The Secret Life of Us: articles

Abi Tucker

Abi’s secret passion

EVER since Kylie Minogue trilled I Should Be So Lucky, far too many young Aussie screen stars have thought exactly that and bid goodbye to Summer Bay and Ramsay St, naively expecting their next stop will be the Grammys.

Sadly, few left any memorable mark on the music scene and have since wilted away via a few appearances in British pantomimes.

Abi Tucker is the latest to travel down the well-worn soap-to-pop-star path.

But for The Secret Life of Us star, who has just released her first album Dreamworld, the music has always been in her.

It’s a calling she can’t ignore.

She has spent the past 12 years on Australian screens, with her music always taking a back seat to acting.

But she feels it’s time to unleash her songs in to the “real world”.

“I can’t stop making music, so I guess I better put it out there!” she laughs, explaining the decision behind her career move.

“For me, music is always happening, even when I’m acting.

“I’ll come home from doing a scene and work on a track and I’ll be saying ‘Right, I want to do this now’, rather than ‘I have to do this now’.

“That’s what music is for me.

“I need and want to do this, as opposed to I have to do this, because it’s what someone is telling me to do.

“Something in me is telling me I’ve just got to do it.”

A confessed “creativity addict”, Tucker has managed to successfully juggle acting and music throughout her career, often playing a musician on-screen or managing to include her songs on the soundtracks of her television shows and films.

Tucker not only draws similarities between being in front of a microphone and a camera but has used her acting experiences as inspiration for her new album.

The song Stargazer tracks the rises and falls in the fickle entertainment industry and the album’s title, Dreamworld, is based on her choice to live out her dream.

Dreamworld is a bit of a labour of love so it made sense to title it as something that captures the whole concept.

“It’s quite dark and dreamy and anyone that’s ever followed their passion knows it’s an uncomforting thing to keep putting yourself out there, but I think the best thing in the world you can do is follow what you love.”

Music has always been the main passion of the 30-year-old singer, songwriter and music programmer, who formed her first band Jatz and The Crackers at the age of 14.

Growing up in Sydney’s western suburbs, Tucker was raised on a diet of rock including Alice in Chains and Soundgarden alongside the soothing and inspiring Tori Amos and Madonna—an eclectic mix that is seen in her musical style today.

She describes her sound as “more rocky, more bluesy, but with a different, softer texture to my voice… my style has morphed through so many different stages—it’s just emotive”.

Her break came in 1992 when she tied as the winner of Bert Newton’s talent show New Faces singing Pat Benatar covers and “one naive original”.

From there her television career began. Although she’s appeared in the ABC’s Wildside, the film The Wogboy and most recently in pay-TV Fox 8’s Love Bytes, Tucker is best known as the fresh acting talent in two of Australia’s ground-breaking youth dramas, the ABC’s Heartbreak High and Channel 10’s The Secret Life of Us.

It’s often been an uncanny situation of life imitating art, with Tucker’s two best known roles—Jodie on Heartbreak and Miranda on Secret Life—both being young, struggling performers trying to crack the entertainment industry.

But last year, Tucker left the successful Secret Life series because “it was time to go”, and focused her energy on music.

Last month, when her former castmates strolled the Logies’ red carpet, Tucker was tucked away in her new home in the sleepy town of Bangalow in northern New South Wales, practising songs for her coming self-funded national tour.

In fact, the most significant entertainment event Tucker can’t stop talking about is last month’s East Coast Blues and Roots Festival at Byron Bay, where she pushed herself to the front of the stage to witness some of the world’s greatest musos work their magic.

“Oh God I had the best time! It was just unreal, just unbeatable and totally mad!” she says. “I just couldn’t believe some of the stuff that was on.

“I mean you go out among it and everyone’s vibing. Going as a spectator, it’s just unreal to have it happen in front of you. It’s all about the experience.”

Describing her own live show, Tucker isn’t as overly enthusiastic, but is still quietly hopeful her music can move the audience as it moves her.

“It’s hard to have expectations, but I just want it to be dynamic and strong and for people to go away knowing they’ve felt something, rather than just heard music.”

As for her future and whether she will return to acting, Tucker is even more modest and avoids confining herself. “I’ll just take it as it comes. I have high expectations… but the less pressure you put on the end result, the more free everything will be. I’m just going to try and stay on a path that believes in music and really follow that through.

“On one hand you’ve got all these big ideals and big ideas about where you want to be, but by the end you just want to know you can keep doing it because you love it.

“I think an artistic career lasts a lifetime—it’s not just a flash in a pan. And if you’ve dedicated yourself to something then it’s about living life out regardless of the highs and lows.

“God, so philosophical this morning!” she chuckles into her cup of tea.

• Abi Tucker will play on Thursday at The Zoo, Fortitude Valley. Tickets at the door. Dreamworld is out now.

By Lucy Carne
May 02, 2004
The Sunday Mail