Flying Solo with Street-Smart Sensibility. INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT HORVAT FROM: If It Happened Yesterday, It's History May 26 2017

Raz Tilley might be hard to pigeonhole, but I have to hand it to her, she’s a smart and fiercely independent artist that loves what she does. In recent years, she had begun to carve herself a niche with her distinctive brand of eclectic genre-hopping and genre-bending music. Music, of course, has always been a huge part of her life. From an early age she trained as a classic pianist, played sax in her high school Jazz band and even played drums in an all-girl pop-rock band. As a young woman, she graduated with a degree in both music and drama (adding the guitar to her skill set) to become a very talented multi-instrumentalist singer songwriter. 

I contacted the Brisbane-based singer songwriter early in April (last month) after being caught up by her unique talents, especially her fondness for classic Rock n’ Roll. Though admittedly, it is her determination to persevere in what is a fierce, ruthless independent music industry, which led me to ask Raz if I could interview her. Anyway, without further ado, here are some of the things we talked about. 

A few years ago you recorded a self produced 10 song demo album and more recently you recorded all the songs from the demo with the intention of releasing them as singles over the next couple of years or so. It is a unique approach to releasing music. Can you elaborate why you chose to take this approach? Why not release an EP? 

I mostly chose this approach because the music industry has evolved so much since the turn of the century with the advent of iTunes, You tube, streaming and social media. In the past, a physical copy of your music, such as an EP, was the only way you could get your foot in the door. People would literally be handing physical product to various record labels, radio stations and at gigs in the hope somebody, somewhere, with the right connections, would hear it. Today, people don’t listen to or consume music in the same way. They’ll cherry-pick and choose one song at a time and construct their own playlists. So, with releasing and promoting one song at time, Facebookers, YouTubers, Bloggers and Tastemakers have an opportunity to really hear a single and digest it. Also, the notion of the “album” as a concept is sadly dying. As it was in the past, singles are the way people come to discover an artist. It only takes one banger hit to get a reaction that ripples and creates interest, and if you’re really lucky, an awful lot of money. Just ask Gotye or Lorde. 

Your first three singles My Therapy, Stitches and Mellow Harmony are a nod to your eclectic love for music. Your arrangements are clever, and I particularly liked your Beethoven (tribute) introduction to My Therapy. Though, at the heart of it all, your gorgeous vocals occupy the very centre of the mix. What would you say is your strongest attribute as an artist? 

Thank you so much Robert! I’m impressed and elated that you got the Beethoven reference and enjoyed my use of his Adagio in the opening bars. I’m often influenced by Baroque, Classical and Romantic music as it’s what I have played growing up and through training in traditional repertoire. I think my strongest musical attribute might be my love of these styles, too. Imitation and adaptation is my sincere form of flattery and homage. Using some of the chordal movements and harmonies from that of Mozart or Bach, for instance, is a wonderful starting point for the music I write. My other, non-music related attribute is probably a thick skin. Sadly, the music industry has its fair share of bigots, knockers and mean-spirited individuals who will dislike or even hate artists like myself. I’m difficult to pigeonhole, I don’t belong to any music cliques or ride any particular style bandwagon, I don’t like a lot of modern music, which is mostly crap and won’t stand the test of time, and I’m fiercely independent. 

What can we expect from your next forthcoming release? 

Well, if I told you that, I’d have to kill you, Rob. Only joking! My next original release is Silent Ones, a tripleJ and fan-favourite from my demo album, once described as “a haunting lament imploring us to listen to the deep and observant, but often silent thinkers among us.” Not what you’d call a typical pop song. A bit Leonard Cohenish, perhaps. After Silent Ones, expect some uptempo, fun and lighter-hearted releases, perhaps sometimes with a touch of silliness. Life is too short to be serious all the time! 

What’s on high rotation on your stereo at the moment and why? 

