Why Ricki-Lee refuses to surround herself with yes people
The perks of working on Australia's Got Talent with chef Manu Feildel?
When you invite him around for dinner he cooks it for you, singer Ricki-Lee Coulter says Feildel insisted.
"It's weird to ask someone to come to your house and they cook for you, but I'll take it," Coulter says. "But there's some people in our house who could learn something."
Coulter's referring to husband and manager Rich Harrison who has set his robe on fire twice while cooking an omelette in their kitchen.
"His robe has these wizard sleeves and he was literally standing there on fire, so I banned him from the kitchen," Coulter says.
"Then one morning he wanted eggs and I was too hungover so he tried to cook them again and the same thing happened, robe up in flames. I'm hoping Manu can teach him how to make a steak safely, that'd be nice."
Coulter and Harrison have been together a decade now - their first night they met, and the morning after - is captured on her new single Last Night.
"The first verse is 'making love, I'm all over you, you're all over me, it's taken us a couple of shots, a couple of hours, you took my hand, screwed all my plans'. It was a case of take my hand, let's go," Coulter says.
"The next verse is about waking up the next morning. I wanted to lay there with him all day but I had to get on a plane. I had to kick him out of my apartment. It was that crazy, passionate thing, we couldn't stop, we were all over each other. And the chorus basically says if he's the only person I could ever spend time with, I'd be down with that."
The pair have spent isolation working on Coulter's career post COVID-19.
Australia's Got Talent, which the singer hosts, was put on hold the week before filming was due to start due to crowd restrictions.
"My whole year cleared up in an instant like so many people in the industry. I thought I can either sit back and have a holiday or I can be productive and switch focus and finish some music.
"Last year was a massive year, we did AGT and a tour, I had no time to do new music. Suddenly I had all this time."
Last Night was written in November at a Song Hubs writing camp, but was unfinished. In two months Coulter managed to complete and release the song, written with Melbourne-born, LA based DJ/producer Throttle, Ava Hayz and Janeva Burrill.
"I listen to Throttle's music every single day. When I go for a run the first song on my playlist is his remix of Ed Sheeran's Castle on the Hill, followed by Tell Me You Love Me which he did with Galantis. He'd usually be touring around the world, but he was home in Melbourne, the songwriters were home, so why not put our heads together and finish the song and get it out?
"Between phone calls, emails, video calls, texts, getting lyric ideas via DMs on Instagram it was an amazing display of what people can do when they want to get something done. It's going to change the way we work moving forward. You don't necessarily need to be in the same room as people to make something great."
Her first single in two years, it's also her first upbeat release in a long time.
"This feels like me," Coulter says. "Deep in my soul this is the music I love. This is what my fans love most from me - feel-good, uplifting happy, carefree songs you want to sing along with that make you want to dance.
"When we did the tour last year when I played bangers like Raining Diamonds, Can't Touch It, Burn It Down, people jump up and dance. I kept seeing people asking for another bop, so here it is. It's time."
Coulter says Harrison is also a big fan of Last Night, which is not always the case.
"Rich is very honest. I don't want to be surrounded by yes people. Every single person on my team is more than happy to tell me 'No, absolutely not, I hate that, that's s--t, that's a terrible idea' or 'Yes, that's great, let's go'.
"The reason Rich and I work so well is he loves me first as a husband and he gives me cuddles and tells me I'm pretty, all the things girls want to hear, but when it comes to business and music there is no one more brutal and ruthless than him. It's not about stroking my ego or hurting my feelings, it's about telling the truth.
"This is an industry where there are so many ups and downs, you always have to keep bringing it back to the music. How can I be a better singer and performer? I work harder on my voice now than I ever have. I do exercises every single day to keep it strong because I don't want to be one of those people whose voice got worse over time because I got complacent. You have to keep caring about your craft.
"And in order to do that you need to have people who challenge you otherwise you go off with the fairies and just do whatever you all think is amazing. I see it all the time. Not everything you write is a hit. You have to be realistic and have people who check you."
Coulter is filming a COVID-safe video for Last Night, with plans to do an official one when possible.
She's also awaiting Channel 7's word on when her hosting duties on Australia's Got Talent can resume.
"You can't film a show like AGT with no crowd. I sang for four people when I auditioned for Australian Idol. That's a terrifying, cold atmosphere for someone just starting out to walk into."
Until then, she's more than happy at home.
"I'm really not looking forward to having to not be able to sit around in a robe all day. I feel like I've been training for this all my life. I'm excelling at iso."
Last Night is out now.
Originally published as Why Ricki-Lee refuses to surround herself with yes people