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:: Spotlight :: Ricki-Lee speaks about her debut album

By: Louise Preece

Ricki-Lee Coulter is one of the few Australian Idol cast-offs that have managed to break through ruthless public opinion and follow her own road. The Ricki-Lee highway is one that has trailed hot on the steps of Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll and Anthony Callea. She is one of the few females to create success on her own after the show, with her first single ‘Hell No’ spending three weeks in the Top 10 and her role in the Channel Ten hit show Celebrity Circus giving her television status.

On the eve of the release of her first and self-titled album, the vibrant and talented 19-year-old talks to Louise Preece about the challenges she faced producing her debut album and the expectations of success that go almost hand-in-hand with Idol. Ricki-Lee aims high and, with her pop, R&B, and hip hop sound, she is well on the way to making a name for herself.

What feedback have you received so far about your new single “Sunshine”?

I haven’t had anyone say that they don’t like it. Everyone loves it and seems to do the same little dance when they hear it. And the video clip was so much fun to make. They take so long to make, but I can just be an idiot and be silly.

What sort of input did you have on your new album?

I had lots of input actually. I spent four months sticking it out with the producers as well as recording it. It only took half a day to record each song but the whole process took four months. I really had my hand in the production side of things as well. I was editing and going through exactly what I wanted on the album. It’s really been a sound that I’ve been a part of and I’m happy with that. When you win Idol you are expected to record a whole album in six days and that’s just ridiculous. I couldn’t do it. After now spending the time that I have every day, perfecting the sound, listening to everything, I don’t think I could go back and do that. But well done to those who have done it.

Quite a few of the songs were written or co-written by people who have worked with big names such as Delta Goodrem, Kylie Minogue, and Kelly Clarkson. How does this make you feel?

It’s awesome to know that we have got people on board who have had a hand in people that have been such a big success. I really look up to Delta Goodrem. I think she’s amazing, and Kylie Minogue’s huge. A couple of the other writers are from the States and have worked with Kelly Clarkson and Gwen Stefani and that’s why their albums have been a success. I’ve also learnt a lot from them as well. I haven’t done much writing before, so sitting down with these producers has been a huge bonus. Now I have half the album which I have co-written because I was so comfortable with them and they let me run loose and do my own thing.

What was the most challenging aspect of making this album?

Definitely it was the recording. I am so used to jumping up on stage and singing a song once through and having an audience to react. I’ve never recorded before and in the studio you go through a song over and over again and do things line by line. And you can hear everything. It is a dead quiet room and that was hard in the beginning because sometimes I sounded like crap. And sometimes I just had to stop because I just couldn’t stand the sound of my voice anymore. It was hard. You just have to make your own atmosphere and put yourself in a place where you want to be. Being away from home was hard too.

What is your favourite song on the album, and why?

It depends on what mood I’m in. ‘Turn It Up is one I love and it’s really fun to perform. I helped write it too. I really like 'Done With It’, which is one of only two ballads on the album. That was a song I wrote with Audius, about being away from home. Sometimes my boyfriend just doesn’t understand exactly what I’m doing and I get frustrated. I might be sitting around in a hotel room trying to ring him and he might be working and I get lonely. The song is about saying “all the smiles, the crowds, the laughs, the fame, the lights and the photographs, it doesn’t mean anything if I can’t share it with you.” It’s a full-on song, but its one of my favourites on the album because it’s so personal.

Your debut album is categorised mostly as R&B/pop. Are there any other music styles you would like to pursue?

There is rock on the album as well and there is R&B and hip hop and funkier sorts of stuff. I love all different sorts of music and all types of music, so that’s why I wanted to put all of that on my album. Sometimes you just want to get up on stage and rock out and other times you just want to stand still and sing a ballad. I like to mix it up. I would love to re-do or cover an old school rock and roll or Motown song. That is my favourite type of music.

In your school years you played various lead roles in musicals. What was the worst or funniest role you have played?

My most embarrassing was playing the lead role in this 1920’s musical called ‘The Boyfriend’. It was set in the sort of courtier finishing school era and I had to pash this dude. I wanted to just peck him but the director wanted full-on pash action. But the thing was I was actually in love with this guy and I thought he was really hot. And it was so bad and embarrassing. Plus my parents were sitting in the front row watching.

Is acting something you would like to pursue?

No. But I got awards for roles in high school. If I had to do TV, I would like to do some presenting, especially in kids television or music. I did some work on Nickelodeon and I didn’t want to leave because I was having so much fun.

Coming from Australian Idol, do you feel there is a lot of pressure placed on you to succeed?

I don’t think there is pressure to succeed, but there is expectation. You have to follow people like Guy and Anthony and Shannon and Casey. I try not to think about that. I try to make sure I’m happy and that I think the music I’m putting out there is quality. And I really think it is. I believe every track can stand on its own. I love it and I’ve got lots of good feedback on it, so hopefully it does well.

Australian Idol has given you a lot of opportunities in a short amount of time. How have you dealt with this?

I take it as it comes and I think that’s the only way you can do it. I enjoy what I do and just be myself.

What are your plans for the future?

World domination! No, I want to definitely do a tour and then go overseas and write with some of these people I’ve been working with. And I want to just…see the world, start working on my next album and meet some more famous people!