Q&A Ricki-lee Coulter: “I’ve had to start over again.”
What’s it like being an artist in a time when you don’t necessarily need talent to be famous? A lot of artists, especially young artists, seem to want to get into music for the fame and the glitz and they want to be rich and fly first class to New York. It’s so superficial; it’s not reality. You’ve got to work your arse off. You get beaten down constantly by critics and fans and get judged and criticised. You have to be resilient and tenacious and ambitious and driven – and not be afraid of failing. You’ve been away for three years working on new music. Is that a risk in the short-attention-span world of modern pop? Totally. But I’ve always been someone to put everything on the line. The plan was to just write great songs and forget the bells and whistles. In pop music, marketing, videos, images and styling can take over. I wanted to strip all that back, [for] it to be all about the songs. So many people are focused on chasing a trend or the sound on radio at the moment. That was everything I didn’t want to do. I was inspired by people like Sam Smith, Adele and Sia who make classic songs that are going to be around forever – the same way you listen to Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Michael Jackson. Their songs survived trends because they’re just great songs. The raw, soulful feel of your new single ‘Not Too Late’ probably wasn’t what many people were expecting from you. This song has got a special reaction from every person who’s heard it and that reaction is the reason I do what I do. The reason I wanted to make music from when I was seven, watching Michael Jackson on TV, was it made people feel something. Whether people like me or they don’t, I can’t imagine people hearing this song and
not feeling something. You’re now 31 and there’s a theme of loss and redemption in the song’s lyrics. I’m sure there are people who think I don’t understand what pain or struggle is. They see where I’m at in my life now and can’t imagine I’ve been to hell and back, as well. We all get dealt sh*tty cards in life. This song is really about saying sometimes we lose our way but it’s never too late to turn it around. I’ve had to start over again so many times in my life I’ve lost count. You’re married to your manager [Rich Harrison]. In the history of show business that either goes really well or really badly. He’s an amazing support. He’s pushed me further than I thought I could go creatively. We moved to LA indefinitely so I could write with people for this album. We put our stuff in storage. We were living in West Hollywood where we knew nobody. I’d come home from the studio every day and for a long time he’d hear these
“A lot of young artists want to get into music for the fame and the glitz… but you have to be resilient and not afraid to fail”
songs I was doing and he’d say, “This is just so empty, it’s soulless – I don’t hear you in any of this.” It’s so important to have somebody who is honest with you. What’s it like going to LA and arriving as somebody who is starting over? It’s tough! Nobody cares about you or what you’ve done. The writers want to get their songs on the next Justin Bieber or Beyoncé record. I was torn for so long, trying to please everyone – between my fans that love dance/club pop, and making songs that were more story-based and less about shaking your arse. Sometimes the ugly truth is the most powerful thing. That’s what we got on this. Your Instagram posts always seem to generate clickbait stories. Why is that? I don’t really care about people being rude about me on my social media. I don’t allow those people to ruin one second of my day. It can be frustrating when you read media stories that are so untrue, attaching your name for clickbait. That pisses me off. I worked really hard to get to the position I’m in. I focus on the good things in my life, not how many likes a photo gets or how many followers I have. I care about what kind of person I am, what kind of a friend I am or what kind of wife or sister or aunty I am. But people are still obsessed by what you eat and weigh… Like I care what they think about what I eat! I fall for it, too – I click on things going, “OMG, she did not!” Websites or magazines will find a fat photo of me and say, “Oh, she’s off the rails.” I get it. I know the game. I understand where it all comes from. If I post about eating an amazing burger, the next meal I might be eating celery. It’s about balance. Do you say no to a lot of things? Every day, whether it’s people wanting to pay you to post things on Instagram or endorsement deals. I’d only promote something I actually use. I never make any decisions based on money. If you’re doing that you’re never going to make the right decisions. ‘Not Too Late’ is out now.
“I’ve had to start over again in life so many times I’ve lost count”