Hi Sally! Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. How are you doing during this whole Coronavirus outbreak madness?
Hey there, thank YOU for giving me some social interaction and a fun activity to focus on during this new way of living we seem to have found ourselves in. That’s the one small comfort, is that we are all in this together, as sad as that is. Other than random bouts of panic and intense stress I’ve been okay, just working on a few projects and playing lots of video games 🙂
Let’s start off chatting about your experience on ‘The X Factor’. How was that for you?
Oh boy, lets take a little walk down memory lane shall we. This is always such a tricky question for me because A) it’s been 500 years, at least, so the memory ain’t what she used to be and B) SOOO much happened in such a short span of time that it was hard to take a lot of it in, but I’ll do my best.
The X Factor really was a once in a lifetime experience, it sounds cliche as heck, but it truly was. I have been singing since I was a kid so basically I grew up planning how I was going to get onto a show like Australian Idol, which I auditioned for twice by the way, but I never made it past the executive producers though as I was very young and very emo! Anyway, it was the ultimate goal for most of my teenage years so to finally make it onto one of those shows was an actual dream come true.
My experience wasn’t as bad as it was for others, although it was one of the most trying journeys of my life, both during and after my time on the show. I was lucky enough to have a mentor who made sure I was comfortable and really nurtured my talent. I was never forced to wear anything that I didn’t want to and didn’t have to change anything about myself like hair colour or remove my piercings (even though they did ask). All of the production staff that I worked with seemed to have my best interest at heart, I was lucky.
Lets just say it taught me a lot about myself, gave me my first real insight into the industry and a taste of what its like to have ‘fame’. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity.
You sang ‘Decode’ on week three and in the final of the show. Did you always have plans to sing a Paramore song at some point or did it just feel right at that stage of the competition?
Before the live shows aired we had to pick a ‘sing for your life’ song in case we found ourselves in the bottom two. I remember wanting to choose ‘My Heart’ by Paramore because its such an emotionally driven song and pretty big vocally, not to mention one of my all time favourite songs, but someone else actually picked it before me so I ended up with another song. So I guess you could say I definitely planned to perform one of their songs on the show if the opportunity presented itself.
Were there any other songs you considered performing by the band or did ‘Decode’ just feel like the perfect fit? What were your reasons behind picking that song?
When rock week came up, live band and all, I knew straight away that I wanted to sing Decode because I was very much into Twilight at the time and of course a huge fan of Paramore. It was the perfect choice. Its moody, it’s melodic and I knew it was going to be so fulfilling to sing having a live band. I remember during the week of the performance that there was an issue obtaining the licensing to actually perform it on live TV and I had a massive freakout. I thought that I was going to have to choose something completely different, maybe even a different artist, but literally the night before the live show we got the go ahead (bless the pop punk gods) however I ended up having Misery Business as my back up anyways.
You were coached by Natalie Imbruglia, how was she to work with and what were her thoughts on you choosing to perform ‘Decode’?
Nat was so lovely. She was very protective of me which was of great comfort during a time when you’re away from all your friends and family in an unfamiliar city for months. I always felt like my opinions were listened to and most importantly valued. Most of the time it was a collaborative decision on everything and when Rock Week rolled around there was no exception. Nat knew that Rock Week was going to be the most exciting theme for me and she gave me the freedom to pretty much choose whatever I wanted. It didn’t take me long to decide though because it was the first choice that popped into my head and she was really happy with it. As I said earlier, I was very lucky
How do you look back on your time on The X Factor after 10 years?
Another question I find quite difficult to answer, I’ve never really spoken in depth about my experience and how it impacted my life out of fear, I want to be more open about it all though so here we go!
Throughout the years since the show aired its been a struggle to talk about it and have a proper look back on it as I struggled to find the positives from it. As the years went on I became more and more depressed and anxious because I didn’t receive much support after my season ended. Very early on bookings for larger scale gigs and tours started to drop significantly, especially when the next season went to air, and I had no idea how to handle life after reality TV. Emotionally it moulded me into a person who will now always suffer from mental illness and struggles to value their skills, talents and hard work. Even though I know I am blessed, it was just really damaging to me. To have the career of your dreams in the palm of your hands and for it to slip through your fingers along with your ego that the show built up, it was really more than anyone should have to handle. It’s something I wouldn’t wish for anyone to have to go through. If I could go back in time, if I were to take a chance on it again, I would make sure I was a bit older and had more life experience. I think then, maybe, I could have been prepared for the aftermath and found a better way to navigate life after a reality singing show.
