Please tell us your story! How did you get to where you are today?
I am a singer, producer, keys player, poet and sometimes DJ. I got to where I am now just by following what I felt I was called to do and create. I grew up singing in church with my family and it wasn’t until I found 30/70 that I really knew that it was possible to make a career out of music, especially the kind of underground, jazz-soul inspired original music we were diving into. I’ve really carved my own way through, learning as I go and teaching myself everything, I’m blessed to be surrounded by some incredible artists that have taught me along the way. They have inspired and helped me get to a point where I’ve released a LOT of music; both with my own solo project, 30/70 and a lot of collaborations with artists all over the world.
Tell us about your role with …… what does your day-to-day entail?
No two days are ever the same really, I’m often travelling and playing shows or I’m in the studio working on music. The rest of the time is dealing with all the admin of being a musician, all the logistics, scheming, dreaming and a lot of spread sheets or coordinating people. To be honest we do a lot of waiting as musicians and we’re really good at waiting. I am a singer, poet and also a keys player so I try to squeeze in as much time as I can to practice the craft, as well as enjoying where ever I am in the world.
What issues/potential issues do you think the current Australian music industry faces? Specifically in your realm of work.
There are a lot of things, but I would love to see the government assist with greater funding for the music industry. I would just love to work in a field that is accessible to more people. An industry that is physically, financially and mentally sustainable; that is reaching broader listeners, communities so that people may access the joy of music and so that the industry can sustain itself in a health way. I think greater funding to a wide pool of promoters, venue owners, festival organisers and industry would make a huge difference.
If you could change one thing in the music industry right now, what would it be?
Again I would say funding. So many issues can be solved with greater government support and correct funding. To be more specific, I think just making the industry safer and more sustainable for people, greater access, greater diversity and greater support.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I joined 30/70 in 2014 and I just started creating, learning and dreaming it up with this beautiful band. They really took me under their wing and taught me so much about production, creativity and the way we moved in such a DIY, family style that I feel so so grateful. Particularly, for those first few years of learning from one another.
Any advice for people wanting to work in your field?
Advice particularly for women and non binary folk would be to just take care of yourself. Do whatever it is that you need to do for you to feel safe and sustained in your career. It has taken me ages to learn that my needs are different than my mostly male counterparts and that is fine. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to speak up if something feels not right and to just find the people that support your vision, your ethos and your way.
Do you feel that higher education is a necessary step to enter the music industry?
No, I am self taught.
Have you had to overcome any challenges or adversity in your career, and if so, how did you approach them?
Of course. I mean as an artist you’re literally fighting an uphill battle against capitalism everyday. It is so physically, financially, emotionally and relationally hard! The industry feels like the Wild Wild West, with no infrastructure of support. There’s no HR, there’s no minimum wage, there’s no health and safety requirements really, there’s no superannuation and there’s no sick pay. It’s just everyone for themself and that is crazy hard!
I think the most challenging moments of my career so far have just been relationship struggles. When the pressure gets too much, or communication has failed, or there’s some kind of rift that is hard to manage within the pressure of the music. Due to our work lives, friendships, our financial security and emotional expression it is all entangled and that is hard.
Let’s talk about the highs vs the lows of your career. What is your greatest achievement? And are there any moments you would like to share that you learnt greatly from?
Well, I just finished my first ever USA tour this year and that was a huge undertaking and achievement for me. I feel very very grateful to have been able to pull it off. The biggest lesson in this tour is to just pour love, gratitude and compassion into every moment.
Who has been your biggest champion in your career?
Probably Chris Gill . Just consistently supporting so many of us in the “Australian,” music scene for a LONG time, in both an emotional and practical sense. He’s a legend!
What would you tell your younger self if you could tell them anything?
Don’t wait and don’t think too much, just play. Just be active in whatever is calling you and go find the people that are doing that same thing. Surround yourself with people that share this musical joy.
What is your big picture career goal?
For a long time my goal has just to be sustainable in the music industry, financially, emotionally and physically. To be able to focus solely on music, creativity and to create authentically something that may create joyous, peaceful change for myself or just one other person. I want to do all of that to the best of my ability, with a team that I support and supports me.
What has been your proudest achievement so far?
Last year I released my sophomore record Torn : Tonic, which I produced myself, featuring a lineup of predominantly woman and non binary people speaking on spiritual, environmental, political, mental growth/change. I poured a lot of heart and soul, time and intention into this record. I’m incredibly proud of it.
Who are your role models in the industry be they local or international?
What advice can you give to artists who aren’t fans of social media? How can they learn to embrace it?
They don’t have to embrace it, absolutely not. Just do what feels right to you. There are so many ways to exist in the world, to be creative, share your music, message and that is not tied to social media. I mean that’s why I love touring cause you get to have real connections to people around the world and build community in that way.
You live in… what is the current musical landscape like there?
I live in London most of the time now and the music scene is amazing for jazz, soul, all kinds of alternative music which is amazing to be a part of. I love that in Narrm there is this tight knit connection between folks. This is the beauty of having a smaller pool and population, there’s really deep connection and that is something special that’s harder to find in other places around the world.
If you could work alongside an Australian artist that you have yet to work with, which artist would that be?
I would love to make some music with Silent Jay, Dancing Water, Teskey Brothers, Hannah McKitrick, Acid Slop
Where do you go to see shows and who are some local artists you’d recommend we keep an eye on?
