MUNICH, NOV. 16 -- The man who made Milli Vanilli what it wasn't is not remotely apologetic about fooling the public into thinking the band was real. In fact, he describes the music as an "art form."
German producer Frank Farian says he cannot understand the flap over revelations that the Milli Vanilli duo of Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan never sang a lick of their songs. "It was fantastic new music, people were happy, so what's the problem?" he asked by phone from his studio in Frankfurt.
Why was the public deceived into thinking that the Grammy-winning, long-braided duo were actually musicians? "That was a question of economics," said Farian.
Pilatus and Morvan were fired by Farian this week after they demanded that they be allowed to sing on their next album. "They sing like many others," said Farian. "They don't have enough tone and quality in their voices, so my answer was no."
Farian, 49, a longtime veteran of the European pop scene, is refusing for the moment to reveal who actually sang the songs. Instead, he is orchestrating a press conference next week where the secret, along with the actual singers, will be unveiled. "Next week we'll let it be known," said Farian. "There's too much uproar now over the whole thing."
The new, or rather old, singers will be forming a new band, whose name is also a secret. It will be "a real good soul band," said Farian.
The band will perform a concert in January in New York City at "a really big venue," as yet undetermined, according to Farian. And the group's first album -- what would have been the now-defunct Milli Vanilli's second -- is having the finishing touches applied.
"All my heart's blood is set on this new album," Farian said.
In no way has this been orchestrated as a publicity stunt to breathe life back into the group, Farian said. "I see no necessity for that."
Milli Vanilli, explained Farian was "a project. It was two people in the studio, and two people onstage. One part was visual, one part recorded. Such projects are an art form in themselves, and the fans were happy with the music."
Critics who argue that such projects debase music need to get with the program, Farian said. "The fans and the music industry have to get used to this kind of project," he said.
But this in no way should be seen as proof that marketing beats talent in today's music scene. "No, of course not," he said. "It's about creativity."
Farian flatly rejected suggestions that the group should be stripped of its Grammy, awarded in January for best new act of 1989. "We have earned the Grammy," he said. But if the Grammy is taken away, he said, it should then be given to the mystery singers.
Farian launched his career in the pop industry as the singer in his own group, "Frankie Farian and the Shadows," releasing covers of black artists such as the Drifters and Otis Redding.
"I wasn't a Beatles fan," he said.
By 1971 he had begun working as a producer, eventually hitting it big with the group Boney M, which had a string of hits between 1976 and 1985 in England, France and West Germany with songs such as "Brown Girl in the Ring."
Other claims to fame Farian cites include recording Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You" at his studio in 1984, and work with Meat Loaf and the group Toto.
Then, in 1988, came Milli Vanilli, in bits and pieces. First came Pilatus and Morvan.
"These two guys came into the studio, they recorded, but they didn't have enough quality," Farian said.
No matter; opportunity soon appeared in the form of a song called "Girl You Know It's True," performed by one of the mystery singers.
Farian matched the song with the theatrics of Pilatus and Morvan, and soon Milli Vanilli became a pop legend.
Farian acknowledges that many doubted Milli Vanilli's authenticity even from the beginning. "It was an open secret," he said. "I didn't even tell my own son, but rumors spread."
The botched lip-sync performances and bizarre behavior during interviews over the past year were enough to account for that.
Still, everything was going swimmingly with Milli Vanilli until Pilatus and Morvan "got the idea that they wanted to sing," said Farian. "They wanted to sing on the second album, or they weren't going to be on it."
Farian said the two members passed on their demand to him through their lawyer. "I'm very disappointed with them," he said.
He said he is unsure why the two suddenly decided they actually could sing. "I suppose that for two years they've been listening to the same voices, and they decided they could do it too," said Farian.