Mr Nice Guy
A relaxed Guy Sebastian inclines into a smooth pose against an industrial backdrop for his latest photoshoot. The epitome of an Australian musician, the artist has come a long way since winning Australian Idol in 2003.
Since Guy Sebastian’s career launched into the international stratosphere off the back of songs such as first solo single Angels Brought Me Here, the Malaysian-born singer has gone on to become the only Australian male artist to have achieved six number one singles and two number one albums; received 22 ARIA nominations, released 11 top 10 singles and three other top 15 singles; achieved multi-platinum and gold certifications; and collaborated with international superstars. With his own industry launchpad being reality television, Guy has been a judge on X Factor in 2011, 2012 and 2015, sharing his experience and talent as a mentor.
“My manager and I were talking about this the other day – I always laugh and say, if I get a gig come through, I still feel like I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this,” he smiles.
At home, Guy and his wife, Sydney-based television presenter and stylist Jules Sebastian, are parents to their gorgeous young sons Hudson and Archer.
In 2016, Guy will head out on his first regional tour in more than two years, and took time out from his hectic schedule as an artist, songwriter and producer to chat with Profile ahead of his performance at The Events Centre in January.
profile: What can Sunshine Coast audiences expect when you perform at The Events Centre?
guy: I’ve been working on some new music, a new direction for me electronically and there will be a bunch of some of my older stuff. It’s been a little while since I’ve toured regionally, I miss being in a more stripped back setting, where I can really feel my audience up close and see expressions, but also stripped back in a musical nature where I can be a bit more free and jam. It’s going to be a different tour for me, I’ve got a pretty incredible vocal section and really cool sounding band.
profile: What’s the inspiration behind your new direction?
guy: I would say in general the biggest inspiration is streaming. I’ve discovered so many great artists and so much great music and especially independent music. Through streaming I’ve just really fallen in love with music more now than ever and as a producer I’ve been really challenged by sound and designing and getting more of a soulful electronic feel. I’m really enjoying mixing the elements, some organic elements and electronic ambient sounds, it’s a really fun time for musicians to explore new sounds, sample banks, synths and just write and not be bound to anything.
profile: From opening for the likes of Taylor Swift and working with prolific songwriters, who’s been your favourite collaboration?
guy: Lupe Fiasco (who Guy collaborated with on Battle Scars, which went Platinum in the US in 2013). He’s such an amazing creator and innovative rapper, his content has depth it’s not just about shaking your booty in a club, it’s got meaning! He absorbs the world around him and then has the ability to put that world in text.
profile: What changes have you seen during your career in the Australian music industry?
guy: The industry’s definitely changed a lot. There used to be a lot of surplus cash to treat everyone and now it’s a pretty tight game, all the revenue is taken up in other places. Even though I’m a huge advocate for streaming as a music lover, as a producer and a writer it’s tough, I’ve seen it evolve and multiply by an exponential level. I remember when I was young, there were maybe four massive artists at one time, it might have been Farnham and maybe on a rock level Seven Suns, and now everyone and their dog is an artist – but it’s a great thing, there’s a huge amount of resources out there for people. I think that’s why we’re seeing such a huge amount, like on X Factor, of young, completely unafraid talent.
profile: What advice do you have for such up-and-coming talent?
guy: Going on a show is no different to doing a radio contest or winning Battle of the Bands, it’s a good platform if you’re a musician. But unfortunately some people do get caught up in the fame side of things as opposed to creating art. Once you win it’s the start, now people know your name but that’s not enough, you’ve got to make a name mean something. If you want to be an artist it has to be song-driven and you have to work your ass off because you’re up against international artists and they have lots of resources.
profile: How do you juggle your family with work demands?
guy: My kids don’t know anything else, it’s just a matter of bringing them along for the ride. If I’m on tour we work out dates they can come to. Doing X Factor this year was also part of me just wanting to be at home, every time I did X Factor in the past we set up a creche in my dressing room and it was hang time with my kids. I think I’m really lucky, a lot of my friends in Sydney or Melbourne leave the house at 7am and don’t get home until 7pm and maybe get to give the kids a kiss goodnight, whereas I have the liberty of making music late at night when family time is done. When I’m home I’ll wake up with my kids and spend time with them and drop Hudson at school and then I’ll pop back from the studios to come and do bathtime.