People

Born on the wind: it’s time to meet Holiday Sidewinder

“I have album covers, lyric books, lists of things to pack on tour I made from age five. I truly always knew what I was and what I loved – showbiz.” Singer-songwriter and pop provocateur Holiday Sidewinder spends an afternoon with photographer and Contributing Editor Kitty Callaghan, and shares with RUSSH her creative icons, favourite gigs and all that’s on her horizon.

“[My personal style would be described as] ‘Princess Di going to gym’ in the day and like ‘Liberace and an L.A. stripper had a child’ at night.”

On her inspirations …
Tina Turner, Grace Jones, Betty Davis, Prince, Madonna, Britney … my Mama.

On her single Forever / Whatever
Forever / Whatever is about how overwhelming the logistics of love can be, with all its underlying societal pressures and future projections. It’s me saying yes, marriage and monogamy is a result of love, but it’s also a construct based around ownership/possession, finance and public appearance. That doesn’t entirely bode well with me. Not just marriage, but the whole idea of these capitalistic boxes the world tells us we have to tick to be complete – buying a house, being successful, owning a car and a lover and having children. I’m saying the forever-plan, or whatever-happens-plan is all good with me, just don’t anticipate – enjoy people, love and life as it comes.

On creating music …
I write lyrics alone, mostly when I’m moving (walking, in the car, train, plane, etc). Something about the momentum jogs my brain. I love collaborating though. It’s like adding bicarb soda to vinegar and watching it bubble up and overflow. This record I worked on with my friend Ben Mark, who is a fucking whirlwind cyclone hive of activity in the studio. We read each other’s minds, finish each other’s sentences and I trust him implicitly – my musical other half. He’s a genius and a multi-instrumentalist. I just let him go wild. Then we reign it in.

On her upbringing …
I was raised by a colourful family completely entrenched in the entertainment industry; a complex group of eccentric individuals. My paternal grandmother is a ballroom dancing behavioural therapist lesbian who had a child in a 10 year menage-a-trois, and won a landmark LGBTQ custody case with her IVF baby. My maternal grandmother worked in costume in film (and made Chrissy Amphlett’s tunics!), her husband is a late-night jazz musician. My mother was a teenage actress who sang in bands, my dad was a set builder. My mother left my father for a wonderful woman (who was a singer). They raised me in the red light district of Darlinghurst in the 90s. My stepmother was a famous actress and the bigger breadwinner in my dad’s household. Lots of strong women around. I lived on Bondi Beach with dad, surfing and swimming off the rocks at sunset. Bohemians. I’m completely made up of them. No escape! Proof is in the pudding.

On her first band …
There’s cassettes of me singing made up lyrics from age three … When I was six, my best friend and I started a pop band called The Brats (we have the recordings and business cards). Later on, when we were 13 and both playing guitar, we started a band called Bridezilla. Continuous theme there. I had an 8-track in my bedroom. My mum was making bedroom records at that time, so we had a little studio. It’s all I’ve ever known.

On setting a career path …
I have album covers, lyric books, lists of things to pack on tour I made from age five. I truly always knew what I was and what I loved – showbiz. I was singing and dancing 24/7 and dreaming up shows. There was a brief time of rebellion in performing arts high school, where I thought about a career in politics or astronomy (“Studying the stars, of course!” my drama teacher scoffed at me), but I was already touring full-time at that point.

“I think because songwriting was something my mother and grandfather did, I thought that was just a normal part of life.”

On her favourite gig …
Honestly, I’ve performed at The Opera House and Madison Square Gardens, but my favourite show was at Snooker World in the Gold Coast last month. I have a deal with my fans – if they want me to play their city, if they find a venue and a fee, I will show up. So some teen fans organised this all-ages show in a place called Mermaid Beach … and I guess they called my bluff. The sound engineer’s name was Yannick Borg. His mother was a Playboy bunny and his father owned the local casino. There was a fabulous bombshell-blonde in a wheelchair who owned the place and one of the staff members was deaf and communicated in sign language with me. There was trippy nu-wave alien techno visuals projected on the screen. We did a conga line, and some teens jumped on congas and percussion during my set. Had a ball. It was perfectly weird.

On living in London, Sydney and L.A. …
They’re totally different. Grey, miserable, strangely enchanting, cultured, buzzing London. Sunny weirdo raw paradise of Australia. It changes over the years, but Los Angeles has been a happy medium for me, the best of both.

On what the future holds …
My album Forever or Whatever is out in September. I’m really enjoying just dancing all over people in clubs right now. Writing a second record already and pumping out collaborations. Would love to tour South America – working on that. I really, really, really want a hit. A stone cold hit.

“Love can be a curse sometimes you don’t wanna miss.” – Forever / Whatever