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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

8 Things Pop Singers can Learn from Cabaret

Hi there,

You may have heard about my love of the old-school entertainment values in cabaret. In the world of pop and rock, where I mostly reside, cabaret can be a dirty word. It shouldn't be! Here's what I think pop can learn from cabaret...some of these are my notes to self!

1. Arrive an hour before the gig starts
How many rock gigs have I done where a singer has turned up just in time to grab the mic and sing the first song? Not cool!

2. Dress appropriately
I'm going to sound like a cranky Gen Xer here, but when did dressing with just a bandaid across our bits become OK? 
Appropriate dress for a B&D gig!
Singing in a nightclub? Well, get 'em out a little, perhaps. Singing at a wedding? Some respect please - mystery can be sexy too! 

3. Sing for the audience, not just yourself. 
aka 'If they want 'Brown-eyed Girl' give it to them! 
When we're hired for a covers gig, we're hired to entertain a specific audience. Of course we want to enjoy it too but if we play obscure indie b-sides just to show how hip we are, then we're not doing the job properly. Unless the audience are all sick man! scenesters of course.

4. Work the stage
I know music went through a fashionable shoe-gazing moment, but not for me - then, I've never been cool! Of course, great rocks acts ride the mic stands and pose on the foldback wedges - in any genre it's a good thing to work that floor baby!

5. Connect with the audience
The difference between a video and a live show is the lack of a fourth wall. At the risk of sounding new-agey, I think performers should connect with an audience - talking, eye contact, and even - God forbid - smiling!

6. Mic technique-dynamics
Years of performing in front of loud bands on stage made me into the type of singer that delivered at the highest volume all the time - just so that I could be heard. It was all about 'kissing the mic'. Cabaret set-ups allow the singer to use dynamics. I've had to re-learn mic technique, pulling the mic away on that big note, whispering sweet nothings into it at the tender moments. 
7. Work to a time
Everyone knows that an 8 o'clock rock show starts at about 9pm right? In cabaret you usually work to a specific time frame and the start and finish times tend to be accurate within the space of minutes.

8. Know your charts/arrangements
I love that in cabaret it's expected that you're familiar with how your tunes go, you know, important stuff like what keys they're in or how many times you repeat the chorus at the end. To be on the same page as your band is what it's all about! 

Btw, if you want to see me (completely out of my depth) try my hard at cabaret, please come along to the 10th Annual Cabaret Showcase at The El Rocco Room (Bar Me) 154 Brougham St, cnr William St, Kings Cross, in Sydney, on Wednesday December 19. I'm up first, at 7pm, where I'll be given 8 minutes to show how Cab Savvy I am in front of judges including David Campbell and bookers from Australia's major cabaret festivals. Eek! Tickets are $25 from Moshtix.

Wish me luck!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Hi there,

A few years ago I was travelling through Europe with one of my BFFs. We got to Germany and went to stay with friends in Berlin. After a day out, BFF and I returned to the apartment block but the names of the occupants, rather than apartment numbers, were listed next to each doorbell outside the main door. As we scanned through the list to find our friends, we came across the name 'R.Fukert'. We both saw it at the same time and howled like teenagers and the phrase 'R.Fukert!' became the theme of our trip. We got to Cologne airport to travel to Prague and found out we didn't have the appropriate visas. What did we say?' We said 'R.Fukert!' and jumped on a train to Paris instead.

'R.Fukert' doesn't end there. I like to incorporate the 'R.Fukert' attitude into my everyday life as much as possible. If you have read my blog before, you might know that I have been a pop and jazz singer for more than 10 years now but have recently decided to become a cabaret artist. I did a lot of band competitions, talent quests etc when I was starting out in the music business and frankly couldn't think of anything worse to do again at this stage of my career. But I feel like I am starting again in the cabaret world, so when I saw that applications were open for the '10th Annual Cabaret Showcase' in Sydney, I said...
'R.Fukert!' and submitted mine.

The heats and finals for the Cabaret Showcase are going to be in late December. I don't know yet whether my application has made the cut, but will let you know through the mailing list. To subscribe, please contact me here.

We never did meet R.Fukert, but whoever you are, be it Mr, Mrs or Miss Fukert, thank you for, ah, being you!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sex - Scene it?

Hi there,

I've joined NaNoWriMo to finish the first draft of my novel this month. Writing every day makes the book really come alive in your head and I feel like I'm living simultaneously in parallel universes. The characters tend to take on lives of their own and start making decisions and choices that you hadn't planned for them. 

So what do I do when two characters decide they want to do the rumpy pumpy? Far be it from me to stand in the way of lust. Trouble is, I have to write it! I mean, my mum is going to read this. Do I put all the detail in, complete with throbbing members slipping into ham wallets (thanks for that lovely phrase, random Google search)? Or can someone just say, 'Take me darling!' closing the literary door before the x-rated stuff starts? I know 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is making squillions but personally those sex descriptions far from tickled my fancy or anything in the proximity. I wonder sometimes if a bit of mystery isn't better. 

What do you think - should I let my characters do the jiggy jiggy in private or do you want a blow by blow of bumping of uglies, every dirty detail of the doona dance?