INTERVIEW: Ricki-Lee celebrates 15 years at the top
Image: Max Doyle
Australia’s Ricki-Lee Coulter first won hearts across the country 15 years ago when she appeared on the second season of Australian Idol in 2004. She may have left the show in seventh place, but she would go on to become one of the most successful alumni from the talent show scoring a string of hits, including five top 10 singles with the number two smash ‘Can’t Touch It’ featuring on the Sex and the City 2 soundtrack.
To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of her breakthrough year, Ricki-Lee is embarking on an Australian tour performing not only her greatest hits, but also highlights from the A Star is Born soundtrack. We recently sat down with Ricki-Lee to chat about her remarkable career, her tour and her future plans.
The first thing I want to talk about Ricki-Lee is your recently announced new December show at The Palms at Crown in Melbourne. The Crown is huge, it’s opulent - you can’t not feel like Celine Dion at Vegas!
You can’t not feel like a showgirl when you’re performing on the stage at the Palms at Crown right? It’s a big show. I’m a bit of a showgirl at heart, or a drag queen, whichever shoe fits best. I like all things sparkly. If I could have 20-foot disco ball hanging from the roof without it being an OH&S safety issue I would, but I can’t.
What can we all expect from the show?
It’s a big show, you know. It’s exciting. It’s fun. I love what I do. I like every show to feel personal and I’m very personable with the audience and I chat with people and I tell stories and that’s a really fun part of doing this show in particular because it is a retrospective of the last 15 years. So it’s nice to, before certain songs, tell stories about why that song might have been a single, or why I wrote this song - it was about this thing failing or that relationship. I [recently] performed my [Australian Idol] audition song ‘Don’t Let Go (Love)’ by En Vogue for the very first time other than that audition. I’d never performed that song - the song that changed my life - on stage ever until the other night when I did it in Melbourne. So, there’s little things like that and I just really enjoy bouncing off the crowd and telling stories and having fun.
It must be amazing, the audience have been with you for 15 years.
There are some faces that I’ve known for 15 years. I call them friends. I don’t like calling them fans. People that have been supporting me and loyal for all that time. They’ve got Ricki-Lee tattoos and they come to every show. They fly from Perth and Adelaide and Sydney to come to Melbourne or Brisbane. They come from all over to come wherever I’m performing. That kind of dedication and loyalty and love is really special. But there’s also new faces and new fans and people that I’ve picked up along the way, people that heard say, my last single, ‘Unbothered’ and loved that and then people that love A Star Is Born. There’s new faces, there’s old faces and the mix of people at my shows are incredible. There’s everything from little kids, the grandmas, the gays, women my age, mums that are out for a wild night out. It’s just a mixed bag.
Does the thrill of performing ever go away, or become routine?
The six-year-old inside of me screams every time I go on stage. It never gets old. I never get jaded or cynical. The excitement and the adrenaline and the love and the passion and the absolute obsession of it all never fades or wavers. It still excites me going out on a stage and seeing that I can make people have a great night.
What about this tour are you looking forward to?
I’m so excited to play at the State Theatre in Sydney on October 12. I’ve been to shows there, I’ve seen Tina Arena there, I’ve seen some films there. I’m so excited to play there.
This tour is celebrating your 15 years in the industry, do you have a favourite memory from the last 15 years?
I would say when my song (‘Can’t Touch It’) was on Sex and the City 2 soundtrack, that was huge. Warner Bros, I think it was came with a pitch to use ‘Can’t Touch It’ in a movie, a trailer and the soundtrack. I said yes, then a few days later, I was in my lounge room, turned on the TV and turned on E! They played the new trailer for Sex and the City 2 and was like ‘Yeah this is amazing!’ I had no idea and then and my drums came in and… the noise I made! It’s like someone would have thought that I was being murdered in my own house because I was screaming! I’ll never forget that moment. I’ve always felt like someone who’s been pushing an uphill battle. I’ve always been kind of an underdog. I never had all the luck. I never won. That’s the kind of thing when they say all the stars align. It all lined up and it was just perfect. It was amazing.
Outside the tour, what’s on the cards for you for the rest of 2019?
The rest of this year is crazy. I’m hosting Australia’s Got Talent and that’s been amazing. We’ve filmed half of the show, we’re about to film the semi-finals and the final. I want to finish some new music too. I’ve got so many things, I feel like it’s a little backlog. So, I’m trying to fit everything in and try and leave myself some creative space as well to finish off some music. I want to have something out by the end of the year. So that’s something to look forward to!
Ricki-Lee is performing in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne on September, October and December.
28 September – Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Tickets here
12 October - State Theatre, Sydney Tickets here
18 October - The Tivoli, Brisbane Tickets here
13 December - The Palms at Crown, Melbourne Tickets here