Where are you?
I’m in a car, but someone else is driving so that’s fine. It’s actually my 21st today.
Today? Happy Birthday.
Thank you. I’m up in Ipswich to see my family and friends for it and I was just having lunch with my family. I moved to Sydney about four months ago. I’m here for a week.
What would you have been doing if I’d rung you a week ago?
At college. I study music – contemporary vocals full-time. I also do a lot of singing training.
No! I do a lot of writing as well.
Yeah – a lot of music. It ranged from rock to pop to R & B and all kinds of different things.
Have you had anything recorded?
Yes – have you heard of Teenstars?
It’s a competition on the Hot 30 all around Australia and I was in the top five nationally. You have to send in recorded songs. The finalists all went into the studio and we were interviewed and sang acapella. Then I was in the Popstars season that’s on now. I was in the final 12.
Yes, I wanted to talk to you about that.
They had auditions in every state in Australia and over seven thousand people auditioned altogether. But a lot of people just showed for a laugh and to see if they could get on TV, so…
What did you have to do in your audition?
On the first day, everyone only has about three seconds…
Three seconds? What can you do in three seconds?
There are so many people. Usually all you can do is sing a couple of lines and impress the judges. They call back people the next day, when there are two rounds and in the afternoon they send more people home. Eventually there were only 25 people left from the whole of Australia, who go down to Sydney for a week of workshops. I was chosen to go down.
At what point did they start filming you?
From day one.
What did you do when it was your turn?
I sang “Lady Marmalade”.
Can you do it now?
Come on. This is just like another audition. Sing me three seconds of “Lady Marmalade”.
(Pause) Are you serious?
Yeah, go on.
In the car?
Yeah, go on.
Everyone’s laughing at me!
Who’s driving you along?
A friend of mine.
Has she heard you sing before?
Yes, she has.
She won’t mind you doing it again.
Oh God. I’ll have to put the phone down.
Have you got the windows open?
Er, half. Half down.
Open the windows.
(Laughs) Oh no! OK. (Away from phone) Open the window. Everyone’s definitely laughing at me now.
(Sings) He met Marmalade down in Old Moulin Rouge/ Struttin’ her stuff on the street/ She said, “Hello, hey Jo, you wanna give it a go?” Oh! uh huh/ Gouchie, Gouchie, ya ya dada (Hey hey hey).
Excellent. Well done. Can I have you back in the afternoon, please?
Are you getting strange looks from people in other cars?
That’s just what I wanted to know. What was it like being one of the last 25?
Really intense. We had cameras on us 24/7. Even if we went to the toilet.
A cameraman followed you into the toilet?
Yep, everywhere. All our conversations, all recorded. They had us in a health retreat in Katoumba. Every day we had auditions, and every day people got sent home.
What did you have to do each day?
We had a lot of dancing, and they gave us a song and we had to make it our own. On the last day they brought in make-up artists and hair stylists and they did us all up, and we had to do an original song.
How many left by then?
By the end of the week there was 12 of us left. It was very intense. There were lots of tears from people being kicked off, because they’d worked so hard.
What were they kicking people off for?
Basically, if you stuffed up once, you were gone.
Just one mistake?
You had to be perfect every single time you performed?
What were the other 11 like?
Did you get on with them?
Yeah. Surprisingly there was absolutely no bitchiness. Everyone there was working towards the same goal and we all supported each other.
Yes, no bitchiness at all. We all bonded really well and became really close. I actually still speak to a few of them.
What happened after that?
We had to wait about two months. Then a judge came to each one of our houses, which they filmed, and told us whether we were in the final seven or not. And I wasn’t in the final seven.
Did they tell you why?
The judge said it was a really hard decision because everyone in the final 12 had what it took.
Is there an ultimate winner?
Yes there is. The final seven went into a hat and the public voted the winner Scotty Cain. He released a single which did quite well and we’re just waiting to see what happens with the second one. He’s very cool. I like him a lot.
You don’t hate him or wish he was dead or anything… ?
