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Page last updated at 09:12 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 10:12 UK
Meet Aussie singer Gabriella Cilmi
Gabriella Cilmi is the 16-year-old singer/songwriter from Australia who's released one of this year's catchiest tunes, top 10 hit Sweet About Me. The teenager was signed to a major record label when she was just 13, shares a manager with the Sugababes and is promoting her debut album, Lessons To Be Learned.


Gabriella Cilmi
Gabriella Cilmi sang the theme tune to ITV1 series Echo Beach

It must be quite weird to release your record after three years making it?

Yeah. I actually started recording my album on my school holidays. So I'd come to London on my school holidays - back and forth - from Melbourne, Australia. It was weird to start off with because it didn't feel like I was doing anything because I was still at school and doing what I loved on the holidays. But I moved to the UK last year and since then it's been all about music.

Were your friends back home jealous about your jet set lifestyle?

At first, I didn't really tell them. I just said I was going to Queensland just in case things didn't work out. I wanted to make sure things were heading on the right track before I told them. Eventually I ended up telling them. But they kinda guessed. I don't know how. Some of them are actually going to come up next year because they're all finishing school.

Did they think you were really weird for doing it?

Not really. I think they knew that music was something that I really loved and I really wanted to do that. I used to have a band back home - so I used to know about that.

What was it like travelling across the world when you were so young?

When I started I was learning about something that I really loved. I'd go overseas and write songs and learn how a good pop song is written. I used to write songs for my own enjoyment in my spare time but I really didn't know how you could put it together. That's why I got into it so young. Even my parents figured at least I'd be learning about something I really wanted to learn about.

Who did you work with on this album?

Girls Aloud
Xenomania worked on Girls Aloud's fourth album, Tangled Up
A group of people called Xenomania, who have worked with Kylie Minogue and Girls Aloud. People who are totally different to the music I used to listen to back home. I used to be in a band and we used to cover Led Zeppelin songs and Jet songs and Silverchair songs - all Australian bands. We came from totally different musical backgrounds.

Janis Joplin was my idol. I kinda just wanted to scream all the time. But when I actually started working with Brian Higgins, the producer, I'd never really shown any of my sensitive side. I remember one day he played me the Rain Song by Led Zeppelin and said, 'You know. Even Led Zeppelin had a sensitive side'. So that's when I thought I could show my sensitive side too and that's when I started experimenting and trying new things.

Weren't you intimidated by older people in the music industry?

At first I was a bit quiet. But as I warmed into it I thought, there's no use holding back anything because I wanted the finished product to be as good as it can be. So I had to tell them how I felt. I come from an Italian family, my parents come from an Italian background, so I'm used to people telling me how they feel about things. I found that easy.

Were your parents worried about you going into the music industry?

I had to convince them that this was what I wanted to do. I've always got some member of my family with me. I'm lucky they're really supportive of it. I've been pretty lucky.

Your songs are being compared to Amy Winehouse. How does that feel?

It's alright. Her album last year was one of the best out there. It's nice to be looked at in your own light. I started recording my album before she released hers.

What did it feel like when you first heard your single on the radio?

The first time I heard it I remember we were driving in the car somewhere and I wasn't sure whether to listen to it or not. Because you can't be caught bopping to your own song. It's not cool. But I had to listen to it. It was nice.

And you've been on tour with the Sugababes and James Blunt?

Sugababes
Sugababes are still supporting their fifth album, Change
I toured with the Sugababes about two months ago around the UK. I think I've seen more of the UK than I have of Australia because of that tour. I supported James Blunt two weeks ago in Australia which was really cool. I got to see areas of Australia that I'd never been to. He was really nice. A real English gentleman. He has very good manners. The Blunt has very good manners.

What was it like touring with the Sugababes?

They were really nice girls. I only really got to chat with them for a bit. Their show, they're always having outfit changes and getting their make-up done, it's crazy. But they seemed really nice.

What's your stage show like?

I've only got one costume change so far. I might put another costume change in there but I think there'll only ever be two costume changes in my live show. I've got a live band behind me and it's kinda pretty organic-feeling. We have a fun time.

Are you prepared for success?

I just take things day by day. We'll see what happens. I'm enjoying myself at the moment so hopefully it can only get better. And I like touring and travelling so it should be cool.

Gabriella Cilmi was talking to Newsbeat entertainment reporter Frances Cronin

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