A few weeks ago I met @m8er in the glamorous surrounds of the Stonewall hotel on Oxford Street. The emerging pop sensation had just unveiled her debut single "Kill That Bitch" (which lists the celebrities she'd like to murder) and was in the middle of a public relations shit storm. The usually amiable Auspop described the song as "desperately contrived" and "enough to leave you totally appalled", while Jessica from Defamer went a step further declaring "any radio station who playlists it should be sent directly into the fiery pits of hell". Personally, I think "Kill That Bitch" is hilarious. It's a good, old fashioned piss take and I couldn't wait to meet the woman responsible for classy lyrics like "Paris Hilton rhymes with Stilton". Given @m8er's outrageous image and flair for controversy, I was also slightly nervous but she turned out to be a total sweetheart with no homicidal tendencies - that I noticed.
I was curious to get to the bottom of the "Kill That Bitch" backlash and started by asking - What is it about those particular bitches? "They are the poster girls for laziness and young wealth gone mad. I spent a lot of time last year crashing on sofas, watching reality TV and found those same girls on every show and in every magazine. I don't actually want them dead, I don't even know them, it's a figure of speech, an everyday expression about how annoying they are but it's not meant to be taken literally." So, how did Delta 'I'll advertise anything for money' Goodrem and Cassie Davis miss the cut? I'd take them out myself! "Well, I'm very patriotic and I draw the line at trashing Aussies, it's not gonna happen."
The elephant in the room was the overwhelming negative response to "Kill That Bitch" but I didn't really know to bring it up without being too offensive. So I just asked how it felt being labelled a talentless publicity whore. @m8er admitted to hearing some of the criticism but seemed quite taken back by the extent of it. "I knew it would upset some people but I am a little surprised by the extent of the vitriol. I don't flash my knickers or stumble out of clubs. I work extremely hard and I'm completely fearless. I write all of my songs and make shit happen. I've just been working my arse off for the past 9 years trying to create my opportunity. My songs are topical. I enjoy telling a story. I love to laugh. I just don't take life that seriously. It is becoming clearer to me just how conservative us Aussies really are." I wonder if she might have got a better reaction in the UK but @m8er was adamant about cracking Australia first. "I was actually offered a record deal in England but I turned it down. I just wanted to start my career here. I've been away for so long. And local pop music is average at best. I really want to make some noise here first. I'm determined to win everyone over but I'm not going to change who I am."
Next on the agenda was the spelling of @m8er's name (it's pronounced Amber). "People are reading far too much into it. I wanted my name to look like an expletive. I wanted something fun. It's really not that deep. 8 is also my lucky number. It's no big deal." I also couldn't resist asking about the "Kill That Bitch" video, which has received almost as much criticism as the song. "I wanted the video to be something completely left of centre. I am not interested in doing a paint by numbers pop video. I had the opportunity to work with the 'Street Monsters' in London who are these mad little animated characters put in real life settings. I had my own characters created and we shot it in Cambridgeshire. It was one of the best days of my life and one that I am very proud of."
So what's next for @m8er? "My second single is called "The 10 Date Commandments" featuring Lil' Kim." My jaw must have dropped when she mentioned Lil' Kim because she goes on to explain how the collaboration came about. "My manager in New York sent it to her and she went ape shit over the song. She recorded her vocals on it and appears in the video clip, which was shot in LA. We've become really good friends. She is real cool. The track was recorded in London's Rollover Studios and produced by Ollie J (Madonna, Leftfield, The Prodigy). It's completely different to "Kill That Bitch". Overseeing the whole album is super producer Dallas Austin. I ask how she hooked up Madonna's ex-right hand man. "I met Dallas after a show in New York. He liked my music and we got talking. I've been working on this album for a long time. I'm no overnight success story but its cool if people make all these assumptions about me. All will be revealed in the end."
I ask her to tell me more about the album. "It's called "Strawberries & Kittens". There's no filler. I believe every song could be a single. I hate it when there are only a few good songs on an album and the rest are pure shit. People don't know me yet or my voice. I have my own production company so no one hands me anything. I work hard and I'm in full creative control of everything I do. I don't have a stylist telling me how to dress. I am not four after all. I make my own t-shirts with my lyrics printed on them. I have no one telling me how to speak or what to say. I like to have fun and push people's buttons. What you see is what you get. So which pop stars do you look up to? "Madonna. I love the cougar video for "Celebration". I'm also a huge fan of Cyndi Lauper and Missy Elliot."
I get the feeling @m8er is completely misunderstood. I can understand why some people think Australia's answer to Lily Allen (Universal's claim - not mine!) is a super-arrogant bogan desperate for fame but I think she's just incredibly focused and driven. If nothing else "Kill That Bitch" has raised her profile and I suspect it was more of a toe in the water than a first single. Hopefully, @m8er's collaboration with Lil' Kim will put some of the haters in check and show off a different side of her personality. I wish her luck.