In one of my earlier blogs, I talked about how I met my dear friend and photographer, Robin Craig in NYC where she lives most of the year (click HERE for that story).
Robin also spends a few months each year back in Arizona, so when it came time for me to get my photos done for the release of Feel So Pretty, I headed out to Arizona for a week long photo shoot. What a luxury to have so much time with a good friend to capture something special for an album cover.
In fact, it was on the last day of the shoot that we actually got the magic shots. Don't get me wrong, Robin has a way of capturing the most beautiful images no matter the circumstances, but with a title like Feel So Pretty, I was very particular that the shot needed to convey the right message ie. come on ladies, let's embrace our natural beauty. It can take a lot of women a very long time to feel comfortable in their skin (I was one of them) and it's such a relief to get to a point in life where you can honestly look in the mirror and click the "like" button.
Anyhow, this week, I just wanted to give you a little fun peak behind the scenes of that photo shoot, so please enjoy the video below which also features other members of my "photographic team" Robert Craig and Virginia Kirnberger.
Thank you for joining me again this week. Please leave a comment, and if you haven't already, join the mailing list for a free download of my Chasing Cars cover.
Last week I told the story about turning down an opportunity to work with an iconic Australian rock band, and I promised that this week I'd let you know where I ended up when I got in my car and drove north from Sydney with no real goal in mind.
I was a very restless girl in my twenties. Growing up I was kind of like a second mum to my younger siblings (there were five younger than me), and so my focus as a teenager was on their well being rather than my own dreams and aspirations. When I left school, I had no idea what I wanted to do, I simply had the travel bug. The world called me and I followed, blindly, without fear or hesitation. I still do, but I have a whole lot more purpose in my wanderings these days.
So I travelled north from Sydney in my car, visited my parents and sat for a little while to contemplate my immediate future. I asked myself constantly, what do I want to do? What would be a really fun job for me to do? Clearly, I was still not ready to go out and play music.
Very soon an idea came to me. I remembered from working in the travel agency, that I'd at some point thought it would be fun to work on those camping tours as a guide/hostess. I looked them up in the phone book and rang a couple of companies. The first one I called was at the very top of Australia, Cape York Peninsula, operating out of Cairns. They actually told me that they'd just hired someone but if I wanted to take the three day drive up there, I'd be sure to pick up a job before long.
I loved the sound of Cape York, but wasn't sure if I wanted to risk going all that way and being stuck without a job. I tried a company closer to home which ran tours up and down the East Coast between Sydney and Cairns. They asked me to come into the office, which I did, and immediately they offered me a job. Goodness, this was easier than I thought.
Once again however, I was being called in a different direction. I couldn't get Cape York out of my head. I imagined sleeping under the stars in a swag every night due to the remoteness of the area. This appealed to me more than tourist parks on the coast. So you know what I did right? I told the East Coast company that I was going to Cairns to try my luck up there and off I went.
I checked into a hostel in Cairns when I arrived, and I phoned the lady that I'd spoken to on the phone previously. She said to come to the office and introduce myself which I did.
She didn't have a job for me, but a man named John Hardaker walked in at that moment. He owned a tour company called New Look Adventures, and when the woman asked if he needed a hostess, he said yes! We're going out tomorrow. Can you start tomorrow? I was beside myself with excitement. How could this be happening!
For the next two years (in the dry season), I worked on those safaris, sleeping under the stars in a swag, cooking for up to 24 people, swimming in remote rivers (the ones without the crocodiles... I think hehe) and snorkelling on the Barrier Reef with the guests. Don't get me wrong, it was 16 days each trip of dusty, corrugated roads. It was hot and we'd drive all day just to get to the next watering hole where we'd camp for the night, but It was the most amazing experience for me and just what I needed at the time to work out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.
The lifestyle was so raw and wild, I even got kissed by a wild horse one night as I lay sleeping in my swag. We were camped on a remote airstrip (airstrip in Cape York means a flat stretch of grass where the mail plane can land). I was just dozing off to sleep when I felt whiskers on my face and some very large lips on MY lips. I'm not kidding. As I woke to find a wild horse checking me out, I was surprised at how calm I was. He got more of a fright than I did I think, and he took off running.
It was after these two years that I enrolled in university (at age 28). I was ready now to begin my inevitable journey in the music industry.
I hope you've enjoyed my story this week and please leave a comment below the photos that I've posted.
You can also join the mailing list by downloading my cover of Chasing Cars.
Until next time.
Top left: Crazy fun jumping into a waterhole.Top right. Traversing a flooded river. Middle right. Cooking pancakes on the sandy river bank where we were camped. All the cooking was done this way. Bottom right: Swag. Bottom left: Map of Cape York Peninsula - referred to as Australia's last frontier.
