Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Natalie Miller - Pop Trash Interview

Natalie circa 2010

Welcome back for 2010! I know it's been ages since my last post but I was hoping to give the blog a much needed overhaul and desperately wanted to come back with a bang. Well, I failed miserably on the first count (if someone can help makeover this dive - please send me an email!) but I think I did considerably better on the second. Towards the end of last year I wrote a couple of nostalgic posts about much loved Young Talent Time alumni Natalie Miller. I shared one of my YTT favourite videos and reminisced about what I thought was Natalie's only single. As it turns out, the 80s icon read that post and kindly agreed to be probed about her YTT glory years, bad hair days, her friendship with Dannii, singing back up for Kylie and her (failed but) fabulous music career. I'm hugely excited to have Natalie on Pop Trash and hope you all enjoy this walk down memory lane as much as I did.

Thanks so much for agreeing to chat. Like many gays of a certain age (mid-20s... *cough*), I grew up watching you on Young Talent Time and have been a fan ever since. What are you up to these days? Are you still in music?
Well, I did continue singing for many years, however these days I have stepped behind the scenes and am very busy doing a number of things. I manage a couple of young bands - Chicks Who Love Guns and The Vignettes - with my fiance. I also have a casting company called Citizen Jane which specialises in 'street casting' which is keeping me very busy. I also work in event production and work on a lot of fashion shows as well as parties, etc. I have always liked to keep busy and wear a few hats!

This much glamour should be illegal

YTT was such an iconic show but it also left a bit of a stigma, for want of a better word, on the cast members. In retrospect, do you think the show was a blessing or a curse? Did it help or hinder your career?
I think I can only look at it in a positive light. If it hadn't have been for the show there is every chance I would not have done most of the things I have done in my life. Music is a very hard business to start out in as a complete unknown so the show definitely gave me a foot in the door. Having said that, I do think it gave people - mostly industry insiders such as record company execs - a pre-conceived idea of what to expect from me which was sometimes frustrating. In the long run though, I probably wouldn't even be doing what I do now without that entry into show business at such a young age.

Who were you closest with on the show?
Dannii, Vince and Tim. We were a little foursome and used to laugh and have so much fun.

Do you have a favourite YTT performance? I love your cover of Sabrina's "Boys (Summertime Love)" and "Together In Electric Dreams".
Oh my goodness! You seem to have a much better memory of it all than I do!! I think mine would probably be the medley (ha ha!!) of Janet Jackson hits "Nasty Girls/What Have You Done For Me Lately" that Dannii and I did. It was quite edgy at the time for the show and seeing that I always got the Mother Of The Week soppy ballads, was a great chance for me to show my cool side!! Dannii and I also choreographed that little number ourselves..... I think we ripped most of the moves directly off the Janet Jackson filmclips which we studied in Dannii's lounge room for hours!

Natalie & Dannii show Janet how it's done!

Can you tell us something we might not already know about Dannii. When was the last time you saw her?
I haven't seen Dannii for years! I think I ran into her by chance in London about 9 years ago maybe? All I can tell you is that she was always very fun and had a great sense of humour. We were very close growing up on the show.

Speaking of the Minogues, I distinctly remember you singing back up for Kylie. How did that come about? What are your memories from the Intimate & Live tour? That was the start of Kylie's big comeback in Australia.
Chong Lim who was the musical director for the tour actually called me re that gig, as it was primarily the Farnham Band however Kylie's producer wanted to bring in a couple of extra members. I had known Kylie since I was very young and had also been friends with her manager for some time so strange that it came about that way. I have the BEST memories of that tour! We had a total blast on stage and off. Kylie's popularity had dropped off a little at that point so the shows were in smaller theatre venues but the audiences just kept coming and more shows were being added all the time. The crowds had so much fun at those shows as well. I think it was also great to see Kylie in a 'band' situation like that and I am sure she would also have great memories of that tour. I was so lucky getting opportunities such as that. I also did backing vocals for some other great acts including INXS, Barbra Streisand and Deep Purple. Quite a mixed bag!!!

You also worked with another iconic Australian. Tell us about your stunning 1988 duet with Vinnie Del Tito. Was it a hit?
Ha! Not so stunning I am afraid! We were pretty much fresh out of YTT and we did a tour together... RSL clubs and the like. Very cabaret! During that period we did record a single. I was very young then so I have no idea how it sold etc but I can safely confirm it wasn't a hit! I was kind of in the habit of doing what I was told at that point without questioning the long term advantages or disadvantages. Not that I was forced into it! I had just not thought about what I wanted to do with music as a career at that point. I was only 16.

In an old Smash Hits magazine you mentioned recording a Stock Aitken Waterman song called "When You Gonna". Do you remember anything about it?
Hmm.... I don't remember this to be honest however it is possible I had been sent the song from a publishing company for consideration. You would be surprised how many songs are out there by big hit makers that have never been recorded .... but that is probably for a reason in most cases.

