GETTING TO KNOW: ELLY POLETTI

Elly Poletti is a multiple Theatre Guild Award winning vocalist and performer hailing from the Leongatha area in South Gippsland. Elly has a degree in jazz performance from Monash University. She has won Bruce Awards for her performance in the musical CABARET, as well as for her work as an arranger.

Elly Poletti talks to The Street ahead of the national tour of  WE MAY NEVER MEET AGAIN: The Music of Amy Winehousefor which she takes the stage with Movement 9.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST CONCERT YOU EVER WENT TO?

My mum took me to see Katie Noonan perform her jazz interpretations of The Beatles music at Hamer Hall in Melbourne. I was 16 or 17 at the time and I really loved her voice, loved The Beatles, loved hearing it done so differently… it was such a great concert.

 

AT WHAT POINT IN YOUR LIFE DID YOU DECIDE THAT THIS WAS THE PATH FOR YOU? WHAT’S YOUR JOURNEY BEEN LIKE FROM THERE?

When I was in year 12 I decided that music was the path for me. I was doing VCE music at the time and also performing in the Victorian State School Spectacular as a soloist where we performed at Vodaphone Arena, now known as Hisense Arena.

It was a great experience performing in such a huge venue and to so many people. I was also chosen in year 12 to perform at Top Class which is a concert in which all the best VCE music students perform in Melbourne. I was then later asked to perform at the VCE seasons of Excellence and then in the same year I was short listed for the Margaret Schofield scholarship which is a huge honour. All these amazing things were happening for me musically and I realised that this was the path to follow, because clearly there were so many people out there that thought I was talented.

From there I have finished my Bachelor of Music at Monash, moving on to my Masters in Education, and I have performed in so many great places over Melbourne as well as many jazz festivals. I have also met and played with so many talented musicians, the highlight was performing alongside the saxophone player who played on Amy Winehouse’ album ‘Back to Black’. But I am only half way on my journey, I am sure I have a very long way to go.

 

OF ALL THE SONGS IN THE SHOW, WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE TO PERFORM? WHY?

I love the song ‘Love is Blind’. Lyrically the song is about her cheating on her boyfriend but accepting that it’s ok because he looked like her boyfriend. I mean, it’s not ok at all, but I love that she wrote such a beautiful, cheeky song and got away with it. Joe McEvilly’s interpretation of the song is just divine, and it’s got such a big, sleazy, big band, blues vibe which gives me a chance to show off my voice.

 

AMY WINEHOUSE’S SONGS ARE LARGELY BIOGRAPHICAL, WHEN YOU PERFORM THEM DO YOU TRY TO GET IN TO HER HEAD OR FIND THAT THING THAT MAKES THEM YOUR OWN?

I don’t exactly get into her head as such, but I do like to study the lyrics and understand what she has written about. No person can sing a song and truly mean what they are singing unless they understand what they are singing about. You can’t tell a story without knowing what the story is about. So I study her lyrics, find the meaning, find the story, and then sing the song as if I was the one that wrote it, as if the lyrics were about me, that way I can feel it and mean it and be affected by it and hopefully affect the audience emotionally.

 

WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

An older man once came up to me and told me this:

Life is tough, its going to be hard and life will throw things at your which will make you want to give up or find the easy way out, but no matter what happens don’t give up, because you are not allowed to, not when you have been born with such an incredible gift. Keep going and work hard and i promise you’ll go far

I remember that word for word, and every day I think about it. It’s the best advice I have ever been given.

 

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D KNOWN WHEN YOU STARTED OUT?

I wish someone had of told me about persistence, effort and motivation when it comes to music. Things don’t get handed to you unless you’re Justin Beiber and you were discovered on YouTube. You have to work hard and keep persisting to get where you want to be, and most of all you need to be motivated to do it all. Even though you have to work hard, the result at the end feels better.

 

ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS? IS THERE A PROCESS THAT YOU ALWAYS LIKE TO GO THROUGH BEFORE STEPPING OUT ON STAGE?

Haha, I am not superstitious at all. I do the normal things like warming up before I go out on stage, but half the time I forget because I talk so much I just count that as warming up. But I do like to enjoy a strong small beverage to clear the vocal chords and I do a bit of stretching to loosen myself up, but nothing too dramatic. After I come off stage I like to have some time to myself just to think about what went well and what went wrong before I forget.

WHAT’S INSPIRING YOU CREATIVELY AT THE MOMENT?

I love Adele, she inspires me creatively. She is such a great songwriter and her voice is beautiful, and as I have such a low voice its nice to finally have someone to sing along to without sounding terrible. I also love John Mayer, I think he is incredible. His music makes me want to get on the piano and write and write and write.

 

WHAT’S NEXT? ARE THERE ANY PROJECTS IN THE WORKS?

At the moment I am trying to work on some original stuff as well as possible doing a show of jazz, soul, blues inspired interpretations of Adele’s music. There may be the possibility of taking the Amy Winehouse show to London, but it is yet to be confirmed. We will have to wait and see what 2016 has in store.

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