In a sentence, tell us your job description, and what you do
I’m a Neo-Weimar cabaret artist and pop singer.
How did you get into that career?
I studied dance and drama at high school, and discovered cabaret while undertaking my Bachelor of Arts in Music Theatre at the Ballarat Arts Academy.
How long have you been doing this now?
I’ve been performing as a cabaret artist since graduating from BAA in 2004.
Where do you work from / where are you located?
I live and work in New York City, but tour around, also.
What companies or people have you worked for?
I perform in a lot of different venues, including Spiegeltents, theatres, traditional cabaret spaces like Café Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie, and Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre, and nightclubs around the city. One of my favourite organisations to work for is the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
What kind of people do you get to work with?
I get to work with a wonderful mix of musicians, fellow singers, dancers and performance artists, and the lovely people who program cabaret spaces and arts festivals. I have an incredible manager, Jeremy Katz, who is a dream to work with, as are the photographers (Christian Coulson, Mauricio A. Rodriguez, Damien William Vincenzi, among others), directors, music directors, publicists, and all manner of other fabulous beings who I collaborate with.
Can you tell us a little about your workspace or working environment?
I rehearse music at home, or in different spaces around the city, and do a lot of desk work from my home office.
Anything special you keep nearby or things you use for inspiration?
For inspiration, I like to go and see a lot of other artists perform, visit museums, and read a lot of books.
Would you consider your work fun? What about your job is fun?
Everything about my work is fun! I love performing and interpreting music, and I love collaborating with my friends and peers.
What kind of challenges must you overcome in your work?
I’m my own boss, effectively, so I have to be very disciplined, organised and deal well with time-management.
I think this section is best covered by supplying my biography, available here at this link:
Where did you grow up in Gippsland?
I was born and raised in Traralgon.
What school/s did you go to?
Kosciuszko Street Primary School, Traralgon Secondary College, Ballarat Arts Academy.
What are your fondest memories of living in Gippsland?
I love my family, and made life-long friends in high school. I enjoyed a lot of support growing up, and had a wonderful theatrical upbringing though my involvement with the Gippsland Theatre Company, and the Warragul Theatre Company, under the guidance of David Pickburn. I learned ballet and contemporary dance, sang, and studied drama, and I’m so grateful all of that was available to me in Gippsland. I’m also hugely grateful for the wonderful opportunities afforded me by my involvement in Traralgon Secondary College’s Rock Eisteddfods, which were instrumental in building confidence and creativity. My thanks to Mrs. Callander for her work at the school!
What kind of challenges did you have to overcome to get onto this career path?
I took dance lessons on Melbourne for two years, and to help pay for them and the travel costs involved, I got a job at the Traralgon Ice Creamery. That job also helped me pay for dance shoes, and singing lessons. I definitely had to stand my ground and decide to not care about what other kids my age thought of my wanting to be a performer, and that I didn’t care for football, or whatever they all pursued, and I’m very glad I did. My close friends were all fledgling performers, hairdressers and other creative personalities, too, so I was in good company most of the time.
What subjects did you do at school, or what things did you do locally as a kid that may have led you to this career?
At high school I studied dance, music, drama, psychology, literature, philosophy, theatre studies, and then also a few of the mandatory subjects.
What was your first job out of school?
I did a lot of children’s theatre and produced my own work.
Can you tell us about when you first left Gippsland and why?
I moved to ballarat to attend university at age 18.
How did your life change after you left Gippsland?
It just kept getting bigger, really. All to do with growing up, learning more, experiencing more people and ideas, and living in bigger and bigger towns and cities. I moved from Traralgon to Ballarat, then to Melbourne, then Tokyo, and now New York City.
What are the best things going for Gippsland?
I think the local theatre companies are a great way for young people to get involved with performing. Then, there is the Julie Ryan dance school (Julie Ryan Dancers, in Traralgon), an incredible resource with amazing teachers like Julie Ryan, Mandie Black, and the school’s vocal coach David Wiliams (all three being personal heroes of mine growing up).
What are the biggest things Gippsland lacks?
I think there could be more support for LGBT youth. I don’t know in what capacity, or what form that would take.
Do you come back and if so how regularly?
I visit every two years or so when I’m performing in Australia.
What kind of things do you need to keep track of to do your job well? How do you maintain working at such a high level?
I keep taking singing lessons, and see as much theatre as I can.
Who are your heroes?
In no particular order: Marlene Dietrich, Kylie Minogue, Camille O’Sullivan, my husband, my parents, Eartha Kitt, my friends.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into a career like yours?
Be honest with yourself, and pursue what you want to do. If you want to take ballet lessons and don’t care what the other boys think, then you’re on to a good thing.
Can you recommend some good books/magazines/websites for people looking to find out more about your profession?
Zoe Caldwell’s “I Will Be Cleopatra” is a hugely inspiring book. Ms. Caldwell grew up in Melbourne and worked hard to become an internationally respected and renowned actress. I strongly recommend this book.
Mauricio A. Rodriguez, RAM IMAGERY
Damien William Vincenzi