Years ago I was watching Robin Williams in ‘Dead Poets Society’ on video, squirming inside as they talked about ‘Carpe Diem’ or ‘Seize the Day’, the main theme of the movie. At the time, I was working in PR for a huge multinational corporation (OK, it was Microsoft) and it was quite prestigious and well paid, especially considering I was almost straight out of uni. On the side, I was performing in an amateur musical production of ‘West Side Story’ (pre-Hollywood Hugh Jackman was also in it and this is a photo of us backstage. Promise me you forgive my I-thought-I-was-fashionable-at-the-time styling).
I got more and more uncomfortable on my little couch in Sydney, Australia as Robin Williams’ character in the film inspired his students with one important message: make your life extraordinary and live it on your own terms. The movie was forcing me to ask myself if I was doing that. Because I had a job that made my parents proud and impressed strangers at parties, did that mean I loved the direction in which my life was heading?
The fulfilment of working in the corporate world where I spent the majority of my waking hours was not a speck on the heart-lifting joy and satisfaction I felt on weeknights and weekends when I was rehearsing and performing in this little show in the suburbs. Why couldn’t that be my full time life? It might sound a bit naff that a Hollywood movie changed my life but it was really just the straw that broke the back – a back that carried the weight of my increasing regrets and unfulfillment.
After a lot of soul searching and intense planning of a more practical kind, I left the world of big business with its good dosh and stability, to try to work in music full time. Was I even good enough? Was I crazy? Almost everyone around me thought I was out of my mind.
Fast forward through years which amazingly include international tours, independent charting singles, sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House and a lot more. I can say that I have never ever regretted my decision and that making and performing music still gives me incredible gratification.
People often say I’m ‘lucky’ to have a job I love. Of course everyone has different talents but I worked (and continue to work) pretty damn hard to achieve a full-time career in music. In the end I truly believe that the passion I have for the creativity far outweighs any in-born talent or luck I may have had.
I gotta admit that in the early days I wanted to be a Pop Star. I wanted to live the life of a celebrity and show all the naysayers that I did ‘make it’ away from the well-trodden path I was expected to take. I soon realised those things didn’t matter in the least. Now it’s the creativity that turns me on! I’m not suggesting at all that it’s been a smooth road. There have been times when I’ve craved an easier and ‘more normal’ life and just wanted to stay in bed and hide from the sometimes ruthless world of music. But I also think that the best things in life don’t come without some struggle.
I love getting up in the morning with butterflies in my tummy, thinking about a big show ahead. I love arriving backstage – even when it’s the size of a broom cupboard and hasn’t been cleaned in months – and setting out my costumes and makeup, doing my vocal warm-ups and double checking my lyrics. I love walking out onto the stage feeling the comaraderie with my bandmates, even just for the sound check. I love the metallic smell of the microphone in front of my face as I stand in a circle of light in the silence before a song starts, with all those expectant faces looking my way. I love, after hours and often days or weeks of torment and frustration, the exhilaration of finishing a song – writing something that reflects moments and emotions in time. And the thought that these songs might even one day become part of the soundtrack of people’s adventures or the salve to their heartaches. Just like Madonna and David Bowie songs were for me growing up. And that’s where you come in, because there wouldn’t be much point if people like you didn’t listen.
I look forward to a lot more exciting experiences in music – some of them will no doubt be heartbreaking or bank-breaking but they will also absolutely be worthwhile. I’d love it if you wanted to be part of these exploits.
If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone on this crazy road, click here to listen to my most recent release, ‘Polaroids & Postcards’.
Thank you for being a listener and helping make it all matter,