Australian singer song-writer Guy Sebastian was recently in Singapore to record a performance for MTV Asia's MTV Sessions series. We were given the privilege to sit down and have a chat with him, where the down-to-earth Australian superstar discussed his intimate showcase the night before, his upcoming work and his experience with Singaporean cuisine.
All questions asked by Musichel are denoted with an [M].
Last night’s show was really intimate. How different was it compared to performing to a huge crowd? [M]
It’s definitely different when you’re in a small room, you know? The most recent thing that I did was touring with Taylor Swift so we were in huge stadiums. Back home when I was touring, we performed for about twelve to thirteen thousand people whereas last night, [we performed] for only about a hundred over people. I find that I’m more nervous in a smaller room because you can see people’s eyes looking at you; in larger crowds, there are so many people and you can easily switch [them] off. For me, it was just so nice to reconnect with a lot of my Asian fans — for a while, I haven’t have a lot of stuff released here in Asia. I’ve kind of been in other parts of the world, releasing my music. It was nice to just get back here and get to release some stuff.
You also mentioned that you've been working on your eighth album. How is it going to be different from your previous work? [M]
I guess it’s always different when you get to write a new album because sometimes, it’s years in-between albums and in that time, the music industry changes and what’s being played on the radio changes. So naturally, as a songwriter, you change because you’re influenced by different things. For the last few years, obviously there’s been a lot of folk like The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons and even Fun. and bands that have gone folk rock. Then of course, there’s the dance movement that has been around for so long now. It was natural that those two worlds [folk & dance] are going to meet and you’ve got people like the Avicii, David Guetta, Calvin Harris and all these other guys are really mixing more organic songs with dance production and that’s definitely influenced me. I’ve been influenced by all the builds and all the dynamics of dance music but for me, I love real instruments and real songs and I want to be able to play the song just on guitar, just on piano, without relying on the productions. So that is how I attack this album. I wrote real songs and then thought about the productions afterwards. With the upcoming album, there’s some up-tempo moments and some more dramatic and emotional moments, it is balanced with some rap collaborations similar to "Battlescars". It’s [going to be] cool, it’s a nice mix.
In terms of future collaboration with artists, are there any particular names that you would like to work with? And if so, why?
It always depends on the song. For example: "Battlescars" — when I wrote it, if I got another rapper, it would have been a completely different song. If I performed with Flo Rida, it would have been a completely different feel. Or even if I got Pitbull, it would be completely different again. But Lupe [Fiasco] was obviously always going to give that real and deep emotion that he does so well. If I wrote something that was not so deep and more fun, Lupe might not have been the right guy. It always depends on the song. I would love to work with Eminem and Macklemore; female singers I love at the moment are Emeli Sande, Adele and Beyonce, of course.
How do you keep up with the latest tracks? Do you have Spotify or does your manager feed you tracks?
I’m not on Spotify yet. At my home, I have Bose stuff so I just subscribe to the Bose online radio stations. I definitely need to get onto Spotify. When I use music streaming, it makes you listen to stuff that you would normally not listen to. On iTunes radio, you can do the same thing — that’s probably the one I use most in the car. Stuff would come on that I’ve never heard of and I’ll be like, "Wow, who’s that? That’s awesome!" so I like that for discovering new music. Otherwise, a lot of the time, I just randomly go through iTunes to see who’s releasing new music. At the moment, I have not had the time to be influenced by other music because I’ve been so busy making my own music in the studio.
You've been travelling a lot to promote "Like A Drum". What are some new or interesting things you've seen abroad? [M]
I've been all over the U.S and Scandinavia from Norway to Sweden. I've been everywhere. Just so many different countries, there’s so much to see and so many different cultures. Somewhere like Oslo, you can compare how the place is so regimented and organised and structured. Even here in Singapore, it’s so structured, organised, clean and beautiful. I was just saying that I just came from Jakarta and the people were so sweet and beautiful, but it was chaos! The traffic was crazy, even schedules for doing these sort of things [like media interviews], it’s so crazy and not organised. In Australia, it’s also very organised and regimented. I find the different cultures and different ways people do things very fun.
Have you tried any Singapore food since you got here? [M]
Yes, pretty much all I've done since being here is eat. Lots of Malay food and lots of Singapore food. Last night, we were supposed to have Singapore Chili Crab, but we finished the gig too late so we ended up having satay and roti canai and rojak... lots of Malay food.
If there was anyone you could resurrect from the dead to speak with or have a dinner conversation with, whom would it be and why?
There’s so much running in my head, even people who have done nasty things. There are lots of nasty people in the course of history and I would resurrect them just so I can punch them in the face, like Hitler. But for someone who’d I love to meet, maybe Marvin Gaye or Michael Jackson.