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:: Spotlight :: Interview with Gabriella Cilmi

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

There had been an amazing reaction to her appearance on “Later With Jools Holland” television show. It was my first look at 16-years-old Melbourne singer Gabriella Cilmi. I was told about this performance (the first by an unreleased artist on the show) by a friend in London and was startled by the maturity and vocal prowess of this young singer. Since that time, we have followed Gabriella's moves as she officially released the catchy single “Sweet About Me”, and now her first album release. She comes from a big extended family and circle of friends. In her hectic media schedule, we managed to get some time with Gabriella to discuss this fantastic start to her career.

Noting that you commenced performing at age 12, did you come from a musical family?

It wasn't a musical background. Dad had a piano in the house. He and Mum liked music from the 1970s like Sweet, T-Rex, Suzi Quatro and Janis Joplin.

You've spent a good deal of time in the UK. Tell us about performing there?

The first tour I did was with Nouvelle Vague, a really cool new wave, bossa nova style French group. We did shows in Manchester, Glasgow & Aberdeen. Their audience are real music lovers so I was well appreciated as a support act. Then I did some shows with The Sugababes, just before returning to Australia. They play in good sized stadiums so it was a good experience for me.

Tell us about the recording process for the album?

I started recording the album about three years ago. I worked with a production team Xenomania. Just before starting to write the album I went to Los Angeles, New York & London and did acoustic gigs. I then met up with Brian Higgins. He helped me find my own voice. I do the lyrics and melodies and we worked on the fine tuning together.

I believe that you grew up playing old rock songs, and which influenced you greatly…

I used to play with the band in a garage - doing Jet covers. I also love Led Zeppelin and do their songs too.

I understand that you met Ronnie Wood when you performed on Jools Holland's show…

Yes, he was really funny. He came up to everyone and kissed them on the cheek. I started screaming and acting crazily. I didn't realise he was there.

What influences your songwriting?

Friends. I tend to write about observations. Songs like “Einstein”, where I felt a bit blank, but then somebody mentioned that I was always asking why did this happen, or how did this happen. I put that in my lyrics. I was reading a pyjama catalogue when I wrote “I Don't Want To Go To Bed”.

What have you learned from your experiences so far?

I have learned that you have to stand up for yourself and show how you feel. If I didn't, songs like “Sweet About Me” would not have come along.

Have you thought far ahead on what you wish to achieve?

I would really like to play at Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. I've still got lots of different things to explore first. I'm not sure what kind of musical direction I'll take next. I'll try new things.

You have your website set up for readers in England, Australia and Italy…

I think I'll plan to promote the Italian side of it through fashion weeks there. Dolce & Gabbana have been dressing me. We're going to tie in the musical releases around that. It's an agreement at this stage.

Any word from Australian designers?

I've had brief talks with Australian designers and I have a friend who makes really good jewellery too, so there might be some possibilities in the future.

Will you continue your schooling?

I do school by correspondence - emailing my work to the teachers. I have two more years to go.

You have even done a version of the Martha & the Muffins song “Echo Beach”…

Yes, “Echo Beach” is a TV soap, rather like “Home And Away”. Jason Donovan stars in the show. My version of the song has been used as the show's theme music.

The album “Lessons To Be Learned” is out now through Warner Music.

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