it's the exact opposite. The song is a self-realization of, 'Damn, I was wrong.'"
I spoke with Fusari, who answered the phone as Rob and not 8bit. He was candid about his expressive style, sexuality, his relationship with Lady Gaga today, and the multi-million dollar lawsuit a talent scout recently won against him.
They thought I was crazy. I understand why it would be hard for someone to understand. The reason is because there is more to this story. There is another chapter that I needed to live. Whether it's crazy or makes sense from a business perspective, I'm an artist. I don't care about running a business. I care about me. I care about what's in me. I think we all have something else in us. At times I think I'm the puppet, and I just have to go along with it.
You've said there was an unhappiness in you. Where did that come from?
From the outside no one knows the fight and the turmoil that this type of life can bring. Everything from income to success you have to think of as a scale. The universe has to bring the exact opposite of all those things simultaneously. When it brings one thing, it has to bring the exact opposite. The thing that I always longed for was just peace of mind. Don't get it twisted -- I'm not ungrateful. I'm thankful for everything that has come my way.
Would you say this is the happiest you've been in your life?
No, I wouldn't say that. I'm a very simple person. I was certainly happy when things were very simple. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, things are not simple. There are layers, and it's a constant fight. Biggie said it best: "Mo money, mo problems."
Which brings me to Lady Gaga. You were once musical partners and even dated. Then you filed a $30.5 million lawsuit, claiming to have been denied owed money from her earnings. (The suit was dropped in 2010) What is your relationship like with her today?
Do you wish her the best?
Absolutely. I have no negative thoughts or words against her. As I say to everybody, that was a chapter in my life -- one chapter. There were other chapters and there will be more chapters. I understand why people want to talk about that chapter. I'm proud of it. It's some of my best work. "Brown Eyes" is one of my favorite songs I've ever written. I can't run from my work.
I want to talk about Wendy Starland. She recently won a $7.3 million lawsuit against you for bringing Lady Gaga to your attention and the payment she claimed you once promised her. Would you care to say anything about that?
I want to say this. If I start going back in my life and thinking about all of the people I've introduced to each other, oh boy. I would never do that. It's not in my heart. I would never think about going back and saying, "Excuse me, remember me?" If someone comes to me and says, "I'm out of work and I could use a job," and I call up a buddy at a record label and recommend him and he gets the job, I can't go to that person and say I need 50 percent of everything you make now.
You have an interesting sense of style. You wear clothing that can be described as feminine. How do you describe your look?
The style is me finally being able to be comfortable in my own skin. I'm okay with my feminine side. I'm not trying to be Mr. Macho. It's me finally coming to terms with me being raised by a mother who always wanted a daughter, and I was her daughter. I'm not embarrassed by that anymore. I tried to hide that because I wasn't comfortable with it for years, but I'm not afraid of it anymore. I don't love men's clothes. I don't like the designs or the cuts. I'm not knocking it, but for me I love women's designs. I love the way the garments are cut. I love the fabric and the different patterns. It just feels more right.
Is this an expression of your sexuality or is it strictly about fashion?
It's all a gray area. It all bleeds into each other. I guess you could say that, and I'm okay with that, too. It's not something to hide. It is what it is.
I'm not looking to put any label on you, but are you making a statement about being bisexual?
I think it's all of it to be honest with you. Let's just leave it that if it is a bisexual thing, so be it. If it is a style thing, so be it. More than any of that, it's really just a comfort thing and being able to wake up in the morning and being able to say, "I'm comfortable being who I am." I don't need to put on a certain front or be a person that people expect me to be.
Tell me about your alter-ego, 8 Bit. I know you have asked your family to call you 8. How extreme do you actually get about your name?
It's funny how a name plays such a large part in our lives. When we're on the road doing shows, they don't call me 8bit. They call me Cary. At first I was wondering how we were going to deal with it, but now it's like that's what it is. At times it's Cary. At times it's 8. At times it's Rob Fursari. I answer to them all because they're all different sides of me.
After everything you've done, what are you the most proud of?
I don't think it would relate to music or artistry. It's simple things like helping somebody out on the street. Just loving people and wanting to share.
To learn more about Cary Nokey, visit www.carynokey.com