Words With Tina Arena

Splendour-thriller and gigantic Australian superstar Tina Arena has a 40-year music biz career worth of knowledge and experience to share, and luckily, she’s shared a few awesome gems with WildnFree. As an honoured guest of this blog, Tina talks Client Liaison Splendour stage buzz, offers her wise, excellent and common sense take on being a woman in the biz, plus shares the excitement on her huge upcoming national tour.  Here’s our chat for your reading pleasure:

WF: Your surprise appearance at Splendour In The Grass! After 40 years in the industry, having performed on so many stages, how did that moment feel?

TA: It felt pretty epic actually. I was nervous beforehand, on the way to the gig, which was a good feeling…I enjoyed it. An on stage well…that rush cannot be beaten. 

WF: How did this intriguing collaboration with Client Liaison all come about?

TA: The boys approached my manager about doing a song together, and we loved what they did and thought, “Why not?” They suggested a few songs and the one I connected with the most was A Foreign Affair, I demo’d it at the start of last summer and we were all pretty happy with the result. I think they’re a great band: great sound, great look, with the best attitude and sense of humour to top it off.

WF: I loved watching your ‘Her Sound, Her Story’ video and would like to ask you a few things, especially your comment – “Singing made me feel very comfortable and very secure” –  How has this feeling of comfort and security in singing helped you across a 40 year career? With your experience, what advice would you give to an artist of any medium who is struggling to find a sense of comfort or security in their work? How do they find that ‘comfort zone’ you’ve always felt?  

TA: I am very fortunate the singing and songwriting has afforded me a wonderful career that has led to many great opportunities. I have also worked very hard at my craft always pushing myself and those around me. I would say to any artist to keep experimenting with what they do…find their pocket, or happy place…and delve deeper again. 

WF And… “Women get better with age and experience and women are more liberated in that time. There’s so much good to be felt, heard and spoken about from that perspective” –  Thank you so much for saying this! As a woman in my mid-30s, I often feel like my time’s up already and my contribution is considered less valid. At what point did you start feeling ‘better’ with age, experience and a little more liberation? How did that shift things for you?  

TA: Try to never feel that way, and it’s not right, you’re just getting started in your 30s…. I don’t think it was ever conscious…. I just lived my life. It’s that same notion that music is just for young people, or that mature people don’t like what is on the radio…or play at Splendour haha. You don’t just switch off from life at a certain age…and I have never understood that idea. It usually comes from ‘cool’ young people who haven’t lived it yet, or men. No one raises the question of ‘relevance’ when someone like Paul Kelly (who I think is fantastic) comes on stage at a festival, do they? Madonna is always criticised for making ‘pop’ or ‘dance’ music that is current…but maybe that is just what she listens to and likes, like the vast majority of the world. What is she supposed to sing? What would people feel comfortable with a woman over 40 singing or saying? We make new music…it’s ‘new’. 

WF: And also…This is about us as a community of women, you can give with strength and dignity – that was the message for the ARIAs. I wanted to make the message known that younger women have support, and I would never have been able to have my journey without the support of women. We’ve got to stand together, in love and support for each other – wow.  In my experience, it can be very tough for women to stand together in love and support for each other. How can we do this, especially in the context of a competitive male-dominated music business?

TA: I don’t know how to answer this except to say that sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Don’t fat shame, don’t age shame…enjoy each other. Enjoy age and experience… As vocalists, the ones out front, the biggest stars in the world are women right now, but as you know its a different story behind the scenes. Be the change you want to see.

WF: What’s your thoughts on the state of cultural diversity in the music industry now, especially with your experience of coming from an Italian background?

TA: To be honest, I think it is diverse. There are performers whose heritage are from all over the world, are now smashing it in Australia. European, Asian, Indigenous, my gorgeous Italian girls The Veronicas, American, African…it is a melting pot producing extraordinary music. I am very proud of Australia in that sense right now. I think there is always room for improvement in terms of diversity but we are heading in the right direction…

WF: As a great lover of France myself, can you tell me the reasons why you loved living there for such a large part of your life?  Was it hard to come home?

TA: Essentially my career took off there and I fell in love with a French man…yet for years we still lived in London and I travelled back and forth to France. I do live there now and I love it, but Australia is equally my home and these days I do about six months in each country, depending on what is going on there. I can’t see myself leaving either. 

WF: How are you feeling about your huge national Innocence To Understanding tour coming up soon? What does this tour mean to you?

TA: Oh its really just a chance to celebrate the last 40 years with my audience…it’s going to be a good time. I am polishing up some old songs, some that I have never sung before live, and putting new twists on the classic hits. I’ll usually feel nervous just before the show but for now…I’m just excited and full of ideas. I can’t wait for opening night actually…

Thank you Tina Arena! WildnFree is delighted to share your wisdom, especially to all the women out there trying to figure out life.

Make sure you catch her live on one of these dates across September and October, practice your Chains vocal game before you go, it’s one of her epics:

Or take it down lower with Matt Corby’s Like A Version effort, good try Matt:

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