‘One of the most challenging times in my life was when my mum died when I was 23 – it was a really devastating thing – particularly at that age.
‘I write most of my work from personal experience. My new album (“Eternal Return”) was written at a time when I was falling in love so I was trying to capture the joy and the openness of that.
‘Both the difficulties I’ve gone through as well as the highs in my life have inspired what I’ve done.
‘The most important thing I think for a musician is to listen to their own instincts because there are a lot of people who have opinions about what you should do and how you should do things. I’ve always found when I’ve followed my own gut; it’s always worked out well for me. That’s all you can really do.
‘There have been only a few times where I’ve gone against my gut instinct but luckily only with minor things. It’s always kept confirming to me that no one knows what’s best for you, more than you do.’
‘Creativity means coming up with something from almost nothing. If you want something original then some of that is going to happen with you being an ordinary person working with unusual concepts. But some of that is also going to come from your own individuality – you will look at an ordinary thing but bring your own perspective to that – the way you formulate the story for example because of your background. I think we all need to embrace our inner weirdness. We need to keep it weird.’
Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect.
‘We were just bankrupt in the end – there was so much debt. There were just no more windows of opportunity anywhere. We exhausted everything. We were always trying to find a way. It got to the point where we just couldn’t pay the bills.
‘We took over the Annandale Hotel in 2000 and quickly realised it was foolish not to have live music on. That was the heart and soul of the place and so live music became part of our lives. But it was never not a drama there – from the minute we bought it we were in court for various reasons. If it wasn’t for the absolute passion that we had for the place and the people there’s no way in the world we could have lasted that long.
‘One day in 2013 we realised that there’s just no way out of this anymore. We told a bunch of friends to come down and we got one of our favourite local bands in the back bar one Sunday night. We drank the bar dry and walked in the bank the next day and handed in the keys.
‘You see people bad mouthing pubs or live music festivals that go under – people don’t go in to these ventures to try and rip people off. They go in to it because they’re passionate or they think it’s worthwhile. You look at things differently once you’ve been through it.
‘When we went bankrupt, it was relieving. There was a big fear of losing the pub but the stress that was on our shoulders was just so intense. It comes with its challenges too. I’ve got another couple of years of bankruptcy.
‘But the freedom of having no money is quite liberating because you can have a go at anything and what have you got to lose? It’s a really different way of looking at things – it’s a very freeing type of mentality.
‘I love Newtown – I’ve been in the area now for 15 years. We’re organising the King Street Crawl which is a celebration of this area. The goal of it is to shine a light on the space and celebrate its diversity as well.’
‘I spent 3½ years photo-documenting enslaved prostitutes in Cambodia – Vietnamese women who were trafficked across the border.
‘These women were being raped repeatedly. One of the women’s wrists was covered in suicide marks and she was one of the women who knew what she was going in to. The state of mind, the cultural beliefs that are engrained in to these women or young girls, I can’t grasp it. It was a big hurdle for me to get over and I realised I can’t; it’s not a hurdle for me to jump.
‘I was back in Sydney and got an email from the NGO I’d been working with over there saying the raid had been performed and the women had been rescued as a result of my work. Up until that point, I had very little faith in what was happening from the NGO point of view. I got the impression that they were only investigating the shacks (brothels) while I was over there. Unfortunately it took a 9 year old child’s presence in that brothel to perform the rescue. Human trafficking is illegal and the police knew there were women in there that had been trafficked. I asked them what it took to perform a raid and the Cambodian police said to me they had a thousand other brothels like this one, why should they choose this one?
‘This whole experience has definitely challenged me. I had to see two psychiatrists while I was away. It centred me a lot as a person but it’s made me sad. I’ll never forget those women – especially the first girl I photographed – she was crying and curled up in a foetal position.
‘I feel proud now about what I’ve done – knowing that the 9 year old girl is now being educated and the NGO will give her a job when she finishes school as they will with the other women that were rescued in the raid. It’s a breaking of the chain. When the girl grows up, her children will then know they can get an education and get a job.