You would think, knowing me now, I would have jumped at ANY opportunity along my path to position myself closer to those in the music industry that I respect and admire. That's the smart thing to do right, if you're an aspiring artist wanting to "make it" in your chosen field.
Of course. So why would I turn down an opportunity to work with one of Australia's most influential and iconic bands of the 20th century? I'm almost embarrassed to tell you this story, because my actions surprised even me, but looking back, I can only explain it as perhaps the right opportunity at the wrong time. You know, like when you meet someone you're really into but the timing is all wrong? Who hasn't had that happen.
So here's what went down.
I was 20, fresh from the country and now living in a beautiful beach suburb of Sydney. I was looking for work and had an unconfirmed offer to work at a travel agency in the city, which I would have liked. At that age, all I wanted to do was travel. In my Geography classes at school, I used to stare out the window and dream about seeing the world. I just couldn't wait to leave school and get on a plane or a bus or a train or whatever as long as I was going somewhere.
I went down to the job centre one day and noticed a card saying something about a position vacant in the Entertainment Industry. Of course I inquired about it, since music was definitely a part of me even if I wasn't in a hurry to follow that path.
The guy in the job centre told me that he was about to call me regarding this position as he thought it would suit me down to the ground with my musical bent and all. He explained, "just quietly", that Midnight Oil were looking for a personal assistant, and they lived in MY street! "Holy Cow", was pretty much all I could say hehe. Not really, I'm sure I was very composed and behaved in a professional manner at all times. :)
So off I went for my interview with the Oil's manager Gary Morris, and yes, I did meet the very awe inspiring Peter Garrett with his piercing blue eyes and very bald head which he had to lower to get through the doorway that wasn't quite tall enough for him. Gary offered me the job at the end of our chat and what did I do? I said I'd have to get back to him!!! Oh dear. I can hear your gasps of horror!
My issue was, and believe me, I understood the enormity of the offer, but in my heart I wanted to travel. I remember Gary saying in the interview, and I'm sure this was the defining moment for me, "we need someone who can handle the incoming media calls with discretion while we're travelling around the world". But hang on I thought, I want to go with you!
I could have done that job and I would have done it well, but I didn't want to be left behind.
Anyhow, before giving Gary my answer, I rang the boss of the travel agency just to check if his offer was going to come to fruition, and he said "yes, can you start Monday?" Aaaaaargh. I was happy and disappointed at the same time. It would have been easier if he'd said no, and then I would have gladly taken the Midnight Oil job, even without the travel. Clearly, for reasons I still, to this day, have not been able to fathom, that was not my destiny.
A year later, I rang Gary to inquire about something for someone, and he asked me how my job was going. I said "oh I love it". He said "well, the girl we hired has just left so the job is yours if you want it". I couldn't believe it. He was torturing me, and he was serious. I had to turn him down! AGAIN! And it was just as difficult as the year before. What the hell?
I did mention that I'd love to see their show though, and what a guy! He said "come to the office and pick up a couple of passes" So I did! I LOVE him! And what a rocking show!
I worked in travel for a few years and enjoyed quite a lot of travel opportunities. In the end, I became restless and realized that working in an office was not for me. I packed up my stuff, got in my car and drove north. I had no idea where I was going, I just needed to get on the road and go somewhere.
Next week I'll tell you where I ended up.
I hope you've enjoyed my story this week and as always, I love to hear your thoughts if you'd care to leave a comment, and be sure to join the mailing list for a free download of my Chasing Cars recording.
Below is a video of one of my favourite Midnight Oil songs.
I was always that artist that ardently refused to be a covers singer. I would perform MY songs or nothing. This may sound conceited to some, but I felt that it was important to choose a career path and follow it without compromise in order to be true to myself. It would be somewhat easier to make a living singing covers as opposed to originals, and tempting at times to go down that path, but it was never fulfilling for me. I chose to do other jobs to make my bread and butter whilst continuing to write, record and play the obligatory door deal shows that were just about the only option for indie artists trying to get established. These days house concerts are a great option.
Only now, after five albums of original material, and having been talked into recording a cover on my latest album Feel So Pretty, am I feeling joyful about the idea of recording songs other than my own. I explained in an earlier post how I came to record that cover and why. (Read about that HERE).
I never really understood in the past why anyone would want to hear ME do a version of a really great song when it's been done by a million other artists. I just didn't feel that I would have anything new to add I guess.
Well, evidently I was wrong. The feedback from my fans for my first cover recording has surprised me and warmed my heart, so much so that I've discovered a whole new avenue for delivering joy through music that I wasn't prepared to venture into in the past.
This fresh new feeling inspired me to make a plan for 2016, which would involve recording one cover song every month, and get people involved in the whole process. I launched a crowdfund campaign via Patreon and once again, the response has been surprising and thrilling. So it turns out, the girl who wouldn't sing covers, is now ALL ABOUT the covers in 2016! So shoot me.... hehe!
