INTERVIEW: Ricki-lee

Ricki-Lee is back and she’s unapologetically being herself more than ever before. Her infectious new single ‘Unbothered’ looks at a previous relationship or friendship that has come to an uncontrollable end but shares a positive outlook on the situation. She finds a growth within herself that is no longer mad or angry and is now just unbothered by the situation. It’s an outlook that we could all embrace at the best of times because we do seem to care so deeply about the smallest things. And she confidently tells it as it is with the sassy chorus line “I don’t care enough to hate you, I’m just unbothered”. Sonically it takes you back to the mid 2000’s where the Gold Coast singer-songwriter was dominating Australian radio with some carefree pop-RnB anthems that had you dancing and singing along.

I recently chatted to Ricki-Lee about the sassy and empowering message behind ‘Unbothered’, the vulnerability that ‘Not Too Late’ emobodied and reflected on the weakest and strongest things about her debut album which was released 13 years ago. Check it out;

TB: Your new single ‘Unbothered’ is a sassy and empowering track that looks at a previous relationship/friendship coming to an uncontrollable end but sharing a positive outlook on the situation instead of being angry. So how important has this message been in your personal life over the years? 

RL: This is a song about taking the power back from the people that have hurt you and deciding that you won’t let them ruin your life anymore. It’s sending them the message loud and clear, that you won’t let them fuck with you and that you won’t be wasting your time being upset or angry about them because you’ve got better things to do in your life. That has been the key to finding so much happiness in my life. To quote Whitney Houston for a second, “I decided long ago”…that I wasn’t going to sit back and let people walk all over me and I wasn’t going to just stand back and let someone treat me like shit because “they’re my best friend” or because “I love him” or because “that’s my grandma”. Because that’s never an excuse.

When you love people you don’t go out of your way to hurt them, you don’t treat them like shit and you don’t make them feel awful about themselves. The thing is, you teach people how to treat you. If you constantly let people hurt you, they’re gonna keep doing it. You have to draw the line and make it very clear what you will and won’t stand for.  And I don’t allow people to treat me with anything but love and respect and honesty because that’s how I treat people. And I expect to be treated that way too. And people know the line with me now. if you are an asshole, you’re done. You’ll never get an angry phone call from me yelling at you or get passive aggressive texts because you’ll just never hear from me again. So the lyrics of this song are exactly how I live my life.

TB: The lyrics are quite quotable, sassy and empowering. So what is personally your favourite lyric from the track?

RL: I’d have to say my favourite lyric is “Cause hatin’ you is energy, now I’m spending it all on me”. It’s such a powerful thing to say to someone; I’m not wasting another second of my time or an ounce of my happiness on you. I’d rather spend it on me and I’d rather focus on all the great things in my life.

TB: Sonically the sound reminds me a bit of your older material. So what is currently inspiring you sonically and lyrically whilst you’re working in the studio? And what can we expect from RL5?

RL: Honestly I just love music! I listen to everything, and what I listen to doesn’t necessarily inspire what I do for myself. I listen to a lot of hip hop, a lot of old classic 70s & 80s & 90s music, I listen to a lot of house and dance music as well as pop music. I just love that music is constantly evolving and ‘the sound of the moment’ is always changing. As a fan of music I love hearing where it is going and also looking back at where it has been. I couldn’t tell you what my sound is. It has been something that has changed with every record I have released, and I really enjoy that. I always focus on the song first and foremost and then musically everything else falls into place the way it should. The song will always tell you what is right sonically.

TB: In contrast your last single ‘Not Too Late’ was probably the most vulnerable you’ve ever been as a songwriter and one of the most raw and powerful you’ve been vocally too. So were you nervous to show the world that different side of you? 

RL: Not really. As a writer and a performer you want to show and share that side of you because that’s where all the good shit is and it’s plain to see. The listener doesn’t have to work too hard, they just sit back and soak up the feels. I think sometimes the biggest struggle is when you’re really happy it actually hard finding inspiration because nobody really wants to hear how happy you are all the time! *Laughs*. So as a writer, sometimes you have to work a bit harder to scratch the surface and go deeper into the more psychological workings of your brain and look at scenarios in your life where your happiness has been disturbed and then write about the ways you dealt with that. I also listen to my friends and the things they are going through and sometimes I write about their struggles and their frustrations because being so close to them, I feel them so deeply too.

TB: It has been 13 years since you released your debut self-titled album. So reflecting on it now, what would you say is the strongest and the weakest thing about it?

RL: Wow, I love this question! I would say the weakest thing would be that I was just a baby.  I was 18 and I still had so much to learn about myself as a woman and as an artist, so the subject matter was very juvenile and shallow. I didn’t really have ‘a sound’, it was a bit of a mish-mash of pop and RnB and even a little pop-rock in certain moments. But the strongest thing would be that I was fearless. I was so confident and so sassy and so comfortable with myself that I was able to be quite bold with what I was saying and also with experimenting with all of those different styles.

TB: Your songs ‘Not Too late’, ‘Can’t Touch It’, ‘Raining Diamonds’ and ‘Do It Like That’ have all received heavy rotation and have been played in some incredible and random places. So where is the weirdest place you’ve heard one of your songs? 

RL: I’ve been overseas in the US and Europe whilst in restaurants and stores or just walking down the street and one my songs have come on and it’s the funniest thing because I wanna stand up and yell out to everyone “HEY this is my song!” but I also don’t want to be a dick! *Laughs*. But I also just love observing people and seeing if they start to dance or if they’re tapping their foot or singing along.

I was at a Pink concert once in Sydney with the guy I wrote ‘Raining Diamonds’ with, my friend David Schuler, who also wrote for Pink. And they played ‘Raining Diamonds’ before the show and the crowd was singing along and that was amazing to sit there with him and watch an arena full of people singing along to our little song we wrote together in New York. Kinda one of those full circle moments where you look at each other and go, “holy shit, we made that!”.

TB: Your songs have a very empowerful and vulnerable edge to them. So what would you like to say to females who are scared to be themselves or are confused with the current state of the world?

RL: I would say that you only live once, so enjoy it and spend it with people who you love and that love you. And don’t waste your life away being upset or angry about things you can’t control. Stop caring so much about what people think about you. Celebrate your victories no matter how big or small they are and don’t dwell on the bad times for too long. Always try to find something good in anything bad that happens in your life. Finding a silver lining is always a great way to get through those times. Once you figure out who you are, be that and be unapologetic about it.

TB: Here is a little fun question for you… If you could give any new Australian artist a “touchdown” for their new single at the moment, who would it be? 

RL: I mean they’re not new singles but ‘My My My’ by Troye Sivan and ‘Youngblood’ by 5 Seconds Of Summer are two of my favourite pop songs to come out in a VERY long time! So I’d give them a touchdown for sure!

TB: Lets play a little game where you answer these questions with the first thing that comes to mind…

RL: Okay!

TB: Most people think I…

RL: Care about what you think about me, jokes on you cause I don’t *laughs*!

TB: The emoji that best describes my new single is…

RL: Definitely the middle finger!

TB: My pre show pump up song is…

RL: ‘N***as In Paris’ by Jay Z & Kanye

TB: If I could collaborate with any artist it would be…

RL: Jay Z!

TB: Pineapple on pizza is…

RL: For serial killers.


Ricki-Lee’s new single ‘Unbothered’ is out now



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