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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos

AUSTRALIAN IDOL: HARRY HAYDEN ON HIS IDOL JOURNEY AND WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

Read our interview with the Australian Idol contestant below!

Image: Supplied.


As we edge closer to the grand final, we said goodbye to another two contestants on Australian Idol this week. Both Harry Hayden and Sash Seabourne have come to the end of their Idol journey, but it's just the start for their budding music careers. We caught up with Hayden to chat about his Idol journey and what the future holds.


When we first met Hayden, he was dressed the part to be the next Australian Idol. the contestant shared his story of having grown up within the church, but ultimately leaving it behind in order to feel more comfortable with his own sexuality. With his parents there to support, Hayden takes on I Am Changing from Dreamgirls, delivering impressive vocal runs and power within his voice. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for you! You could win" Trainor remarks. She and Sandilands think he could take out the competition. He casually walked out of the room fanning himself with his golden ticket, as his proud parents cheered and jumped in celebration.


As bootcamp week kicked off, Hayden was tasked to sing Somebody To Love by Lewis Capaldi in the final chorus line, making it through to the group challenge. Joining forces with Sara Houston, Isha Ramji, Noora H and Edwin Fejo, they performed Bruno Mars’ Just The Way You Are and delivered a solid performance that earned almost all vocalists a shot in the next round. Here, he took on Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good. Whilst personally, this wasn't my favourite performance (I'm not sure the jazz cut suited his more R&B/Soul leaning vocals), he still delivered with his on-stage charisma and found himself in the Top 24. For the next part of the competition, Hayden performed Hozier’s Take Me To Church, influenced by his own journey within the church and his decision to leave it behind. Connick Jr. did note Hayden was off tune at times, which Trainor says is because there’s “no breath moments in that song,” the judges loved his rendition. And just like that, Hayden had earned his place in the Top 12.



For his first live show, Hayden performs a stripped back arrangement of Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know, which Sandilands labels as a “disaster.” His vocals often fell flat and off-tune, resulting in a shaky performance which is disappointing because it was such a beautiful arrangement. Usually Hayden delivers more confidence, but he cited nerves as the reason for his unsteady performance, and that’s understandable - it’s his second time performing in front of a packed out live audience. “I have off days myself, we all do,” says Shark, reminding Hayden that not every performance will hit the mark. She suggests maybe they’ll save him, but Sandilands quips back that they’ll want to save the best contestant. Connick Jr. says he should over hydrate before stepping on stage so his mouth isn’t as dry, which results in Ricki-Lee bringing Hayden a bottle of water. He nonchalantly passed it back to her, and she says “I love it, he’s passing it to me like I’m his assistant.” Australia pulled through though, and Hayden was through to the Top 10.


This weeks live show was a round of hopeful redemption for the contestant, who has been allocated I’m So Tired by Lauv featuring Troy Sivan, Black And Gold by Sam Sparrow, Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding and Hands To Myself by Selena Gomez. He chooses Black And Gold, which he thinks Sandilands chose but it turned out to be Connick Jr. The staging is great, with Hayden strutting down a red catwalk, but at times it seems like he’s putting on a voice and I’m not blown away by his vocal performance. It’s definitely an improvement on last week, but it felt like something was holding him back, like he won’t completely give himself over to the performance. He receives some harsh criticism from Sandialnds, but there was some constructive feedback. There’s a lot of room for improvement for Hayden. It could come down to something like breaking the lyrics down and finding his own emotion within each line. In contrast to Trainor's comment, when it comes to this song, I feel Hayden's lower register was stronger and I wish he played with that more. Unfortunately, Australia didn't connect this time around and he was sent home. But first, Hayden had one final chance to take to the Idol stage and performs Jazmine Sullivan's Bust Your Windows. It's was great to see him head this direction, and his Idol journey showcased his ability grow, leaving much excitement for what is to come from the singer.




Lovely to meet you, I’m Vasili from MILKY.


Nice to meet you too, I’ve loved all the articles!



I’m so glad! Congratulations onmaking it to the Top 10. Out of everyone across Australia who auditioned, you're one of the Top 10 budding vocalists. That's pretty awesome.


Insane.



What drew you to wanting to audition for Australian Idol?


I've sung since I was about seven years old. I've always loved it. I used to send in loads of auditions all the time for The Voice [Australia] and everything, but I just didn't get past the audition round. And I always tried and I've always had a passion for trying out for something similar to Australian Idol, but then when Australian Idol rolled around, I was like, 'I've gotta do this'. So I really worked hard on my audition song, a little video I sent in, and was very lucky to be able to get an audition and the golden ticket. Insane.



Obviously it's 14 years since Australian Idol last aired, which I've now realised you were like four or five years old hey?


Yeah, I do slightly remember when, Stan Walker won. We went and watched him at the Melbourne show with my whole family.



How do you think that the show can change the trajectory of someone's life and career and how do you think it's done so for you so far?


Well, I think it has for anyone that's really been on it. It's definitely such an in depth taste of the music industry. Just the industry in general, and it was a very, an intense experience. So it's definitely taught me so much about myself and about communicating with people. I had the most intense social anxiety before I started this. And I feel now it's a lot of it's gone because I spent so much time with new people and making new connections, which has been amazing. And it's taught me a lot about myself and helped me find myself really, because still I'm finding myself which has been a challenge in the show because I mean, yeah, it's been hard without having a full sense of self because I've just finished school and still figuring my stuff out. But it's changed my life in many ways. Just in the way that it's impacted me, but also in the way that it's impacted opportunities. There's so much coming. So many people reaching out and I'm beyond excited and beyond proud of the achievement so far.



You should be, you should be very proud. You've have all done really well. I know there's been some, feedback from the judges, or a particular judge, that wasn't so great, but you've all done so consistently well and grown and it takes a lot to put yourself out there, not only just for in front of four people, but in front of the whole country. That takes a lot of guts, so you guys are killing it.


