Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Horsham, Victoria. Now I’m living in Melbourne where I study.
When did you first start playing music?
I watched my older sister begin to get piano lessons and I simply had to as well! So I think I nagged my mum and probably started playing piano at 5. Singing has always gone hand in hand with piano playing. I actually really hate singing when I’m not behind a piano, I get far too nervous and uncomfortable!
Tell us a little about your process of writing music and what inspires you.
My lyrics process and music process are really separate. I have loads of lyrics that are written more as short stories or poems, I’m not very good at “verse, chorus, verse etc”. Then sometimes I’ll be messing around on the piano and find a tune that reminds me of the words – I become obsessed and I can’t move from the piano until it’s done! As far as inspiration goes I definitely draw a lot from the past. My family, ancestors and events. I have a pretty big fascination with nostalgia and the way it can make you feel.
How has story telling had an impact on your life and music?
Hugely! I gain my Aboriginal background from my late father who passed away before I was born, so honouring my heritage is also my way of honouring him. My knowledge of my Wergaia background is based almost solely on story telling. I am constantly learning about my heritage from my family and people around me. I really cherish those pieces of information and it definitely serves as inspiration for writing. For example – my song “You are the Mountains” uses preserved phrases of the Wergaian language. Small snippets which I found really beautiful and resonant.
What’s the first song you remember hearing?
I have no idea to be honest. My childhood was essentially a blur of Spice Girls, all things Disney and The Sound of Music – in no way complaining about that.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Right now I’m going through a bit of a 90s phase - No Doubt, The Breeders, Garbage etc. Also returning to an old favourite Jens Lekman, a Swedish singer who I really admire lyrically. He’s a great storyteller.
Where can we see you perform?
Right now I’m not so sure. I really am excited to get out there more and have only just played my first “big Melbourne gig” in Collingwood with two super talented guys I grew up with in our band called, Cherrypool.
What has been the highlight of your musical career so far?
It sounds so crazy to me referring to it as a “career”! The morning I checked my emails and was told I was playing on Triple J unearthed radio was very surreal. Once it registered in my mind it was an exciting, unexpected and happy moment for me. However, in all honesty, being asked to be apart of this project makes me feel very honoured. Connecting with and celebrating my Aboriginal heritage is something I hold very close to me.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m hoping to be accepted into CAAMA’s female, Aboriginal songwriting competition. The chance to fly to Alice Springs and be given invaluable lessons and experience. I feel as though I’m at this stage in my life where I have so much to learn and areas to grow in and if I’m given the chance to explore that, I’d be extremely lucky! I have my fingers crossed.
Most valuable piece of advice you've been given.
There are a lot of people I look up to around me and I really had to wrack my brain for this one. It made me think about my grade 4 teacher, who I absolutely loved. Creative writing was my favourite and I have this weirdly clear memory of her telling me something along the lines of “never stop thinking about things, asking about things or writing them all down”. Sounds movie-like and made up but I guess it was really valuable to me if I still remember it!
5 things you can’t live without.
1. My pets back home (3 gorgeous cats and 2 adorable dogs)
2. My family and friends
3. My bestfriend (who is practically my sister)
4. A piano of some sort nearby
5. Food – not even in the obvious way but just because I genuinely love to eat
If you could have a coffee with anyone in the world, who would that be?
That’s a tough one. I really grew up idolising Missy Higgins. I either wanted to be her or singing with her. To me she’s the ultimate success story; she’s done incredibly well to stay out of the limelight whilst remaining relevant. For that reason along with her beautiful, honest Australian voice and songwriting, I really respect her.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Wow, I don’t feel qualified enough to give advice like that. Confidence can be my weak point, so my “advice” would be to just really know what you stand for and sometimes throwing yourself in the deep end can be okay and exciting.
© Alice Skye