Back home, I love going to the Night Cat and Her music room. I’m sure you all know about Ella Thompson already but her new record is amazing. Also, Tiana Khasi always.
If you could collaborate with any artist from any time, who would it be and why?
This is too hard a question, so I’m just going to say that at the moment it’s Aja Monet, that’s who is calling me and inspiring me the most.
What has been the best gig that you’ve ever seen?
Oh damn, that is also too hard. But I recently went to see Kirk Franklin and the Clark Sisters in Los Angeles and that was amazing! The whole audience sung along and the vibe was huge!
How do you unwind when you’re stressed?
I love taking a hot shower or bath, going for a walk, dancing, reading, stretching and deep breathing. I am constantly doing these things to keep a calm mind and fluid body and I try not to get too activated you know.
Do you have any non-negotiable self care activities?
Yes! I meditate and stretch every morning. I always carry a book with me and I have to have a really hot late night shower after performing. I’ve built up a lot of non negotiables recently with touring as it allows me to feel some kind of consistency, stability, spaciousness and regularity in the chaos of moving around all the time.
Do you think the Australian Music Industry is where it needs to be in regards to diversity? If yes or no, what would you like to see?
No. I mean I think every industry can do better. Like the accessibility is pretty poor at most venues, there are still very few women and non binary people working as musicians or behind the scenes. Especially on the road I find there is this very evident ageism in “Australia,” that I don’t witness as much in other territories. So yeah there’s a LOT still to work on in my opinion, including just understanding that everyone has different needs, capacities and processes to best serve their mental well-being and creativity.
Music & activism have always gone hand in hand, when together it is powerful & influential? Why do you think that is so?
I think about this a lot! It’s a privilege and a responsibility to hold a microphone in front of anyone, so I think artists need to really connect with that and consider how they are going to use their platform and potential. I think continuing to learn and listen to people around them, to try and find your own voice within the message and to be brave.
As an artist to see at your shows when it comes to audience engagement, what message would you love for them to take away?
At the moment, I am thinking that I just want the audience to walk away feeling refilled, to walk away feeling moved, inspired, hopeful, joyous, loved. Any of these things would make me happy.
What advice do you have for artist who are coming up in the industry, particularly in your line of work?
Just go deep on what it is that you do.
What was it like growing up & experiencing the industry outside looking in? Now that you’re in it, what has your experience been like?
Oh I had no access or view point of the industry until I was head first in it, which in retrospect was amazing because it meant that I just put the music first. Of course I also wanted / needed to pay my rent but I didn’t care or even know about labels, publishing, contracts, etc. etc. A lot of that just came to me while I was busy having fun and doing my thing. There’s no right or wrong way and I think some people do well having a plan from the beginning, but that was definitely not me.
Most people don’t see the mountain of work that goes into your art till you’re towards the peak, what was the hardest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as an artist?
Oh it’s a constant up and down battle but I think the lowest lows are often after a big high, because nothing in the industry is for certain. I remember returning from an amazing tour with 30/70 in Europe and I was absolutely exhausted, burnt out and overwhelmed with what would happen next. I felt almost like I had reached all my goals to just be touring and playing with my friends all over the world. Sometimes the come down right after a big success is really hard. But oh there’s been so many ups and downs, it is like riding a constant wave being an artist in a society that doesn’t care at all about art and you kind of just get used to it.
Self identity & imposter syndrome are issues women in the industry struggle with. Have you faced this issue? If so/not, what tips can you give to encourage others to stand in their truth?
Of course, especially as a self taught musician. I still get it now and sometimes my ways of coping with that are not the greatest. But it’s a constant learning, re-evaluating and understanding your worth as a musician. I think I’ve somehow managed by focusing on the process, by focusing on my values, the team I surround myself with and the message. Then it’s not even about me, it’s about something bigger than me.
As an artist, is there a message you would like to give to others in the industry that don’t work in your line of work? Eg. Bookers, label, leaders, producers etc.
Yeah. For all the industry people I would love for there to be a greater understanding that so many artists are deeply enmeshed with their art, their band, their artistry, their career and the emotional weight of that can be seriously heavy. We become our craft and career as much as we try and separate it all. In addition to the physical and mental strain of touring I think it is just so important for industry folk to understand that artists are emotionally wading through a lot more than what might meet the eye.
What was your highlight of 2023? 2024 New Year & new resolutions?
Highlight of 2023 would be closing the Saturday night with 30/70 at We Out Here in the UK. And also going to play in Japan for the first time. Resolution might be to just practice more. Practice singing, playing and poetry.
What does the rest of the year hold for you? Anything exciting you can tell us about?
I am just on my way home after 7 months on the road, so I am ready to relax before it all kicks into gear again in January!!! There’s two really exciting shows coming up in so called “Australia,”but unfortunately I can’t share it just yet. But keep an eye on 30/70 to stay up to date.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in 2024?
I have another solo album coming out in 2024 that I am really excited about and a new album with 30/70 too.
When I grow up I want to be or I want to see?
I just wanna keep creating. Keep learning and collaborating and continue to share that with the world and hope that it makes a difference to someone’s heart in some way.
What is your go-to Karaoke song
You known i’ve actually never done karaoke …