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:: Spotlight :: An Interview with Stephanie McIntosh

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Music is a passion for young music star Stephanie McIntosh. She has a showbiz background, being the daughter of John and Sue McIntosh. Sue was a well-known and much loved television star in the 1960s/1970s and, as a result, the ability to perform has been readymade for her daughter. Stephanie, who also stars in the television show Neighbours, now makes the move into a recording career, having signed a multi-album deal with Universal Music Australia and having already worked with some notable people during the recording process. It now culminates in her debut single (“Mistake”) and album being released to very good sales, setting her up for it is hoped is a long and successful stint in showbiz. I met Stephanie for a chat just prior to the release of her album “Tightrope”.

Q. Was it inevitable that, because of your famous mum's showbiz success, that you'd follow her path?

A. I’ve had the bug even before I could understand what Mum had done in showbiz. Whether it’s a subconscious thing about being brought up in a family that’s in the industry, I don’t know. They have never been pushy parents which is why I’m doing this now. I’ve wanted to do this all my life.

Q. Has it met your expectations early in your career?

A. The music side has just started for me. You go in without knowing what expectations to have. It’s been a whirlwind at the moment so I don’t know if my expectations are right or wrong. It’s pretty full-on.

Q. “Mistake” is a good single to start with - an edgy, pop song that has been well supported…

A. Yes, it’s been a great start. I wanted the song to be edgy but I don’t want to be perceived as this tough chick. It’s something different to what people might expect from me.

Q. Were you planning to be a singer before the Neighbours acting role eventuated?

A. I’m both. It’s a package. Any entertainer would agree that you get taught to sing, dance, and act all at once. I’ve had parts in school musicals. You can get better at it with training but you can’t be taught how to do it. Neighbours is a vehicle but it’s also a great place to learn how to act every day. No movie can teach you what you learn each day on Neighbours. It’s a great break. At the same time, music is something I’ve always wanted to do. Film is something that could happen down the track. I’ve had a small role in a film already.

Q. Tell us about the lead-up to the album. Universal Music put a lot of faith in you and you have Glenn Wheatley guiding your career…

A. That’s the biggest and best thing that has happened to me. I’m still trying to get over the fact that I’ve been signed to a record label. Glenn Wheatley (my manager) has been plotting for a while on what sound we want to grab, and where I want to head with it all. When Universal Music came on board it was fantastic. I’m still pinching myself. They are prioritising with Australian music and it’s very surreal that I’m thought of that highly. I could not have asked for more. Universal has been so supportive with a multi-album deal. There are many people involved in this project and I’m doing it for everyone. It’s a great team to have.

Q. There's good variety to the songs and the method by which you sing them…

A. I do feel that I’ve widened the style. I can change the sound and moods. The album opens with a Green Day-like riff and track 4 “You Should Have Lied” is a ballad. So there’s a good mix of songs. The ballads are full of strings, while the others have a driving guitar sound.

Q. You even throw in a terrific Dusty Springfield cover…

A. I love Dusty Springfield’s music. She was an amazing performer. I hadn’t thought about putting a Dusty cover on the album but Tom (Nichols, the producer/co-writer) and I thought about it and I was then keen to grab the opportunity of doing “Wishin’ & Hopin’”. Everyone was happy with the outcome.

Q. You've recorded other people's songs on this album; most of which involved Tom Nichols…

A. I co-wrote the first track, which was a great experience because I hadn’t thought of myself as a songwriter. Being the first record and knowing of Tom and all of his co-writers made it easy this time. Tom has co-written every track with someone different. I don’t feel that not writing means any less.

Q. What has influenced your sound and/or style?

A. I haven’t had one influence as such. It’s just something that’s in me. It’s an urge. I’ve always wanted to sing. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t sing. I look up to anyone who is hard working and professional, eg Kylie Minogue and Madonna. They are not necessarily my favourite artists but they are people I aspire to because of their work ethic. They are still having big success and have such a presence. Even Robbie Williams is an extremely hard worker. His package is great and entertaining.

Q. You have featured in your own television show: The Steph Show. Was that your idea?

A. It wasn’t my idea. It was pretty much Tom Nicholls’s idea. He threw it at us and started filming two years ago when the process began. I was apprehensive and didn’t think I was ready for what was going to be the finished product. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity. It is invasive at times but the part I want to promote is that it is different. It’s there to push the music and shows how passionate I am about my music.

Q. What does your boyfriend Nick (Reidwoldt) think?

He was a little apprehensive but he is so supportive and very understanding. It’s a job for me and he’s got his job (Nick plays Australian Rules football for St.Kilda).

Q. Does the next twelve months involve travelling overseas?

A. Yes, it’s a big time goal. I’ll leave it to Glenn and Universal Music to work that out, but I’d love to go to the UK and Europe first, because of Neighbours. They embrace the show a lot more.

Q. With regard to Neighbours, will it be difficult to balance out your acting and music commitments?

A. I don’t want to leave Neighbours anytime soon. I’m at a stage now where I feel that I’ve learned all I can, but I’d like to stay there for a while yet. I’d miss it terribly if I left, so I’ve got no intention to leave in the near future. They are two things that I love doing, so it will be a bit of a balancing act for a while. I have to grab the opportunities when they arise and make the most of it.

Q. Your website and MySpace are two important tools in your career…

A. Absolutely. I get flattered when I jump on MySpace. I wish that I had the time to jump on and spend quality time there. There are some amazing messages and it’s weird in that about a year ago, my boyfriend Nick’s younger sister was telling me about MySpace. I was a bit blas√© about it at first. Then Universal Music said that they would get me a MySpace page, so I was already aware of it. This is a good form of communication to say hi to the fans who are supporting me.

Q. What are the short-term plans?

A. I look forward to releasing a second single soon, with perhaps a third one by Christmas. The album is now out and I can’t wait to be performing live in the near future.

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