Before she releases her seventh album, we sat down with Vanessa Amorosi to learn more about 'City of Angels' and her upcoming Australian tour.
When you think of Australia’s greatest pop voices, a few names come to mind. Kylie, Olivia, Natalie, Delta – and of course, Vanessa Amorosi.
Now, the Australian music icon will return home to perform at festivals across the country, including The Point Live @ Portsea, By The C, and Red Hot Summer, alongside a host of fellow Aussie music legends.
Vanessa Amorosi Australia 2022 Tour Dates
- March 12, 2022, – By The C @ Don Lucas Reserve, Cronulla NSW
- March 19, 2022, – The Point Live @ Portsea @ Jarman Oval Reserve, Portsea VIC
- May 7, 2022, – Red Hot Summer @ Queens Park, Toowoomba QLD
- May 8, 2022, – Red Hot Summer @ Harrigan’s Calypso Bay, Jacobs Well QLD
- May 21, 2022, – Legends On The Lawns @ Harrup Park, South Mackay QLD
It was more than two decades ago that a young Vanessa Amorosi rose to national attention. With her debut single ‘Have A Look’ in hand, Amorosi was the talk of the Australian music industry. Then, the following year her debut album The Power shot her to international fame. With singles like ‘Absolutely Everybody’ and ‘Shine’, the record debuted at number 1 on the Australian ARIA album charts and kickstarted a much-celebrated 20-plus year career.
Known around the world for her phenomenal vocal range and the ease that she slides between genres – covering everything from pop to rock, blues to jazz, gospel, and more – after The Power’s success, three more albums soon followed. 2002’s The Change, 2008’s soft-rock influenced Somewhere In The Real World, and 2009’s Hazardous – her take on a more electropop and pop-rock sound.
The latter two were both huge successes Down Under, debuting in the top 10 of the ARIA Album Charts, with Hazardous featuring Amorosi’s first number one-charting single, ‘This Is Who I Am’.
The following year another album, Amorosi’s fifth, was announced and two singles were released. Instead, Amorosi decided to step away from the studio. And across the next decade, she stayed largely out of the spotlight.
Until 2019, when her single ‘Heavy Lies The Head’ kickstarted the most boundary-pushing and creative chapter of Amorosi’s career to date. That same year she released her first album in a decade, Back To Love, before 2020 saw her dive through her catalogue of b-sides, revisiting an album’s worth of incredible yet discarded tracks as an independent artist for the first time.
Now, she is back with album number seven, City of Angels. Sitting at 17 tracks long, and released through her own label, it is an album that Amorosi herself has described as being 20 years in the making.
Diving into the gospel sound she has explored throughout her career, City of Angels will be released the day before The Point Live @ Portsea – making the festival an even bigger celebration for Amorosi.
Before her huge Australian tour and the record’s release, we caught up with Vanessa Amorosi from her Los Angeles studio to learn more about what we can expect.
We are in the countdown to album number 7 – how are you feeling with the clock ticking down?
Vanessa Amorosi: “It’s the most exciting thing for me. I am so excited for people to hear this record. It’s taken a long time to get to this place where I feel confident enough to have my own label do it – to have the right support team and to go with my gut.
“Essentially these songs, I want people to feel something when they listen to it, so it’s always that tricky combination – you want people to feel good, but you also want people to feel like, ‘Oh I had that experience. That makes me think of this situation,’ because that’s what connects us all.”
Two decades into releasing albums, does the build-up period before get any easier or is it still just as nerve-wracking as the first time?
“This one feels very different because it’s the first time, even though I’ve been doing this for a long time. This is the first time. It’s the first time with a self-produced record. It’s the first time going through my own label. It’s the first time making every little decision count. I’m very passionate about this project, so I’m also very nervous and I want it to take on its own life just like the others did.”
It’s amazing that after six album releases you get to do something new again and refresh the whole process.
“I feel like once I get to Australia, it will be Celebration Town, because it will be out there. I get to now go and perform this stuff. I get to be on the road, be with my family, my musicians – my bass player, I’ve been with him for over 20 years on the road. And we’ve toured the world together as kids and we’ve grown up together. Just to be able to be with people that you love and do what you love to do.
“In saying that, audiences in Australia are indescribable, it doesn’t exist anywhere else but Australia. These big outdoor events, it’s a day of everybody celebrating music and coming together, and it’s all different ages. I feel like my setlist can be extremely diverse, and I have people following that. It’s not like I get up there, and I think, ‘Oh, we can only play this style of music because no one will follow it going outside of that era.’ It makes it exciting for me because it’s a challenging show, and I can also adapt the show as we’re going along.
