What a year it’s been for Guy Sebastian, representing Australia at Eurovision, mentoring on TV show The X Factor, releasing new music and now embarking on his YOU … ME … US regional summer tour. FOCUS caught up with Guy in between his many commitments to chat life and music …
Hi Guy. It’s been a huge couple of years for you – new album, collaborations, tours, TV judge and mentor, just to name a few… What’s been the biggest highlight for you?
Wow, this year! I guess there was a lot of hoohah over Eurovision. If I look at the past 12 months, that would probably have to be the most out there thing I’ve done and probably the most exciting that I’ve done; it was so much fun heading over to Vienna and taking part in the weird, wonderful, wacky world of Eurovision.
It was very unexpected; I got a phone call at the last minute basically saying Australia has been invited, can you write a song, and can you perform it … It was a lot of pressure, you know, when you’ve got the weight of the country on your shoulders, but it’s just entertainment at the end of the day – and I had a ball. It goes out to 200 odd million people; I had Jules there with me and a few friends. Once the business was done we just really enjoyed Europe; it was so much fun.
You and your gorgeous wife, Jules, have two beautiful children now. How do you keep yourself grounded as both a professional and a family man?
Prioritising, I think, is the only way. I look at my schedule and I look at what I could do as far as travelling and touring goes; you always have to put your family first, and I could be away for the whole year, touring and trying to get stuff going more aggressively overseas and capitalising on things like Eurovision – but I’ve got a family that comes first, and I’ve got kids that I can’t bear being away from. I don’t like missing stuff like their first steps, and I just miss them too much.
After a week I’m starting to go crazy, and I really think it’s just about prioritising and then realising what’s more important – breaking my music into some other country and me earning more money, or seeing my kids and putting them to bed and reading them stories and having that feeling; it’s about balancing both and doing as much as I can on a career level, while not compromising my family.
I hear you can play a few different instruments?
The only musical lessons I ever had were violin lessons, and I absolutely hated it. I was just never good at it. I took up drums, I played in a little band when I was young, I always sang – but I didn’t sing until I was in Year 9, I think. I sang at a school assembly, and at that point I was actually much more of a sportsman; I was captaining the cricket team, and I played a lot of AFL football growing up, for clubs and for school. All the boys just knew me as a sportsman, so I was actually really nervous to sing for the first time, and I remember being in that chapel service at school and sung some Boys 2 Men song or something; a couple of the teachers cried and all the boys were really into it, and I think it just encouraged me. I thought they were going to give me heaps of crap for singing, but they were actually really nice about it.
You’re releasing a new single in the next few weeks; what kind of sound does the track have?
I just finished writing it two days ago. It’s funny; it’s hard for me to be reactionary. I’ve been working on this song for a week solid, hours and hours a day. A lot of the time I don’t take that long to write a song, and this one I just took a while to get it right and get the drop right.
There are a lot of production elements in this song that I had to get right to sell it on a production level. Because I’m so close to it, when my management and record label team said that this is the single and they loved it, I just needed to not listen to it for a few weeks and then go back and listen to it again, and say, “Actually, this is pretty good” or, “This is rubbish”. I think I’m going to trust them. I think it’s a cool song – it’s really soulful.
What we can we expect from your show this time around; are you bringing a whole band, or is it more of an intimate show?
I’m bringing a band, but the configuration is very different. I’ve dropped back the band to more bare bones, and it’s a little bit more tighter, electronic drums and very vocal focused … The vocals section; wait ‘til you hear it. It’s ridiculous! I’ve flown in a friend of mine from LA who did Eurovision for me, and he is the most ridiculous singer I’ve ever heard. I’m amazed at how good he is; every singer wants him to be in their band. He toured with Beiber, Patti Labelle and other legendary gospel and soul singers.
So, the vocal section is going to be ridiculous; I’ve got Carmen, my back up vocalist, and I’ve got a new drummer and new bass player, so it’s going to be exciting. I’ll be playing some of these new songs I’ve been writing, just to showcase them and let people be the first to hear them and get their reaction and their input on them. And then of course, all the stuff I’ve written in the past – so yeah, it’s going to be fun!
Thanks so much for your time, Guy.
Don’t miss Guy Sebastian at the Glasshouse.
22 & 23 January 2016; 7pm.