Has Amber Heard really been “heard?”
The storm that is between Hollywood Heavyweight, Johnny Depp and actress, Amber Heard continues to rage on as the jury is out (pardon the pun) on who is guilty; but it seems the world has already made up its mind.
If you wanna back up, Depp is suing Heard for $US50million ($A67m) for Heard implying that he abused her in a 2018 Washington Post article. Despite Heard not mentioning Depp’s name, he denies the allegations saying that they are false and has resulted in him losing movie roles including the Fantastic Beasts and the Pirates of the Caribbean Franchise.
But whatever damage has been done to Depp’s career will never outshine the damage that has been done to Heard, and a lot of that has been attributed to us.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Johnny Depp. He was my first celebrity crush when I saw him in Edward Scissorhands at the tender age of 11. He has managed to overcome his demons whenever he has stumbled upon drugs and alcohol over the years, but like other high profile celebrities such as Robert Downey Jnr and Charlie Sheen, Hollywood seems willing to forgive their male stars more than their female counterparts, which stems back to this idea that if you’re a woman, you need to “suck it up, keep your big mouth shut and get on with the job, or else suffer the consequences.” Actresses such as Katherine Heigl (who was in “Grey’s Anatomy” and in the raunch comedy “Knocked up”) has paid the price for speaking their minds and as a result has been ousted from Hollywood. Let’s also not forget the torrent of actresses who have been blacklisted from Tinseltown for rejecting Harvey Weinstein’s advances during his reign as one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers prior to the “me too” movement.
My mum was born the the 50s, a time where women stayed at home and cooked and cleaned and children were seen and not heard. She says she has been watching this courtroom drama unfold and is convinced that Heard is a “maniac” who is emotionally out of control and that Depp is the real victim and has the facts to defend her views. Anyone who grew up in the 50s would also know that women who had “emotional problems” were severely medicated, ostracised from society and at worst suffered brutal medical procedures such as Electro shock therapy (my grandma had Bipolar Disorder and was a sad case of this form of torture), and even though our attitudes towards mental health and women have dramatically improved, it is obvious these archaic attitudes towards women still exist.
If you look at most articles on the Depp vs Heard case, you will see a smiling and composed Depp waving to his loyal fans while being ushered into the courtroom, whereas with Heard, most of her photos are very unflattering. Compared to her ex-husband, she looks like a precocious child who is having a tantrum when in reality, she is struggling to maintain her composure while being interrogated in the courtroom.
A lot of celebrities have also offered their two cents on the drama. Comedian, Chris Rock (who is no stranger to roasting celebrities as evidenced by the Will Smith debacle) has also weighed in on an incident involving Heard allegedly defecating in Depp’s bed which Heard has defended saying that it was his dog “Boo” who had “bowel problems”. “What the f**k is she on? She sh*t in his bed! She’s fine, but she’s not sh*tting fine. She sh*t in his bed!” Once again, the world is drawing attention to Heard’s supposed lack of mental state as a way to shut her down.
There have been few celebrities who have rushed to Heard’s side, one in particular is Australian mummy blogger, Constance Hall, who has criticised social media’s treatment of Heard saying that people have been using Instagram and Twitter hashtags referring to her as “Amber Turd”, a “liar” and “gold digger” while one TikTok clip quoted the words “He could have killed you, he had every right.”
The ramifications of this online trolling clearly sends the message that victims (in particular women) should think twice before they decide to come forward in the future. Hall comments, “this is no longer about Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, this was our chance to show women everywhere how far we as a society have come in taking their allegation of abuse seriously. This was our chance to save lives. And we have failed.”
There was also a March study from Ipsos and the Global Institute for Women’s leadership where research showed the increase of people who think that women who say they have been abused have exaggerated their claims. In Australia, one in five people and three in 10 men have that opinion. What does this say about our culture?
Another stumbling block in Heard’s case is the issue of her dealing with an A list celebrity. It’s a classic David and Goliath scene! A young semi-famous actress defending herself against a movie giant who has graced our screens since the 80s from Teen Heart-Throb (guilty as charged!) to eccentric/serious actor to playing one of the most loveable anti-heroes of all time, Captain Jack Sparrow, who is adored by fans of many generations.
