The blonde haired, blue-eyed, fast talking ball-busting -sheila' with an attitude, Jenny Talia is heading back to Australia for a string of tour dates that are guaranteed to make you cross your legs and p**s yourself laughing. Returning hot off the heels of a tour of the United Kingdom, the pocket rocket daughter of Kevin Bloody Wilson is gearing up to share tracks from her latest album F.O.C.U.S. with Aussie fans. F.O.C.U.S. (F**k Off -Cause You're Stupid) is an apt representation of the way Jenny approaches life, and the inspiration behind her songs. She is a talented songwriter, melding quirky themes, tongue-in-cheek situations and a down-to-earth approach, her tracks mirror the ridiculous realities of life. There is something in her show for every adult, in fact, it would be a challenge for any man or woman to keep a straight face throughout a Jenny Talia live performance.
Jenny says she can't wait to share songs from F.O.C.U.S. with audiences, including the most popular tracks from that release such as Fifty Shades and Parasites. In fact, she guarantees audiences she will stay as far away from political correctness as possible (without getting arrested). She laid down the tracks for F.O.C.U.S. – her fifth album – in Nashville just before heading over to the UK for a whirlwind 42-date tour. 'The word -focus' was something I'd used for a while, and I really wanted to write a catchy song highlighting it," she says. 'I usually start the writing process with a list of topics that I want each song to cover. The list for this album started with F.O.C.U.S., 50 Shades and Julia Gillard. The entire album was recorded and mastered in under a week, a lot of it in one take – except for 50 Shades, as the Nashville musos kept cracking up in that one and we had to keep starting over!"
After the massive UK tour, which Jenny says was great to hear her songs sung back to her in a -pommy accent', she can't wait to get back out in front of home crowds. Although, she says Aussie audiences are the toughest in terms of response. 'If it's not funny to them, they won't laugh or politely golf clap," she says. 'As a comedian, that's about the best apprenticeship you can get. If you get an Aussie crowd rolling in the aisles and singing along, there is no other victory like it! Aussie crowds sing along the loudest and they laugh the hardest, and they hug more! I come out after every show to sign and no matter where in the world, I get hugged more in Australia – especially when you get some people who are coming to the show for the third, fourth or even fifth time… it's like catching up with old mates. I'm a Kalgoorlie girl, born and bred, but every show in Australia gives you the feeling of playing to a hometown crowd." Jenny Talia has also been brought up in a family embraced by Australian audiences. As the daughter of iconic Aussie larrikin Kevin Bloody Wilson, Jenny says she remembers a childhood of laughter and a lot of music. It's been described that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree between dad and daughter, and Kevin has proudly dubbed Jenny as his -retirement fund'. You can often find her touring the country alongside her father, giving a female angle to audiences.
'When I first moved to Nashville to focus on songwriting – I was a straight country singer back then – I did gigs around town and I was always asked to play an Australian song," Jenny says. 'For me, the first -Australian' song that popped into my head was always one of my Dad's… I would change the words around a bit and make it from a girl's point of view. This quickly took on a life of its own and within months, I had written and recorded a comedy album, which went on to outsell my three previous country albums in a matter of months. I joined Dad on a 72-date tour of Europe as his opening act, which turned out to be a huge success… that was 10 years ago… I've been writing, recording and performing comedy since then."
There is a little something for everyone in Jenny Talia's music. She's a proud advocate for equal rights, so not only will she take the p**s out of audiences, but she also doesn't mind taking it out of herself as well. She's bright, funny, easy going and enigmatic on stage. A raunchy songwriter, she adept at addressing even the most taboo subjects with her cutting edge humour. She doesn't pull any punches, and while you might not want to introduce her to your mum and dad, you'd definitely wish she was one of your mates. No one is safe though when it comes to deriving inspiration for her side-splitting humour.
'It's just a matter of telling a story and making it funny," she says. 'Every song is based on something that happened, someone that I met, a story in a newspaper… there's material everywhere for a comedian. My phone is full of quotes and observations that I record into it as I see or hear them. I pile them up until I have a big collection to draw from when it's time to sit down and write a new album. Some of the funniest material comes from my girlfriends when we sit around having a few drinks. If it's still funny when we sober up, it usually ends up in a song (with names changed of course)!"
Jenny is currently working on her next project – a Christmas album – and is already planning on trying out some of the tracks on audiences at her Australian shows. 'That's the ultimate song test, if it works live on an Aussie audiences, it's a keeper," she says. After wrapping up her Australian tour, she'll be working towards another tour of the UK and a string of dates through South Africa.
Don't miss Jenny Talia from Australia has she brings her unique brand of humour to a venue near you - tickets are on sale now.
