The sparks have been flying for Holly Valance ever since ‘Kiss Kiss’ raced to the top of the charts as one of those cool, catchy, crossover smashes that burrows its unforgettable choruses into your head and won’t get out again. With a flurry of press attention and that video on almost constant rotation, ‘Kiss Kiss’ was one of the biggest hits of the year and Holly became the name on everybody’s lips.
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And now Holly is set to repeat the feat with the seductive follow-up ‘Down Boy.’ Written by Rob Davis and produced by Nellee Hooper ‘Down Boy’ continues the flirtatious style of ‘Kiss Kiss’ whilst Hooper’s legendary touch adds a sophisticated drum & bass element to Holly’s sultry voice. It’s been a great start for the actress previously famous to millions as Felicity ‘Flick’ Scully from Neighbours.
Holly is smart, funny, and mature beyond her years - a long way from ditzy Flick. Unlike her character, Holly moved away from home when she was just 16. "I've always been my own little free spirit," she says. "I was financially stable enough to do so." And singing, not acting, is her first love. She's been doing it all her life. "For me, it's not that big a change," says Holly. "Now I'm being recognised on the streets by people who really like the song, which is good. Music is more me. It's what I really like doing. It's what I can really get my teeth into."
‘Kiss Kiss’ reworked a Turkish hit single with a brisk rub down and a taste of the r n' b flavours Holly loves so much. This exotic fusion is what makes it so refreshing. "That's why I liked it, I love all that sort of music," grins Holly. "I've got a Yugoslav background so it's not that different to what you hear at family parties." Her debut album, ‘Footprints’, is as varied as it is addictive, featuring ‘Kiss Kiss’ and ‘Down Boy’, as well as tracks such as the hypnotic ‘Cocktails And Parties’ and the flirtatious r&b of ‘Naughty Girl.’
Both Holly's parents are former models - which is why she was modeling herself by the age of 12. "I was always around people from the industry," she says. "I didn't take it very seriously. If a 13-year-old can earn 300 bucks an hour, why not?" But both parents are also deadly serious about music. Holly's dad Ryko is an accomplished jazz guitarist and pianist. Her mother Rachel is a fanatic music fan who has always kept her daughter ahead of the latest trends: from Soul II Soul through to American trance wonder BT through to Marilyn Manson and Slayer.
Holly's taste in music is equally eclectic. Her favourite albums include Paul Oakenfold's classic New York DJ mix for Global Underground and Missy Elliot's ‘Miss E... So Addictive.’ On her recent tour of British radio stations, Holly harassed all the house DJs until she found the Superfly white label bootleg she was after. The first place she heads for in a new town is the nearest record store. And the first thing she does when she gets home is slip a CD into her player.
Holly is as talented a singer as she is an actress, but despite her sun-kissed good looks, she’s as much a breath of fresh air as her hit. Holly’s the kind of star everyone can relate to - an unpretentious, wise-cracking, independent-minded young woman who enjoys swimming near her Brighton Beach home in Melbourne, kickboxing, and hanging out with her mates. It's jeans and boots for Holly, not designer gear.
The visually stunning video to ‘Kiss Kiss’ showcased a sexier image for Holly - but she knew she had to signal her change in career. "We had to get as far away from the Neighbours thing as possible - and I don't think you can get much further away from the good little girl in her school dress in Erinsborough," she says.
Holly's movie star looks have also set pulses racing on the pages of men's magazines and tabloid newspapers - but she's no diva, and her feet are firmly on the ground. "I don't think there's anything wrong with doing flattering, womanly shots in a bikini," she says. "I don't have a problem with that. There's nothing distasteful."
And if you do manage to persuade Holly to turn up to a premiere, she's more likely to sneak in the back entrance to avoid photographers. At the National Television Awards, she shot up the red carpet so quickly they had to send her back to walk up it again - because all the photographers had missed their shots. "I get so embarrassed and shy," she grimaces.
Holly’s exotic, Middle European looks come from her cosmopolitan background in Melbourne. Holly's dad is Serbo-Croat; her mum is English. Her parents divorced when she was four, but a happy family and a positive relationship between her parents has kept her grounded. "I have the biggest extended family," she says. "It's really hard to explain unless I draw it."
Holly's mum and dad had her and her sister Rachel. Her dad remarried Tanya, and they had her half sister Olympia, before splitting. Now Tanya and Holly's mum are best friends, and Tanya has married Ross Wilson, lead singer in Daddy Cool, the seminal 1970s Australian rock band. And they've had two more children - Athena and Dimitri - who Holly considers her step-brother and sister. She's even Dimitri's god-mother. It may be an unconventional family background, but it's helped make her who she is today. "It's worked for us. It's a very happy place to be. Apart from the fact that everyone's broken up, we're all still together."
Being in the limelight since the age of 12 hasn't affected Holly's breezy, down to earth personality. She nearly didn't take the Neighbours part she was offered after a series of auditions at 15. "I knew how much everything would change. I didn't want to be famous, I didn't care about that side of things." Luckily Holly's parents made her see sense. "They knew I could set myself up." They’ve also given her a taste of hard work and a head for the pressures of stardom. Which means no matter how hectic things get, Holly never loses her head. "I prefer it when everything's going wrong, and it's chaotic," she grins. Holly's move into music is already proving to be a breeze. And as you can see, she's already used to causing a stir wherever she goes.
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