“She possesses the look, the sound and obviously the right people around her to ensure that she’ll indeed be one to watch in the months and years ahead.”
So we bleated when we first introduced you to the delights of Aussie songstress Chris Sorbello towards the end of last year.
Not two months later, she was signed to Hussle Records, a subsidiary of the mega Ministry Of Sound – and after her inclusion on the bill for next week’s Supafest, she’s well on her way to stardom. We had a natter with Chris and discovered a young lady with a pretty amazing vision – one that she had from a very early age.
“I was five years old, watching the television and I saw Johnny Young having a sing – the whole ‘Goodnight Johnny, goodnight Tina’ thing (on ‘Young Talent Time’). From there I turned around to mum and I said, ‘Mum, I want to do what they’re doing’, and so from there, the journey started and I’ve never looked back.”
Her mum enrolled her in the Johnny Young Talent School in Brisbane, where she spent eight long years learning the tricks of the trade. It was around this time that Chris developed a love of early Madonna music, citing ‘Cherish’, ‘Borderline’ and ‘Like A Virgin’ among her favourites. The Material Girl was to become Chris’s main influence growing up.
“Mostly because her songs were great, but I loved the performance side of it and she’s one of the best performers – right up there with Michael Jackson. But I loved and admired so much in my childhood and the likes of Liza Minelli and Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire… Great performers through time have really influenced me and left their mark on me. I guess that’s why I’m so into honing my stagecraft when it comes to my own shows.”
But at age 16, tragedy struck – Chris was involved in a serious car accident that left her with life-threatening injuries. She spent ten days in a coma, before enduring a long period of rehabilitation.
“You hear it all the time on the news, but you think that stuff could never happen to you. And when it does, it just shakes every belief you’ve ever had about life, your mortality, about the reasons for being here. Music was something that really got me through – and there was a huge rehab period for me where I couldn’t really do much but listen to music. I wanted to sing. I was in a bit of pain, but… From there, I just realised that music was what I wanted to do with my life and there were no two ways about it.”
After uploading a couple of rather amazing pop tracks (‘Symbiotic’ and ‘Dangerzone’) onto her MYSPACE page, Chris’s big break came just prior Christmas last year with what she calls “a nice Christmas present.” She was signed to Hussle Records, a subsidiary of the respected global dance music label Ministry Of Sound.
“That for me was a huge moment, but we had so many goals last year. Getting (‘So Lonely’ producer) Sam La More on board before Ministry, that for me was a huge moment. I think Sam has some of the best ears in this country for music and for also making music. I use him as a sense check to this day. We’ve grown quite close and he’s a genius – and having him tell me that he was in love with ‘So Lonely’ was totally euphoric – like a drug – totally amazing. And then the Ministry signing – the bottom part of last year was a phenomenal time for me.”
But if she thought that 2009 was extraordinary, 2010 must surely have so far exceeded all expectations. Chris recently performed her first ever showcase in front of a (happily) shocked crowd in Kings Cross. She was added to the bill for the forthcoming Supafest tour and she’ll soon see her debut single ‘So Lonely’ released into stores.
“For me, it’s all about outdoing myself. So I set the yardstick and then I rub it out and go again. Supafest will be a build on the showcase – the reaction to that was ace at the Piano Bar. It’s funny because the place was packed and I was looking at the audience and I couldn’t read them. I was like ‘what are they thinking? Are they loving it? Are they hating this?’ What I realised afterwards was that people were just in shock because they didn’t expect to see what they saw. They were loving it. So I want to see those sort of faces again hopefully at Supafest – that kind of ‘wow, I didn’t expect this’. That’s what I’m looking for.”
Now that Lady Gaga’s come onto the pop scene with her incredible creative mind blending pop with art, we ask Chris if she almost feels the pressure to up the ante a little now.
“Lady Gaga is amazing. She’s a phenomenon. I think the direction I’m taking is a little different. I think she’s all about the shock and challenging herself, and she’s ultimately so creative. For me, I think I want it to be a lot about the glam, a lot about the dancefloor side of it – and I have my amazing (what I call) Fembot dancers and really telling the story of them. They’re amazingly sexy,” she says.
We ask her whether she’s considered the possibility of someone like Akon (who she’s performing alongside at Supafest) discovering her talents and whisking her off to America to be a superstar.
“Well you know, that hasn’t crossed my mind. I think I’ve been so caught up in perfecting the live show. I’ve been in rehearsals daily. No thought has been spared – I am very much about the visual and even though I’m only doing a ten minute set, it’s really intended to blow people away, so for me it’s all about that. But when I stop and think about the artists that I’m working with, I just feel so lucky. I’m really grateful.”
With her debut single ‘So Lonely’ (above) currently riding high on the ARIA club chart (this week sitting pretty at No.10) and an album in the pipeline for either late this year or early next (following “another single after this and then another and another”), Chris says she’d like to branch out from the world of music.
“I actually have ambitions of having a bit of a fashion label. I’m a bit of a fashionista,” she says, refusing to divulge the name she’s already picked out for it, “I’m not going to tell you. When it comes closer to the time, we’ll chat again and perhaps that can be an auspOp exclusive.”
Plenty of time for that later on, we’re sure. After all, that little girl from Brisbane who used to sing Madonna into a hairbrush now has a top ten club hit on her hands, a place on a superstar-packed bill and a debut album in the offing. Her fairytale is slowly but surely coming true. But for the immediate future, Chris’s main wish is pretty simple.
“As long as the public are loving it and they’re understanding the art and they’re understanding my vision, then that makes me very happy.”
‘So Lonely’ is released physically and digitally on April 16.
Chris performs live as part of Supafest in Adelaide on April 13, Melbourne on April 14, Sydney on April 15 and 16, Brisbane on April 17 and Perth on April 18.