The sad reality is that once an actor reaches a certain point of status, they are untouchable. We have seen this with Casey Affleck who won an Oscar in 2017 for “Manchester by the Sea” while he was previously sued by two women for sexual harassment on the set of the mockumentary “I’m still here” which Affleck directed and produced. Both lawsuits were settled out of court, yet that did not stop the Academy from awarding him the coveted trophy which further emphasises the belief that when it comes to men and their misdeeds, they are treated differently compared to women and now that people like Depp and Affleck are deemed “safe” what hope can we offer when it comes to encouraging victims to come forward?
Whether or not Heard is telling the truth is beside the point. The fact is that she is able to face her ex-husband despite the torrent of emotional and physical abuse she has experienced (depending on your opinion) while knowing that the world is watching and judging her every move is courageous. Apart from being a voice to the voiceless, what has Heard got to gain from all of this? No-one wants to be remembered as the woman who got assaulted by an A lister (or anyone for that matter), and there are talks that her career is damaged beyond repair to the point where she could lose her role in the Aquaman franchise.
As Constance Hall said, this is no longer about Depp vs Heard. This is about standing up for the little person and to remind people that we shouldn’t punish those who have refused to just smile and remain silent while allowing old fashioned ideals to prevail.
Have we given her a fair go and a chance to be “heard?” I think not.
The Academy awards: a shameful display of toxic masculinity
It is inevitable to expect an Oscars ceremony with some form of controversy, whether it’s an actor rejecting an award, a list of nominees with minimal cultural diversity; or in this case the 94th Academy Awards that has reached a whole new low.
While comedian, Chris Rock was about to present the award for Best Documentary, in his usual fashion, he broke the ice by cracking a few jokes, and it just so happened that Jada Pinkett-Smith, actress and wife to actor, Will Smith, was in his sights.
“Jada, I love ya. GI Jane 2. Can’t wait to see it.” Now, at first, Will Smith was laughing, but it was obvious that Pinkett-Smith was not impressed. The camera then cuts to Rock continuing with his speech, only to find Smith striding towards him and what was going to look like an SNL gag, turned out to be a real slap to Rock, followed by a list of threats where Smith bellowed, “keep my wife’s name out your F$%#in mouth!”
For the first time, Rock was speechless, resulting in an awkward silence and leaving a bitter aftertaste that lingered for the remainder of the ceremony, including Smith’s acceptance speech for Best actor where he spent the majority of the time apologising to the Academy and the nominees, except Rock. He also tried to excuse his behaviour by paralleling his actions to his character, Richard Williams (father of Tennis champions, Venus and Serena Williams) by saying that “love makes people do crazy things” and that he was just being “protective.”
Such a display of toxic masculinity has already divided Hollywood. Actress, Tiffany Hadish had described his “chivalrous” defence of Pinkett-Smith as “beautiful”. Comedian, Kathy Griffin (who had also overstepped the line by presenting a severed head of Donald Trump which was a Trump mask covered in tomato sauce) tweeted. “It’s a very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a Comedian.”
Activist, Sophia Bush, however saw both sides by saying “Violence isn’t ok. Assault is never the answer. This is the 2nd time that Chris has made fun of Jada on the Oscars stage, and tonight he went after her alopecia. Punching down at someone’s auto-immune disease is wrong. Doing so on purpose is cruel. They both need a breather.”
And that is exactly the problem: two grown men who can’t deal with their own problems like adults!
You would normally expect such a public display of chauvinism while watching a sporting match, but not at a gala awards night where people start trading statuettes for blows. ‘
However, let’s be fair, and go deeper into the situation. First, let’s look at it from Smith’s point of view. He has entertained and broken racial barriers in the entertainment industry for over 30 years, he is a devoted father and husband, has transcended audiences and art styles by appealing to young fans as well as adults, and is an award winning Hip Hop artist as well as a newly crowned Academy award winning actor (I had the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ theme song as my ring tone for 2 years.) To summarise, he is the quintessential, kid-friendly, all inclusive performer, so you would never expect him to react in such a way.
This isn’t the first time, Rock and Pinkett-Smith have butted heads. In 2016, Pinkett-Smith publicly declared that she will be boycotting the Academy Awards due to the year of the “Oscars so white” controversy as well as Smith not receiving a nomination for his role in the film “Concussion.” In his opening address as Oscars host, Rock commented on Pinkett-Smith’s stance by saying “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rhianna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!”