“It’s going to be very diverse because my albums over 20 years of making music have evolved. This album that I’m releasing City of Angels is polar opposite to what I’ve released in the past. So, it’s nice to go in and out of these different genres and everybody’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool.’”
You’ve described City of Angels as a cinematic artwork that’s 20 years in the making. Do you feel like this is the album that, even without knowing it, you’ve always been building towards?
“Completely. If you listen to all of my stuff that I did when I was a kid they’re all countermelodies, they’re all gospel arrangements. It’s always been there and I’ve always been really passionate about it and wanting to bring that stuff more forward and elaborating more on it.
“This is a record where I haven’t sat there and gone, ‘That chord progression heading into the bridge is really complicated and it might just make it longer, let’s strip that and just push our boundaries in the chorus…’ This record is essentially what it should be, and it makes it exciting for me.
“Live, these tracks are going to need real musicianship. You’re not going to be able to fake your way through it because it will show, and there are a lot of little interesting parts that need to be quite on point. It’s a matter of choosing which ones will really cut through on stage and keep the energy building. I love that, it keeps you guessing, and it also keeps your brain moving as a musician.”
Is that part of the fun now? Taking those songs and reworking them for the live stage as a whole new creative process?
“I think it’s more celebrational, and I’m not going to know until I hit the stage with them and that’s the adrenaline of the game for me.
“Every stage is different, and every set will have to be different to adapt to what the audience is feeling more on that particular day. And the great thing is that we learn so many songs because there are so many to choose from, to make sure that as we’re running through the show, the audience is still following, and the energy is still building.
“With the new songs, it’s going to be a case of getting there and doing it and transforming setlists together and knowing what really goes great and what the build is. It’s a real process. It might not actually really be a process but in my mind, it’s a real process.”
The last three or four years of your life musically have been incredible. You came back and released your first album in a decade, then the following year revisited all these back catalogue songs. And now you’re back again with another album. What has this period of music and life been like for you?
“It’s been very liberating, because for many years I’ve sat in my studio writing song after song after song after song. They’ve just stayed on a hard drive and never seen the light of day. And the difference with now is I just release it.
“I have a great team. I know what I’m searching for, how I want it to be finished, and I go with it. None of this, creating an album, and then everybody has to sit around for five years and work out ‘How do we get it out there? How do we make this? How do we build it to that?’
“Now it’s simple, it’s music. If it’s good enough and it relates and you’re proud of it, you put it out. In saying that, I’m super picky. I throw at least 80% of what I write in the bin – not every song is good enough to be heard. These are the ones that I felt are very personal and make me feel a certain way that I couldn’t just put on a back burner. There are 17 songs on this album, so you can imagine how many were written just to find the 17 that I couldn’t part with. But each one of them need to be on that record. I’m really proud of it – I feel like it has all of those things I’ve been working towards for years.”
Speaking of incredible experiences, what was Eurovision: Australia Decides 2020 like?
“The reason I did it was that song. When writing Lessons Of Love, it was like this is a Eurovision song, there’s no other way of explaining it. It’s a big power ballad, it’s empowering, and that’s what led me into doing that. It makes no other sense unless it landed there.
“That’s what set me on that adventure, and it was a wonderful experience. It was very fun. And it was wonderful to be able to make this performance in the rain happen and have those discussions. That’s exciting for me, I love to do shows, I love performance. It’s nice to be among other people that feel the same way about music.”
How exciting is it to be coming back to Australia and playing these incredible outdoor locations? What can fans expect?
“A party – get ready because I’m getting out of the cage, I’ll be out of my mind. And so will all the musicians. This has been a crazy two years of waiting to step back on a stage and it’s an adrenaline thing. If you’ve been off it for a while it should be wild, and my setlist will evolve to adapt to who’s in front of us at those shows.
“I look forward to being with family. I’ve grown up being on the road with the majority of the artists that will be with me, and I’ve grown up with my band and the crew. It’s like returning home and celebrating music, there’s nothing like it.
“The locations of some of these places, you can’t get that anywhere else in the world. One of my favourite things is driving to the locations and going through the little country towns. If you haven’t seen Australia, it’s worth just doing that – just getting in your car and driving to the next place and being at the beach, that’s your location. You’re at a beach or you’re in the middle of the desert, you don’t get that anywhere else in the world. It’s exciting and it’s wonderful.
Check out Vanessa Amorosi’s favourite songs for the summer playlist:
Vanessa Amorosi will release her new album City of Angels on Friday 18 March 2022. She will take the record, alongside her huge catalogue of hits, to stages around Australia from March to May. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster.com.au.