After just a few moments in the company of Melbourne-based singer/songwriter, Bridget Pross, it becomes clear that she is a woman who fearlessly wears her heart on her sleeve. Some pessimists warn that it’s dangerous to display emotions out in the open as it leaves you exposed and vulnerable. Bridget reckons these people worry too much. “If you hurt me, it just don’t even hurt me,” she proclaims in a lyric from an upcoming single.
One marvels at how an isolated teenager from the remote town of Westerway in Tasmania has arrived at the age of 25 and in the possession of such self-assured exuberance. With one album already released and a second currently being recorded, I meet with Pross just as she is busy packing her bags for Sydney, having just won an APRA-sponsored trip to attend music discussions and workshops at Song Summit 2010. “Everything is happening at once,” Pross grins. “I’ve had this massive spurt of creativity and I’m waking up with songs in my head. It’s so good, it’s just happening, my music is happening.” For the envious among us, the truth is that Pross’s road was not always paved with yellow bricks. It’s just that she learnt how to put on a brave face and get on with it.
From a young age Pross knew that her destiny lay beyond the restrictive confines of Tasmania. Life at home continuously presented difficult challenges: at the age of four Pross and her two year old sister went to live with their mother’s new partner, whom had 6 children from a previous relationship. Though the household atmosphere was always lively and high-spirited – Pross’s new dad, who loved to sing, referred to himself as American folk hero Davy Crockett – Pross struggled to find her place within the new family and never felt completely accepted.
These feelings of not belonging carried over into the schoolyard. Rather than spending lunch-breaks gossiping and smoking cigarettes with the other girls, Pross chose to make tea for her Japanese teacher and chat about life. “She used to say, ‘Bridgey, I think you are a very special person and you will go a long way if you want to’,” recalls Pross, with warmth in her eyes. In fact as a result of those lunchtime chats, and a subsequent class trip to Japan, Pross realised that she wanted much more out of life than was available to her in Tasmania.
Unable, or unsure, to effectively communicate her thoughts and feelings with her loved ones, Pross instead vented her emotional baggage with the only tools she had at her disposal: a diary, her lungs, and an acoustic guitar gifted from her uncle. “When I got my first guitar I had all this stuff to say,” Pross sighs, calmly, “’cause growing up I could say what I wanted to an extent, but not to the fullest potential like if I’d had my real father. I knew it wasn’t my real Dad so it was a different dynamic. I never called him Dad, it was always Dave. It was just really, really different and I think that’s why I write songs now, ‘cause going through all that was a hard thing for me.”
Pross’s emancipation began towards the end of high school with trips to Hobart to play gigs within the local music scene. Her talent was immediately recognised, winning the Most Promising Female award at the Tasmanian Rock Challenge. A mini-tour of America followed, where Pross began recording tracks for an album. In 2007 Pross found a new home in Melbourne and at the beginning of 2008 released her debut album, I Wanted To. The album collated songs Pross had been accumulating throughout her life. With an agent and publicist now on board Pross’s star began to shine brightly. Positive album reviews streamed in and a list of support gigs that would leave even the cream of Australia’s musicians slack-jawed followed; The Indigo Girls, Joe Cocker and Snow Patrol.
Pross’s destiny appeared to be on a trajectory towards chart success, international fame and riches. So only one question remains: Why haven’t you heard of her yet? “Too much too soon,” Pross answers thoughtfully, “the publicist and all that was great but I want to go back to playing solo gigs at wineries and develop a following that way, then take my band there.” So money isn’t a driving force? Pross shakes her head, laughing, “Even if I did make money it would just go into building a studio.”
Pross has begun studying Music Management and Development at TAFE with the goal of self-empowerment over her craft into the future. A newly-blossomed romance brings hope and excitement into her life along with a renewed understanding of who she is and what her priorities are. “I’m putting myself first and relationships come second. It’s such an uplifting thing to be able to say ‘I’m Bridge, and then there’s someone who cares about me, but I’m Bridget Pross first’.”
Meanwhile, writing songs and performing live continues to be therapeutic for Pross. “You can get something out of that sadness and do something with it as opposed to just being sad all the time. It’s good to be in touch with who you are, it sets you free, which I’ve just realised. You gotta be yourself, you can’t hide behind anything.”
Article written by Ryan Nance