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“WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?”
When we’re young, many of us fantasise about being musicians or making movies; as we get older we may dream of being paid to review fine food, or working in magazines. But what’s the reality of these ‘Dream Jobs’?
Shooting into the national spotlight on last year’s season of The Voice Australia, Amber Nichols reveals that the reality of ‘overnight’ success is years of hard work.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A MUSICIAN?
It’s something that’s always been a part of me. I remember tinkering on a toy keyboard at a young age, playing back the melodies I heard on the radio and delighting in creating new ones. I can attach a song to every emotion I’ve ever felt, every big event in my life. When I feel happy I sing, when I feel sadness I sing, when I’m lost I sing. As cheesy as this sounds, I didn’t choose music, it chose me.
HOW HARD IS IT TO MAKE A LIVING AS A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN?
I get asked all the time why don’t I do music full time and my answer is this: ‘Because I love it’. My heart is just not in gigging five days a week, late nights away from my family and supplementing my income by teaching. Slogging it out on the corporate scene playing somebody else’s song doesn’t appeal to me. What does appeal to me is opportunities to share my songs and my soul and touch somebody with a message of hope, of comfort, or understanding.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TEMPTED TO GIVE IT UP?
I’m not sure I could ever give up music completely [but] I’ve been tempted many times to give up on the dream of becoming a recording artist. I’m certainly very aware that only a small percentage of musicians are afforded the opportunity to share their songs with the masses. But that’s the dream. It’s what drives me to drag a newborn across the country from one recording studio to the next, to keep writing when I’ve had no sleep, to keep networking and to do crazy things like go on national TV and sing at 39 weeks pregnant.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES?
The biggest challenge for me right now is balancing music and family. Some days it all seems too hard. Sound-checks with one baby strapped to you and your two-year-old heading at full speed to the nearest exit. Learning how to be creative when you’re running on little sleep. Breastfeeding between sets. Not seeing your spouse out there in the crowd at an important show because he’s at home holding down the fort. Those are the hard things.
AND BEST BITS?
The absolute best part of being a musician is when a song that you have written resonates with a listener and hearing them share with you the impact that a song has had on their life. Nothing beats that.
ANY WORDS OF WISDOM?
I would say there are no quick wins, or short cuts. Hard work and determination are the best chance you have and still there are no guarantees. It’s as much about your talent as your network, so work on both. Build a team around you, who believe in you, and will help carry your vision. Be a decent human being! Be kind to your fans and be generous with your time because it’s the consumer that ultimately decides your fate in this business. And above all, stay true to yourself and love what you do.
Photography by Martin Ollman
You can read this article in full and more in our latest edition of Magazine: The Dream Issue. Available for free while stocks last. Click here to find your closest stockist.