 At the moment, I have a mixed CD in my car that I listen to a lot and it’s got a range of different artists, from The Beach Boys to Metallica. I’m not really one for sticking to any genre. Because I teach music, I have to open myself up to what my students enjoy, so that broadens my horizons. I recently got hooked on the riff for Jax Jones’ You Don’t Know Me and did a classical arrangement for one of my piano students. 

Where do you write and find inspiration for your music? 

Inspiration is everywhere really. Some days it can be the oddest or seemingly insignificant thing that sparks something. I write from what I know and feel, as well as from who and what I observe. There’s nothing better than people watching to get the creative juices flowing. This doesn’t always translate into some literal or obvious meaning, though. One of my songs came to me while watching a favourite TV show and you’d never guess from the song. 

We seem to share the same love for artists like The Beatles, Sheryl Crowe, Missy Higgins and Carol King. Can you name one artist in particular who you love and why? 

Oh wow, that’s a really difficult question. I mean, there’s so many inspiring artists out there who I love and would love to meet, but if you forced me to choose, it would be Neil Finn. 

His career has been so impressive and he’s achieved the heady heights of musical legend and yet he’s so sweet, funny and self-deprecating. I like how he’s always been about the music and his family and that recognition and stardom is just a symptom of his brilliance. I love everything he does, from his songwriting in Split Enz to more mainstream Crowded House and his solo work like Try Whistling This. His voice can soothe me anytime, too. 

I understand you performed a duet with the late, great Wilson Pickett at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in front of 8000 people, when you were only 14 years old. That must have been a great experience. I bet you were nervous? Who else would you be nervous to meet and why? 

 Oh yes! That was one hell of an experience. I mean, Wilson Pickett was a god of Motown! My parents are so wonderful and have always influenced my musical world. I was very privileged when younger that they would often take me to see greats like Wilson Pickett and Ray Charles when they toured. By sheer luck, Wilson Pickett picked me out of the audience and asked me to sing along with him on Midnight Hour. I think I was too in awe of him to be nervous, quite frankly, yet in hindsight I was probably shitting myself. And Ray Charles was listening in the wings. I can say that Ray Charles has actually heard me sing. How cool is that? Nowadays, I don’t think there’d be anyone I’d be nervous to meet. Excited, but not nervous or anxious. 

I’d like to ask you about Crowdfunding. It seems to be an advantageous way that allows artists to directly connect and engage with their fans. Are Indie artists like yourself heading more and more in that direction out of necessity or is it about giving something back to the fans too? 

Thank you for using Indie in its correct and original form to mean independent. I’m a proudly independent musician. Crowdfunding is a fairly recent phenomenon sparked from the internet and how music is delivered and received. To produce a song along with a video to go with the music takes a long time, dog-eared persistence and money. If people enjoy your work and become fans, then they’re often more than happy to donate to your music video or recording. I’m overwhelmed with my fans generosity, encouragement and willingness to help a sister out! Of course I want to give back to my fans and followers and it annoys me when some artists don’t. Do they not realise that, without fans, they’d be musically irrelevant, going nowhere and confined to their bedrooms making music that no-one will hear. 

What is your motto or advice you live by? 

Be appreciative to everyone for anything and everything they do for you. The love and support of family and friends are the most important things in life. Always strive to do your best. But have fun and have a laugh along the way. 

Any last words Raz? 

Stay tuned, I’m not going away, well, not quietly, anyway. 

A huge thank you to Raz Tilley for her time and contribution. You can connect with Raz via her Facebook Page or Twitter. You can also visit or contact Raz via her website, where you can also help crowdfund one of her next upcoming music videos.


Where did your musical journey begin?

My musical journey began in utero with my mum playing classical music to me through headphones placed on her belly as I frolicked in the womb. I guess you could say I’ve never been without music. But in more practical terms, from what I can remember, my musical journey began at about 8-years old when my dad arranged for me to have my first piano lessons. Like most children, I was slightly reluctant to practice and saw it more as a chore than a pleasure, but as I grew up a little, I started to see results and the value in practice. From then on, I loved music and wanted to learn more instruments, such as the saxophone, which I started in grade 5 and continue to play to this day. During my childhood I was very lucky that my parents had, in my opinion, great taste in music and exposed me to music a lot of my peers never heard. So, as a child, I was familiar with Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Kinks, Beach Boys,Talking Heads and many others. Furthermore, my dad would often wind down after a long day at work by playing some guitar and practising scales, so music was always around me in some shape or form. I have my parents and music teachers to really thank for supporting and signposting my musical journey.