Now, if that wasn’t enough, Rock’s remark on Pinkett-Smith’s coiffure could easily be observed as a tasteless joke on her disability as her shaved head was a result of Alopecia, a condition that causes people to lose hair from a single area or from multiple areas of their head, face or body, an ailment that Pinkett-Smith has openly shared and embraced on social media. Melbourne communications advisor, Katie Hale (who also suffers from alopecia) can only empathise with her as she knows what it’s like to be looked at everyday and to experience jokes at her own expense.
“Every single one of these interactions has a long and lasting impact on a person. It shakes you. It destroys your confidence. No wonder so many people hide who they truly are out of fear of being judged and ridiculed.”
Rock has also been known to overstep the mark and has been criticised for his jokes being overly racist, sexist and at one point, made a joke about the late Whitney Houston’s former drug abuse. Who wouldn’t stand in the firing line and defend the person they love after receiving a string of abuse? Regardless if it was in good humour or not.
Now, let’s look at it from Rock’s perspective. Rock has been vocal about “cancel culture” and how comedians are struggling to produce content that may offend someone for fear of being
ostracised. He once said, 'It's weird when you're a comedian because when you're a comedian when the audience doesn't laugh, we get the message. You don't really have to cancel us because we get the message. They're not laughing.”
Over the years, the Academy has scrambled to get hosts for the awards due to comedians being afraid of being “cancelled”, which explains why Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes were selected as co-hosts as there is strength in numbers in case one of them gets heckled for being “inappropriate”.
To his credit, you can also forgive Rock for maybe not being aware of Pinkett-Smith’s alopecia, which goes to show that just because you’re a celebrity, doesn’t mean everyone knows what’s going on in your world, as that is the illusion of social media.
After Smith’s outburst, it seemed that Rock has disappeared from existence while hoards of Hollywood Heavyweights rushed to the tearful Smith’s aid, including Tyler Perry, Bradley Cooper and our own Nicole Kidman. Wouldn’t you think people would be rushing to Pinkett-Smith, asking if she was ok, which leads us to seeing it from her viewpoint.
Jada Pinkett-Smith is a powerful actress and spokeswoman who is perfectly capable of defending herself. Regardless of Smith’s intentions in defending his wife’s honour, she is now powerless and the focus has now shifted to Smith’s behaviour which has also overshadowed other Oscar moments that are more newsworthy, including his own win. Ariana DeBose was the first Black/Latino Queer person to receive Best Supporting Actress, Troy Kotsur was the first deaf actor to win Best Supporting Actor and “CODA” was the first Best Picture win that helped put the spotlight on the deaf community. Now doesn’t that warrant our attention more than a cheap slap?
The Oscars have struggled to maintain viewing ratings in past years, however we can be assured that this year will be remembered for the wrong reasons. Firstly, this incident has not only exposed these two celebrities and the extent of their childish behaviour, but also the lacklustre approach of the Academy and Hollywood when it comes to dealing with violence and aggression. Firstly, the Academy said that they do not condone any acts of violence, however they did not usher Smith out of the venue after the outburst. Even a pub would kick a punter out for being violent! Second, Smith received a standing ovation for his award win while Rock would’ve still been experiencing the sting of the slap. To be honest, at least Rock was “man enough” to not press charges on Smith for the assault, despite the Academy announcing that there will be a further review into the incident, which could mean Smith being stripped of his award.
Whatever outcome results from the Academy’s decision to reprimand Smith for his actions cannot compare to the damage that has already been done to his reputation, and I’m sure he knows it already. There is a torrent of memes capitalising on the slap online. He will now always be remembered as the actor who “lost his cool” over a joke at an event that was meant to represent grace, poise and outstanding achievement. His “nice guy” image will always be tainted where children will put that side of him together with the guy who played the genie from “Aladdin.” Although Smith did eventually apologise to Rock for his actions the following day, it is too little too late. Does saying sorry compensate for the pain someone else has experienced? How can you separate this indiscretion from an abusive partner saying sorry to someone they love after the irreparable damage that’s been done.
