Why Guy Sebastian's latest album is so personal:
'Moments were demanding'
Guy Sebastian faced anxiety a year earlier.
His album 'Choir' was up for the ARIA Music Award for Album of the Year — the night 's biggest award — but he couldn't truly accept the moment since he was both attending the ceremony and singing.
"I was caught in this nervous vortex, fear," he says. "There was so much apprehension attached to the actual gig, because I was extremely stressed because tried to do a decent job, and I didn't really have time to process my nomination."
He wasn't nominated. He won both Year Song and Best Video.
He's up for two more this year: Best Video, Best Male Artist for his album 'Standing With You.'
"For me, ARIAs have always embodied something sacred in this industry," he says. "That's the moment that we all rejoice and work together, and then, well. I don't take a nomination lightly. It's incredible stuff and something I'm disappointed about because when it doesn't happen — if you're gone for years without a nomination — it's sucking."
"I think T.R.U.T.H. is basically just a series of songs that have marked the last few years," he explains. "And I guess that's where it 's different than every other record. I think a lot of other records, I'm sitting down to compose for the record, while most of the songs on this one is real-life stuff I've got to do through music and real-life emotions and stuff I'm trying to learn.
"It began with the song 'Before I Leave,' a really emotional battle song for me. It was like making sure I didn't let labels and stuff that may have been said or done, or whatever defines me, and setting a limit on what I can do and where my music can go.
Though curating an album is generally a lengthy process, Sebastian says he felt more momentum writing tracks for T.R.U.T.H.
"Normally I'd write 10 songs before I get to a point where one of them becomes something I'm trying to record for the album, while on the first day I wrote 'Before I leave,' on the second day I wrote 'Believer,' which is also on the album," he says. "And then in the same week I wrote 'In a World' and 'Love on Show.'
"I started with songs I really liked and I ended up making the album and it filled me with confidence."
This 38-year-old album is profoundly intimate.
"Obviously moments were difficult," he says. "Some relationship breakups that happened were really difficult, and surrounding in very gross situations, and feelings of betrayal, and too much to process, and then feelings of loss, missing loved ones.
"And then stuff I wanted to compose songs for myself and those that feel alone and overcome by this entire pandemic. The last two to three years has been so full-on. There's no midfielder.
He and Jules Sebastian, his 22-year-old wife and his two children's grandma, Hudson and Archer, have a firepit in their Sydney home backyard where they like to debrief about the day's activities.
"It's just sort of our place where we're going to process and chat at the end of the night," he says. "I was looking back yesterday about all the discussions we've had there over the past few years, and there's been some extreme stuff we've been trying to process and chat about. Like civil things and things about sick patients. It's just that life is so full-on, and we've got an eight-year-old and a six-year-old and we're trying to juggle that. It's been a very full-on moment.
"And then I feel that T.R.U.T.H. is just the realities I've discovered along the way and understanding the value of honesty, and all the cliches we hear about reality are true. That it sets you free, because it comes out at the end, all the stuff we say about honesty. It's a really strong ally if you're on the correct side. I've learned that it's the best way to live.
Sebastian 's greatest learning in the COVID-19 pandemic is to "prioritize" the basic stuff frequently taken for granted.
"I haven't seen my parents for long. They're Adelaide. I haven't met any loved ones that I'm used to seeing all the time. My brother's about to have a kid, and I'm close to my family. I'd die my brothers. I love brothers. I love my family, right now, sitting here, not knowing how I should go to see my brother's baby, "says Sebastian." There's just such weird stuff to handle and I feel like we're told what's important in life. I assume you see that on social media.
"I don't know how much of us really analyzed it, but before COVID-19, social media was sort of just s —- in the sense that it was just a highlight reel, and look how many more serious people are. I feel like people, they're no longer craving that."
He laughs, "Not that's stopped me. I'm addicted to wearing clothing because it's a bad, bad habit. I wear them in the house for myself. I feel like people aren't as superficial as they were even though I'm online or something on social media. I hope it doesn't go back to that. I feel like it's a pretty good thing.
Australia first met Sebastian in 2003, when he was 22 years old, auditioning for Australian Idol's first season, which he would ultimately win.
Since then he's made nine albums, released 22 top 20 songs, won a whopping 16 ARIA awards, married his childhood sweetheart and became Hudson 's father, eight, and Archer, six.
Sebastian collaborated with Robin Thicke, John Mayer, Jordin Sparks and Lupe Fiasco, and he represented Australia at Eurovision in 2015, finishing an impressive seventh.
But sailing wasn't quite smooth. And what'd he say his far younger self — the man about to embark on his life's most thrilling journey?
"I'd say, 'Don't want to please everybody.' I guess I've always been really angry if I feel I've done something that hurt someone or angry someone," Sebastian says. "I've been so obsessed with making people like me or something, this odd obsession not to offend anyone, so I'd just do things out of character just not to offend someone or speak my mind or stand up for myself.
"And if I could convince myself, like, 'Dude, people would love you and that's natural. People will get behind you and help you. Some people don't even care. And then there are those people who dislike you, whatever you do. And that's existence.
Sebastian says he's sought to alter what others think of him, instead opting to put his attention elsewhere.
"Go through life and be ... And spend the attention on the ones that are with you," he continues. "So we end up reacting to bullies and reacting to ones and talking to our friends at night and like, 'Wow, I can't believe they said this or they said that.'
"There's a much healthier use of our resources when we spend the focus on people that's healthy for us. And that's what I wish I knew a little bit ago. It'd save me a lot of tension."
So what's Guy Sebastian 's future?
"I 'd enjoy golf more," he laughs. "The more I work, the worse I get."
Guy Sebastian begins his T.R.U.T.H. national tour between November and December 2021. Tickets are sold by Ticketek & Ticketmaster from 16 October.