“You’d think we would be sick of each other” laughs Prinnie Stevens.
Singers, contestants on The Voice Australia and best friends. Mahalia Barnes, daughter of Australian music legend Jimmy Barnes and Sydney singer-songwriter Prinnie Stevens have come together, literally, on their stunning joint-effort Come Together – a collection of covers and soul-standards like ‘Crazy In Love’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and ‘River Deep, Mountain High’. The two best friends are now hitting the road on their Come Together Tour, showing the rest of the country just why moments like this were so amazing.
So what happens when you put two music loving musicians together with a music loving writer? A lot, apparently. Whilst in Adelaide, I caught up with the beautiful duo to chat about a little bit of everything, but not limited to Prinnie’s obsession with Instagram or a fan of Mahalia’s who named her daughter ‘Mikahlia’ after her, apparently.
On making music together:
Mahalia: “It’s a collaboration with one of my best friends, what a great opportunity to be given!”
Prinnie: “As much as we love working together, we’re big fans of each other and our individual styles. We both have things happening constantly with our own music. The best thing about Come Together is that it doesn’t completely encompass us as solo artists. We’re not a ‘girl group’.”
Mahalia: “It’s happened very quickly, this year has kind of been like a whirlwind for us both. With the show [The Voice], then we went straight into the studio right after the finale and made an album we’re both really proud of. We walked past a JB Hi-Fi store that was playing it, we got so excited. It’s great to have a body of work out there and to be able to share it with so many people.”
Having creative freedom on Come Together:
Prinnie: “Universal have been amazing. They’ve allowed us to do what we wanted and record the songs we wanted from the start. They literally said to us ‘We can’t argue with any of those songs!’ which gives us a good feeling… like we’re not just fluking it [laughs]”
Mahalia: “You do get over-excited thinking that you can do everything. You don’t want to miss out anything. But we recorded the album in 4 days so it wasn’t a big, long process. We just wanted to be able to sing songs that we believed in, that we could put our hearts into or at least songs we could have a lot of fun doing live.”
Prinnie: “Given the timeframe that we had, we didn’t have enough time to over think things or to pick it apart. We wanted it to be organic and we preferred it that way. Being spontaneous has pulled things out of us vocally that we haven’t done before."
Prinnie: “To really understand Mahalia and me as artists, you have to see us live. It takes the music to another level. We’re so inspired by people like James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner… people who are known for their live albums and stage presence."
Mahalia: “We’ve both been performing live for a very long time. The television show and the singles and whatnot aside, most of the time we’re on the stage. That’s where you grow."
Prinnie: “That’s where you learn the most and where you become the performer you are. I know for me, I’ve grown up watching older people on stage. Mahalia, especially, with her father. It wasn’t textbook, we learned from watching live musicians and performing live ourselves.
On the music industry:
Mahalia: “A lot of people think that this industry is easy [laughs] Why?!”
Prinnie: “Reality shows have not helped that much either… except The Voice [laughs]”
Mahalia: “It’s still a fast-track to a career. And sometimes that’s great and everyone deserves that opportunity but the reality is you have to work hard following that. There are people I know that are incredibly talented who have come through those shows and then hit the road and thought ‘Hold on, I’ve never done 6 gigs in a row’. It’s tough. It looks glamorous on the outside and it’s a lot of fun but sometimes it is tough. There’s quite often a misunderstanding of that reality because of television and social media and accessibility.
Prinnie’s Australian Idol days and The Voice:
Prinnie: “It was a long time ago since then! I went to America in between Idol and The Voice and also had a baby. But back when Idol first began, to be a professional singer on a reality show was not a good thing. They wanted to pluck someone from obscurity and create them. I love Shannon [Noll] but, you know, it was almost like them taking him off the tractor and making him a star.”
Mahalia: “That’s what was great about The Voice. They didn’t want to hide your artistry. Even if you weren’t a professional, you still had to know who you were as an artist."
Prinnie: “I don’t regret doing Idol at all because for me, it was really scary to go on a reality show and already have people out there who knew me as a singer. It was scary doing The Voice too, thinking about my name in the community that I’m in, thinking ‘Oh my god, what if I don’t get through?’. Sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith and do it."
Future plans recording together:
Prinnie: “If people want to hear more of us, I don’t think we’d be against making another album together!”
Mahalia: “Not only that, but you can see how much we’re genuinely enjoying ourselves [laughs] At the end of the day, it’s just us having fun. The tour and the record… yes we’d love for them to do well but we’ve had an absolute ball in the process. We can’t complain.”
Come Together is available in stores and online now. Mahalia and Prinnie bring the Come Together Tour to The Gov on Saturday, November 24. Tickets available via Moshtix. Visit www.prinniemahalia.com for more information.
Photos by Brent Leideritz