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Thelma Plum

Off The Leash's Tierney White had a chat with the lovely Thelma Plum, ahead of this weekend's National Indigenous Music Awards. This year, Plum has been nominated for two awards, including National Artist of the Year, and National Song of the Year.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today Thelma. Firstly, congratulations on your nominations for the NIMAs. You’re up for National Artist of the Year, and you have two songs up for National Song of the Year – how does that feel?

It feels really nice! I was Unearthed at the NIMAs in 2012, so it’s kind of where it all started. It’s nice to return this year and be nominated for an award, and I really admire the other people in the category.

Well that’s it, you’re only 20, but you’re up against Jess Mauboy, Dan Sultan, and Briggs – what's it like to be in the same category as these Aussie music icons?

It feels amazing. I admire all of them so much, and it’s an honour to be considered in the same category as them. I’m a huge fan of Briggs – he’s actually a good friend of mine. Of course, secretly, I would like to win, but I’d also love to see Briggs do well.

Your career took off in 2012 after winning Triple J Unearthed, and it looks as though it is going from strength to strength, what has been the highlight of your career thus far?

You know, I can’t even narrow it down to a single moment. Everyday I think how lucky I am to do what I do. I get to write music, and people want to listen to it. I’m just so thankful that I get to make music, and I love it! When I first performed at the NIMAs, I was so overwhelmed – it was the biggest crowd I’d ever played to. I was stoked because I got to meet Troy Cassar Daly and one of my favourite bands, The Medics.

Well it looks as though you’ve come full-circle, having been unearthed at the NIMAs, and now returning as a nominated artist – what does the NIMAs mean to you?

It’s a real honour to be returning to the NIMAs; I sure wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for them. It’s a wonderful opportunity for Aboriginal music to be recognised, although it would be nice if it was more mainstream. But it’s a wonderful way of showcasing amazing Indigenous music.

When did you realise music was what you wanted to do?

There was never a defining moment – I just always knew it was what I wanted to do!

That’s fair enough! Your earlier music was accompanied by your guitar, but you’ve recently taken a new direction, what inspired this change?

I’ve always wanted to evolve, to keep growing, and get better and better. I understand that to some it may have come a little unexpected, but it was over the course of 12 months that I’d been changing. I grew up listening to country music, and amazing, strong female pop stars, like Delta and Britney, so I always wanted my music to adapt, evolve, and take on new forms and styles.

You may have just partially answered this question, but who or what inspires you?

My friends and family. I’m incredibly lucky as I’ve surrounded myself [without even meaning to] with the most incredible and passionate people. I’m currently in Brissie with my best friend from high school, and she’s expecting her second baby. I’m actually helping her renovate and just today, was inspired to pen a song about her.

(Laughs) I love that, despite your flourishing career and star-status, you’re crashing at your mate’s place and helping with the renos!

(Laughs) To Sheridan, I’ll always be ‘Bratty Thelma’ – I was a little bit cheeky in high school!

Who is your fave artist of all time?

Paul Kelly. I think he’s the best songwriter in the world.

I’m sure he’d be very honoured to hear that! You’ve performed in Darwin a few times now – much to the delight of the locals who often get left off national tours – what do you like about performing here?

Darwin is honestly one of my favourite places in the world – I always get so excited to visit, and I can’t wait for this weekend. Every time I visit, I go to Crocosaurus Cove and see the crocs. The Territory is so beautiful and I always have a beautiful time. I often bring some friends or family along. I performed at the beautiful Barunga Festival, and the scenery was gorgeous. Visiting Darwin and the Top End reminds me of going on family holidays when I was a kid – it’s so great!

Could you describe your sound (or yourself if you like) in three words?

Um, ooh, that’s a bit tricky. I’ll just throw some words out. Cheeky. Musical. Very loud!

What does the future hold for Miss Thelma Plum?

Exactly what I’m doing now. Hopefully bigger and better.

Thank you for chatting with me today Thelma. All the best for helping out with your friend’s renos, and for the NIMAs this weekend!

(Laughs) Thankyou, bye!

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