People make mistakes in the heat of passion, I get that. But when you’re not able to manage your emotions and make amends right then and there, there are no winners.
How the sporting industry will always come back on top, and why the arts will always come second.
Australia will always be regarded as a sporting nation. Isn’t it obvious?
Over the last 2 years with the pandemic tightening its malevolent grip on the world, Australia has scrambled to keep our sporting traditions alive and well. We were still being treated to watch the AFL from the comfort of our television sets. Last year, the Melbourne Cup was able to open its arms to the public despite a limit of 10,000 punters. We were still able to watch the Boxing Day Test series and keep our Christmas traditions alive and well (as we fill venues to maximum capacity) and it looks fairly promising that the Australian Open will go down without a hitch - except for one thing.
Tennis no 1 star (and self-proclaimed vaccination sceptic) Novak Djokovic has managed to apply for a medical exception while granting entry into Australia, all the while still digging in his polished white tennis shoes on refusing to disclose his vaccination status. If it wasn’t bad enough that Tennis Australia and the Victorian Government had conspired together to provide a valid set of reasons to help deflect the accusations that Djokovic received “special treatment”, they have another curveball to handle that could further overshadow the tournament. At 11:30pm last night, Djokovic arrived in Melbourne, only to find that he was not able to provide “appropriate evidence” to support his exemption and therefore his visa had been subsequently cancelled and is now on the precipice of being forced to fly back to Serbia. Fuming, Djokovic has issued the full force of the law by hiring his legal team to contend the visa cancellation, has promised legal action if he is not allowed to compete, and he has even got the Serbian President to run to his side like a helicopter parent calling Tennis Australia the “laughing stock of the world.”
Such a vehement response has now got Tennis Australia and the rest of the nation shaking in their boots and are wondering how the sporting community are going to recover from such a backlash, yet when you compare this setback to how the Arts and Entertainment industry has suffered over the last two years, you will find there is very little to worry about.
We all know Australia’s stance on the Arts and Entertainment industry. This was certainly evident when the Federal Government eliminated the Department of Communications and the Arts at the end of 2019 and was incorporated into the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Communications. Fair.
According to the June 2020 Performing Arts Connections (PAC) Australia Update, 74.5% of casual dismissals took place from performing arts centres, while 55.3% of full-time/part time staff were working at significantly reduced hours. We all know how so many artists have to work more than one job to pay the bills and the fallout of the industry has also resulted in an increase in mental health issues more than ever before.
Musicians lost an exorbitant amount of money on loss of live income once all of the entertainment venues were forced to shut down, resorting to performing online for little or no money. Last year, my singing teacher lost close to $30,000 on gig money and had to rely on her teaching income alone in order to survive.
Popular cabaret venue, the Butterfly Club was hinging on closing down, if it wasn’t for the generosity of the public to provide donations to keep them afloat. I also read an article on artists who have been devastated by the pandemic and one person who I saw on stage at the Regent Theatre in 2008 had lost a significant amount of income on corporate events and cruise shows, and had no choice but start a new career as a real estate agent.
In April of 2021, Australia’s most renowned blues and roots festival “Bluesfest” was forced to cancel at the last minute when a suspected Covid infection was detected in Byron Bay. Despite numerous COVID safe protocols put in place to safeguard the virus spread, Health Minister, Brad Hazzard pulled the plug straight away, leaving hundreds, if not thousands of musicians, attendees, administrators, caterers and accomodation services left in the dark.
And while this was happening, the AFL and the Rugby Union were still playing in stadiums with some attendees watching the games, including a Broncos game at the Suncorp Stadium on the Saturday prior to the festival’s cancellation.
People may think that live entertainment venues are breeding grounds for super spreader events due to its high density limits, however if you compare the number of attendees that frequent sporting events, you will find cause for concern. 5 months ago, two infectious people attended a Carlton vs Geelong match resulting in 15,000 close contacts. At the same time, a third case was also linked to a Rugby game at AAMI Park which was not linked to the AFL game. And did the government force the AFL and the RFL to shut down? No. They. Did. Not!