A couple of weeks ago I found a copy of your classy Max22 collaboration in my box of trashy treasures and posted it on the blog. Who was Max22? What do you make of that song now? And most importantly, what the hell was going on with your hair?
OMG! The hair!! Look, I am not excusing the hair however the issue on the cover is more to do with the artwork and the way they have cut around the image to place it on the white background. Still, bad hair but not my first bad hair moment! That whole song came about pretty much by accident. I used to help a friend out demoing vocals for 'pocket money' years ago back in Melb. He was writing with the Max 22 guy and I had done the original demo however I was never meant to be part of the act.... he had 2 other girls in Sydney for that job. Anyway, he ended up getting a record deal and when they recorded the single version in Sydney they flew me up to do some extra backing vocals. This then got sent to Germany to be mixed and came back with ONLY my vocals for the girl parts! So, I was then asked to appear as a guest vocalist which I agreed to. To be honest, I have never really been into that style of music but I was helping out some friends and thought I had nothing to lose if it went well. It has however now haunted me for years... especially in the aforementioned gay community! But better to be remembered than forgotten!

Brat - circa 2003

You disappeared for a while but re-emerged in 2003 with the band Brat. "He Said She Said" (below) was a very different sound for you. Was it a calculated step to distance yourself from your YTT image? (NB - I did some research and was genuinely surprised by the hype surrounding Brat. The praise the band receive in this Sydney Morning Herald article is impressive).
Definitely not calculated. That was actually the most honest representation of me and my musical tastes on record. For years I played with different styles of music but then I discovered a love for rock and indie music. Brat was definitely a lot more of a pop version of these styles however there is nothing wrong with pop music in my eyes. In hindsight, I wish I had of discovered that side of me a few years earlier but I certainly have no regrets.

The song had an amazing B-side "Everywhere You Go". Was that written for the same project? Was an album ever recorded?
Again, a long time ago! I am having trouble remembering the exact timeline.... There was an album recorded which I am extremely proud of. It was however quite a bit different from both those tracks. I think when I recorded "He Said She Said" it was going to be a solo project initially but then I decided I wanted to put a band together. On that initial single I had the drummer from Howling Bells and Gary Beers from INXS on bass. I believe the producer - Barry Palmer from Hunters & Collectors - played guitar. I then put a more permanent band together who went on to record the album with me as well as collaborate on some of the writing. Nothing ever came of it unfortunately. I also moved to London and reformed the band over there as Citizen Jane. We did lots of gigs around London but again, nothing really came of it. I am still very proud of that album, however, so I think that made it easier for me to walk away from the limelight and step into a behind the scenes role.


You still have a lot of fans. Have you ever considered making a comeback?
Not anymore. I am almost 36 years old... not the time to be starting afresh! I am getting married this year and am finding success in the areas I am now working which is extremely satisfying after years of being the 'on the verge'! You can only be a struggling/starving musician for so long. There is more to life!

Thanks for your time and all the wonderful YTT memories!
Thanks to you and all the fans for enjoying the good and the bad!

Brat's one and only video clip - the brilliant "He Said She Said"


Miss Halliwell said...


Was just watching some more YTT on youtube there and Natalie is fantastic!

Brat is magic too, what a fabulous track, sad that the project was short lived.

As usual it's up to us gays to keep the memory of Natalie Miller alive!

Great interview and great video clips!


tommie said...

Great to have you back Mike!

Anyway, I do wonder if Natalie has actually kept any of the unreleased tracks (LEAK IT) and does she still hate peas?

undisco_me said...

I don't know her at all, but really like her. She seems really nice - anyone who suvives 4somes and moresomes with sex-crazy Dannii gets a high five from me.

Martin said...

Speaking of Young Talent Time... Maybe you should take a gander at this hot little number.


discodevil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
discodevil said...

She is so cool, Brat is fantastic they should have go off. Maybe we will see the CD released one day.

Craig said...

welcome back mike!!

I love this interview, is her song on itunes?

Paul said...

hamazing. loving her glasses in the top pic too. really entertaining read :P

Scott said...

Thanks for tracking her down Mike! Awesome.
Somebody really needs to remix "Gonna Miss Your Love" and get rid of Max's vocals. Could be huge.

Mike said...

Tommie - I put your question to Natalie. She's overcome her hatred of peas. Never let it be said that I avoid the big issues!

tommie said...

She's such a brave woman! Eat those peas Nat xoxo

Anonymous said...

I'm a record trader, and I found this thread whilst browsing the internet researching a demo CD I found at the weekend - looks like it's the "Brat" album from 2004 mentioned in the interview (credited to Natalie Miller alone). (12 tracks, first track is the single "Falling Out of Bed"). Was going to stick it on eBay, but let me know if it's of any interest. mgalvan1973@googlemail.com

Anonymous said...

What was the duet Natalie sang with Vince that was released as a single. can't seem to find the information anywhere