What do you hope to achieve through your music?

I think music is a deeply personal art and you have to make it your own and tailor it to you as an artist. I hope to achieve an original sound that shows my development through life and how individual experiences changes and moulds you. If you stagnate or stay in a musical rut, people of only a certain age will identify with you and your music and it’s harder to grow as a musician and reach different audiences. Additionally, like most musicians, I dream of making a living from my music. Only a lucky few ever realise this dream. I’d love to tour with my music but, if that’s not to be, I still intend to keep performing for the rest of my life. Even if no one else is listening, I can go to a magical place while sitting and playing at my piano.

How do you define success in the music industry?

Success is a hard concept to define in any calling. Music is one of the most moving and emotional art forms. It can take you back to a specific time and place; it can make you laugh and cry; it can raise your spirits and stir your imagination; it can be the soundtrack to our lives. Imagine a wedding or any celebration or any social and community event without music. I can’t. For me, then, I see success in terms of reaching out and connecting with as many people as possible and having them feel or experience or imagine something special or memorable through my music. To have someone say that your music has touched or changed their lives is perhaps the highest honour and achievement. At another level, success is making music that stands the test of time, that span generations. At a more mundane level, success would be to make a full-time living from my music.

What’s your proudest career moment to date?

My proudest career moment would be hard to say, but I have two in mind. One was the completion of my first album and seeing my loved ones’ faces light up when they heard it in full. The other would be receiving a lovely message from the wonderful and inspiring Missy Higgins. I had done a cover of her hit, Scar, and she took the time to both congratulate me and commend my cover version. That was a real honour and privilege. Singing a duet with Wilson Pickett in front of 8000 people and meeting Neil Finn and Roger Daltrey were quite an honour and privilege too.

As an artist, what’s on your musical bucket list?

I suppose I’ve always fantasised about playing famous venues around the world, such as The Filmore in San Francisco, Troubadour in LA or Carnegie Hall in New York. But, coming down to Earth, I’d settle for one day playing to a full house at my home town’s Tivoli theatre, that is, if it hasn’t been knocked down.

I love learning new things and I’ve come to enjoy a challenge as I’ve grown older, so I’d really love to have my music take me around the world.

I’d like to work with other musicians who I admire, such as Neil Finn. There’s nothing quite like working with talented and exceptional people to improve yourself.

I teach music, so continuing to see my students progress and excel and develop a love of music is one item on the list I’d like to say I can already tick off.

What words of wisdom do you have for upcoming music artists?

Cherish and thank and communicate with the people who love you, who stand by you, who believe in you and support you, who come to see you play or who take the time to say hello or tell you their stories (My debut single, My Therapy, is actually a friend’s story.)

Avoid celebrity culture and all it’s mindless trappings. Aspire to be a celebrated musician, not a celebrity.

Develop a thick skin and ignore the haters and back-biting, bitch trolls. They’re typically pathetic losers, consumed by jealously and envy, who are venting and deflecting their anger and frustration over their own shallow and unfulfilling lives. They’ll often hurl insults at your music when really they just don’t like the way you look. I’ve even had local musicians and people in the local music industry, people whom I’ve never met and who have never been to see me perform, denigrating or maligning me because of my looks or because I heavily promote myself on social media or because I don’t belong (and certainly don’t want to belong) to their pretentious cliques or frequent their “indie” cubby houses.

I don’t know about other places in the world, but I’ve found that, in parts of Australia, there isn’t much love and support for live original music. Original music venues are few and far between and their patronage low compared to the cover music scene. So, original artists should try putting on events like house gigs, perhaps with live streaming, and share their music and heavily promote themselves on the internet. No one will visit you and get to know you and your music unless they know that you’re there.

