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How Kylie Minogue Helped Australian Artist Gretta Ray Find Her Voice

"There’s definitely a narrative out there that you can only find success as a very young female artist."

Ahead of the release of her new album, Positive Spin, Melbourne singer-song writer, Gretta Ray opens up about the women who helped her find her voice.

1. Kylie Minogue

My first CD was a Kylie album when I was seven. Kylie was the first artist to really get me excited about pop music. I had a pretty on-and-off relationship with pop through my childhood and teens. When you’re a kid, pop music is colourful and exciting.

I remember sitting in the car as a child and listening to Kylie, Hilary Duff and Taylor Swift when we were on roadtrips. [Later on] I definitely closed my eyes to pop music for a while. I went to a wonderful, very artsy high school and I felt like I needed to be perceived as cool and edgy and different. Being able to reflect on music now through the lens of being a pop writer is really interesting.

I realised that pop music can be emotional and evocative and deep. I’m so inspired by it and how many different variations there are and what you can do with it. There’s still this taboo around pop music [and this idea that] because it’s catchy it can’t be complex and intelligent, when in fact it means that the artist worked extra hard to make sure the song was going to resonate and stick with you. That’s powerful. Having someone like Kylie, who is so successful and has come from the same place as me is so inspiring.

I found out recently that her song “Spinning Around” was released when she was 32 years old and that “Can’t Get You Out of my Head” was released [a year later]. It makes me feel excited to keep striving to do the best that I can in my career, because I have some years of experience under my belt.

Now I’m in a really comfortable place with my art and I feel really good about my new songs. I never could have done what I am doing now when I was 18. It’s good to have those reminder stories, like Kylie’s, because there’s definitely a narrative [out there] that you can only find success as a very young female artist.

Kylie Minogue
Australia singer, Kylie Minogue. (Credit: Getty Images.)

2. Meghan Callaghan and Leah Spurgeon

I met my two best friends when we were five years old. Meg was like a magnet I was drawn to. She’s creative, smart and extremely hilarious. I connected with Leah through Meg, and soon enough we were all in the same imaginative headspace.
The three of us fit seamlessly together. When we started high school it was very obvious to everyone that we had arrived as a trio. We went everywhere and did everything together.
There’s a certain point in friendships where you start growing and learning and doing different things. It’s easy to drift apart when people change, but the three of us continuously proved to each other that we could grow together.
Meg and Leah have always been really understanding of all the things that come with my career. I often go to them with new music to get their advice. The best thing about childhood friends – and the right people – is that you don’t have to worry about your social battery when you’re with them.
Getta Ray
Gretta Ray. (Credit: Image: Getty Images)

3. Kath Murdoch

Growing up I was always surrounded by music. My parents loved listening to the great storytellers of our time: James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Rufus Wainwright and Paul Simon.

Mum was always really supportive of my interests and nurtured my creativity. It was Mum who first taught me how to play guitar. During my childhood, we spent a lot of time in a town called Kennett River on the Great Ocean Road.

Some of my favourite memories are from those times with Mum, being by the beach and dancing to music. When I started getting into this job more seriously, Mum was right by my side.

I don’t know where I’d be without her. Mums see you for who you are, in ways that no-one else will ever be able to, if you’re fortunate enough to have a great relationship.

There are times when they say things you don’t want to hear [but] I think that’s what true love is. I feel really lucky to have continued into a really good adult relationship with my mum. I’m continuously inspired by her work ethic and I owe [mine] to her.

Gretta Ray’s new album, Positive Spin, is out now.

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