Interview by Kara Zosha // Photography by everylastsecond
That would’ve been Head To Toe! That was the start of this new era, it was my first single after two years so a lot has happened since then. It’s been amazing and I’m about to head on tour with Kiana Ledé next week, so I’m keen to be playing shows again.
Has anything changed since we last spoke that solidified your creative process and made you feel more secure in the artist you are now?
I think Head To Toe was a big step in the whole process for me in terms of being open about my bisexuality. That was the first record that I did that on and by the end of the EP having Year 3000 which is a queer anthem – there’s nothing else to it, that’s what it is. I definitely found confidence in embracing those things that were insecurities at the time and embodying them. I think that’s what’s changed in my creative process because before I was creating with my guard up a lot more and with the EP I got to dive in with Hugh – who is the executive producer on that project. That was the first relationship with a producer where I felt that openness, without him being a part of that process I wouldn’t be writing the way I ended up writing, so I do owe a lot to him. Whereas before I was doing sessions that were more sporadic with different creatives on different songs where I didn’t have the time to go deeper or feel safe to go deeper. That’s what changed now; I get to go into the studio with these boys and they know my whole life, there’s no guard I need to have up anymore.
How do you navigate and find a safe space within the music industry as a queer woman?
A big thing this year for me is I did Troye Sivan’s Pride song hubs in February. I think for everyone in that whole week that was the first time it was all just queer creatives in one studio together. I never did a songwriting camp like it before and Troye was so amazing. That was a big change for me doing those sessions and hearing everyone’s perspectives on where they were at in their journey, and what it was like coming up and creating. That was a life-changing experience to be completely honest and that gave me the confidence to create from the place I am now.
How did OBSESSED come to fruition?
I was in the USA and I had been connected with Ebenezer, who ended up co-writing and was the producer on the track. We had connected in lockdown, but he was in London at the time. We always wanted to work together and we ended up being in LA at the same time, so we got together in my last few days. The day I was leaving I went over to his first thing in the morning and he was already starting up the ideas. As I walked in, he already had the main loop that goes throughout it and I was like “This is fire” and I ended up freestyling melodies over it. That’s usually how I write, I just go straight onto the microphone and this one took shape quite easily. We both knew we had something fun with this one.
In the song you name-drop Casamigos, is that an actual tequila you enjoy?
I’m definitely a tequila girl. Initially, Eb mentioned a different type of alcohol and I was like “naw that wouldn’t be something I have .. it has to be Casamigos.” Especially because I was in America for a while and tequila is the main thing out there.
For me, I’m so influenced by the R&B scene over there (USA), and growing up we didn’t really have one here. Because I’m such a performer I’m so inspired by artists over there like Tinashe, Victoria Monét, and Kehlani and how they are as performers. I think myself and the other girls coming up now are creating this foundation of an R&B scene in Australia, but five years ago when I was coming up there weren’t many R&B artists.
I think the difference between Australia and the USA in terms of the actual scene is that industry-wise Australia is like five years behind, but I know our stars are bringing this new wave up. All of our artists have very different stories to tell and that is going to be a game-changing thing in the years to come.
How are you feeling about playing Souled Out Fest in March 2024 with heavy hitters like Summer Walker, Bryson Tiller, Partynextdoor, and Tinashe?
You know what’s crazy, if you go into our DMS (with Tinashe) one of the last messages I sent was to congratulate her on her recent release and I said “When you come to Australia, I’m going to be your support, see you next year.” It’s actually crazy to even see my name along that lineup. It’s a dream come true and to be the only Australian female artist on the lineup means a lot to me. I’m so excited to carry that flag and represent Australian R&B. I’m keen to do this tour with them, see them perform, and build those relationships. It’s my first festival as well, so it’s a crazy lineup to be on!
How do you manage imposter syndrome as an artist?
I used to deal with it a lot when I was younger, especially coming from my dance background and moving into music. Music always came very naturally to me, but I didn’t focus on it like I did dance. I had that imposter syndrome of not spending as much time on my craft in music, so I was like “Do I even deserve to do well in music when I spent so much of my life training in dancing?” Now after five or six years into the game, I’ve gotten to this place of calm confidence where I know the work I put in and I feel confident in my output and who I am. I don’t deal with imposter syndrome too much now, I’m just excited for the opportunities and to connect with people. I have anxiety about things, but at the end of the day I know this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life and everything feels like it’s meant to be.
Can you talk about different collaborations that we might be seeing in the future?
With the writing camp, Troye obviously curated that and I loved every song I did at that camp. I think the queer factor had a big part in it because everyone was so open. I did an amazing session with Troye, Leland, and a Swedish producer named Mona. I was not expecting it because it was only the second day of the camp and it was also the week of my EP release. Troye has been such a supportive figure since then, even after the workshop he wanted to work on songs he wasn’t even a part of and to have his support is amazing. I was in the studio with Blxst over in the US as well, so hopefully we see some of that next year.
We saw you did some dancing while in the USA, what else did you get up to while you were in LA?
That choreographer is named Ayhollywood, he’s done music videos for Tinashe, Niki Minaj, Beyonce, you name it … he saw a seven-second TikTok that I posted and messaged me that he wanted to work together. I could instantly tell he thought I was from America, so I told him I’d be in LA soon and when I got over there he sorted everything else out. He was like “Pull up to the studio I’ve got 30 dancers who have learned the piece,” which is so crazy because all of that came from a seven-second TikTok, not even a video of me dancing, and he was like “We need to work together.”
Does the injury that pushed you from dancing to music still affect you to this day?
It’s funny you bring this up because yesterday one of my dancers asked the same thing. I still definitely struggle with it because for example when I have a tour I make sure I go to my physio a month or two in advance so that I’m preparing my ankles for the workload. It’s not completely healed, I still feel the pain, but it was mainly when I was training as a full-time dancer – doing things like point or dancing in heels that was really aggravating. Whereas now I do mainly hip-hop or things where I don’t need to be on my full extension, so I can manage it. I’m grateful that I can still do what I am able to do as an artist.