You're about to play a heap of shows around Australia for your Holiday! tour. Can you give us a few hints on what you’ve got in store?
Dayen: It’s a giant holiday!
Casey: We go on adventures on a boat, so it’s something kind of offshore...
Lauren: We can’t give away too much because it’s a magic boat.
You’ve just joined the group, Dayen. What’s it like being Hi-5’s newest member?
Dayen: To be honest it is quite daunting because I do have big shoes to fill, replacing Fely (Irvine).
Tim: What are they, like size six?
Dayen: I’m hoping to bring a whole new dynamic to the group and these guys have just been so welcoming, so it’s been a really easy transition.
Tim & Lauren: She’s Dayen-amic!
Dayen: See? They’re already paying me out.
Does it start to feel like you are family, playing so many shows together on tours like this?
Stevie: You’re sharing experiences no one else is going through – the only people who know what it’s like being in Hi-5 are the other people you’re doing it with and that’s sort of the glue that sticks us together. We’re relying on each other and each other’s energy 24-7, every day of the year to be able to interact with the kids and to have that impact.
Do you stay in contact with former members of Hi-5?
Stevie: Yeah, I chatted to Nath (Nathan Foley) on the phone the other day. They’re all doing well and we’re still in contact with them, it’s great to have their support. They’re really proud of Hi-5 and they just want it to go on and for their songs to be sung. We work hard because we have a lot to live up to.
Casey: It’s interesting how it’s passed down through generations – Dee is learning from us and we learned from the people who started it. Dee might be there for ten more years, teaching the next generation! Hopefully we’ll be having kids and they’ll be watching Hi-5 growing up.
Lauren: We say to kids who come up to us and tell us how much they love singing and dancing, “Maybe you’ll be in Hi-5 one day.”
Casey: And seriously, they might.
Any advice for young kids out there, taking ballet or singing lessons, who might be dreaming of joining Hi-5 one day?
Dayen: Just enjoy it, you could be doing ballet now and you might grow up and want to be a singer – who cares? As long as you love what you’re doing.
Tim: If it’s your passion, no matter what – you’ll stick at it and it will happen.
Casey: I’m a firm believer in only doing something if you love it. I was doing ballet growing up, my mum was a ballerina, and she never pushed me or anything but I tried it but I hated it. And then I started doing the classes I wanted to and I loved it.
Stevie: That’s why we’re fortunate, we get to sing and dance every day. That’s our hobby, we’d do that in our spare time. So to be able to do that every day, it’s the best job in the world.
When you do your live shows and the kids are out there singing and dancing along, what are parents generally doing?
Lauren: Filming their kids.
Tim: It’s funny because if you actually see any of the films that are put up on YouTube there’s a shot of: “Look! Here we are at the Hi-5 concert!” and then it’s straight back to: “Here's our boy Tommy!” The parents love seeing the kids get that enjoyment.
Lauren: If my little niece and nephew come and see the show, it’s like they have their own little entourage. It’s mum and dad and grandma and grandpa and the brothers and their girlfriends – all these people come just to watch the littlies have fun, it’s really special. And the parents like to have fun with their kids, they turn into big kids and it’s like an excuse to do that.
How do you find it, as performers, with kids as your main fan-base?
Casey: You see them grow – they come back and they come back (to shows) and all of a sudden they’re like seven and you feel like, “That’s really weird, I feel like I know you!”
Stevie: With adults, when they see a show they won’t say anything during the show and at the end they’ll clap and maybe say: “Bravo, bravo!” But with a kid, if they’re having fun, they’re shouting, they’re dancing, they’re saying, “This feels good! I love this!” They’re the best audience, it’s an active relationship.
Lauren: When people start to grow up, they start worrying about what they wear and what people think about them. Kids don’t worry about that, they just go all out. And one of the best things about kids is that they’re so honest. You’ll be performing and they’ll just tell you straight up what they think or what they do or don’t like.
