Christina Parie first came to Australia's attention as a contestant on last year's X Factor. Her rock chick attitude and quirky covers made her an instant fan favourite and she eventually placed 6th. Warner Music saw something special in the 16-year-old and recently released her debut EP - the surprisingly enjoyable 16 & Unstoppable. It's Avril Lavigne meets The Veronicas pop/rock for moderately angst-ridden teenagers but it works for me. I met up with Christina to discuss the EP and her future plans last week. Check it out.
"16 & Unstoppable" has finally landed. How does it feel?
It’s a nice feeling. It’s a good feeling. I don’t think people realise how much work goes into putting a single together, putting an EP together. All the crap you have to go through. All the stuff you have to organise. So to finally see it was a nice relief. It was a great feeling.
Tell me about the song. Who did you work with? What was the inspiration behind it?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t part of the writing. I was writing with these guys at Hit City and one of them played the beginning of “16 and Unstoppable”. I was like - that’s cool, work on that. I want to hear more of it. And then the next time I came in they had finished the song. Hayley Warner was in and she was fixing the second verse and I was like – wow, the song’s already done. Great! They got me to sing on the track and then when we were trying to pick a single, it really stood it. We all thought it was really cool. We knew it was an instant hit, so we went with that.
And the video (below)? It looks like you had a lot of fun.
I come from playing in bands – pub rock punk bands – and now emerging as a solo artist, a pop artist, I wanted to keep a bit of me rock roots and the first thing I think of when I think of rock is rebellion. There were a few mixed comments about how people perceived it. There were a couple that said what is she doing? Her mother would hate her if she did this! And then there were others that found it really cool. I’m kind of glad there was criticism. That’s my rock side.
It’s good to get a bit of controversy...
Yeah, it means people watched it. That’s great.
You’ve talked about your roots. How did you start out before X Factor?
I started off acting. I went to acting school. Then I started singing lessons on the side. I was like, I don’t wanna do it. But that’s where I met Victor Reyes who has been the mentor of my whole career. He started teaching me when I was 10. Then at 14 he introduced me to the first band and we did a few gigs and then I got my own band and started doing more gigs. Then I did the whole festival thing and band competitions. Now I’m here! Loved a lot of Blink 182 growing up. Loved Avril Lavigne. I love The Pretty Reckless - stuff like that.
I was going to ask if those younger pop/rock chicks like Taylor Momsen are the artists you look up to.
Yeah definitely. Girls like Hayley Williams, Avril Lavigne but I also like my pop/rock as well – like Katy Perry, P!nk and Kelly Clarkson. They’re all great but Avril Lavigne is my favourite. Growing up I used to wear the boy shorts and the chain.
She’s awesome. Do you have a favourite song?
You know what? I don’t know why but I’ve always just loved “Sk8er Boi”. I love her older stuff. You go into my mum’s car and it’s full of all Avril’s old CDs – Under My Skin, Let Go. All that stuff!
I guess that takes us to X Factor. For someone that was singing in rock bands – was that a bit of a shock to your system to be doing pop covers?
You know how that came about? My friends and family said I should do it. My whole life I was always like – I’m not going to go on a TV show. They’re just going to judge me. It was a week out from auditions and I just thought – whatever. I’ll give it a go. And yeah, I got a lot further than I thought I would. When I made it past the TV auditions and got to boot camp, I was like – I’m happy with this. I remember walking down the first day at boot camp and I thought it was like being surrounded by barbie dolls. They were all wearing the dresses , poofy hair and beautiful make-up and I was wearing purple jeans and a t-shirt. Yeah, X Factor – it made me pop but now I’m mixing in a bit of rock. It’s a good mix for me.
Were you expecting to progress and do so well in the show? You were one of the fan favourites.
I really did not expect it. After every round I was like – I’m happy with that. I’m happy with that. I eventually came 6th. I’m happy with that. That’s great. I only decided to audition a week out. It was all so last minute.
How soon after the show ended did you hear from Warner?
At the beginning of this year, they were like – look, go down your stuff and come back to us with what you’ve got. They liked it and then they signed me. They had their eye on me and then when the final product came around, they were cool.
So you had quite a lot of control over your own sound then.
So what was the brief when you went into the studio?
For the first single I knew I was going to have to lean towards pop. That’s what’s current. You can hear on my EP, it just gets more rock and more mature. You can hear in the stuff I’m writing now – I’ve already grown a lot and I want people to grow with me. I love how they gave me creative control by saying – go into the studio and come back to us.
What’s the plan from here? How are you going to get your song hear?
I’m going to do a few shows and a lot of radio and TV. I guess we’re just going to see how well the song sells and go from there.
You’ve got a really strong online following. How important is that?
Online is where it’s at these days. I go home and get on Twitter. It’s great and my following is incredible for someone that placed 6th in a show and didn’t even make the grand final. I’m incredibly grateful. Usually after the show, it all dies down but to have so many people still following me is great.
How are you going to separate yourself from the other X Factor alumni?
I’m just doing my thing. When you come off those shows, you don’t know exactly what you want and end up doing what everyone tells you to do but being with Warner – they’re so open-minded and ask me about everything. I have a say in everything. They’re putting it in my control. This is me shaping me. This isn’t someone telling me this is what Christina Parie is going to be like. It’s so personal and it’s me driving it... I think that’s what really separates me. Well, I hope so.
Are you still in touch with anyone from X Factor?
I think we just end up seeing each other at places like the Katy Perry movie premiere. I saw Luke Jacobz and Reece. It’s so friendly when we see each other. We have a chat and a catch up but we definitely need a reunion or something.
One last question – if you could pick anyone, whose career would you most like to have?
After seeing her movie, Katy Perry. I want to make a difference like her. I just don’t know how I’m going to do it yet! We’ll see. That’s my goal.
Good luck with that! All the best.