After winning the first season of Channel 7’s celebrity singing contest It Takes Two in 2006, Erika Heynatz seemed a sure bet for a singing career.

The actor/model/TV presenter (a genuine ‘slashie’) was blonde, beautiful, and had proved her vocal chops with impressive renditions of challenging songs like the Phil Collins ballad Against All Odds. And yet it’s taken some four years for her debut album, Sweeter Side, to see the light of day.

Surely there must have been a temptation to quickly knock out an album of covers, SuBo-style, to capitalise on the win?

“I think I’ve been really fortunate in that there was never any pressure for me to do that. The record company really insisted I take as much time as I needed to find my sound and shape my ideas. There’s no joy in rushing something,” Heynatz told Sydney Star Observer.

“I was lucky that the A&R (artists and repertoire) team really pushed me to write with a diverse set of writers ­— I wrote here in Australia and travelled to London, Los Angeles, Texas, writing with people who’ve done rock, electronic music, all sorts of stuff.

“It was about learning how to steer a writing session in a way that I could express what I wanted. It was a trial and error process, in a way.”

Does that mean there are some aborted musical experiments laying dormant in the Heynatz vaults? Erika does techno, perhaps, or MC Heynatz?

“Of course there are! My A&R guy told me the other day that he was sorting through the archives of my recording sessions and it provided him with a few laughs. But you’ve got to be prepared to try anything — you’ve got to go through the crap ideas to get to the good ones,” she chuckled.

“I said, let’s get those songs remixed and passed over to another artist … in Germany.”

While the resulting album is by no means perfect — the gentle acoustic feel throughout lapses into background music on the weaker songs — the highlights should draw interest from fans of adult-pop artists like Natalie Imbruglia and Sara Bareilles.

First single Kingdom has a sky-high chorus, while the follow-up, Bullet, is a slinky soul strut that flirts with an Amy Winehouse sound.

And with her voice clear and supple throughout, Heynatz can definitely add ‘singer’ to her resume, once and for all.

“It’s not about adding it to the resume — Jesus! I have enough slashes after my name, so it’s not about that, thank you very much.

“Although I have changed what I write on my passport — it used to be TV presenter, but now I’m popping recording artist in there. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past three years of my life, so it feels good to be able to call myself a singer now.”

info: Sweeter Side (EMI) out now.

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