I'm also learning more and more about the magic of sharing. It was initially a daunting prospect for me to "dare to ask" people to contribute to something that I enjoy doing. I had to push through some pretty deep fears to allow myself to do that, but having "dared" to go there, the rewards are immense, and I'm not talking about money.
I'm talking about the bonds that are being formed between myself and those who love what I do. I'm talking about personal connections and interactions with pretty much perfect strangers who are quickly becoming treasured friends. I love the way social media and internet platforms like google hangouts have changed the way artists can now interact with their fans.
Through my new recording project, I'm able to involve people in every step of the process from choosing the songs that I record and discussing production ideas, to helping find studios and being present via live webcast, at the studio, and on the recording day. This is extremely exciting and fun for me and for everyone involved. What great times we live in.
Below is a Behind The Scenes look at the recording of Fix You by Coldplay.
Enjoy, and thank you for reading my blog today.
p.s. if you'd like to learn more about the project, click HERE. You'll receive a copy of each new track and more when you sign up to become a patron.
When I was in my early twenties and living in the U.K. for the first time, my sister came to join me for six months and we planned a trip to Greece.
We had friends living in London (I'll call them Tim and Sarah), who we would stay with the night before our flight. Conveniently, we were also able to leave our car parked outside their home until we got back.
I'd been working as a nanny and saving up all my money for this holiday. I had exactly 400 pounds for spending which was just enough.
So we arrived in London on Sunday night ready for our flight the next morning. After dinner, Tim asked me if I had any money to which I replied, "just what I'm taking to Greece with me". Sarah looked uncomfortable and avoided eye contact with me, while Tim pressed on with another question.
How much do you have? When I responded with 400 pounds, Tim asked if he could borrow it to pay a bill that needed to be taken care of today, and we'd drive by the bank in the morning (Monday) so he could withdraw it from his account to give back to me. There was no internet banking back then.
I didn't want to lend it to him, but I felt bad if I didn't since we were staying in his home, so I agreed. When I told my sister, rightly so, she hit the roof but it was too late. I'd committed and I was nervous but tried to convince myself that Tim would do the right thing.
Of course we drove by the bank first thing in the morning and guess what! It was a public holiday and the banks were closed. I felt sick. We were on our way to the airport and I had ZERO cash to take with me for my holiday. I'd been fleeced!
Tim put on a great show and exclaimed that it would all work out. I was to call his office from Greece, and he would wire the money to the post office wherever I was. But here was his big mistake. He told me "do not speak to my secretary about this". Aaaaaah! Really..... I thought to myself. Now I had a weapon.
Cool comfort though when deep down you know you're not going to get your money back and you're wondering how you're going to have a holiday without CASH! No credit card then either.
My poor sister. She was younger than me but there was no way she would have given him HER cash! Smart girl. I was so naive.
So we split her money and cut down our expenses and we actually DID phone Tim's office a couple of times. Phoning anywhere from Greece at that time meant standing in a queue at the telecommunications office (if you can call it that) for hours and then struggling to actually connect when it came your turn to use a phone.
OF COURSE Tim was unavailable both times, so I pulled out my weapon and used it! I told his secretary in no uncertain terms, to tell Tim that "I want my MONEY, and I want it NOW"! She spluttered and coughed and sheepishly replied that she'd pass on the message. I said thank you and hung up and decided that I'd send Tim a friendly postcard.
On it I wrote (for the world to see - gotta love postcards), "You have ruined our holiday. We will return on such and such a date at such and such a time to pick up the car, and you will have my money waiting for me".
Do you think I expected him to obey? I don't think so, but it felt good to say it and send it.
We actually had quite a fun holiday to be honest. My sister's funds got us through, but it was very stressful and also distressing feeling like I'd been robbed by a "friend".
Anyhow, we arrived back in London, started the car first to make sure we had a quick getaway if necessary, and with our hearts in our mouths, we knocked on the front door.
To my surprise, Sarah came to the door, eyes to the ground and grunted something that indicated for us to come in. We followed her upstairs where a very angry and red-faced Tim was waiting with a cheque. "I told you NOT to speak to my secretary about this" he shouted.
OMG!! I got him! I was so proud of myself. Clearly Tim owed other people money as well and I'm guessing his secretary was one of them.
I took the cheque, grabbed my sister by the arm, and got out of there as fast as possible. Driving away from the house, we could hardly believe what had just happened. We were both shaking but laughing and feeling ecstatic!
Moral to the story: If you're going to try to fleece someone, cover your tracks ;)
I hope you've enjoyed my story this week. I'll leave you with this video by Robert Palmer - Looking For Clues. (giggles) Enjoy!
p.s. please leave a comment and sign up for my newsletter in the download box to the right. You'll receive a free copy of my Chasing Cars cover.