Epidemiologists and health experts are also expecting the Australian Open to lead to a super-spreader event, as evidenced by the rising case numbers in Victoria (mostly linked to the Ashes series as sheer coincidence). Such a possibility will put further strain on the health system when it was recently announced that a code Red was issued, meaning that availability of ambulances and paramedics were exhausted (the third code red issued in the last 5 years). If The Australian Open was the Titanic and COVID was the proverbial iceberg, you would be smart enough to know the ramifications if this event were to continue to happen.
Now that Victoria’s case numbers have risen to over 20,000, the government have now issued further restrictions without rocking the boat by imposing another lockdown. Restrictions that now include a density rule of one person per 2 square metres in indoor venues. Victorian Health Minister, Martin Foley has “strongly recommended” that people avoid “indoor dance floors” at hospitality and entertainment venues to help reduce numbers. Once again, entertainment as well as hospitality are the first to go on the chopping block!
If Australia needs to rise from the ashes (pardon the pun), we need to consider all aspects of what makes Australia unique and original. We are not just defined by Football, tennis, cricket and the race that stops the nation, but also Arts industry exports who originally hailed from Australia: Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett, Kylie Minogue, and mostly recently the Kid Laroi whose song “Stay” (feat Justin Bieber) was one of the most streamed songs in 2021 and was nominated for two Grammy Awards. And would have you known that? No, of course you wouldn’t.
Is the future of artists music licensing for Film and TV?
There is a lot to be said about writing for film and TV, and I’m not talking about composing or being the next John Williams or Hans Zimmer. Have you ever watched an ad and you liked the song so much, you decided to look it up on Spotify? This is exactly what happened when my daughter started dancing to the theme song for the Hester Superfund ad. Every time that song would come on, she would start twerking (she was only 22 months old at the time) and luckily in the ad, the name of the song was quite evident and every now and again, my daughter will ask for “her song” and nine times out of ten, you will know what she’s talking about.
That song was called “Best Friend” and it was performed by a New York duo called, “Soffi Tucker”. Had I have not heard of the song from the Hester ad, I would not have known anything about the band, which brings to light this concept known as music licensing, where as simply put, a music supervisor is given the job of looking for music to put into a film, a TV show, an ad (as evidenced in the Hester ad) or anything that involves a moving image. It seems that a lot of musicians are veering in this direction of music making because for some, this is where the real money rolls in.
I first came across this concept when I enrolled in a 5 day music licensing workshop created by a woman named Cathy Heller, an aspiring musician who “pounded the pavement” and did all of the right things trying to make it as a musician, until one day, she was dropped from her label. It was then that Heller had to make a choice and overtime she did some research and came across the idea of music licensing and overtime she became a 6 figure singer/songwriter and has founded the company “Catch the Moon” music where every year, they run a program where they team up independent musicians, songwriters and producers with music supervisors, ad agencies, music libraries and synch reps. After 6 months or mentoring, networking and workshopping, students come out with some songs that are ready to be pitched towards people in the industry, and overtime people have come back with success stories saying that one of their songs was used for a scene in a TV show.
But make no mistake, it is still a competitive industry, even if you are willing to be an unknown musician whose only claim to fame is having your song played in the background in a bar scene in a TV show that is barely audible.
In her workshop, Heller addresses these concerns and tries to demystify the myth of what it means to be a successful artist.
“Our job is not to worry about the outcome (That’s God’s job). Our job is to say ‘I wake up everyday and I do my part.’”
In the workshop, Heller talked about about growth mindset and she talked about this “Beyonce or Bust” mentality where sometimes artists go down the path where if they don’t achieve the same level of success as artists such as the greats such as Queen Bey or Taylor Swift then you’re a failure. “There’s so much in between being depressed and being Beyonce,” Heller quips. “It’s not our business to work out the ‘when’ and ‘how’. Our job is to listen to the whisperer and to say ‘yes’ to where the assignment is leading us next.”
With all platitudes aside, there were some practical examples offered as part of the 5 day workshop. Heller talked a lot about some common topics used in TV and film and here were some common themes:
Togetherness (non romantic)
(I guess that Adele inspired heartbreak song won’t fit in this kind of industry, heh?)