It's intense.



What's been your favourite moment throughout this journey? Be that one of your performances, something throughout the bootcamp, audition?


I think my favourite moment was... well every time before a show, when all the contestants were about to go out, we just spent time together, getting mic'd up and getting changed into our outfits and just talking for an hour all together. And they were my favourite parts. Just this time I got to spend with all the contestants together. They're all so cool. And also we went, we did little activities together, going bowling with everyone was so nice. So that quality time with such talented and cool people, was probably a highlight.



That's so lovely. Obviously your Idol journey has come to an end, but it's just the beginning for the rest of your career. I'd love to know how you think your performance went this week?


You know, I think I was very nervous. I was very nervous. And I'm not used to this kind of environment. I used to perform a lot as a young child. I was kind a child actor. I was in a few ads and operas when I was younger, I used to sing all the time. And I missed a lot of school to, you know, focus on music and then I decided throughout my teenage years to focus on school and songwriting. So I didn't really have much experience on stage, recent experience. So yeah, I did get very, very nervous and it was very overwhelming. They weren't my proudest performances. I definitely think there's much more that I can do, much more to me but it's just so intense. I'm not being hard on myself because it's in front of all of Australia, so I did good for that kind of pressure.



Yeah, it is. It's such an intense experience that really the only people who'll understand it are your fellow Top 12 contesters, because none of us are going through that. And even the judges don't forget, they're well into their careers. Kyle's never really had to sing in front of a crowd, so let's just acknowledge that as well. I think it's worth kind of remembering that and also with the voting, I think so many people still don't realise that they do have to vote. I was talking about this with Maya Weiss last week, and she mentioned that she had received so many messages of people being like 'oh, I thought you'd be fine. I thought you were a shoe-in. I didn't think I needed to vote.' So it's such a weird thing, it doesn't mean that people don't think you're talented.


Oh for sure, I don't take it personally at all. Top 10 is the ultimate validation for me. It's the biggest achievement of my life, as I said on the show. It's crazy, and I'm so excited about what it will bring and what it's already brought to my life. And yeah, it's such a crazy way to end school as well. I was really scared for the end of school cause I was like, 'I don't know what I'm going to do.' I've never been very book smart at all, I'm dyslexic. So I've always struggled a lot in English and I was just nervous for the future. So this has been the best possible thing to happen after school. It's very exciting.



You mentioned your nerves there, but I just want to say you very rarely came across nervous. You always seemed super confident and super in charge.


Thank you. Thank you, that that explains the child acting.



Had you stayed in the competition past this point, was there a particular song that you would've loved to have performed on the Idol stage?


I Want to Break Free by Queen, would've been my favourite one. That was my next one in the competition. That was one, I was getting very excited for it. But maybe I'll sing it at another event. But yeah, Bust Your Windows was also one that I was also really excited throughout the whole competition, cause I've always been obsessed with Glee and I remember seeing Mercedes [played by Amber Riley] and I was like, 'I need to do that.' It's my favourite moment.



That performance was so good as well. I loved it.


Thank you. Also the sound crew said that it definitely wasn't, but I don't know it's a conspiracy theory, but I thought the in the ears, I really struggled with them cause it was my first time using them. I just find it much easier to hear myself when it's like there's nothing in my ears. I don't know, I think that explained a bit of the out of tune-ness, but also nerves. I wasn't very happy with a lot of the performances. I could easily let myself get down about it, but I'm not taking it too seriously.



Yeah, exactly. It's literally two or three performances out of your whole life. You're gonna have so many more experiences on stage, so don't even stress about it. But what do you think was the best piece of advice you received throughout the whole competition? Be that from the judges, maybe someone from the production crew, or even a fellow contestant?


Jasey [Fox] gave me so much advice and so much help. I really, really love him. And he's been a great, mentor for me. I can't really name any specific advice, but he just related to my experience so much, which really helped me throughout the competition. But also I liked a lot of Harry Connick Jr.'s critiques and advice. I thought he was very fair and very truthful. The humility part of it I thought was very important, and I liked that he mentioned it because that's something that I've always been really trying to tell myself. Never letting it get to my head. Cause I want to stay humble and keep my work ethic going and not let my head get too big.



I feel like this is a tough question to ask because I know you probably love everyone in the Top 8, but who would you like to see take out the title of Australian Idol 2023?


I think they all really, really deserve it... this is probably what everyone says, but I honestly... anyone out of the Top 8 could win, they're all absolutely incredible artists. I honestly think Royston [Sagigi-Baira], I'm rooting for but I really can't pick one. I'm rooting for them all equally. But I just think Royston has been working for this for... I've known Royston for a few years, through social media and through my singing school. And yeah, I just think he represents his community and Australia so well and he's so incredible and such a beautiful person inside and out, so yeah.



For anyone wanting to audition next year, what would your advice be to them?


I would say really work on self love before. And just don't, if you don't have a sure sense of self, just be prepared to go through some stuff. Because it is really daunting and it's a lot to go through. That'll probably be my advice. Really work on yourself before you go on it.




It's great advice. And so to finish off, what is next for you? Will there by any new music, maybe some live shows?


I've been producing my own music since the start of Covid. I've never really had a producer before. I'm planning lots of things in the works with producers. I'm planning on getting stuff professionally made and yeah. Writing lots of songs. I wrote a couple songs last night, it's how I process my emotions. So I'm definitely much more of a songwriter than a cover singer. I'm really excited to release more music, do some gigs. I haven't done many gigs in a long time and yeah, just get myself out there more.



Watch Australian Idol on Channel 7 Sunday night at 7:00pm AEDT. Stream it on 7 Plus.


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