Work like shit at your craft. Practice, practice, practice. Like all great musicians, Jimi Hendrix was a brilliant guitarist because he honed his prodigious natural talent with thousands of hours of practice.

Become music literate. To aid communication and work with other musicians across different genres, it’s always an advantage if you can sight-read notated music and know your music theory. And it can open doors that may otherwise remain closed.


A while back had a chat with Shiraz Tilley (she goes by Raz), who is lovely by the way and downright brilliant! An accomplished musician, singer, songwriter from Brisbane, Australia. She discussed her process and some of her influences. It was great to connect with her, and we wish her well with her musical career and any future endeavors. So grateful to have the opportunity to have a word with her. Here are links to her social media accounts/ website and such. Also, be sure to watch her music video for My Therapy. Enjoy!

Click the links below to find out what Raz is up to and stay up to date:

Facebook / Twitter / Website / Youtube

Intravu: Raz Tilley
So, where are you from and was music a big part of your world, growing up in your household?
–  I’m from Brisbane, Australia, but my parents are from England and all my immediate family live overseas (England, USA and Africa). However, I’m very proud to be an Aussie and lucky to live in such a beautiful country.
Growing up, I was heavily influenced by my parents’ taste in music and their era of pop and rock. They are baby boomers and a lot of the music I heard growing up was predominantly from those English bands who started the whole British Invasion. Musically and culturally, I’ve often felt a bit out of place in my generation because I’m a bit of an old soul with my artistic tastes and knowledge. I wholly admit I’m rather ignorant of contemporary music. I think as an only child most of my early musical education was determined by my mum and dad and predominantly my dad’s love of classic Rock n’ Roll from the 1960s and 1970s. Personally, I think the music of that time was more alluring and even the organic production, considering the archaic technology, was superior. There was character to the sound that I think is lacking in a proportion of the cookie-cutter music we hear today. Bands like The Who, The Beatles and Cream, just to name a few, pioneered the notion of a well written song with memorable catchy riffs and flowing structures. My parents thoroughly encouraged me to undertake piano lessons and musical activities from a very young age. Hence, I studied the Art music classics from The Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras. As a child I knew my Mozart from my Bach, but could hardly name a band or artist in the Top 40 charts.

What are some of your fondest musical memories?
– My fondest musical memories, that I can at least actively recall, started around the age of 13 when I started going to live concerts, when artists toured in Brisbane. I was so lucky that my parents often took me to see musical acts that have defined music history and popular culture. I remember seeing Bob Dylan when I was 14, The Rolling Stones when I was 15, Meatloaf at 16 and even getting called up on stage to boogie with Wilson Picket! All the acts I was fortunate enough to have seen were nothing short of incredible. They encapsulated everything I love about live music and professional stagecraft. I find some of the acts around today are crass or vulgar without the necessary goods to back them up, which comes across as amateurish and naive. Don’t get me wrong, I love a persona onstage, such as musical gods like Metallica, who carry on and do what they want, but they also have the talent and tireless work to hone their craft too. Sadly a few of the wonderful performers who moulded my love of music are no longer living, like David Bowie and Ray Charles. However, their legacy lives on and I know I am blessed to be able to say I saw them live. I’ve also got to meet two of my music idols, Neil Finn and Roger Daltry.

Who have been the biggest influences on you, musically or otherwise?
– Musically, my biggest influences are rather eclectic and range from singer-songwriters, such as the wonderful Neil Finn and Missy Higgins, to 80s hitters like Duran Duran, to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, such as your bands like Black Sabbath and my fellow Australians, ACDC. To speak in “music journalism terms,” I think as an artist you’re constantly in a state of growth and branching out as you mature. Therefore, your overall sound and style also changes and you should be continually learning, embracing new forms. For me, I’ve been involved in a variety of musical groups which have had different genres (pop, soul, blues, jazz) and even instrumentation. I love the sound of a Ska-like brass and woodwind section, as well as the bluegrass feel of banjos and harmonicas. I think there are glimpses of so many musical genres and influences in my work.

