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A Heart To Heart: Narelle Kheng Gives Us The Lowdown On Her New Music & The Sam Willows

Putting her own spin on Spring/Summer 2020's '90s minimalist-inflected take on laid-back sexy, Narelle Kheng tells us just what exactly has been up with her.

Female: But you’ve become a well-loved celebrity in your own right over time.

NK: “But situations like that were happening all the way till when we announced our break. And while people might have referred to me as a celebrity, I never knew what they meant. The strange thing is that in the past year, I don’t think people have regarded me as much of a celebrity as compared to when I was in the band. I no longer have fans going insane over me and I don’t get recognised as much, but I feel like I’m being recognised for being me. That or at least I recognise myself more. It’s why I find the feminist movement so important. For a long time, I was saying and doing things that I thought I was supposed to as a girl. I always knew I could do stuff, but never gave myself the opportunity. So it’s all the more important to bring this conversation to the younger generation so that they can start working on themselves sooner and not feel like they have to be a cute girl on Instagram to get some validation, which by the way is the easiest form of validation.”

Female: Was that you?

NK: “I definitely played into it.”

Cotton-blend dress, Bottega Veneta

Female: Do you see yourself more of an influencer or a musician?

NK: “In the seven years that I was in The Willows, I didn’t dare to put out my own music; only covers. Most of the content I put out were influencer related, so I feel like I would be lying if I said I was recognised more for being a musician than an influencer, especially when I spent more time on the latter.”

Female: So what is the real Narelle like and what does she want to say?

NK: “I’m just starting a new journey and am not thinking about an endpoint, but instead about what steps I should take next for myself. In this industry, it’s very easy to play a puppet and serve others – what type of content do you want to see; what do you want me to do – and it’s natural for one to follow the route that would bring them the most response. I’ve had to learn how to strip away that part of me. It’s why I coloured my hair back. I don’t want to be defined my hair. I’ve been wearing a lot less makeup and taking fewer photos. I didn’t buy anything at all last year. I’m not saying that doing all of this would help me figure things out, but it’s what I felt like I had to do: strip things away.”