Freefallin’ Badwi On The Rise

 

Zoe Badwi is further proof that dance is far from dead Down Under. In a year that saw Sydney-siders Yolanda Be Cool land a global hit with “We No Speak Americano”, Melbourne-based singer Badwi enjoyed one of the biggest domestic dance tracks of the year with “Freefallin’” (Neon/Warner Music), which topped the ARIA Club Chart following its July release and peaked at No. 9 on the national singles chart. Its now platinum-certified (90,000 units), thanks in part to solid support from commercial radio network Nova and state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s weekend music video program Rage. “Zoe works hard, she’s well respected by fans, media and other artists, and she has a unique style that is popular on the dance scene and successfully crosses over into the commercial market,” explains Pat “Smiley” Cleary, owner and founder of Peppermint Blue Management and Neon Records. Badwi arrived on the scene in late 2008 with “Release Me” which reigned for seven successive weeks on the national club chart and collected nominations at both the ARIA and APRA awards. Bigger things are anticipated this time around. Produced by house music team Denzal Park, “Freefallin’ is diving into markets abroad, where its licensed through a network of labels including Atlantic Records/Big Beat (U.S.), Atlantic Records/One More Tune (U.K.), Pool-E (France), TIME (Italy) and Warner Music (Benelux, G/S/A, Scandinavia, Israel).  Badwi’s debut album should land in Australia during the first quarter. “We are expecting this to be huge,” notes Cleary, who notes that Badwi will base herself in Australia for the foreseeable future and will “jump” at international opportunities as they arise. Badwi is booked by 360 Agency and represented by Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

The Hot Seat: John O’Donnell

Published in The Music Network

 

If John O’Donnell weren’t in the music business, he’d make for a great baker. That’s because he has his fingers in so many pies.  Soon after O’Donnell completed his time at the helm of EMI Music Australasia in 2008, he launched the MySchoolAct high-school talent quest. He’s also found the time to co-manage Cold Chisel, and co-write a book on Australia’s greatest-ever albums.

How did it come about that you took on co-management of Cold Chisel?

By chance, their manager retired in late 2009 and they were looking for a new manager. John Watson and I put our heads together. We felt we could bring something and the band fortunately felt the same. I was always a big fan, always an admirer. The songs of Don Walker have become the fabric of our nation.

How does one co-manage an act?

We just talk about the different things in front of us in the months ahead, and we tend to divide them up. At the moment I do a little more of the recording and record company business. John looks after more of the live activity, and some of the strategic aspects. We haven’t had an argument yet, it’s been really painless and seamless. But we haven’t been tested yet. O’Donnell has also found the time to establish OdFellows Music, co-manage Cold Chisel and get back to writing.

Will there be a new album?

They’re doing some recording, but there’s no definite plan for an album yet. They’ll just see how that sits, how they feel about it and where it takes them. But they’re in the right frame of mind to make new music. As for live activity, they’re looking at this year to perhaps do some more shows. Nothing is written in stone. It’s just a matter of when it feels right to all five of them.

Are there plans to expand The “100 Best Australian Albums” concept?

We haven’t resolved what those plans are, but we do have a couple of ideas. The UK, US and global best-ever albums has been pretty well covered. There’s been a few suggestions online and chatter about doing the greatest Australian singles. But I’d want to give it a couple of years before we do singles. This book will take a lot of the oxygen out of that discussion for another book.

You’ve had a couple of years to reflect on your time with EMI. What are your thoughts?

I loved it. We ran the best Australian music company in the country at the time. It was a fantastic run; Jet, Kasey Chambers, Silverchair, The Sleepy Jackson and others, leading into Empire of the Sun. But it started to get a bit stale. I could see EMI changing. That was no surprise to anyone. And it ended up changing quite profoundly. I’d been there for seven years, and figured it was as good a time as any to move on with all the change going about. They’ve entered a new era with CEO Roger Faxon.

Will they be safe in the years ahead?

Yeah, I think so. At a local level, they’re running a fantastic company. Mark Poston is doing a great job. Local A&R and local artists is very much at the forefront of what they do. Globally, they’re going through some really hard times. All companies are. EMI have had the most public pain, and arguably the biggest problems. Faxon, and the changes he recently announced, had to happen. They were very heavy with high-level management and the structure they put in place wasn’t entirely functional. They’ve got an incredible catalogue and they’re a proud company. They aren’t going away, they’ve just got to make sense of the new world we live in.

Do you see any of the other major labels going away?

Universal have built themselves to be a very big, robust company for the future, and I think Sony has too. I think those two aren’t going anywhere. People are always speculating about Warner and EMI, and what their next move will be. I can see them standing alone, and I can see a time in the future when we have three majors. I don’t really know.

From the majors to the grassroots, how is MySchoolAct coming along?

That’s a project that Cameron Elkins, a mate of mine at EMI, brought to me. I was really taken by some of the work he’d done, setting up relationships with schools and departments of education around the country for this idea. We ran the first year of the contest and the idea in 2009, and we had a fantastic result. We had 170 artists apply and submit material. We ran workshops around the country and the winning band, Glass Towers, recently recorded their first EP. They’re now signed to Sony Music and I predict a great future for them. But it’s small steps.

 

Click here for the original story.

Click here for Lars Brandle’s “Bigsound” interview with John O’Donnell.

Evolution Of Human Nature

 

Las Vegas has provided more than just the inspiration for the Human Nature’s latest album. The vocal quartet – comprising Andrew and Michael Tierney, Toby Allen and Phil Burton — relocated from the relative comfort zone of Sydney to seek unknown fortunes of Sin City. Since taking the plunge nearly two years ago, the act has made themselves at home on the Strip. In May 2009, Human Nature became the first Australian group to earn a Vegas residency, when they started a year-long stint at the Imperial Palace Hotel. Six nights a week, the group perform Motown-themed shows, and they’ll be at it until May 2012 when their contract-extension expires. “We took a punt,” says Andrew Tierney. “And it seems to have paid off because we’re still here and the numbers are growing every week.” In a respect to their time in Nevada, the band’s ninth album “Vegas: Songs From Sin City” (Sony Music) is a 12-track collection of Vegas covers. Included on the set is a duet of “Could It Be Magic” and “Mandy” with Barry Manilow, another Vegas mainstay, plus tracks made famous by the likes of Elvis Presley (“A Little Less Conversation”) and Tom Jones (“It’s Not Unusual”). “Vegas” opened at No. 27 on the Nov. 22 ARIA national albums chart. The group returned to Australia soon after for an eight-date homecoming and promo tour, which included a performance on the Oprah Winfrey show Down Under. Former school friends, Human Nature launched their career with the 1995 quadruple-platinum (280,000-plus units) debut, “Telling Everybody”. Human Nature’s last four multi-platinum albums have all debuted at No. 1, and they’ve charted 17 Top 40 hits and five Top 10 singles. All told, the group’s career has spanned 20 years and more than 2 million album sales. A U.S. release for “Vegas” is in the works.