According to Orianthi: It’s about the art, not the spotlight

Orianthi has had a worldwide hit ("According to You") and has played with a long list of superstar musicians, from Michael Jackson to Carrie Underwood to her current gig with Alice Cooper.

Orianthi has had a worldwide hit (“According to You”) and has played with a long list of superstar musicians, from Michael Jackson to Carrie Underwood to her current gig with Alice Cooper.

So many solo artists would never consider being somebody else’s backup musician. It’s the spotlight or nothing else, right?

Not for Orianthi.

The 28-year-old Australian singer and guitarist has had a worldwide hit (“According to You” from her 2009 debut album Believe) but is just as comfortable serving as the lead guitarist for megastars. Right before her album debuted, Orianthi was part of Michael Jackson’s band for his comeback that was cut short by his death. Right now, she’s touring with the original shock rocker, Alice Cooper. She’s also played with Carrie Underwood, Prince, and many, many more stars.

“I just enjoy pushing myself as an artist,” says Orianthi, who recently released her album, Heaven In This Hell. “I’m all about music and getting better at performing and creating. I’m in it for the art.”

LSY features editor Natalie Brophy talked with Orianthi about the realities of the music business and fame. Here’s an edited version of their conversation:

 What’s it like working with all these big artists?

Orianthi: Amazing! Getting to be on tour with Alice Cooper, he’s an incredible performer and person. I love what he does. Every night it’s just a big crazy party on stage, and if you going to be in an Alice Cooper show you have to come out to have fun. It’s a lot of fun!

What have you learned from working with some of them?

Orianthi: From Michael Jackson I learned how to be a better entertainer. And even a rhythm guitar player because there are a lot of rhythm parts to his songs. And then with Alice, there so many different parts, it’s great! He really wants us to all be part of the show, not be just standing there, and get really into it. We get to really interact a lot.

What’s it like being a female guitarist? Because most of the time, they’re guys. Is it any different being a girl?

Orianthi: Sometimes I wish they would just be like, “I like the guitar playing.” If you see a painting it doesn’t really matter if it’s a guy or a girl who paints it.

You co-wrote all the songs on your new album Heaven In This Hell. Can you describe your writing process?

Orianthi: Writing with Dave Stewart was awesome. He’s one of my good friends. We were jamming away, and we wrote all these songs together. We basically came up with a whole bunch of tracks and then we went to Blackbird Studio in Nashville to record everything in like a day.

Orianthi's next album, Heaven in this Hell, will soon be released. She recorded it with Dave Stewart at Blackbird Studio in Nashville.

Orianthi’s album Heaven In This Hell was recorded with Dave Stewart at Blackbird Studio in Nashville.

What would you say is one of the biggest misconceptions about being famous?

Orianthi: What everyone sees is the glamorous part of it all, when you’re on the red carpet or on stage. There’s a lot of traveling, there are a lot of things that people don’t really see. Now that I’m Vining everything and YouTubing things, it’s easier to see behind the scenes. But it’s pretty much the work that goes into it — that’s what they don’t see. You definitely work your butt off.

Do you think the media over-glamorizes fame?

Orianthi: Oh yeah, definitely. Once you get to a certain point – huge, like Bieber, or whomever it is – when you blow up, people try to pull you down. It’s just the way of the media world. I just think that it’s all about the art of it all. You want people to get to know your music and you want to put something out there and hear it on the radio, and that’s really rewarding. That’s what you do it for.

Have you ever gone through a difficult time that made you want to give up? What made you keep going?

Orianthi: Yeah, definitely, when I was really young. It’s ups and downs throughout the industry, highs and lows. There are people who will try to tear you down, especially in school, for me. It’s really important to just go with your gut.

If you had to give advice to someone who wanted to be a professional performer, what would you tell them?

Orianthi: I would tell them if you love it and you have a lot of passion for what you’re doing, then go for it. It’s a lot of work. Just basically to put yourself out there, record a demo, join bands, put yourself out there as much as you can. Throw yourself into the ocean sometimes.

What is something about this business that no one really ever knows until they’re in it?

Orianthi: It’s pretty unpredictable. You don’t know what’s going to happen. Everyday it’s different. I think you really have to be able to realize what goes into touring, what goes into putting an album out. I’m asked, “How come your album hasn’t come out yet?” Well there’s a lot of moving parts. You have to get the artwork, you have to get press releases, you have to get the songs, you have to make sure everything is set in place. A lot of different things go into an album and putting a tour together. People don’t realize how many people are behind the scenes. It’s frustrating, but it is what it is.

How do you balance having to manage the business side of your career, but also the need to be creative?

Orianthi: You have to separate yourself from the business side when you want to be creative, definitely. You have to turn off your email, turn off your phone and pick up your guitar. You have to be very aware of the business side of things. You have to make sure you have the right people in place to deal with that stuff for you. When you’re being creative you want to get lost in that zone.

How do you stay connected to your fans?

Orianthi: Well, I’m always on Twitter and Facebook, I Instagram. I’m working the boards these days!

What have you learned through your career as a musician?

Orianthi: I’ve learned most to really go with your gut. You have to listen to the people you respect. Don’t listen to everybody – that will drive you crazy. They all have an opinion. You can’t please everybody either.

Natalie Brophy is part of our program at Mount St. Mary Academy in Buffalo, New York.


  1. interent1 says:

    she is so lovely

  2. interent1 says:

    it helps to know who she really is so we know how to approach her

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