She also talked about how in film, some songs need to have sections as if it’s taking us somewhere, and making sure there are dynamic shifts as well as taking time to build up. Some good examples include Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” (Grey’s Anatomy) and Portugal the Man’s “Feelin’ Still” (Riverdale, before I got put off in season 3). And finally, she talked about the 3 Ps: Plan, Pitch music and Producing music:
Plan: research what sort of music supervisors you want to work with, get an idea what sort of vibe or song they’re looking for, and try to write a new song each week (make sure it’s a different song from the last one you wrote)
Pitch music: build relationships, try to establish radical empathy with people in the industry, know what they’re looking for, be patient and establish trust
Produce music: get a producer to record it and give them a percentage of the master. Learn how to produce the tracks (ie: Pro Tools).
After attending the workshop, I was quite inspired to join the 6 month course, but when I saw the dollar amount and then did the conversion rate from US to AUS dollars, my jaw dropped, not to mention having to attend the live zoom calls at 3am due to time zone differences.
Despite that, I did find the 5 day introductory workshop enlightening, and if anyone is interested, I do encourage them to look up “Catch the Moon” music and look up Heller’s work because if you can’t be the next Beyonce, then maybe it’s worth working in the music licensing industry, even if your music only gets used once in a bar scene in “Shameless.”
A hero in the making - Melbourne based rock artist, Nat Allison, talks music, working with Suzi Quatro and finding inspiration in dark places.
It is a late Friday morning in November and with the sun shining, heat warming up and musicians slowly inching out of lockdown so they can do what they do best - gigging and releasing music, there is definite cause for celebration.
Nat Allison is one of many Melbourne based artists who has done it tough while in lockdown, however the pandemic has not slowed her one bit. Instead the Rock/Pop singer/songwriter (who also plays lead guitar) has managed to put her skills to use by releasing her latest single “We are the heroes” which was launched in early October. Nat talked about her inspiration behind the song that was written during lockdown a year ago.
“I just felt the pandemic affected everyone and that everyone had to sacrifice something. We are all heroes,” she stated while chatting over the phone. "I also wanted this song to be relatable for years to come. One day the pandemic will behind us and I want people to be able to hear this song and for it to be relatable in any heroic situation."
Nat is no stranger to adversity. Despite working alongside some of the great rock artists ever to reach our shores (she is currently Suzi Quatro's designated guitarist whenever she comes to Australia who Nat describes working with as “fun”, and has also toured with her in Japan, Germany and Canada), Nat’s musical journey has not been easy.
When Nat was 18, she was fortunate to land a record deal at Standard Records which had her working alongside renowned producer and songwriter, Mike Chapman (who has collaborated with legendary artists such as Pat Benetar, Joan Jett and Blondie); the stuff that most aspiring musicians would only dream of. “I learnt a lot working with him.”
Through this experience, Nat was able to collaborate with Chapman resulting in writing over 30 songs, which they would pick the 10 best songs for an album, however little did she realise what was to come. “Once you write and deliver an album, there’s a clause in the deal that the label has to then release the album within a certain time frame (I can’t remember exactly how long)." However, because they weren’t getting enough excitement from other people in the business, they quickly downgraded the album to demos. Which was a clever way to get out of their end of the deal. It was very difficult because I was signed for 5 albums, which meant I couldn’t even go to another label because I was already owned by another.”
After seeking legal advice, Nat had no choice but to walk away, knowing that that label had owned all of her masters and spent the next few years just gigging while trying to renew her vision as an artist, however Nat has learnt a lot from the experience. “My advice would be to just have confidence in yourself, when something's not right, or unjust, stand up for yourself. Unfortunately I didn’t really have that confidence. Also, I didn’t have anyone to turn to for support that knew what steps to take in these situations.”
Despite her challenges, Nat has not let that experience deter her from making music. She records all of her demos from home, putting together drums, bass, keys, guitar and vocals by herself, then hires an external recording studio and a sound engineer to re-record everything for release. “I find it’s better to nut out all of the parts and get a clear picture of how I want it to sound sonically in my own studio. I can take my time with it and I’m not getting charged by the hour."
Nat’s recordings include her EP “This one’s for you” (released in 2016), a single titled “Anyone for Tennis” that was selected by channel 7 Australia and Eurosport in the U.K as the theme song for their 2010 & 2012 Australian Open advertising campaigns, and has just co-written a song titled “Killing Time” with Suzi Quatro which will be released on all streaming platforms in a month’s time.
