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Guy Sebastian

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Guy Sebastian

4th December, 2016
Date with Kate: Kate Waterhouse and Guy Sebastian at The Bathers Pavillion in Balmoral, Sydney. 10th November 2016 Photo: Janie Barrett

Catching up with Guy Sebastian at The Bathers Pavilion at Balmoral Beach


Guy Sebastian has built on his Australian Idol win in 2003 to become an enduringly popular performer. He recently finished as a judge on television’s The X Factor and is now working on a new album. Sebastian, 35, chatted to me about fatherhood, the tragedy behind his latest single, and why he’s no longer trying to please everyone.

What are you working on?

My new album. I finished part one just a few days ago and I’m kind of continuing to work on part two, which will be released after … I’m mainly writing, recording, building a home and working on my next tour – that’s pretty much my life.

What was your inspiration behind your new single Set In Stone?

It’s a bit of a sad one. I was in Bali and there was an accident right in front of me, and it was a fatal crash in the end. I ended up on the side of the road holding this kid’s hands as he took his last breath and it affected me quite a lot … Later on that night I started to process [it] and I started to write and that’s how the melody came about.

Did you see this song as a tribute to this person?

Not really. When I wrote it, it was actually about family, my kids, Jules [his wife] … It was basically saying the things “set in stone” – the people that are there forever.

Did you enjoy this season of The X Factor?

I always enjoy it; I always enjoy being part of something that affects lives. It does definitely give people a big boost … I look at Sammy [Samantha Jade] and she was doing stock take in a warehouse and she has this amazing voice; and Johnny Ruffo, who was a concreter in Perth and he’s become quite a personality now; and Reece Mastin, who’s touring all over the place and recording amazing music. Also the people like Dami [Im] and myself who went on a show like this and hopefully prove to people that we deserve a spot in the industry. It’s been a really, really good journey thus far.

What was it like to work with Iggy [Azalea]?

I’ve really, really enjoyed being on the panel with Adam [Lambert] and Mel B [Brown]. We’ve had a lot of fun and I will miss them.

How has reality TV changed since your time on Australian Idol?

It’s changed so much. When I did Idol, it was a first. We didn’t know what we were getting into. I was this weird-looking chubby guy with an afro – and all of a sudden, I had people camped outside my house with signs “I love Guy”. Now it’s an avenue to get into the industry; the “reality” has been taken away a little bit.

Who are your musical mentors and influences?

… Sam Cooke and definitely Otis Redding, who were probably the two reasons I got into music in the first place. In my teens I really got into the Beatles and I listened to a lot of gospel music as well.

How do you define success?

Knowing that what you’re doing at the moment is what you’re supposed to be doing. Not sitting wishing you were doing something else.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career?

I would say just learning that I can’t please everyone. In normal life you don’t have many people that are staunchly against you … Suddenly I became famous … and everyone was kind of at me. I came from a pretty sheltered background who went to church and then suddenly the church people were up at me and I wasn’t churchy enough, and then the industry was at me that I wasn’t wild enough. And so I was just in this mode of desperately trying not to offend anyone. I found after a while I was OK with being who I am and people don’t actually know me, and I think that was the best thing to do.

What else do you want to achieve in life?

I would love to do what I’m doing forever, whether it be in a studio writing or producing or touring.

What is the best part of your job?

You sit for so long and do such long hours in the studio, you stress about the sound and direction of youralbum. Then you finally release it and see your fans enjoying it and singing back to you, that’s the moment when all your hard work just pays off. I still never get used to it when people cry at my show; it just reminds me about music and the impact it can have on people and the memories it can invoke, and that’s really healing for me.

What is the worst part of your job?

Once again, I think everyone having an opinion on you and trying to please everyone – when not everyone is going to like you.

How do you deal with the negativity?

I’ve just realised that not everyone is going to like you. Also, after having kids, that changes your perspective. What they think of you is the only thing that matters.

How has fatherhood changed you?

It changes you in every way. It gives you a greater purpose in life. You not only worry about them but also the world around them – politically, environmentally, everything!

What do you love most about being a dad?

Cuddles! Doesn’t matter if you’ve had the worst day, everything is OK when you see them.

Will your children follow in your footsteps?

I think Hudson might … they both like to sing but Hudson has better pitch at the moment [laughs].

What have your learnt from your marriage with Jules?

So much. She is amazing, she is so understanding of everything I do.

What is the biggest misconception about what you do?

I think some people think musos are dumb [laughs]. I once had a girlfriend who broke up with me because I was a muso and her dad was convinced I was not going anywhere.

What else are you working on?

I’ve been working really hard with the Sebastian Foundation, which is doing some amazing things … much-needed work across women’s shelters in Sydney and looking to expand across Australia. Domestic violence is a huge ongoing problem [so we are working with a] lot of these [shelter] homes to give them what they need, make it a place that these women can go to feeling safe, loved.


