Behind every great pop song there is a great story.
Ricki-Lee's story has been many years in the making.
By the age of 24 Ricki-Lee had achieved so much: consistent chart and airplay success with 7 top ten GOLD and PLATINUM singles, a huge international hit with Can't Touch It and diverse media experience with roles as TV host, Sydney breakfast radio host and model. In 5 short years she'd achieved success that would rival that of her contemporaries who'd been in the entertainment business for twice as long.
Ricki-Lee was not fulfilled. She wanted more.
'At the end of 2009 I was ready to give up music -- I just didn't want to do it anymore -- I was worn down after six years of dealing with shit and I was done. I wasn't in the driving seat of my own career. I was at the back of the bus and there were so many passengers in front of me that I couldn't even get to the driver to say "hang on, we're going in the wrong direction, I don't like this".'
Fiercely independent and determined to make a fresh start, Ricki-Lee followed her instincts and contacted the man who had written the music that had shaped her life.
His name was Billy Mann, and for 21 years he has written hits for Pink, Anastacia, The Backstreet Boys, Sting.. a brilliant story-teller behind an endless collection of A-list pop songs
'I had been a fan of his since my childhood without even knowing it -- I look back at so many of my favourite tracks growing up, and he wrote them. His songs paint a picture for me - not many songwriters can do that"'
Ricki-Lee decided to take a chance and reach out to Billy via a generic email address listed on his website.
Upon receiving the email, Billy did some research of his own. He learned Ricki-Lee was an Australian Idol alumni and one of her singles heavily featured in the second Sex In The City movie (which grossed more than 300 million dollars at the box-office). With his curiosity sparked, he replied and invited her to come to his studio in New York, where Pink, Robyn, David Guetta, Kelly Rowland and the world's biggest pop stars create the music that dominates the global charts.
Soon after, Ricki-Lee set off to the USA to meet the man who would go on to produce the music that may define her career.
'I was so nervous to meet him. He's such an influential figure in the music world and he has such charisma... it walked into the room before he physically did.'
The first day Ricki-Lee arrived at the studio Billy had arranged for her to work with his young protege BOYBLUE, in what was possibly a test to see if Ricki-Lee could deliver the goods and had the talent to warrant time with Billy -- who is in high demand and widely regarded as one of the world's best writers.
"I worked with BOYBLUE all day and Billy came by the studio late that night to hear what we'd done"
By all accounts Billy was blown away. "He loved what we'd done and it was an incredible feeling".
He not only cleared his diary for the week to work exclusively with Ricki-Lee, he also invited her to stay in his home with his family.
'He was so welcoming -- the week I spent with his family was a beautiful and life changing week. I knew we were making magic and I completely trusted him to take me into a world of emotions I'd never delved into. He looks right into you, into your heart, it's like therapy. Nothing is wrong, nothing is stupid, nothing is off limits and I felt safe -- I was free and opened up and I felt I could tell him anything -- he's very wise and every lyric is calculated.'
Ricki-Lee and her musical idol connected over universal themes. The end result is a heartfelt story wrapped up in a joyous, celebratory, epic power-pop anthem.
'Raining Diamonds is not a song about love, it's a song about life and knowing what you want and not being afraid to take a risk --to take a leap of faith and know something better is out there.
'It's about finding your sense of strength and finding that little thing inside saying what's going on isn't good enough and I deserve better and I'm going to have it. Until the planets are aligned and until it's raining diamonds, until it's perfect I'm going to keep searching.
'It's the same in life, with friendships, your relationships, your work life and your whole being: it's ok to say this is what I want -- and if what you want seems out of reach -- who says it's out of reach?'
So for ten months Ricki-Lee has been keeping this secret and now it's time to unleash Raining Diamonds: a progressive song that fuses swirling synths, guitar hooks, a relentless kick drum with infectious melodies to form the hit of the summer.
Recorded in New York, and mixed in Paris -- this is world-class pop.
'I'm enjoying challenging myself, I want to raise the bar and set a new standard for Australian pop artists. I respect Beyonce and Gaga because they push the limits and set the standard. No-one in Australia really sings, dances, writes and is so entrenched in the whole music creation process, I want to up the ante and prove we can be that good as well.
'It's absolutely, without a doubt, the best music I've ever made... I know everyone says that - but I've never said that -- honestly this is the truest representation of who I am.'
Looking better than ever, with a new found freedom and the confidence that brings.. Ricki-Lee can't wait to embrace 2012 and to see what comes next.
But right now, it's all about the new single. Music is fun again -- and it's meant to be fun.
'Music is my #1 priority, it's what I do best and I can't wait for everyone to hear Raining Diamonds.'