Millions have auditioned across the world, even less have made it to the main stage and fewer than 200 have claimed their homeland’s Idol title. But every country has their first; the one who got the ball rolling and set off a fascination like no other. For us in America it’ll forever be Kelly Clarkson and for Australia it’s their main man, Guy Sebastian.
Who? To the US he’s just another Wiki page to explore, a Youtube to come across, but down under this Guy is a pretty big deal. When Lionel Richie toured in Guy Sebastian’s part of the world, Lionel knew exactly who he wanted to open for him. So when Guy isn’t dancing on the ceiling with an American classic, he’s working on an album he hopes will win over the US, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s already made some impression with “Who’s That Girl” featuring a Hip Hop queen, Eve.
Right now Guy is busy being on the other side of the fence, doing the judge thing on Australia’s The X-Factor, but after that he’s heading back to LA to finish up his long awaited red, white and blue debut. And in between the press that goes along with being a part of a reality show, writing new music he was kind enough to share about hesitations, burnt honey and of course, Idol.
Kendra: The term “idol” will never leave your side, that’s a fact, especially since you were the first one down under. But over here in the US our first, Kelly Clarkson, doesn’t really like to be referred to by her Idol title anymore. Do you think that’ll ever be the case with you?
Guy Sebastian: I don’t think so. I am so appreciative of the start that Idol gave me. It’s a part of my history and a huge part of how I entered the industry so for that I will always look back on it as a positive thing.
Kendra: It’s really hard for you to even be the winner of one of those reality competitions and stay relevant years later. What kind of advice do you have for the current and future contestants of all these talent shows for staying ahead of the game and not becoming a “Where Are They Now?” feature?
Guy: I think you just have to keep producing music that is current and fresh. A lot of artists take years to write and produce their album, and momentum can be lost. I try to constantly be writing new music and working on my craft. I think it is important to sharpen your skills all the time. Things like improving your writing skills, learning an instrument and even getting to know your way around a studio. It’s all things that will benefit your career in the long run.
Kendra: Last Idol one and then we’ll move on. You obviously won, but now you’re a judge on the Aussie version of The X-Factor. We’re just getting The X-Factor over here this season…Do you think Idol has kind of faded in all realms and The X-Factor is now moving to the front of the TV talent circuit?
Guy: It looks to be that way, but who am I to say?! I think they are both hugely successful shows and quite different from each other. With The X-Factor, the judges are very much involved in the mentoring of the contestants. We help choose their songs, their style, and give them vocal training where as in Idol the contestants are left to their own decisions in song choice and things like that. I think both shows are brilliant for exposing unheard talent.
Kendra: Now on to a little more about you. Being a huge success in Australia, what kind of hesitations, if any, did you have when it was time to plan your America take over?
Guy: It felt like quite a natural progression for me to make the transition from Australia to America. With the success I have had in Australia, it has broadened my horizons and with all the international acts we are exposed to in Australia, it was inspiring to try and become a part of what was happening overseas. America is such a huge market to tackle and I have a realistic approach to it. I know it takes a lot of hard work and also some luck to really break it big over there.
Kendra: Obviously one of them is working with the likes of household names like John Mayer and Lionel Richie. But how do you plan on topping who you’ve worked with?
Guy: I have been absolutely blown away with the artist and legends that I have been able to work with so far in my career. Singing with Lionel Richie on his tour was a dream come true! I recently worked with Beyonce on filming for The X-Factor Australia, and that was so amazing too. She was so lovely and beautiful. Everyone has been such a pleasure to work with so far, I hope it continues.
Kendra: Eve was a great way to start on “Who’s That Girl.” Do you think you’ll take a page out of her book and get into acting?
Guy: It is something that has crossed my mind every now and then. I would give it a go if the right project came my way. I do enjoy the creative process and I’m sure the challenge of acting would be really great.
Kendra: You have a very mainstream sound but your heart lies with what you grew up on; blues and R&B. If you had to bottle the sound in a scent, what may it smell like?
Guy; Burnt honey; it’s smooth but it still has fire.
Kendra: When you were over in the states recording, did you take time to check out any places you may want to play when you get back and hit the road?
Guy: There are some cool local places I have played in LA that are really great venues for live music. The Viper Room and Hotel Cafe have a super cool vibe and are were really great to play at. As far as other places I’d love to come back and play…..Madison Square Garden?! Let’s aim high, hey….
Kendra: When you “made it” did you instantly want to get involved with as many charities as you are?
Guy: Being involved with charities is something I have always done even before I won Idol. Injustice is something that sits terribly with me and as someone in the public eye, I think it is good that I can help bring awareness and support charities that fight for awesome causes.
Kendra: So you have new music and the new season of The X-Factor, what’s next? How’s 2012 looking for Guy Sebastian?
Guy: Once we wrap filming for the show, I’m going to take a holiday! In 2012 I’ll head back to LA and continue writing and hopefully begin the touring process. I love the vibe in LA. There are so many creative people there doing their thing. I am excited to share my new music with everyone and play live.
Kendra: Last one and then you’re good to go! Everyone who passes through these parts is asked to make a mixtape and we’re going to go full circle and end on an Idol note. So if asked to send over a mixtape of the top 5 songs by Idol contestants, which would you send? (all seasons, all countries…have fun!)
Shannon Noll (Australian Idol) “What About Me”
Kelly Clarkson (American Idol) “You Make Me Feel”
Fantasia (American Idol) “Summertime”
Jordin Sparks (American Idol) Her audition song was amazing!
Kurt Nilsen (Norway Pop Idol) he won World Idol with “Beautiful Day”
Reviewed by Kendra Beltran
Originally published on Sept 22, 2011