The main things that I’m incredibly proud of, and grateful for, are the connections I made with some of the contestants and the fans from the show that continue to support me. My relationship with Nat (we still speak from time to time), the fact that I worked my butt off to be the most genuine person I could be and performed to the absolute best of my ability at the time. I never once gave up who I was or changed any aspect about my personality. I stayed true to myself and for that I’m truly proud.
Moving on to Paramore. Have you been able to catch them live in concert?
I’ve been lucky enough to catch them twice. I saw them in 2010, while I was on the show, the Saturday night right before the live performance. The X Factor crew got in touch with Paramore’s team to try and set up a sneaky meet & greet because they knew they were in town and also knew how obsessed I was with the band. That didn’t work out but they did put my name on the door which was so lovely of them. I got some first hand inspiration to get myself performance ready. It was amazing AND I did a radio show that week where Hayley just happened to be getting interviewed and was holding the line. I ended up being able to speak with her and sing a bit of decode right after her interview finished. They were in New Zealand at the time. I actually still have the recording.
The second time I saw them was in Melbourne in 2014 .I camped overnight at Sidney Myer Music Bowl so I could get a barrier spot. Twenty One Pilots and You Me At Six opened for them and it was one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever been to in my life. The energy from all the bands was incredible.
What album by Paramore is your favourite one to date?
Honestly, I think their self titled. I remember it taking me a while to warm up to but its grungy, its so deep lyrically and it represented the time I was going through in my life especially with friends. I remember listening to that album on repeat for weeks. The songs Grow Up and Hate To See Your Heartbreak are everything, Hands down two of my favourite Paramore tracks of all time.
How did you find out about them originally?
I’m pretty sure I purchased a ‘Take Action Tour’ CD from one of my favourite stores in my small home town. There was a very small alternative section and I was just starting to get into heavier music. It was a compilation CD and Emergency was featured on that album along with the video clip. I’ve been obsessed ever since.
You recently released a new song titled ‘The Hardest Thing’, tell us a little bit about that.
This is another story I haven’t really spoken about, look at you getting all the exclusive goss!
Basically, I was in a long term relationship, we lived together, we had known each other years prior to dating and so on and so forth. This was the guy I was going to spend the rest of my life with but of course things didn’t work out that way. My partner at the time really struggled with mental health. He was dealing with a lot so I encouraged him to go and seek therapy to get some clarity on what might be the cause of some of the darkness he felt. After a few sessions he came to a massive conclusion about who he was and what he wanted and what he was suppressing. I came home from work one day to him sobbing. He sat me down to have a chat and instantly I knew. I knew that he was about to come out to me. That day he told me he was gay and could no longer be in a relationship with me.
At the time, I loved him so deeply I couldn’t have imagined a life without him, and I absolutely could not bare the thought of him going through this change in his life alone. It was unknown waters and I wanted to continue to be a part of his support system. So I hugged him, told him I loved him, that he deserves to be happy and that I’ll be there for him every step of the way. As you can imagine getting your heart broken then remaining to live with and be around that person while they really start living their life as their true self is crazy difficult. In a way it would have been easier to move on from and heal if he had given me a reason to be angry which I made evident in the lyric ‘I couldn’t hate you but god I wanted to, without the anger how would I make it through?’
Life is unpredictable, eventually I learnt to live with this new normal, and although it took a while I eventually moved on and we are still best friends to this day. I’ll cherish his impact on my life forever.
You can listen to ‘The Hardest Thing’ on Spotify here –
What’s your future plans musically once we can all get back to normal?
I literally want to play shows and never stop. That’s what I thrive on. Just before all these crazy changes started I was gaining traction and booking gigs doing my original music (I also gig in a lot of covers bands or at least I did ha!) so I just want to build that back up. In early February I played my EP in full for the first time to a packed out crowd. People were singing along to my songs and it was absolutely one of the best times of my life. I cant wait to hit the ground running as they say. I’m making sure to keep working on material, and other projects, and Ill be working on the release of my EP which will be announced REALLY SOON so i’ll have so much music to perform. In the mean time I’ve been doing virtual concerts on Facebook and streaming video games on twitch so if anyone ever wants to come hang I’m ‘salleeee’ on Twitch!
Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us, Sallee. We wish you all the best in your music career and will be sure to keep supporting you along the way.
Thank you so much for letting me ramble on about things I really have never spoken in depth about, sorry if its long winded, I tend to get a bit carried away. If you meet me in person you’ll understand that I talk A LOT but hopefully it gave you some insight to who I am as an artist and where I came from. Plus I could talk about Paramore all day! Can we talk about how incredible Hayley’s new music is next? I’m so in love. Anyways, I appreciate you, please stay safe and I’m sure we will speak soon xx
You can keep up to date with Sallee’s career by visiting the following websites:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/salleeofficial/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/salleeofficial
Interview conducted by Ross McClenaghan