Self described as a "singy-singy, dancy-dancy" girl, African born, Australian raised Lisa Viola knows how to make things happen. Having collaborated with the likes of Shaggy, Timaya and currently being a judge on Channel 7's All Together Now, the only way is up.
We are proud to have Lisa as one of our Life Apparel ambassadors, wearing our garments out and about with pride. We chat to her about her singing journey, her ethnic background & her advice to people wanting to make it in the Aussie music scene.
Lisa Viola wears the Dabil Water Country bikini & Eco Coffee Cup
Talk us through your singing journey!
I started in performing arts when I was 5 years old. I was obsessed all through school, I tried to learn everything. Tap dance, Irish dance, Acrobatics, Ballet, Modelling, Acting, Piano and Singing. The first time I wrote a song I was about 10 years old and I sung into an old cassette tape recorder. I remember hiding it thinking I would die if my brother found it! In early high school my best friend and I used to lock ourselves in the music room at lunch and we would make our own compositions and prepare for showcase nights. I just loved it. When I was 17 I was in an all girl group. We used to sing covers but we scored at audition for a record label. The work that we put in preparing for that audition made me realise this was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted it so bad but unfortunately the label didn't sign us. It was make or break for me and I chose that it would be MAKE. I released my first solo single in 2013 and haven't looked back. I've been an independent artist, self managed and have worked with some of the biggest names in music. This journey has taken me around the world and also brought me some other amazing opportunities. I'm still working on my craft and I'll never be satisfied but I love it and it's very much a part of who I am. This year I released a song in Feb and then decided to take a break. I've been blessed with opportunities in television (currently a judge on All Together Now Channel 7) and work as a youtuber, influencer and actress. This time away from music has given me the space I needed to redefine who I am as an artist and the freedom to break out of the box that the industry wants to put me in.
What is your background & heritage, and how does this shape your work?
I was born in the capital of Angola, Luanda. My mother is of African decent and my father Portuguese. My parents separated when I was very young and I grew up in Australia with my Stepfather who is Swiss. It's safe to say our household was very diverse in culture and we were always surrounded by other diverse families. I've always been proud of my background and it's definitely shaped my work. It's also had it's challenges. When you're a 'bitza' like me it's easy to have an identity crisis. I speak like an Aussie, I dance like an African, I eat like a European. I've tried hard to stand strong and let my music work at being a reflection of my diversity. It was hard because I think a lot of biracial kids like me felt they were too 'white' for the black community and too 'black' for the white community. We were always somewhere in the middle. But now I'm seeing that the people that truly connect with me online or with my music are just like me, and I'm really happy to be that person for them.
If you could describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?
That's a hard one so I'll go with my Insta bio. "African born, Australian raised singy singy dancy dancy gal."
What advice would you give to people wanting to give the Australian music industry a crack?
DIY. Forget the Australian music industry. Create your own following and let the industry come to you. Only take advice from people that have actually had success. Create a team and support them the way you want them to support you.
I speak like an Aussie, I dance like an African, I eat like a European... I've tried hard to stand strong and let my music work at being a reflection of my diversity.
What is your personal fashion style?
My personal style would have to be simple, elegant and comfortable, but my onstage persona is definitely more loud, daring and sexy. I love wearing garments that represent culture. When I wear my African prints, head scarves or face paints I feel empowered, like I'm part of something bigger than myself. When we take pride in where we come from we move forward through all of our minority tribulations, stereotypes and judgements. We aren't just wearing clothes, we are representing our ancestors. When you come from a country like mine that has been through what it has, it's my way of waving the flag and sharing any success I may have with my people. I will also proudly rock clothes like Life Apparel because it represents the people whose land I now call home and their story isn't much different to that of my country of birth. Many of us non Indigenous Australians recognise their fight and we stand united. That is the power I feel when I'm rocking a Life Apparel piece.
You can follow Lisa on Instagram at @lisaviola.