Nat has fond memories of her ongoing working relationship with Quatro. “She jokes around a lot and is a lot of fun but she’s also very professional and serious about how she wants everything and is really good at directing her band. It’s been great watching her work. It’s hard to believe that she’s 71, and she still runs around like a 16 year old on stage. It’s great to see someone at that age who still has that energy and wants to make sure that the audience leaves happy.”
To be a female rock musician who can play lead guitar is a rarity in the Melbourne music scene, so it was interesting hearing her response in regards to what sort of advice she would give to a young girl wanting to learn and play the guitar. “You just gotta find good local musicians. Good teachers are also so important. I had a good male guitar teacher (she started learning at the age of 8) who introduced me to other bands and I also watched him in his own band. It’s important to go and see as much live music as you can, it really is one of the best ways to learn! And get to know the staff at your music store, as they can often put you in contact with other musicians that are at your level to form bands with etc. The more connections you make in different places, the better."
As the live music scene slowly opens up, Nat has grand plans for the future. “I’ve got a lot of songs that I’ve written last year, so I plan on recording and releasing one song at a time (due to the instability of COVID). I plan on getting back to regular gigs now that it seems lockdown is behind us. I do what I call my “day job” gig which is playing covers 3-5 times a week, and an original gig once a month or so.”
With the number of hits under Nat’s belt, I’m sure we’ll be hearing her originals on the main waves soon.
Nat’s latest single “We are the heroes” is now available on all streaming services.
For more information visit www.natallison.com
Is the music industry ageist?
I am a woman in my early 40s who has been making music since my late 20s. Now you are probably thinking, “boy, she started making music quite late!” And I totally agree, and I have asked countless established musicians time and time again whether I am too old to make it into the music industry, and often I hear the same answer: no.
I guess this response can be backed up the evidence that since the introduction to the internet, making and releasing music has never been so accessible. You can release music on social media (ie: facebook, youtube, instragram, Soundcloud, the list goes on), you can release your music onto digital streaming services such as Spotify and Googleplay, however the problem with this feature is that now that the floodgates have opened, you are a tiny speck of sand compared to millions of musicians online, and I’m not just talking about the independent artists. In a recent report, the most streamed artists on Spotify is Justin Bieber, followed by The Weeknd and Ed Sherrin. And what these 3 artists all have in common is that they are all male and most predominately under 40.
If you look at the top 100 Billboard chart, you will notice that all of the artists represent that magic elixir of youth, most of the break out stars ever since pop began started out when they were in the teens or early 20s, and if you try to make it outside of that ballpark age, you are considered geriatric by the time you’re in your 30s. In a recent interview, Pop/Rock/blues artist, Anastasia said that as a 29 year old, she had to lie about her age in order to be signed to a record label, because lets face it: the music industry to some extent, is ageist.
I’m not saying that you can’t still release music when you’re over the age of 40. At 53, Australian Pop Princess, Kylie Minogue has just released her latest single, however people of her age can only achieve that sort of attention if they have a track record of commercial (and platinum) success of past work; work that began when they were very young. So what about the over 30s or 40s who are just starting out? Do we have any hope?
People may say that like the movie industry and the introduction to the “me too” and “black lives matter” movement, society has become more accepting of people of different genders and races, including age. When Nicole Kidman won the Golden Globe for best actress for her role in “Big Little Lies”, she said that 20 years ago, people of her age (she was in her late 40s at the time) wouldn’t have got considered for these awards, so come on you music trend setters! When will our time come? Yes, artists like Sia may have achieved global success in their late 30s or early 40s, but Sia has managed to find a loophole for staying in the game by concealing her appearance and proclaim that due to her social anxiety, she doesn’t like being treated like a celebrity by having her appearance known to the whole world. I’m not trying to dismiss the issue of mental illness, however in an industry that is fixated on appearance and youth, the issue of ageism must be taken into consideration. Music not only celebrates youth, but it also brings nostalgia, connection, public awareness, and bridging divide.
I will keep making music, regardless of who notices me or not, or how many followers I get on Spotify, however if we want society to be a better place in all aspects not just in sport, film and politics, then we need to keep looking past the status quo and ask ourselves, how can we become more inclusive, not just in race, gender and appearance, but in age as well, because with age, comes wisdom.