Arena spectacular

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Tina Arena cream magazine @2x

For four decades years, Tina Arena’s music has been a constant within Australian pop culture, and the soundtrack to countless folk, both on our shores and abroad.  Always one to diversify her craft, Arena is able to hold her own in the genres of pop, rock, club music, even classical, as well as venture into collaboration.

This year she joined up with beatmakers Client Liaison to create the catchy track A Foreign Affair and appeared with the band at a recent Splendour In The Grass gig, indeed looking and sounding splendid herself.

Now she’s set to take her own tour across the country.

Here, Tina chats with Cream about longevity in the music business and the ardent love of music, female heroes and fashion faux pas.

Interview by Antonino Tati

Hi Tina. You’ve been a staple on the Australian music scene – indeed the international one – for 40 years. Did you sense, back when you were starting out on ‘Young Talent Time’, that you’d be singing and making music for this long? 

I never really thought about it at the time, to be honest. We just got on with the work. I did try and get what some people might call a ‘normal’ job after I left YTT, but it wasn’t for me! I have been incredibly blessed, and I am very thankful for that.

 

Your music has provided an indelible soundtrack for so many fans. From the cutesy songs you sang as a kid, to your spunky dance numbers in your 20s, to ballads in both English and French as an adult. Are there any songs, or indeed music videos, that you wished never saw the light of day? 

It took me a while to embrace I Need Your Body… but now it is one of my favourite songs to perform. My manager convinced me to perform it again. The crowd love it! I’m comfortable in my own skin now, and I love that track. It lights up the room.

 

What about the fashion in some of those videos? You really had a look going during your ‘I Need Your Body’ phase… Do you still have that bolero tucked away your wardrobe and might we see it again? 

Yes, it’s around somewhere. Ha ha! Be careful what you wish for…

 

On the subject of fashion, what are some of the labels you’re loving right now?

One of my favourite designers right now is Cappellazzo Couture, based in Melbourne. She designed my costume for Splendour In The Grass and [her work] is amazing.

 

Do you think a woman can look and act feminine and sexy and still have something pertinent to express?

Absolutely… And those who think otherwise need to step up.

 

Who are examples of strong female personalities that you’ve looked up to? 

Madonna and Angelina Jolie immediately come to mind. My gorgeous friend Dannii Minogue has always stood up for the rights of others, especially LGBTQI people, even before it was ‘fashionable’, so I would include her in this mix. Many female artists – not just musical, and not always famous – have inspired me over the years.

 

Back to your own music, here’s a fun fact: every album you’ve released has gone gold, platinum or multi-platinum. With those sales and that success come plaques and awards. Are awards important to you?

The awards themselves are not that important to me, but it feels good to be recognised for the work I do. I think everyone feels that way, whatever line of work they are in. I must admit, it felt great after the gig at Splendour when my manager read me some of the comments people were making online.

 

Tina Arena Splendour on stage photo credit Patrick Stevenson @2x

 

At that gig, you performed with indie beatmakers Client Liaison, and of course feature on the studio version of their track, A Foreign Affair. That song has a certain mid-80s vibe to it, would you agree? 

Yeah, a real retro vibe.

 

How would you say music of the 80s compared to what’s mostly in the charts today?

I think the 80s were great but I think there’s great music today, too. I love everything about Client Liaison: their fashion, them sonically, their sense of humour… I think they’re fab.

 

Are there any artists you’re loving who are in the charts right now? 

I listen to plenty of new music… Client Liaison of course, Christine and the Queens, Stromae, and I think there are many awesome new pop [anthems] coming through.

 

Do you feel that your fans, for the most part, like the fact you’re able to cross from pop to classical, jazz to disco, or do you think some of them would like it if you stuck to a particular genre for a while? 

It’s a little of both – I have fans who would like me to do pop, others that like musical theatre, others that prefer I do uptempo music, and others who prefer the ballads. We are all different, and that’s okay.

 

You’ve performed on stage with some amazing fellow artists: Andrea Bocelli, Stevie Wonder, even the late Donna Summer. Could you tell me one memorable moment on stage that stands as a highlight for you, just in your performances with those three artists?

With each of these it’s actually during the rehearsal stage that I have my moment of ‘Oh My God, this is happening’… That moment is often more surreal for me, and grounding at the same time. All the big moments in my life are very special.

