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Interview: Guy Sebastian

Widely known as one of the nicest guys in music, Guy Sebastian is shaking up his wholesome image. The singer tells MiNDFOOD how his new role as Dad has shifted his musical outlook.

Receiving his break on reality TV program Australian Idol, Sebastian has since achieved the difficult task of breaking free from his talent contest ties. More recently, he’s also managed to creep away from his nice guy image as well. Sebastian’s new single Battle Scars, taken from his forthcoming album Armageddon, features more shades of light and dark than we have previously seen from the famously upbeat singer. The track, featuring U.S. hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco, signals a very different path for the singer.

“In the past, I’ve always released really super-happy music, and I love that,” says Sebastian. “That in itself is a calling to me, to make people smile. But with fatherhood comes a new awareness – you start analysing this world they’re going to inherit, and get a much broader perspective of it.”

Sebastian is alluding to the latest addition to his family, his son Hudson James. Whipping out his phone to show off some recent photos of the little guy, the singer is clearly still basking in the excitement of his new role.

“It’s stupid how cute he is. He’s always smiling, and he’s got the craziest blue eyes. He’s a dream child… which means we’ll probably get a nightmare next!”

Getting Fiasco on board is an impressive feat for the down-to-earth Aussie, and one that occurred very naturally.

“When I was asked who I wanted for the song, it was obvious to me: I wanted the person who had inspired most of the record. But I was like ‘we need some plan Bs too.’ But when Lupe listened to it, he came back immediately to us… he was really into it. And he wasn’t like, ‘throw me some money and I’ll do it,’ which is common for American artists. It was really refreshing.”

Fiasco’s appearance on the record has no doubt widened Sebastian’s musical appeal past the local pop/funk scene he has already conquered with albums such as Like It Like That and Beautiful Life. In contrast to these, Armageddon promises a new depth and earnestness from the singer, as he too reveals his own battles scars for the first time.

“When I wrote the song, it was very much about being screwed over in relationships. I’ve definitely had that happen in the past. It makes you very scared to jump into the deep-end again. I think when I was on tour, I also realised there were certain people in my life I had to let go of. I’ve always been a real people-pleaser, but you get to a point where they just take and take all the time, and are never there when you need them. And you have to let them go.

“For me, that’s what Battle Scars is about. It’s all about people overcoming the different scars they have in their lives.”

Contrary to what the title suggests, Armageddon isn’t all doom and gloom. Sebastian has been careful to insert enough shades of light to add gravity to the record’s more pensive moments. 

“Armageddon [the title track] might sound pretty dark, but it’s actually about not taking love for granted, and living like tomorrow is the last day on earth,” he explains. “Then it jumps to happier songs like Gold or Don’t Worry Be Happy. So there’s plenty of light in there too, which I’m happy about.”

As well as a jam-packed touring and recording schedule, and playing dad, Sebastian is also a presenter on hit TV show The X Factor, alongside Ronan Keating, former Spice Girl Mel B, and fellow Aussie artist Natalie Bassingthwaighte. How does he plan to juggle three mammoth jobs?

“That’ll be interesting… I don’t know how it will go. Last year, doing the show was extremely taxing and time consuming. They all have my phone number – I still have contestants from the first year calling me for advice. This is my business, so I’ve really got to juggle it properly, and all my other ventures too.”

So what exactly does he mean by “ventures?”

“Just some little business-like things,” he replies coyly.

Our interest has officially been piqued…

Armageddon is out in October. 

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