Are your songs mostly autobiographical? Have you always found writing comes easily? What is the process?
–  I fully believe that to write well you have to write what you know and draw from personal experiences. All of my music is somehow linked to me personally and comes from stories and encounters, both interesting and, sometimes, banal. That doesn’t mean to say that all my songs are about someone in particular, or written as, say, a vendetta or put-down. Some of my pieces were written using information from friends or relate to cultural observations and trends. Obviously, if I feel strongly about something, there will be truth in the lyrics and it’s a lot easier to craft.
–  Writing has not always come easily. The creative process is strange, confusing and utterly random. Some days you can wake up bursting with ideas and creative visions, and other days I can be completely uninspired.
–  Personally, the songwriting process always starts from the music itself. Whilst playing, or musically “doodling” on either piano or guitar, a riff can come out of nowhere or a chord progression sparks my imagination and from there I’ll elaborate. I make no bones about the fact I’m not a natural lyricists and I have to work harder on this aspect of songwriting, with constant writing, cutting and editing, separating the wheat from the chaff. Usually, I have a title or theme in mind, which acts as the catalyst for the rest of a song’s lyrics. I like to tell a story and I follow the wisdom of Keep It Simple Stupid. Trying too hard to be clever or provocative is pretentious and generally doesn’t work. People want to be able to sing along and repetition and restraint is key.

How long have you been playing piano? Do you play any other instruments?
–  I have been playing piano since around the age of six. I remember getting my first keyboard in year 1 of primary school. Initially, I wasn’t too keen on practising, but my parents, particularly my mum, persisted and encouraged good rehearsal practice. As I got a bit older, I would go and practice independently and enjoyed all aspects of learning an instrument.
–  Yes! I additionally play, saxophone, guitar, bass, harmonica and dabble with djembe and percussion.

Any pre-show rituals?
– I don’t really have any specific pre-show rituals, but I suppose the standard deep breaths and instrumental warm-ups etc…Doing my own makeup is a very calming experience and when I look decent I feel a lot better and have more confidence. I don’t really get horrible stage-fright or anything, so I enjoy the pre-show excitement.

Any favourite quotes or words of advice you’d like to share with fans, that have helped you in your journey?
–  I must admit I don’t really have any favourite quotes I live by, but I think  is a wisdom guru. Anyone who quotes thermodynamics in everyday life is one to watch.
–  The advice I’d give to any other aspiring musicians and artists is to keep going, think positively and work hard. Try to ignore any negativity you may encounter too. Sadly, there are people out there who don’t want to see you succeed and take sick pleasure in bringing others down, like trolls who have nothing better to do with their pathetic, insignificant lives. Just remember, they are probably jealous, insecure and suffer from low self-esteem. Just take the high road and turn the negativity around to benefit yourself and your art. Also, if you have nothing nice or constructive to say, then don’t say anything at all. – I suppose that’s a sort of quote?

–  I would love to take this opportunity to send out many thank yous and my utmost appreciation to everyone who has helped me in my musical journey. Particular thanks to: my Dad, who is my everything and always has my back; Daniel Vista, who has worked tirelessly over the years with me; Bernie Wedrat and his masterful genius; the musician friends who have contributed their time and skills to my projects; my non-musician friends and family who love me regardless; and all the phenomenal support from fans. You make this world a better place and encourage me everyday.



"In the same way Leona Lewis burst into public consciousness with Bleeding Love, Raz (aka Shiraz Tilley)'s narrative approach and vocal-driven balladry unfurls into something spectacular. The singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer may currently be relatively unknown, but with instant mass appeal and a fully-formed populist edge, My Therapy deserves to be saturating national radio."



