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I’m mid-conversation with Casey Donovan when a woman wearing activewear approaches. “I’ve seen you on TV a lot lately,” she blurts out.
Without missing a beat, Casey looks her in the eye and politely asks, “Is that OK?”, the wry smile never leaving her face.
We’re sitting outside a charming Middle Park cafe alongside the 96 tram route, and nothing can ruffle Casey’s cool – not admirers, nor trams rattling past. She’s calm, collected and clearly having fun with her renewed status as media darling.
Fresh from her victory in the third season of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here, the 29-year-old has been making the most of her return to the spotlight.
Dressed all in black with a bright orange necklace, the singer says taking the “Queen of the Jungle” crown on I’m a Celebrity was a shock. But even more surprising was the media swell that followed, bringing back memories of her Australian Idol win as a wide-eyed 16-year-old.
“I go in not thinking about the outcomes,” Casey says. “I get in there and think this is cool and great – then everything gets fast-tracked.”
With the release of new single Lonely, from her upcoming EP Off The Grid and Somewhere In Between (due out later this year), she is striking while the iron is hot.
But this time she’s taking a different approach to the industry – taking control of her musical direction, unlike her Idol days when, she says, “they didn’t know what to do with me”.
Until her recent reality show win, it has been a slow and steady journey to release new work. Casey began production on the crowd-funded EP in April last year, while working as an Uber driver in Sydney, after her gig as Killer Queen in musical We Will Rock You wrapped up earlier than expected.
Casey says Uber driving was exactly what she needed for her creativity to flourish.
“I could drive when I wanted to, but also had the time to be able to sit with my thoughts and really indulge myself,” she says.
Despite finding success on the stage with The Sapphires and as Mama Cass in Flowerchildren, Casey says the challenge of writing and recording new music as an independent artist is a constant struggle.
“It makes you work harder for your craft,” she says, smiling. “But the pay-off of having people listening to and enjoying your music is the best feeling.”
BREW HA HA
- 107a Canterbury Road,
- Middle Park
THE VIBE \ A relaxed brunch spot in a converted stationmaster’s building next to the 96 tram line.
THE BREW \ Double-shot iced latte, no sugar, made with Fayale Coffee, the cafe’s blend of five South American Arabica beans, giving rich chocolate and caramel tones.
THE FOOD \ Vegemite on Turkish bread with a side of tomato – one of Casey’s favourite dishes.