It all began a few weeks after Christmas, about 15 years ago. My dear dad had politely abandoned the electric guitar he had been bought by Santa/Mum as a “relax and unwind” gift.
I, on the other hand, saw it as my opportunity to swoop in and become the family rock star…well, something like that. At the very least, I figured life looked better and attracted more boys to the yard if I walked around with a black Fender guitar in my arms. So, I quickly embarked on learning all the big hits, Oh Danny Boy and Stairway to Heaven being on high “MUST LEARN!” rotation. My dad’s “How To Play The Guitar” book from the 70’s that I had dug out from the variety of dusty music paraphernalia crammed into the piano chair seat at our family home was what you would call limited in the world of popular music circa 1999.
However, I seemed to make it work. My angst filled teenage diary was now coming alive to the simple G, C & D chords I had now mastered, and my regular bathroom series concerts (audience in attendance maxing out at 2) were in full swing. For me to show any kind of interest in something for longer than at least 6 months had my parents kissing the ground and sky, agreeing that I may truly be invested in music and this might not just be another “phase” I was going through. Putting “Recording Budget” at the top of my Christmas wish list that year, my parents/Santa came through with the goods by way of $150 to spend at the local recording depot to track two of my most current musical creations. I was 15 and the world truly was my oyster.
I had 2 “hits” in my back pocket, the teenage acne was fading fast, my first underage tattoo was ill fittingly inked across my lower back and my local digs of Devonport never looked brighter. And just as life dishes up sweet cake, it humbly throws you a truck of lemons right after. My dad got sick, real sick. He passed away not long after and my world quickly fell down around me. At 16 years old, I never understood the weight of his passing, the hole it would create in my life and the way it would shape the years to come.
It was songwriting and that enchanting attraction of music that would catch my fall that year, and it did, in a big way. I wrote a song called, Hallelujah. A song that pieced together all the sentiments, all the loss, all the sadness in losing a parent. It truly was the only way I could pry open my feelings at the time to relieve the pressure valve on my heart. After a year in Argentina, a failed relationship, and a move to Australia, I was back in the swing of life. Age 21, working 3 waitressing jobs in Sydney and saying yes to every shitty gig I could hustle, I felt like I was on top of the world again.
I later signed to Island Records, ditched 2 of the waitressing jobs and began work on my first E.P. with Tony Buchen. This is when I started really tasting the musician dream. Following the somewhat underground success of Extended Play, I quickly learned that the U.S. was where I needed to be. My A&R at the label agreed and next minute I found myself making my first full length album Holy Smoke at prestigious Capitol Studios with Mike Elizondo at the helm and The Cardinals as my band. It truly was a whirlwind time in my life. I mean, I even had kittens brought to an interview with Rolling Stone one time to just “set the vibe” for the interview. Were Unicorns going to show up for breakfast with me tomorrow?
Quite possibly. For a little gal from New Zealand, this all seemed like some definite pie in the sky shit, but I was blissfully taking it all in my stride at the time. My slight obsession with a band called Shovels & Rope quickly became full blown, and I tracked down anyone associated to help me write and produce the next album. Enter, Butch Walker & Jake Sinclair. These two gents were pivotal in my career, setting the tone of a “fuck you, I got this” attitude and more importantly, a careless abandon when it came to red wine.
We all got on splendidly and spent a glorious summer in Santa Monica writing and recording, Gravel & Wine. That album went on to do some great things. Not only did it swipe a few Tui Awards in NZ (very proud moment indeed!), it helped kick of the sync career I now have. Placements with Heineken, Grey’s Anatomy and Nissan began rolling in and my desire to make the USA home was getting stronger. I was heavily touring at this point, I think a mixture of escapism and a decent excuse for unwashed hair seemed a big draw at the time. In the summer of 2013 I was invited to play The Vans Warped Tour. Without a doubt, I was the most obvious fishy out of water that summer. Entering the stage with my rockabilly/western attired band, amongst a sea of death metal and punk music we were definitely a band for the parents that accompanied their young children that summer.
However, it was there that I almost stumbled into my future by finding my greatest love and now husband Jason Butler. A catalyst in every sense of the word, he was the man that helped pack my bags and make the hop over the pacific to the city of Los Angeles a reality. Ready for album number 3, Blood To Bone consumed 2015 with writing and recording. I felt a larger than usual dose of self-deprecation that year and decided the only way to quell that feeling of inadequacy was to try producing an album. So, I did. A quick surprise marriage to Jason in Hawaii rounded out 2015 and with my tanks full of love I was ready to take a break from music for a while, or at least I thought I was. Like everything in life, well, particularly with music, when I make these bold statements to myself about packing it all in, the music universe always finds an uncanny way to show me the juiciest of carrots to lure me back. I was convinced that 2016 would be a year of honing in on myself as a writer for others, hanging up my boots on being an artist for a minute. Little did I know, the “artist carrot” would be especially juicy that year.
It began with Nashville. A trip down there during a hot summer is like playing out a scene from a classic romance film…think The Notebook. My friend (NOT Ryan Gosling, but wished it was) and I sat on the porch after a day’s writing, Thai food take out and homemade old fashioned in hand, reflecting on the glory of the day as the warm air whipped around us, I kept thinking all these songs we were writing would be better if I tucked them away for one of my albums. After 11 “tuck away tracks” I found myself looking at a very decent body of work. And that will be an album called Ivory, releasing March 2018. So there you have it, a bio of sorts, but rather a peek into the last 15 years of my careers’ twists and turns and how it got me to here.