Even adults do some pretty crazy things when they get to meet their favourite band. You guys must have some funny stories about things kids do when they see you in person...
Casey: There are so many!
Lauren: Kids come up to us sometimes and go, “I’m wearing big person undies now!” And it’s the best thing in the world.
Casey: We had one kid actually run up onto the stage during the show.
Tim: It was different than when you're at a rock concert and an adult runs onto the stage. That child ran up solely to be beside us and she didn’t care about anything else.
Stevie: So we just sat there thinking, “Now what?” And then it was like, “You know what? Let’s just roll the track!”
Lauren: Because we sing live, as soon as she came onto the stage that was it – we were all just giggling and the song turned into just a backing track with giggles.
Casey: In Singapore a kid who was autistic came up near the stage. We were watching him in the crowd as the songs were playing and he was doing every single dance move and in the end we said, “Let’s get him up!” He did a whole dance routine with us, better than we did! It was incredible, his whole life revolved around Hi-5 to the point where he knew all the positions.
World Vision recently invited you out to visit some kids in the Philippines – tell us about that experience.
Lauren: The Philippines is such a great fan base to start with, whenever we go there they have such a sense of music in their culture. We did our tour there, which was great, and then we got to go and visit all the children there who are sponsored by World Vision. For us the special thing was seeing how all kids around the world are really the same, they just want to have fun. We taught them some games we knew how to play and they were teaching games back to us – each kid should have a fair go at just being able to be a kid.
You guys have quite a following in a number of different countries now.
Casey: Is it 220 countries or something?
Tim: There are actually only 193 countries in the world but I’ve noticed our press release has been saying 220!
Stevie: We have a really good publicist!
Tim: But yeah, it’s quite surreal when you go to another country and you’re at the airport and you’re a bit bleary-eyed and they’re like “Photo! Photo! Photo! Hi-5!” And you realise you’re not just relating to kids in Australia but you’re reaching out to homes and families all over the world.
Lauren: Tim and I were saying we were on holiday at different times in Fiji with our families and we were on their TV there and it’s like, “That’s weird!”
Tim: Everyone in Australia and NZ knows what Hi-5 is but I remember picking up my mum from Brisbane Airport and a plane from Nauru came in then all of a sudden everyone from Nauru wants photos with you. You realise that Hi-5 is a far bigger thing than in the studio and it’s really special to know that Australia is producing something that resonates with children in all these different countries. We’re really proud of that, that’s a huge export.
You’ve got the Wiggles before you – why do you think Australia makes kids shows that are so popular worldwide?
Tim: We’re just genuine I think.
Lauren: Kids can see straight through it if you’re not.
Tim: There don’t seem to be too many social walls in Australia, everybody’s open and tries to break down those walls so that everybody is equal. I think that comes through in the writing, whether you’re a child or an adult.
Casey: Australia has such a relaxed nature about it and when people come here from overseas, that’s what they like about it.
Lauren: And kids know how to have fun and that’s essentially what we are, big kids! We like making fools of ourselves, that’s why it’s funny.
Stevie: We don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Just curious, how do you guys maintain that level of energy all the time?
Lauren: I think we were cast because we’re that kind of people.
Casey: You couldn’t do it if you didn’t have that energy behind you.
Tim: I like the gasp. Nine times out of ten there’s always that gasp when you go onstage and that’s enough. You get that “Aaaah!” and it’s “Game on! Let’s make these kids have fun!”
Hi-5 are also appearing at Moonee Ponds Clocktower, 750 Mount Alexander Rd, Moonee Ponds. Mar 31 11.30am, 1.30pm & 3.30pm. $39.90. Frankston Arts Centre, Cnr Young & Davey Sts, Frankston. Apr 1 11.30am & 1.30pm. $39.90. Robert Blackwood Hall, Wellington Rd, Clayton. Apr 5 11.30am & 1.30pm. $39.90. Wyndham Cultural Centre, 177 Watton St, Werribee. Apr 19 11.30am & 1.30pm. $39.90.