 

Tina Arena Splendour 2017 photo credit Patrick Stevenson

 

Tell us about your involvement in ‘Bigsound’. As a keynote speaker, what are a couple of the issues you feel we face in the Australian music industry at the moment. I mean, for starters, I noticed there was one week of the ARIAs, only a month ago, where only two Aussie artists featured… Do we need to see more Aussie music being made? 

It is not a case of more Aussie music being made, it is a case of radio stations supporting Aussie music and getting it heard. Or rather, as radio stations will probably never do that by choice, it’s a case the government activating similar local content quotas as they do with television.

 

It’s great to hear you’re touring soon, with several shows already sold out. Will you be adding more dates to see the tour run for longer than a month? 

As much as I’d love the tour to go on, I have to go back to France as I am releasing an album there. With various projects I’m pretty much booked up now until 2020! It will be some time before I do pop shows again, so I’m going to relish every minute of the Innocence To Understanding tour.

 

Finally, what are three things you always make sure you take on tour with you? That is, what can’t you leave home without?

My microphone, my band, and my in-ear monitors. Ha ha! I don’t bring home with me… I enjoy coming back to it.

 

Splendour photography by Patrick Stevenson.

 

Tina Arena ‘Innocence To Understanding’ Greatest Hits Tour Dates:

 

WEDNESDAY 6 SEPTEMBER | THE TIVOLI, BRISBANE, QLD **SOLD OUT**

FRIDAY 8 SEPTEMBER | THE TIVOLI, BRISBANE, QLD **LIMITED TIX AVAIL**
136 100 or www.ticketmaster.com.au and the venue | www.thetivoli.com.au

SATURDAY 9 SEPTEMBER | THE STAR GOLD COAST, QLD **LIMITED TIX AVAIL**
07 5592 8303 and www.ticketek.com.au

SUNDAY 10 SEPTEMBER | EMPIRE THEATRE, TOOWOOMBA, QLD
Empire Box Office | 1300 655 299 and www.empiretheatre.com.au

TUESDAY 12 SEPTEMBER | CIVIC THEATRE, NEWCASTLE, NSW **LIMITED TIX AVAIL**
132 849 and www.ticketek.com.au and the Civic Theatre Box Office | 4929 1977
| www.civictheatrenewcastle.com.au

WEDNESDAY 13 SEPTEMBER | ULUMBARRA THEATRE, BENDIGO, VIC **LIMITED TIX AVAIL**
03 5434 6100 and www.ulumbarratheatre.com.au

FRIDAY 15 SEPTEMBER | PLENARY, MELBOURNE, VIC
Ticketek | 132 849 and www.ticketek.com.au

SATURDAY 16 SEPTEMBER | PLENARY, MELBOURNE, VIC
Ticketek | 132 849 and www.ticketek.com.au

SUNDAY 17 SEPTEMBER | COSTA HALL, DEAKIN UNIVERSITY WATERFRONT, GEELONG, VIC 
GPAC Box Office | 5225 1200 and www.qpac.org.au

FRIDAY 22 SEPTEMBER | WIN ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE THEATRE, WOLLONGONG, NSW 
Ticketmaster | 136 100 and www.ticketmaster.com.au

SATURDAY 23 SEPTEMBER | ICC SYDNEY THEATRE, SYDNEY, NSW
Ticketek | 132 849 and www.ticketek.com.au

SUNDAY 24 SEPTEMBER | CANBERRA THEATRE, CANBERRA, ACT **LIMITED TIX AVAIL**
Canberra Theatre Centre Box Office | 6275 2700 and www.canberratheatrecentre.com.au

TUESDAY 26 SEPTEMBER | PRINCESS THEATRE, LAUNCESTON, TAS **LIMITED TIX AVAIL**
Theatre North Box Office | 6331 0052 and www.theatrenorth.com.au

WEDNESDAY 27 SEPTEMBER | THEATRE ROYAL, HOBART, TAS **LIMITED TIX AVAIL**
Theatre Royal Box Office | 6233 2299 and www.theatreroyal.com.au  and Centertainment and Ticketek | 132 849 and www.ticketek.com.au

THURSDAY, 5 OCTOBER | THEBARTON THEATRE, ADELAIDE, SA 
Ticketmaster | 136 100 and www.ticketmaster.com.au

FRIDAY 6 OCTOBER | CROWN THEATRE, PERTH, BURSWOOD, WA
Ticketmaster | 136 100 and www.ticketmaster.com.au