What first got you into music?
I think my parents first got me into music. They would put on music like Carol King and Cat Stevens. I come from an Asian family so it’s kind of an expectation that we all learn an instrument and I saw a lady on the Wiggles playing the violin and I was like ‘Damn, that’s cool – I want to do that!’. So, my parents did some research and found out that the earliest age you can learn violin is four. When my fourth birthday rolled around I hadn’t forgotten and I was like ‘Where’s my violin!’. Then, when I was older I wanted to be Taylor Swift and started writing songs and busking and I guess that’s how it all started. My parents really fostered my love for music.
How would you describe your sound?
A lot of the time when I go into writing sessions I’m not really looking for a specific sound – I just kind of let it happen. I think at the moment I’m very much settling into like a bedroom pop or folk pop 60s – 70s inspired sound, the track that just came out with LANKS is quite different to a lot of my other songs coming out soon so we decided to put it on his album.
What artists have inspired that sound?
Taylor Swift is a big one – for myself and a lot of singer/songwriters my age she’s the reason I started doing what I do. She was the first young woman I saw writing songs and becoming so successful. She continues to reinvent herself and takes everything a step further. She’s always had a very clear direction and knows what she wants to do. Also Missy Higgins, Norah Jones, Tom Odell, Joni Mitchell, and Billy Joel who are all amazing female singer songwriters. Nora Jones was the first concert I ever went to – my dad took me when I was four or five.
You were on ‘The Voice Australia’ in 2017. How do you think that experience helped shape your career and your sound?
Sometimes I wonder whether it was a good or bad thing but in the end, I chose to do it and it was such a formative, amazing experience. It was the first time that I’d been properly thrown into doing music professionally and being around industry personel and people that were a lot older than me. It definitely caused me to grow up quite fast in that respect. I met so many different people through the show and it was the first time I was challenged to think about why am I doing music, what my message is, and what am I trying to do with it.
It was really cool to experience interviews and hair and makeup and learn about how live TV works. I think one thing people definitely forget about the voice is that it’s a TV show, not a music show, if that makes sense. I got to work with people that I really admired and it lead to my publishing contract with Universal Music. In writing sessions at age 15 I quickly learnt that the person I was in the room with always had more experience than me, so I had to really push myself to improve and keep up. Doing 14 hour days, my voice wasn’t coping with the demand and when you’re not getting enough sleep and you’re under a lot of stress it can really effect you.
Who are some Canberra artists that you admire?
Oh my gosh, there are so many amazing songs coming out of camera that the world needs to hear. I love The Burley Griffin’s new song called ‘Make It Right’ which I’m obsessed with, I’m a huge fan of Kirklandd, Citizen Kay, Genesis Owusu, Liv Lee, AYA YVES, Tori Nikias, and Sophie Edwards. I could go on and on and on. I recently made a Spotify playlist called ‘canbra’ with all the local artists I love, so check that out.
Your new song ‘I’d Do It All Again’ with LANKS came out last week. How did you both work together to write it?
My publisher put me in a bunch of writing sessions for a week and the last one was with LANKS. I’ve been a huge fan of LANKS for years, so when I saw him on the list of sessions I was so nervous and exited! He’s the nicest human and one of those people that you immediately feel comfortable writing with. Usually in writing sessions, you meet the other person on that day and you’re expected to really open up and talking about your problems and make a connection really quickly. Luckily he’s one of those people that you immediately feel comfortable enough to share those thoughts with, and he’s such an amazing talented musician and really cool person. It was a really natural and seamless session, we talked about life and he gave me advice on my own music. I felt okay to share my ideas and I talked to him about the relationship that I was going through at the time. I will always look back on that day very fondly.
How have you found the response since its release?
People really seem to like it! It’s really cool because you pour your heart and soul into these things and it’s very personal, but it’s definitely getting some recognition and a lot of plays so I’m stoked! It’s cool to finally be able to put out music and I’m excited to be able to share what I’ve been doing with people.
What are some of your favourite venues to play live shows in Canberra?
The Canberra music scene is so great because it’s quite small and everyone knows each other. It’s like a lovely intimate Canberra bubble. I loved playing at ‘Blackbird’ the other week, it’s such a good vibe. The show was really fun and it was my band’s first live show since lockdown. I also love Smith’s Alternative, which has a great intimate loungeroom vibe. ‘The Street Theatre’ and ‘The Well’ at UC are great too.
What projects will you be working on next?
A lot of it is not what people are expecting – it’s a lot less mellow and more fun and upbeat. My mom described it as ‘cheeky’. It’s definitely going in a new direction which I’m really excited about and I think it’s a lot more me. It’s more honest and you can have a bit of a boogie to it. I’m excited to share it and I hope people like it, it’s just great to be productive again.
‘I’d Do It All Again’ by Lucy Sugerman and LANKS is out now!