It's been six years since Thelma Plum released her last EP. Her debut album would have been sooner had she not scrapped the entire thing right when she was finishing it off.

It's a bold - and risky - move for any artist, but something had clicked in the 24-year-old and she was ready to confront some truths she'd shied away from until that point.

Her new release, Better in Blak, is the rewritten version of that scrapped album and gets much more personal than the other one ever could have.

"I had gone through so much in my personal life that I just felt like I wanted to write some songs that reflected that a bit more," she says.


She admits the decision was terrifying - "especially for my label", "but you know, sometimes you have to make those tough decisions if you want to be true to your art".

It's been rumoured the album came about following a widely publicised incident between Plum and the disgraced lead singer of Aussie band Sticky Fingers.

Dylan Frost came under fire when Plum spoke out against him for his violence toward women and "racial abuse" he had subjected her to, earning a public apology from Frost.

It was a tough time for Plum, but she's fiercely adamant that incident was "definitely not" the catalyst for the album rewrite.

"It's inspired by me. Nothing else," she says firmly.

But it's not entirely unrelated - it can't be, because Better in Blak is a collection of work examining Plum's life as a young Aboriginal woman living - and growing up - in Australia.

"Australia has a very serious problem with racism and, you know, that's not up to me to solve but it is something that is very disheartening at times," she says.

She makes the point of it not being her job to address racism, because she has been vocal about it in the past - like with the Sticky Fingers situation - and been burned for it.


"I think when you do something like that people expect that that's your role and expect you to do all of that work and it can be really tiring.

"When you speak about those things - especially in Australia - people really don't like it, it really upsets people and I just really can't deal with what comes after that; the backlash of people being upset that there's an Aboriginal woman who is very loud and unapologetic, it's just too much."

So instead, she's speaking out through her music. On Better in Blak, Plum sings about everything from growing up with her single mother (Thulumaay Gii), to her experience as an Aboriginal woman in the world of commercial music (Woke Blokes).

"Woke Blokes is one that's a bit of a reflection of when I was living in Sydney and was around a lot of industry people, where I think there was a lot of social currency to being woke and being politically correct. I just saw all these people around me talking the talk but none of it was tangible, I never saw them walk the walk.

"I think it is changing. I think there's more space for us to get to take up now than there used to be when I was growing up, but there's definitely a lot further to go."

Which is why singing her truth is imperative; it's a chance to provide other young Aboriginal women the voice and representation she craved growing up. And now she's going to have an even bigger audience to reach when she comes to New Zealand to open for international superstar Troye Sivan tomorrow night.

It's an opportunity which - as a fan of Sivan and New Zealand - she's ecstatic about, but reaching her fans is the priority.

"That's really important to me. I am an Aboriginal woman at the end of the day, and I used to feel quite anxious about allowing people into that side of my life, I guess just for safety and self-preservation a little bit. So I tried, at least through my songwriting, to keep that side of me a little bit more to myself.

"And so when I ended up rewriting the record I just wanted to be a bit more true to myself and about my experiences and how I felt. That was really scary, but I also find it very therapeutic and I like the idea that there are other people that would listen to those songs and would relate to them or maybe had felt like that at one stage in their life."


Paul McCartney made a surprise guest appearance on Thelma Plum's debut album. Photo / AP
Paul McCartney made a surprise guest appearance on Thelma Plum's debut album. Photo / AP

Plum's album Better in Blak features an unlikely and super-powered appearance by none other than Sir Paul McCartney.

"I grew up listening to him and The Beatles and if you had told me that [would happen] a few years ago, I would've just laughed. That was crazy!" says Plum.

The craziest part of it all is that McCartney did it all while Plum wasn't even in the studio.

She later got a text from David Kahne, the producer working on her song Made For You, informing her that McCartney had just happened to drop by and listen to her track.

After days of having it stuck in his head, the superstar felt inspired to write and record additional guitar parts for the song.

"It was wild and really crazy, but really special," says Plum.

She got her chance to thank McCartney in person when he performed in Australia and invited her and her family to the show.

"He was very nice. He was like, 'No worries, it's a good song.'"

Who: Thelma Plum
What: Opening for Troye Sivan tomorrow
Where: Spark Arena
Also: New album Better in Blak out now