Friday 13th June 2014 at 8pm: St Mary's Band Club: 411 Great Western Highway, Oxley Park
(02) 9623 1211 or www.stmarysbandclub.com.au
Saturday 14th June 2014 at 8pm: Davistown RSL Club: 19 Murna Road, Davistown
(02) 4363 0199 or www.davistownrsl.com.au
Friday 20th June 2014 at 7pm: Fly By Night Musicians Club: 1 Holdsworth Street, Fremantle WA
(08) 9430 5976 or www.flybynight.org
For more information, please visit www.jennytalia.com
Question: What should Australians expect from your upcoming shows?
Jenny Talia: A variety of songs from all five of my albums, lots of new stuff from the FOCUS cd, plus all my -F&C* IT UP FRIDAYS' from my YouTube channel. And requests, I love taking requests!
Except to show my boobs…that gets kind of old.
Question: How would you describe F.O.C.U.S.?
Jenny Talia: It's my favourite album so far (don't you hate it when people say that?) There's so many strong songs on this cd. Great sing-a-longs for the live shows, with a big variety of topics. 50 Shades, Julia Gillard, being from the bush. I've just about covered it all with this one with a decent helping of political incorrectness thrown in, of course.
Question: What was your main inspiration behind F.O.C.U.S.?
Jenny Talia: Well the acronym is F*** OFF -CAUSE UR STUPID. It's a word I've used for a long time. You know, stuck in traffic, parent teacher meetings…all those fun life moments. Or just generally dealing with idiots. It's great to be able to say, 'FOCUS" and walk away feeling better without them being any wiser.
Question: Can you tell us about the track, Fifty Shades?
Jenny Talia: I wrote that one after a mate of mine, a fairly conservative friend, told me, 'Jen, you HAVE to read this book…it's amazing!'
I was like, not you too? So I read it, and the song came along pretty easily from there. It's hilarious to do live.
Question: What was it like to record, F.O.C.U.S.?
Jenny Talia: I recorded really quickly in Nashville the old fashioned way. That is, all the musos in the room together. We laughed our arses off making this CD. I'll always remember '50 Shades' being the song that took the longest to record. No one could -keep it together' the whole song, and had to restart that one so many times.
Question: Tell us about your next project, the Christmas album.
Jenny Talia: In the great family tradition (of Bloody Wilsons) I've been wanting to tackle Christmas Carols forever. I have a thing I do on my youtube channel, called F*** IT UP FRIDAYS, where I take a song I like, usually a pretty popular one, and I do -my' version of it. They compose it, I decompose it.
I'm pumped to do that to everyone's favourite Christmas songs.
Just don't tell my Nanna.
Question: What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own?
Jenny Talia: One Direction.
I always have my Bluetooth speaker going in my office, and iTunes radio going 24/7. Depending on the day, I'll have maybe 50's music, top 40, classic rock. Pretty much anything except Jazz. I've never been able to get into it. They say it's brainy people's music, so there you go!
Question: Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel?
Jenny Talia: Not so much quitting, but maybe needing a break. I think any working Mum (or parent) at some point struggles with the balance of work or family time. I'm lucky to have a -normal' husband (not in the industry) and pretty incredible kids, so they help keep me in line.
Also, wine. Wine fixes everything.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Jenny Talia: Playing to a room full of people laughing their arses off or in a soundproof room with smelly musicians? Live, live LIVE!
Question: What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Jenny Talia: As a kid Cyndi Lauper. I saw her live and while I'd always loved her songs, her live show was SO full of energy, she never stops entertaining. Comedy wise, I could watch Billy Connolly or Wanda Sykes all day long. But my every day inspiration would be Dad. He's one of the best songwriters out there.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Jenny Talia: Nothing that any artist doesn't come across. Or anyone with a job. Sometimes you have to deal with d***heads – if I meet them at a show, I'm in the unique position of being able to tell them to FOCUS and get a way with it. Mostly, my job is pretty amazing. Traveling the world, playing to people that are primarily there to have a laugh. Add a couple of drinks, and it's probably the most perfect work-place environment there is!
But the biggest challenge is probably luggage. There's only so many pairs of stripper shoes and sparkly guitars that Qantas will allow you on each flight. My excess baggage bill is bigger than my bar tab most weeks. And that's SAYING something!
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Jenny Talia: Had to think about this one. Performance-wise I'd love to work with Bette Midler. Comedy-wise, it'd be Ricky Gervais. I reckon getting to be all the different characters on an SNL episode would be a riot. Or a musical. An R rated comedy musical would be too fun. Maybe that'd be something Dad and I could work on one day.
Now there's an idea!
Interview by Brooke Hunter