We went to Bathers Pavilion, Balmoral Beach

We ate Caesar salad with garlic croutons and pancetta add grilled peppered chicken; Beetroot cured kingfish with coastal greens cucumber, almonds and caper berries

We drank Acqua Panna natural still mineral water; Apple and beetroot juice

Photo: Janie Barrett

Date with Kate

Date with Kate: Guy Sebastian

1st February, 2015
Lunch with Guy Sebastian. Photo: Christopher Pearce.

Lunch with Guy Sebastian. Photo: Christopher Pearce.


Guy Sebastian could be called Australia’s most successful male artist. He’s the only one to have had six No.1 singles and two No.1 albums. Next week the singer embarks on his first Australian tour of arenas, playing six concerts across the month. The 33-year-old chatted to me about what’s in store on the Madness tour, singing for Oprah and his dreams of playing cricket for Australia.

What can people expect from your tour? 

Well, it’s my first arena tour, so I’m obviously going to have to step up the production, which is what I’m excited about. I think the most exciting thing for me is the new album is quite a dynamic album. It just lends itself to be played live. I just can’t wait to play the new songs … and then re-invent some of the old ones and to connect with my fans on stage.

What is the writing process when you’re putting together an album? 

It’s kind of different all the time. For example, Battle Scars, I was in my car. The melody just popped into my head. I wrote Linger in about eight minutes. But some songs will take weeks to write. I’ll generally always get melody first and then I’ll go in and try and think of a title and lyrics generally come last.

Why is that? 

Some people are great lyricists, but they’re terrible at melody. But I could do melodies till the cows come home. As far as melodies go, I could probably write 100 songs in a day – with no words of course – just because I love melody. But who wants to hear a song with no words? That’s the tough part: picking out something that hasn’t been said in that way before and is emotive and thought-provoking. I feel like songwriting is getting harder and harder because things have been said in so many ways.

What song are you most proud of? 

Maybe Battle Scars. Battle Scars sold a million and half in America and I never did any promo. Lupe [Fiasco] and I basically never really sat down and did an interview or anything. It was pretty much just on its own legs. That’s what I enjoyed most about it; it’s that it was just a song that carried itself. I think a good song will do that.

Do you have any songs you aren’t so proud of? 

There are lyrics that I wrote back in the day where I would just write, sometimes without thinking. There are certain lyrics, like I rhymed “KFC with GFC” in a song. That’s such a bad vibe! [Laughs] Yeah, there are certain things I look back and I’m like, “Oh, I can’t believe I said that.” But that’s the beauty of it. As an artist you’re constantly learning and your fans are growing with you during that process. It’s pretty cool.

What is your biggest career highlight? 

There have been a few pretty awesome moments. I loved performing with Lupe on Letterman, and Jimmy Fallon was cool. But when Oprah was here, she got me to sing at one of her events. She saw me perform, then afterwards we get this phone call saying “Oprah really loved that – she’s wondering if we can play at her wrap party, just for her and her staff”… She was just on stage like dancing with her arm around me. That was pretty awesome. And I wrote a song for the Pope and the Pope thanked me and that was so weird.

Why is it weird? 

Like I’m from Adelaide. I wasn’t the sort of person that grew up going, “Oh, I want to be a famous person.” I actually wanted to be a cricket player. I wanted to play cricket for Australia. That was actually my dream. But music was always something I wanted to do. I never thought I could do it because I was bit of an odd-looking bloke. I was sort of this little fat apple-head kid. I was really confident but I just didn’t think I was supposed to be photographed on an album cover or on TV or on a magazine or something. But everything just happened.

Who do you look up to and admire? 

I’d say that I look up to people who remain focused on what they do and don’t change, … someone like Clarkey [Michael Clarke]. They didn’t get into a position of authority and abuse it or they didn’t become a singer or a sportsman and get a bit of notoriety and suddenly turn into an absolute knob. They’re generally the people I look up to.

What would be your biggest advice to someone starting out in the industry? 

Just work ethic. In music, it’s really a numbers game. You might have a hit, but you’ve just got to keep going. In music, it is all about the song. That’s your language. That’s your hammer. That’s your tool and that is literally the way you communicate to people. I always say: never forget the power of a song. A song can change your life, but it can also change the lives of other people.

If you could work with anyone, who would it be? 

I’d love to duet with Adele. Her voice is crazy.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? 

I don’t know. Just still singing, but I’ll probably take a little bit more of a producer-writer role. I want to develop other artists as well.

What would you be doing if you never went down the path you did? 

My dream would have been to play cricket for Australia. But in reality, I probably would have done what I did at uni: I studied medical radiation at uni and I specialised in radiotherapy. So that was pretty different to music. …So yeah, I probably would have been a radiotherapist.


WE WENT TO Coogee Pavilion, Coogee Beach.

WE ATE Sashimi platter, mini lobster rolls and poached chicken salad.

WE DRANK a lemon lime and bitters and a Corona.

GUY WORE Witchery Man and Grenson shoes.

I WORE a SABA top and Dion Lee skirt.


See my Date with Kate: Zara Phillips.

See my Date with Kate: Kim Kardashian West.

See my Date with Kate: Natalie Imbruglia.