Get to Know Guy Sebastian
Guy Sebastian: Well, I actually grew up singing in church, and I was in choirs. I guess [it] gave me a love for music. I was in band when I was in school too. I was a drummer, and then moved on to piano and guitar. [I] started writing songs at quite an early age.''
Then I ended up on the first [Australian] Idol—it was like the Australian version of American Idol. I had no idea what the show was like because it was the first year (it was 2003), we hadn't really heard of Idol at all. So I sort of went through it and ended up winning! It was really just such an amazing time in my life, and it all happened so fast. I'm still blessed enough to be releasing albums here in Australia.
Next: Guy Sebastian's Australian Idol experience
GS: The thing with the first one, it was a huge show over here. I guess because it was the first one, people were really caught up in it, and it was such a fresh show.
Because it was so quick, there's no adjustment. You just go from sort of normal life—nobody knowing your name and what you look like—to it being a matter of two months or something and there are people making posters and holding your name up and camping outside your house and really crazy stuff. It was full-on, but I loved it.
It's been my dream always to sing. I went to Uni [university] and studied a different course because. growing up, there's always [someone saying], "Make sure you get a back up because the music industry is really volatile, and you probably won't make it." I was so depressed doing Uni.
Next: Guy describes his sound and the studio experience he will never forget
GS: I've always adapted to one thing that fits me, and that's that [the music] either moves you or [it] makes you move. That's something that I started with my up-tempo stuff. I've always wanted to be happy and laugh and be positive. I think my music is very positive. I think there's enough of the alternatives out there, and I definitely want my music to be not just lyrically uplifting but even morally. And then ballads—I absolutely love a big ballad. To sum it up, I would say it's a sort of soulful pop. I can't escape that my voice is a soul voice; I grew up listening to people like Otis Redding and Al Green and Sam Cooke. They were my great influences.
SM: Who are your other musical mentors and influences?
GS: I [also] love people like Boys II Men and Brian McKnight and Bebe and CeCe Winans. I like a lot of gospel music.
Next: Guy dishes on his upcoming projects
GS: I'm a judge on the X-Factor here in Australia. We did the first season last year—it was a great success.
SM: How was it being on the other side of the table?
GS: It was interesting, that's for sure. I could relate a lot to the nerves and how much [they] want it, you know? I think on one side, I was really sympathetic because I understood that there's a lot at stake. I know that people are nervous, but one thing I was super hard on was when people didn't take it seriously. I knew what was at stake.
Next: Guy talks about his ambitions and the prospect of U.S. stardom
GS: Yes! Well, I think it's just getting there. I've been building the momentum a little bit over the last little while, and I just locked in a great manager and a great agent. So that's a good step. I've just locked in the tools that I need and now it's a matter of getting there.
It's so competitive. I'm really confident, not in an arrogant way. I'm confident in the music side of things, and I'm confident in my musical ability. I've held back for eight years of my career because I felt I haven't been ready but now I just feel like it's my next challenge [to move to the United States]. I love music, and I want as many people to hear my music as possible. I'm going to give it a go, and if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. But at least I tried.
Next: Guy shares what it was like to perform for Oprah and the Ultimate Viewers
GS: Oh, it was insane. I mean you got to remember I'm just a little Aussie. But to meet Oprah was unbelievable. ... The Ultimate Viewers were great! They were ready to party. I had the perfect audience. Even though they hadn't heard any of the songs, they were still singing along.
More from Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure
Go inside the lavish garden party where Guy performed
Watch Jay-Z surprise Aussie students with a special visit
Go backstage with Russell Crowe