Raw talent arrives late
SHE’S been hailed as a ‘‘southern fireball’’, the next in line for the throne as queen of vintage rock ’n’ roll, but you probably haven’t even heard of her. With her gritty powerhouse vocals and sound that resembles soul sovereigns of yesteryear – Nikki Hill (pictured) has been dealt a sensation card from the music gods. The North Carolinan songstress remains so unsung – for now – because a microphone has only been under her command for two years. The exercise-physiologist-turned-rock’n’roll-goddess brings her retro flavour to Australia for the first time next year as part of the lineup for Byron Bay’s 25th annual Bluesfest blowout. Hill says she was inspired to hang up her white cloak when requests for live shows started flooding in last year. ‘‘I recorded my first EP in summer 2012 and started getting emails and calls about gigs, so I did a west coast tour. It went really well,’’ she says. ‘‘When I was on the road and my manager kept calling every day, it literally hit me the fourth or fifth time he called with a gig. I thought, I don’t think I can go back to work.’’ The vintage female songstress says she made the right decision at the right time. ‘‘I wouldn’t change a thing, everything has happened right on time,’’ Hill says. ‘‘I think if I tried earlier, I wouldn’t have been as prepared. Sometimes it’s such a good thing to let yourself develop slowly instead of throwing yourself out there too quickly.’’ Hill’s band includes her guitarist-husband Matt, with whom she co-owns independent label, Deep Fryed Records. ‘‘Having the best friend by my side (on the road) is a great feeling,’’ she says. ‘‘I don’t even have a goal list – I’m just letting it happen. The way things have taken off, so unexpectedly, I am just along for the ride, waiting to see what happens next.’’ The retro-dressing, tattooed singer released Here’s Nikki Hill earlier this year. Hill says it’s a rock ’n’ roll record. ‘‘There’s nothing like rock ’n’ roll, the energy and the feeling. You are free to let yourself go in it. The attitude and the sound – it’s everything,’’ she says.
– ROSE SADLEIR
Nikki Hill plays three shows at the Byron Bays Bluesfest, at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, from April 17-21.