10 Questions with ... Whitney Irwin
May 7, 2012
1) What was it that got you interested in music?
I have always had a passion for music. As I got older, I developed more of an understanding and a wider view of what I could do with what I loved. That has always been what drives me to work hard and practice hard.
2) Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Whitney Houstan, Mariah Carey, Josh Groban, Michael Buble', Celine Dion, Il Divo, Brooke Fraser, Charlotte Church, Celtic Women.
3) Can you offer a brief journey of your musical career thus far from your perspective?
When I was 18, a Los Angeles based producer named Jeffery David discovered some demo songs I'd put up on MySpace and invited me over to the US to record in his studio.
That was the kick start to the album. One of the songwriters was the legendary Scott Krippayne who had done a lot of work with Disney. Through that, I then met with Eddie Galan who had also worked with Disney. Eddie and his team at Mach 1 Music then wrote and produced some great contemporary songs for the album.
When I returned home, I still needed a couple more songs to finish off the album, so I worked with the legendary Carl Doy back in New Zealand. Carl was the music producer for New Zealand's "Dancing With The Stars" TV show and was also a global classical piano sensation having a platinum selling Album in America. (Oprah had selected Carl's album as her "favorite of all favorites" in "Oprah's favorites collection.")
This was the perfect finishing touch for my album as it brought to life my classical music roots in cohesion with the soulful contemporary ballads and pop songs.
The album took around two to three years to make, so through that process I also released a Christmas EP. I then signed up with Ode records and released it right across stores in New Zealand and globally on iTunes.
I have been fortunate enough to continue working along side the Cancer Society having just sung at the "Relay for Life" event held at the rugby park Stadium in Invercargill. I have also had the honor of singing the national anthem at International sporting events, most recently for the Silver Ferns in their test match against England.
4) You have a great voice. How did you develop such an incredible range?
Thank you. Since I was young, I've worked exceptionally hard training in classical voice through Trinity College of London music examinations then went on and got my ASCSM with Honors in Classical Voice from the St Cecilia School of music in Australia. But I also wanted to mix that with a contemporary sound. I guess you could categorize it as a female Josh Groban sound.
5) You have worked with producers Jeffrey David (English Beats, Victoria Beckham ) and Eddie Galan of High School Musical and Hannah Montana fame. How did you make contact with these name producers?
I am constantly networking with people, and having people that I had made friends with in the industry then having them introduce me to their friends and keeping the cycle rolling. That is the best way to go.
6) Your second album "Fly" achieved some significant radio airplay and sales in your home country of New Zealand. How does New Zealand radio and retail outlets differ from the US or other countries that you have been to?
My album "Fly" debuted at #5 on the Independent Music New Zealand charts which was really exciting. It stayed in the Top Ten for three weeks. The single "Fly" was played across New Zealand on the Easy Mix station. I was also fortunate enough to have my own one-hour special on News Talk ZB, New Zealand's leading radio station, and I was also featured in their nationwide Christmas Special. I also gained airplay in Australia being part of the "48 Melomania lock-down."
I have also been fortunate enough to gain airplay and interviews in America, With CBS Lite in Hartford, The Big 10am in Florida with Al Spry, and also on Spokane's River in Washington which was quite exciting!. So I am hoping to gain some more radio momentum here in the states! Finger crossed!
7) How have social networks and sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter affected the way you promote your music and interact with your fans?
It's amazing! I grew up on a sheep farm in Southern New Zealand so I am totally out of the loop with big cities and play maker in the industry. But this also isolated me from a large target market to share my music with. Thanks to iTunes my fans can listen to my music and if they like it, they can then connect and buy it there and also see all the future events coming up!!
8) How are you using new music technologies to record music and in your personal life?
It's great when I'm situated in New Zealand, because I can use email and send files to arrange all the song details to prepare everything. So all I have to do when I get over to Los Angeles is record the vocals. Then everything can be sent to me to listen to while its being mixed. Then I sign it off and it gets mastered!!
9) What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes, and how do you taylor your music to fit in with contemporary artists that are now getting played at radio?
Songwriting to me is something incredibly personal. I love songs that have real grit to them. I find it hard to share songs I write as they are so personal and deep to me. It's like letting everyone know everything about you and giving them the opportunity to publicly annihilate you for it. At the moment , my original songs are written for me by some great contemporary writers so I'm just soaking up as much as I can from them and maybe one day I'll be brave enough to share my own songs with the world.
10) What is the one truth that has always remained constant throughout your career?
No one will work harder for you than you.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love sports. They are great for burning off some steam and catching up with friends. I also love exploring New Zealand's beautiful nature!!!
What is your favorite song to perform live?
"Hallelujah." Hands down, it's just so emotional and beautiful. Leonard Cohen is a genius.
What are some of the artists we might find on your MP3 player?
I love old School Mariah, Whitney and Celine!!! But you?ll also find Eva Cassidy, Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman. Then I also love stuff like Joe Cocker, Cat Stevens, and Billy Joel. I also LOVE Michael Buble'!!!
You donate $3 for every album sold to the New Zealand Cancer Society. How did you get involved with this charity?
The inspiration for my music comes from my grandmother who fought and beat cancer during the recording of my album. I donate part of my proceeds from my album sales to help others like her.
Who has had the biggest impact on your life?
My family are always the ones who have always been there for me through everything.
How do you balance your family life?
A very well planned out diary.
Why is this lifestyle (recording, singing, traveling) one that you're willing to follow?
Basically at this stage because I'm passionate, young, and I have nothing to tie me down. As I get older, it may not be something that I'm so willing to follow, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.