‘One of my favourite quotes is, “Every waterfall starts with a drop of water”. If I can help someone or inspire someone to do what I did or help in some way, I know I’ve succeeded.’
‘It was very late in life when I finally worked out what I wanted to do. I started at the age of 47. I think sometimes things are meant to happen at ages that you don’t expect things to happen.
‘I don’t wish it had happened earlier. I think my life has panned out just nicely. There were other things I wanted to do. I was convinced I wanted to be a beauty therapist and an actress. I did both of those things and then realised they’re not for me. My passion just naturally changed and I think there is a strong message in that for everyone looking at what they want to do with their life. It’s not too late to change your passion. It was very hard to let go of the acting because I studied for 3 years, did my degree and then wondered how I could possibly stop but I finally gave myself permission to finally let go. This is my new passion and I love what I do.
‘From about 14 I was drawn to vintage clothing. I went through a number of years working in retail, studying acting and always in creative fields. One day I was unhappy with where my life was going. I walked in to an antique shop. I was looking at a shop counter and the guy asked where my shop was. I said that I didn’t have a shop but just loved the counter. He asked me if I did have a shop what would I have and it just came out. I said to him that it would be a vintage clothing shop. I had an epiphany at the moment, walked out and rang my husband and my mum straight away and said to them I know this sounds crazy as I have no stock but I just want to have my own vintage clothing shop. I didn’t buy the counter. Someone else bought the counter and I kick myself to this day that I didn’t but it was the catalyst. It really was like a bolt of lightning. I literally walked on air out of that antique centre because I knew what it was that I finally wanted to do with my life.’
‘They always thought I was a freak – that I wasn’t normal. I just wasn’t the average Joe as they say. It pretty much lowered my self-esteem and I thought I can’t dress this way or be this way and I have to look the same.
‘I used to live in a country town but now that I’ve moved here I have the chance to be myself instead of hiding away. It’s like I’m free now.
‘You can’t let other people’s expectations get you down. Just follow your heart and what you really want in life. If you want to be yourself then why not do it? Nothing is standing in your way. It’s only yourself that’s stopping you.’
‘I felt my parents just didn’t understand. They didn’t see what I saw. Not many people understand what you want to do and what you see; what your vision is. It held me back and it made me feel really insecure about myself at the time. I just had to keep going…and I have to keep going.
‘After school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was kind of lost so I just kept on with my dancing. It made my parents angry but it’s a hard road trying to be a dancer. I have a troubled relationship with my parents and don’t live at home so the Ted Noffs Foundation Street University helped me to work on my art.
‘As long as you persevere, have faith and the right support then you will get there. You will show people that this is what you were meant to do.
‘Parents just need to support their kids – that’s what they need. It’s going to be a hard road for both sides but continue to support and see where that gets them. It will take them far.
‘For young creative people, be confident. Post your work online. Tell people about what you do. Show people. Don’t hide it. Don’t keep it to yourself. Go and open up your work for the world to see. There will be someone who is interested.’
Eliam formed The Pioneers dance group who will perform and model at this Thursday’s Fashion Parade at Noffs Shop Newtown launch from 6-8pm – 461 King Street.
‘I’ve been a homeless alcoholic on the streets. I’ve been an addict walking the streets when I was 16 years old up at the Cross and there were no real outlets to get help then. I think one of the strong contributing factors of depression is… when you isolate yourself. You can’t isolate when you feel bad. Just pick up the phone; it’s not a backbreaking thing to do. We have the technology now – mobile phones; the internet. There are support programs anywhere and everywhere. There are phone numbers advertised on TV. You know, Beyond Blue and all that.
‘When I was younger, there was nothing you know. I just got barely through by the skin of my teeth; I really did. It was really hard dealing with depression then. There are better support avenues out there now. You need to talk to someone. Even if you’ve got one friend, one is better than none – there is always someone around.
‘Busking is like my best anti-depressant. It fills that void. It’s a guarantee that every single time I go busking, I go home feeling on top of the world. It’s always 100% guaranteed.’