Belinda Oakley

Belinda Oakley: Bittersweet EP

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Artist: Belinda Oakley

Artist: Belinda Oakley
Title: Bittersweet EP

"It took a long and winding road to get to this point in my life," says Belinda Oakley on the eve of her upcoming release 'Bittersweet'. "I guess it would have been nice to take a more direct route" she says laughing "but really, I wouldn't change a thing. I'm kind of like one of those Russian dolls now because of all those twists and turns.... totally complete from the outside but with a few equally important evolutionary versions of myself hidden beneath the shell. They all make me who I am and while I don't define myself by them today, without them I guess I would be empty... hollow". It appears then that the first character in this set of dolls was 'Bindy Jane' as Belinda was known then. Born in Hobart Tasmania, the birthplace of Australia's penal colony, it was not long before her family relocated to Christmas Island off the coast of Indonesia. Housing a mere 2,000 people over 52 square miles of jungle, she spent her early years in an environment with no fear, no knowledge of privacy and no need for rules. Her parents remember that she loved dancing and clapping along to music and that while she had good intentions the majority of times, trouble had a tendency to find her wherever she went. By the time she was nine, the family had returned to Hobart for a few years and were now on the move again to the nation' s capital, Canberra. Here, 'Bindy' began to evolve. She was a talented, precocious little girl with big dreams and a big heart. She could dance, sing, play guitar and piano and was a regular in the professional music theatre circuit. The years had taken their toll in other areas however and like many families, her parents were heading towards divorce. Unlike most children though, Bindy had discovered a unique way of coping. "With so many years in theatre, I had learnt how to play a role I guess... If I needed to cry, I could switch it on and off like a button" Belinda remembers. "When my parents' marriage was falling apart and they were both so lost and vulnerable, I think I decided the best role I could play was just to be be okay for them. Of course you don't realise when you are that young how important it is to actually allow yourself to feel sad or angry or whatever. It just festers otherwise and then generally comes back threefold - as I figured out a few years later". At fourteen, 'Belinda' had evolved into a Private Catholic Schoolgirl on the brink of disaster. Her bedroom noodling with her mother' s guitar had developed into prolific songwriting. All those chords she taught herself from the pages of her mother's old folk music books were now finding their way into songs. Words and melodies were always on her mind but never having sheet music handy, she would just draw the melodies on scraps of paper and write the words on the back. Through these songs, years of bottled emotions and typical teenage angst found a home. Belinda on the other hand, soon found herself homeless. At fifteen she had come to blows with her closest ally, her mother, one too many times and made the decision to go it on her own. She dropped out of school, fell into a bad circle and before long was just another street urchin with a 'habit'. "I have no real connection to that girl anymore. I know that she's there and that she made me who I am today. She made me strong, she made me trust fate and life's path because despite how much I didn't care whether I lived or died, something steered me safe when so many of my friends back then didn't make it. You don't live through that and then take your life for granted." A new city, a new school, and 'Bel' was finishing her final years in Perth Western Australia. Old beyond her years she was still involved in straight theatre and studying classical voice. However it was the thrill of performing her own music that started to take precedence. By the time she left high school, she was a singer and a writer in a rock band playing everywhere and anywhere they could. They had minor success in their home-town but vocal nodules and an urge to pen more personal material forced the end of the project. Bel was given an electric piano by her mother for her 21st birthday and so began her love affair with creating the ultimate confessional ballad. This project saw her playing nearly one hundred solo shows from high profile clubs to the 8pm music slot at the local strip joint. It was during this time that Bel set about planning a move to New York City. With all of her favourite artists coming out of the US and her preoccupation with the female singer songwriters from the 60's and 70's,this seemed like the perfect place to find her voice. Belinda did indeed find herself traveling overseas a short time later, however, it was in the wrong direction. She followed her heart to London in 2006 after falling in love with a session musician who worked on an early attempt at her first album release.While living in such a high profile city had it's positives, she struggled to adjust to the grey skies and found it difficult to find her place in the edgy London music scene. "I think I just completely lost my sense of self in London. I felt so self-conscious, and I struggled to find artists of a similar mind and body ofwork who I could feed off. I'm sure that they were there but at that time in my life, I guess I just wasn't ready to find them" . Being a resolute believer in the hand of fate, Belinda entered herself in the US Greencard Lottery, pledging that if she were one of the 50,000 randomly selected from over 13 million people, she would give it all up and follow her dream to the other side of the world. As it happened, she did indeed win the US Greencard Lottery and was suddenly forced to keep that promise. With her guitar and a suitcase, Belinda jumped a plane to Los Angeles in 2010 leaving behind her love, her friends and again her family. "I didn't know anyone. Not a single soul. I had been to LA once during the few months I had before I had to leave London and decided that I preferred it to New York because of the weather, the geography that reminded me of home and the water. I really didn't know what I was going to do though. I paid thousands of dollars to someone over the net to sublease an apartment I' d never seen, from someone I had never met and arrived on the doorstep hoping that the key would be under the mat as she had promised. I just had to go with my instinct on everything and be ready to live with the consequences." 'Bittersweet' is a collection of the material Belinda wrote while living in London and recorded with her producer Adrian Hall (Black Eyed Peas, Shakira, Alicia Keys, Robyn, Sugababes, Delta Goodrem). "Sometimes I get angry at myself for never having committed to a release before now. Never believing in myself enough to just get what I'm doing out there. I guess I've now come to accept that it just wasn't my time before and now it is."

1.1 Love It When You're Angry
1.2 Happy Families
1.3 Learn How to Love You
1.4 Take Time
1.5 Here Nor There
1.6 Catch Me Thinking

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