Interview: Ricki-Lee Coulter

We chat to Ricki-Lee about her new single and what's on her Christmas wishlist this year.

Between promoting her new single Raining Diamonds, singing at the Optus Christmas Carols and rehearsing for her upcoming tour next year – we caught up with Ricki-Lee to find out how she’ll be spending this festive season, and more importantly the inspiration behind her latest music video which (by the way) she looks SMOKIN' in....

Your new single Raining Diamonds speaks about declaring a "war on love" - what does this mean to you?
It's all about not settling for less than what you're worth. So many times in life it's easier to just let a bad situation continue because it might be hard to confront. Raining Diamonds is all about getting to that point where you don't back out of confronting difficult things in your life, instead you actually confront them and move forward. And in doing that you set a standard in your life - where you don't settle for negativity and you don't settle for people bringing you down. So it's quite an empowering song I think.

So would you say this is an anthem for single girls?
It's not necessarily just about love, it's about life. It could be about friends, family, loved ones or people you work with. It's really an anthem for anyone who's ever had negative influences in their life. And that's the great thing about it - people can draw from it whatever it is that they like.

What is your best piece of relationship advice for young women?
I think honesty is the key in any relationship. Also trust - you've got to trust the person you're with and I guess that comes from honesty to begin with. You have to listen to yourself and trust your gut and if you feel like something isn't right, speak up about it. So many girls bottle things up and don't speak up when something is upsetting them - men aren't mind-readers either!

Your new video clip is very futuristic and you dance in it too - what inspired this?
I think the themes in the Raining Diamonds lyrics were the inspiration for the clip. It's all about fighting for what you believe in and battling for what you believe you're worth. I had this idea of a military/warrior/woman-in-charge theme when we were playing around with ideas but the military theme has been done - so I kind of wanted to do something different. It's that perfect world where everything is right. That's kind of what the video is all about - it's that futuristic world and that looking forward, and that world that you could be living in, where you are in charge!

Who are your top three musical influences?
I would definitely say Michael Jackson is my number one, he is a genius. He's truly a once in a lifetime artist - there's no one that's ever been like him and there will never be anyone like him. He inspires me so much to make music my career and my life. Next would be Beyonce - she's such an icon now and she seems so down to earth and so real. She's so driven, she pushes herself to the limits and she's achieved so much but she's always looking for what that next thing is and how she can improve from what she's done in the past. She's really setting the benchmark for female artists and I think she kind of is the Michael Jackson of this generation. Thirdly, as a singer I listen to a lot of Whitney Houston (back when she was on the rails!) [laughs] I used to lock myself in my bedroom and sing all of her songs! That's kind of how I learnt to sing - I wouldn't move on to another song until I got every single note!

Thanks to Optus, you'll be singing carols for charity in Sydney next week, what are your favourite Christmas carols?
The Mariah Carey Christmas album is certainly my most played! All I want for Christmas is you - it's such a great Christmas song! That album certainly gets thrashed in my house around Christmas time and it always has since I was a little kid. I'll be singing this song next week too, it's definitely in my top list of Christmas songs!

What's on your Christmas wish list this year?
I'm so lucky that I get to live the life that I live, I get to travel the world and I'm lucky enough to be able to have nice things - so this Christmas I don't really want anything! Instead of buying lavish and extravagant presents, I'm going to put some presents under the wishing tree. I'm working with the Smith Family this year singing carols next week, so I'm thinking a lot about people who are less fortunate. I think that's really important especially at Christmas time, but certainly all year round as well - you have to be grateful for what you have, but also think of people that aren't so fortunate.

Where will you be celebrating the New Year?
I'm going to be in Queensland with my family. I've got a two-year-old little sister and a baby nephew as well. Living in Sydney I don't get to see them much throughout the year so I'm looking forward to hanging out with them in Queensland in the sun and playing auntie!

Between writing music and promoting your new single, how do you wind down at the end of the day?
I actually find it really hard to relax - you've got emails, text messages… and Twitter and Facebook which I'm obsessed with! My boyfriend has to force me to put my phone down and go for a night without checking Twitter and posting anything on Facebook! We go on date nights and we're not allowed to talk about work and we're not allowed to take our phones, so it's really nice. We don't realise how much time we spend on our phones!

Your boyfriend is a personal trainer, do you guys train together?
I run every morning and at the moment I'm dancing 2-3 hours a day, five days a week as we're shooting two music videos at once. I've been working on the choreography as well as staging my live shows for my tour next year - and also the shows that I'm doing this month! So no, unfortunately we don't train together at the moment!

Catch Ricki-Lee singing at the Optus Christmas Carols for The Smith Family in Pitt Street Mall, Sydney on Monday December 19 at 11am.

Like the Optus Facebook page (facebook.com/optus) for more info.