No, no. He’s great. I still talk to him. He’s quite easy to get along with.
How famous are you now? Do people recognise you in the street?
They did when the show was on – it happened all the time. Now, not as much, although this is the first time I’ve been back home in Ipswich since the show was on and people are talking to me about it.
Did the show make you a lot of money?
No. We all had to sign a contract before the final seven was chosen, and without saying too much, it was quite tight. It wasn’t the best.
Bugger. Yet another struggling student.
Yes, I’m studying music full time. I’ve just started working on a show called QTV on Channel 31. I’m doing the entertainment reporting.
Where you a show-off as a child?
No, I was very shy.
How do you go from being a shy child to doing a shoot for RALPH?
I have no idea. I was so incredibly shy, I wouldn’t talk to anyone. It was only towards the end of high school that I started to come out of my shell and was loud and boisterous and annoyed the shit out of everyone.
How did you feel about doing the RALPH shoot?
It was excellent, great. I’d do it again any time.
How does it feel being nearly naked and knowing lots of people are going to see you like that?
To be honest with you, it doesn’t bother me. I thought it was heaps of fun.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you recently?
(Laughs) I decided, after living in Ipswich country town for 20 years, to move to Sydney – and I moved within a week. I left a long-term boyfriend, my friends, family…
How long have you lived in Sydney now?
And how do Ipswich and Sydney guys compare?
An Ipswich guy is wearing thongs, he’s got a beer and he’s going down the pub. And he plays football.
That’s no bad thing.
And they all buy RALPH.
That’s a very good thing.
They are very sweet guys. But they won’t ask me out for dinner, they’ll ask me out to the pub.
What are Sydney guys like, then?
Erm… straightforward. Ipswich guys are a little shy when they talk to me, but really friendly. They’ll ask me if I want a drink, while Sydney guys get straight to the point.
Which do you prefer?
Um… I’m afraid it depends on the guy.
What’s the best approach for you?
I’m pretty easy to talk to…
It’s true, you are.
…so he doesn’t really have to do that much.
What happens if he runs up and says, “I’ve seen you on Popstars. Will you go out with me?”
That happens sometimes!
What do you say?
Again, it depends on the guy.
What are you looking for?
I like people who are laid-back, because I’m fairly laid-back. But I also like people who understand that my career’s number one.
There’s some schizophrenia going on here. Laid-back, but career-minded.
I must look up your star sign. What else has a guy got to have?
He must be sweet. But he can’t be too sweet.
Ooh… Bloody hell.
(Laughs) Oh, you know. I like boy boys.
Do you mean a manly man?
So you like being treated mean…
What about physically?
Tall, dark and handsome. I like built guys. Someone who works out – a bit of muscle. It sounds really typical, but, you know.
How many of those have you met in Sydney so far?
Quite a few. But I don’t really have much time for a relationship.
Yes, I am.
We like to give readers hope.
(Laughs) I’m very single.
Cripes. There might be some tall dark readers looking you up.
They can try. I’m open to suggestions.
Cripes again. What’s the worst date you’ve ever been on?
It was when I was 16. I think it was my first date. The guy pulled up in his car and didn’t come up to the house. He just sat there. I don’t know why.
How long did he sit there? All night?
Half an hour. Finally my brother realised there was someone out the front. I went down and got in the car and he just said, “G’day.”
He was just being laid-back. Isn’t that what you like?
I like to know someone’s there!
We went to the movies and the movie wasn’t showing. Then we just drove around for a while. It was quite strange.
Was he odd, or just nervous?
I think he was just really nervous. There was another one though, when I got all dressed up and he showed up with thongs on and boardies.
Where did you go?
We went to the movies and McDonald’s.
He took you to Maccas? Nothing better.
He was the sweetest guy, though, seriously.
I’d got dressed up so I was a little disappointed.
What did he buy you in McDonald’s – a burger or a whole meal?
My brother was the manager there so we got it free anyway.
At least the guy saved a bit of money.