What sort of music are you currently working on and are you enjoying it?
I suppose you would have to classify it as pop-rock, but I don't like to be labeled because I think it's nice to appreciate a song on its merits alone, not just because it falls into a particular genre. I enjoy making and playing all kinds of music. As a side-project, I play alto sax and harp in a Soul/Blues/Jazz band and love every minute of it. I learn so much about myself that way. It's introspective art.
When you write a song, where do you start? Is it a melody idea or are lyrics first and foremost. And where do you create these songs?
For me, it's always a melodic idea that is the catalyst for composing chordal structures around that. I would never class myself as a good lyricist. Melodies can come to you in the most bizarre fashion. I carry around a little digital recorder and toy keyboard when I'm going out just in case an idea springs to mind. It provides amusement too, to see people's reaction to me sitting in my car playing a battery-powered, child's piano. Generally speaking, however, I write in my little music room, which is my retreat and haven.
How did you get into the music business and were there any major hurdles?
The music industry is a very ruthless and sometimes depressingly critical business. You have to stay positive and believe in yourself regardless, which develops a thick skin. Unfortunately, I think there really is an aye of who you know rather than what you know, even if you work like stink. I've had to overcome the whole attitude of "oh look a girl playing an instrument, ha-ha." Or "how cute." I had one guy turn-up for an audition for my band whose first comment was a surprised "Oh, you can play." It's quite a chauvinistic environment in my experience and I think girls have difficulty being taken seriously as musicians and songwriters who don't "collaborate" and sing/play live without miming. I have experienced a profound amount of discrimination against being female and I sometimes wonder if this job may have come easier if I could have grown a penis. But the boys in my band often comment about how I wear the pants and lay down the law. They have been wonderful!
In your band what are the dynamics like and have you had some outrageous fights yet? If so, please share the details.
Actually, we're pretty tame, to be honest, no scandalous stories or bust-ups to regale. We all get along very well even though our personalities are fairly diverse. I'm the annoying perfectionist who just likes to get it right. Dave Littlewood (drummer/harmonist) is the harmony buff who can literally compose beautiful contrapuntal licks and phrases while rolling a cigarette. David Doherty (guitar/backing vocals) is pretty laid back and my unofficial brother. He takes orders and a musical suggestion like a trooper and knows his stuff backwards. And then there's Corey (bass and recently a new dad) who is the reason Aussies love New Zealanders.
If you could meet any musician who would it be and what would you say to them?
I've already met my songwriting muse and fellow jellybean connoisseur, Neil Finn. Musician: Mozart. Entertainer: it would have to be Elvis. I think he was the greatest entertainer on the planet. I don't know what I'd say to him, since I'd be hyperventilating, but I would definitely like to share one of those infamous sandwiches with the man.


"Growing up," says Tilley, "I listened to everything from baroque to heavy rock, and my songs contain elements of lots of different genres. You also should probably add Latin, Swing and Funk to the mix on a few songs. Essentially, I wanted to cover all my bases, hoping I wouldn't be pigeonholed."
Tilley is promising two-hour sets at her upcoming Indooroopilly Hotel and Zoo shows, which is not something punters get to see every day.
"I guess you could say we're putting all our eggs (20-songs) into one basket for some showcase shows. The audience reaction and feedback will determine which songs make my debut album. I want to road test all my songs before going into the studio, which is a reverse of what the majority of bands do."
In describing her live show, Tilley talks compulsion, singalongs, heavy metal and burlesque. Suddenly, the whole WTF thing makes sense.
"Although the music always comes first and I'm OCD about it, when you consider what makes a great show and a lasting impression, it's the entertainment value that also counts. I think audiences want to connect with bands, to feel an important part of the experience. So we like to use audience participation, like singalongs and, basically, just have fun with them. I've got a great band of musical brothers/comics (Dave Doherty, Dave Littlewood, Corey Shepherd, Paul Kucharski and Duncan Lomas) onboard who inspire me everyday, so I'm blessed in that sense. Who knows what crazy antics they'll get up to? Take Corey, my long haired, nicely-inked bassist who plays in a Metallica tribute band. He has perfected the oh so metal 'crab walk'. There could even be a wandering-through-the-audience guitar accompaniment on 'Silent Ones', or a burlesque dancer, you just never know."



