Seven years have passed since a super-sweet 12 year old singer from Melbourne walked away $250,000 richer as the winner of the inaugural series of ‘Australia’s Got Talent’. But in the wake of the show, she virtually disappeared. No single, no record contract. Not a peep.
Nothing, that is, until the name ‘Bonnie Anderson’ popped up on a Justice Crew track a couple of years ago, signalling that a new beginning was nigh.
Now 19, Bonnie’s got a new single, some big name writers and (seemingly) the world at her feet. But it perhaps wouldn’t have happened if she’d resisted the temptation to release her debut single while still a pre-teen.
“It was definitely a 50/50 decision,” Bonnie admits. “My parents are very supportive and I had some really great people around me to give me good advice. Even my mum was tempted because she knew it had been my dream since I was a young kid, but I took the advice. It was such an exciting time, but also a bit daunting because I didn’t want to release music that wasn’t right for me. I had to take that time to figure out what sort of artist I wanted to be.
“I was 12 and I just wasn’t ready to take on recording labels and all of that stuff,” she says. “I just had to chill out and be a kid and learn my craft, so that’s what I did throughout that time. I learned guitar, I learned a bit of piano, I wrote songs and I performed live anywhere and everywhere I could. That was the important thing for me… to be ready and to work hard for it.”
The $250,000 prizemoney from ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ also came in handy in helping set Bonnie’s dreams up for the future.
“I put the money away and invested in it. I wanted to give a bit to charity too and that was exciting for me… that I could do something good for the world. I bought myself a piano and I wrote with people, I went overseas. It did help a lot with that sort of stuff.”
Though it has been seven years since ‘AGT’ and although she decided to bide her time for a comeback to the industry, there were a number of times when the ‘itch’ to return became almost too strong to ignore.
“I’ve always had the itch,” Bonnie says. “I’ve been writing songs since I was 12. Well, I started writing younger, but we don’t talk about that – they were terrible songs. I think I was itching madly when I found the right songs and decided they were really ‘me’. I’m always growing and learning and exploring. I’m always changing.”
The wait also negated the need for Bonnie to make the uneasy and often complicated transition from child star to pop vixen in the public eye.
“You look at Miley and artists like her,” she explains. “People compare me to those performers, because they saw me in the pubic eye when I was 12 and now they see me wearing latex. For me I just felt right to do that. I wasn’t trying to burst out and say ‘hey, I’m an adult now’ or anything like that – it’s just who I am and it’s great to show people a different side to my personality.”
The first sign that Bonnie Anderson was about to reappear in our lives was when she accepted a guest vocalist role on the Justice Crew single ‘Gonna Make You Sweat’ two years ago. The track was used as the theme for Channel 10’s ill-fated dance show ‘Everybody Dance Now’.
“That was really fun,” she recalls. “I was signed to Sony by then and we were doing a lot of writing. I think it was just a fun thing to do at the time. They mentioned it to me and I thought ‘why not’? I love the song, I love the boys and we had a bit of fun with it.”
Then came 2013’s ‘Raise The Bar’, co-written with the boys from DNA.
“‘Raise The Bar’ felt right at the time to go ‘here I am’. It was a cheeky, fun, uplifting song that showed another side to me. It was my little message to girls and guys out there to never settle for second best. Always believe in yourself – but in a cheeky form. My mum and dad always brought me up to be strong and to believe in myself and that’s the message that I wanted to convey with it.
“And I’ve worked with the DNA boys since I was about 16, so it was really cool to be able to release my very first single with them, because they mean a lot to me.”
Six months on, we’ve arrived at ‘Blackout’, a track co-penned with the RedOne team in Los Angeles.
“I feel like I’ve grown up even in the last 12 months,” Bonnie admits. “I’ve been writing, I’ve spent some time in L.A. and just discovering and exploring has been really fun. I was in the studio one day, I was really tired and I was just chatting to one of the other writers about guys. We were chatting – as girls like to do – and the concept of ‘Blackout’ came to me.
“You know when you meet someone and you have that desire to be with them? The ‘Blackout’ is that secret moment between you and that other person where nothing else matters. The bubbly little time when you can’t focus on anything else. That’s my take on ‘Blackout’ and it was fantastic writing it. We had a lot of fun.”
‘Blackout’ was one of the first songs Bonnie penned with the RedOne team; she tells us that they’ve co-written many more. But it’s not just RedOne on board for her forthcoming album; it seems there are many more big names involved in ‘Project Anderson’.
“I’m writing with some incredible people… Billy Steinberg. Insane. And Billy Mann. I spent some time in New York and got to see the snow, which was amazing. I was losing my shit.
“Billy Mann was incredible to work with. I spent a couple of weeks in New York and wrote some really good songs with him. I respect him so much as a songwriter, but as a person he’s incredible.”
But despite having all these top notch songwriters on board, she’s a little cagey when it comes to dishing the details of when to expect the all-important album.
“You’ll just have to wait and see,” she says, cheekily. “The album is on the way. It’s definitely on the cards. But I’m still working on it, still writing. The next single I’m excited about too.”
With so many big name songwriters and producers on board for the Bonnie album project, we suspect that when it finally does see the light of day, it may very well be worth the (seven year) wait.
Bonnie Anderson’s new single ‘Blackout’ is available digitally now.
A remixes EP is released in both physical and digital formats today.