33 year-old Guy Sebastian has accomplished more than many artists do in a lifetime. Rising to fame as the first winner of Australian Idol in 2003, he has gone on to sell over 3 million units, is the only male artist is Australia to have six #1 singles and two #1 albums, and is a platinum-selling artist on the US Billboard charts with his hit “Battle Scars” featuring Lupe Fiasco. So what’s next for the Malaysian-born Aussie? Why, representing Australia in Eurovision, of course.
“It’s a dream come true,” Guy shares with FDRMX. While he admits that it was initially “a bit random,” he says he was chosen because he is solid in high pressure performances. “When I break one note I beat myself up for days,” he says. But is he ready to take on the million plus viewers in Vienna this May? You bet.
Coming off a TV performance in Hawaii, the singer-songwriter was given 72 hours to create a bona fide hit worthy of a nation. While he admits it was a “fairly solid challenge,” he came up with the catchy soul tune, “Tonight Again.” Trying to come up with something deep and meaningful, Sebastian put agenda to the side, and the song was created when he started jamming for fun. “It’s a night I’m going to relive over and over again,” he says. Citing soul as something not normally done at Eurovision, he hopes to bring something different to the stage.
Vienna is a long way from Australia, and when you have kids, Sebastian says, “It’s not about you anymore.” While the nature of the singer’s career involves travel, he sets boundaries and sticks with them to make family a priority. “There are sacrifices you have to make; whether it’s that TV show in America, that high paying gig, or that radio show.” Some days he is just a normal house dad, caring for sons Hudson (3) and Archer (11 months) during the day, before heading to a gig at night.
Most important of all is that Sebastian is present with his family. In this, he says it’s essential he has real “quality time” with them. “I don’t want to be one of those people stuck behind my phone.” He speaks volumes about his wife Jules (Julie) who has just started her own fashion blog, and comments that the challenge is similar for both of them, as she juggles keeping up with content, and he gets lost in the music, “I spend 16 hours in the studio…I don’t move. It’s like a vortex.”
While family comes first for the couple, it is also an essential element of their charity work. Together he and Jules run The Sebastian Foundation. On their official website, they share their vision: “Our focus is people. Our love is people. We want to see the need and meet the need. We want to help in any way we can.”
Just recently, they donated over $12,000 to the Kids Helpline. When asked about it, Guy spoke highly of the cause and the work of the volunteers. “They provide a listening ear,” he says, “If you could just listen to some of the calls they receive.” He said he is most inspired by, “their passion for the cause.”
Rounding up my time with Sebastian, I couldn’t help but ask what he would say to that 21 year-old kid who auditioned for Idol. The singer has taken leaps and bounds in the years since, performing on the stage of the Sydney Opera House to shouts of “Go the fro!” and is now about to represent Australia in the biggest song contest in the world. Thinking about it, he says that he would tell himself to, “Stay the course and finish strong.”
“People have opinions about what is safe and what is risky…in the industry,” he says. Early on, he shares he was told numerous times that, “You’re not going to have a career,” due to his choices to keep his integrity, or as he would say to avoid, “taking your clothes off, or having lyrics that are really sexual.” While a lot has changed in the past decade, including the singer’s natural progression as a person and in his relationships, as he says “I’ll write a song about sex,” he believes risk and safety are instead opposite to the common perception. The singer says he will go out of his way to keep his integrity, often at the risk of passing up the guaranteed success of some lyrics.
The first Australian competitor at Eurovision, Guy Sebastian is set to make a name for himself in front of 180 million viewers as he performs “Tonight Again.” In hindsight, his commitment to his integrity really seems to be paying off, and Sebastian says he is ready for the challenge, “Representing the country is never something I take lightly.”