ALEX STARK: It seems like the past two years have been incredibly busy for you as you've started building a profile. How do you balance a normal life with songwriting and performing?
SHIRAZ TILLEY: Yes, the last two years have been a bit of a blur to be honest because they have been so hectic. I have become reliant on my diary for everything. Music is the one thing that keeps me sane, actually, especially when I was finishing my dual degree (Drama/Music). Most of life is just going through the motions of earning to live and finding enough time for nana naps, whereas music is much-needed escapism. I can say the things I would find too difficult to say in a normal conversation and you can dream and love all in the one creative outlet
AS: What obstacles did you encounter when starting out as a solo artist?
ST: Solo artistry is indeed scary at times. But it's all swings and roundabouts really. On the one hand I have total artistic control over what I sing and play, but on the other it is difficult to be objective when the songwriting and arrangements are all my own. The most damaging effect of solo work is finding that I'm always critiquing and questioning myself. There is nobody to hide behind and new material is raw and untried so you feel exposed and naked. The one thing I take absolute pleasure from, however, is the feeling of achievement when you have completed a song or even a riff that means something special to you or a listener. That's when you know it's all been worth it.
AS: Who would you say influenced you the most at the very beginning of your songwriting career?
ST: I guess I would have to say my dad was the biggest influence on me musically, since he was the first person to talk music with me and play "the greats" to me as a child. When most of my peers were listening to Peter Combe's Newspaper Mama, I was dancing around to Talking Heads and singing Psycho Killer at Pre-school. Stylistically, I have always felt like an old soul because I mostly listen to music that pre-dates me. In terms of musicians and bands that have inspired my music, the list is large but at the top are Neil Finn, Pete Townsend, Thom Yorke, Mark Knopfler, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, The Eagles and jazz and Latin licks from such performers as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.
AS: When playing shows, do you prefer to perform solo or would you rather be accompanied by your band? Speaking of your band, how did you meet the guys?
ST: Performing in a band is such a wonderfully unique feeling because I get to hear all the separate parts come together. Since I write all the music and lyrics I don't know what collaboration is really like from the composition point of view, but as a band, the guys and I openly discuss and experiment with the finer details and musical elements in a song. I have grown a lot as an artist through rehearsals with them and live performances. I met the guys all separately through my manager or Rave Ads. They're wonderful people and I consider them a bit like brothers because of the relationship I have with them.


Once in a blue moon, before a single note has been played or sung, you just sense that you're in for a special treat. Such was the anticipation last night as the house lights dimmed and Shiraz (my God!, she's even more beautiful than her publicity photos) and her band of seasoned musicians and backing singers drifted on stage to whoops of delight from the packed audience of invited family, friends, fans and yours truly. Without much ado and clearly delighted by their rapturous reception, the band launch into the welcoming All Together Now, a jaunty and catchy number that sets the scene for an evening of sing-a-longs, toe-tapping, wit, humour and general joie de vivre. There is an emotional intensity and sensitivity to Shiraz's beautifully crafted songs that draws the listener in, making you want to connect. She knows the power of appearing to confide her innermost thoughts to you and only you. Her devoted fans hang on every achingly honest word, smile or nod knowingly at every secret allusion and sob at every tug of the heart strings. One of the many highlights of the evening was the audience participation on the mesmorising Move With You, a tribal three-part harmony led by Shiraz. In between songs, Shiraz casually chats to the audience as if they were gathered round the piano in the family home. Throughout the entire show, there is a magical audience connection born of an unmistakeable air of confidence and charisma. And Shiraz's musicianship was equally impressive, moving seamlessly from piano to keyboards, to saxophone, to guitar and harmonica and back to the piano, all magnificently aided and abetted by a band of equally brilliant instrumentalists and backing singers, who were in particularly fine form. After almost two hours of non-stop entertainment, the set ends with a single song encore, one of only two covers of the evening, a stirring rendition of Cat Stevens' First Cut Is The Deepest. What this new convert has just witnessed is the kind of show that, in a few years time, when Shiraz is playing to sold out arenas, I'll be able to say "I was there." - James Peters