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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


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 Sash Seabourne and Harry Hayden have come to the end of their Idol journey, but it's just the start for their budding music careers. We caught up with Seabourne to chat about his Idol journey and what the future holds.

During Idol auditions, we travelled to Perth, where we met Seabourne. He entered the room with his guitar presenting a reserved demeanour before captivating the judges, and I’m sure the nation, with his authentic taste on Whitney Houston’s classic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Stripping the track back to just guitar, Seabourne’s raw and compelling vocals commanded your attention. They’re rough with a raw timbre, but there’s a dimension and texture there that shines - which showcases his authenticity as an artist. “This is exactly what I’m looking for. Something refreshing, something exciting” Sandilands stated. Seabourne was one of the only contestants to really consider putting their own spin on the song they’ve chosen to audition with, which was something that helped him throughout his Idol journey. For the chorus line challenge, Seabourne performed Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, before joining forces with Piper Butcher, Amali Diamond, Angelina Curtis, and Jasey Fox to form the group 'Honey'. Fox says their group is compatible astrology-wise, and they perform Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time. Seabourne's textural vocals cut through, and all five contestants progressed through the group round.

In the top thirty two, Seabourne sang Cece Peniston’s Finally, and whilst it wasn’t my favourite performance he’s done, it showed a moodier side that earns him a spot in the top twenty four. Kicking off his round, he was feeling pigeonholed by the judges as a “chill, folky, songwriter acoustic guy from a small-town.” Seabourne was on a mission to prove them otherwise and moves into more of a rock realm, picking up the electric guitar to perform Kings of Leon’s Sex On Fire. We were definitely shown a new side to the musician, proving his stage presence extends beyond the subdued performances we’ve seen before. He was head-banging between lines, thrashing his long blonde hair around, and presenting himself as every bit the rockstar. All whilst delivering a solid and emotive vocal performance. Sure there were a few off notes here and there, but he presented such an engaging performance that it didn’t really matter. “You’ll probably get a shampoo commercial out of that,” Sandilands jokes in reference to Seabourne’s hair flips. The judges feedback was overall positive, Shark thinks he doesn’t need to over-perform, and Trainor and Connick Jr. said he needs to focus on his pitch as they progressed him through to the coveted top twelve.

For his first live show performance, Seabourne wanted to move away from people ‘making a thing’ out his long hair and making his vocals the only focal point. He’s took a risk by performing The Police’s I’ll Be Watching You by the book, opting not to change the arrangement or deviate from the original melody too much. With the stage shrouded in smoke, Seabourne stood atop an oceanside dock appearing like he’s levitating. With his hair tied back, he delivered another outstanding vocal performance. He has such a deep and resounding tone that is so strong and formidable, and his artistry is undeniable. “Don’t be scared of a signature hairdo okay? Lean into it almost,” said Shark, sporting her signature half-up-half-down do. Sandilands makes a good point, that Seabourne is doing so well in the competition and changing such a popular song too much could’ve derailed him.

Seabourne made it through to the top ten, where he took on a song chosen by one of the judges. He narrowed his choices down to David Bowie’s Heroes and Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight, ultimately choosing the latter. The haunting rendition suited Seabourne’s breathy and captivating vocals so well. Trainor received her first “boo” with her feedback, and Shark was gearing up to receive one as they both thought the production overshadowed him. Unfortunately, the public voting places Seabourne in the bottom four, where he performed Tom Petty's Free Falling before his Idol journey came to an end.

Congratulations on making it to the top ten. That's such an amazing feat, out of the whole of Australia to make it this far. So I hope you're super proud of yourself!

Yeah, totally. I was talking to Harry [Hayden] this morning. I think both of us are, you know, proud and mostly just humbled to be here and to have Australia bolster us this far through. As well as the judges seeing something in us. Everyone wants to go all the way, but mostly I think we're just excited for having had such a great run on the show and also excited for this next chapter. Cause him and I are both artists and songwriters, so a new journey begins now.

Exactly, it's just the beginning. But let's go back to the beginning actually. What drew you to wanting to audition for Idol?

I was an independent musician and was proudly doing everything on my own, but I was you know, coming up in a music industry that was post-COVID and it's never been harder to get your songs out there and get your career off the ground in terms of coming to national attention. So at the time, I had started my solo project in 2021 and was just beginning to put songs out and Idol reached out to me. They just DM'd me on Instagram, and I thought it was fake at the start. But after a lot of thought, I decided to kind of commit to that process and even though I'm from a more independent, I guess some would say like a Triple J sort of route, I'm really glad that I made the decision to commit to being part of a big commercial machine because It's taught me so much and I've grown a lot as an artist on the show.

Yeah, I back it. It's been fourteen years since Australian Idol last aired. How do you think the show can change the trajectory of someones career and how do you think it's done so for you so far?

Yeah, I think it's a tremendous platform. If you're the sort of artist that is willing to stay honest through the whole process and you know what you want. I think it's opened a lot of doors for me in terms of getting my name out to the entire country in a way that, you know right now everyone's putting music out and there's so many songs that people could listen to. This is a great springboard for an artist to introduce themselves to national audience and connect with people. So I think it can fully be the spark that begins a big career as an artist, but it's really about what you do after the show more than the show itself.

For sure, that's where the real fun and grind begins. What was your favourite moment throughout the whole idol process? Be that something from the auditions, bootcamp, live shows?

There's been so many different challenges and I'm proud to have definitely made it to the pointy end of the competition. I think learning to play on that big stage in the live shows in front of that many people, that's the highest pressure gig I've ever done in my life for sure. I think particularly because of the cameras and the judges right in your face, it's such an intense environment. So I think while there was many performances that I wasn't happy with, and I never really thrived in that environment, I'm proud that I stayed resilient and kept coming out and doing my best and staying honest and true to myself as an individual. That's a highlight for me. And I'm proud to say that the person that I've portrayed on Idol is definitely the person that I am in real life. I've definitely stayed authentic, but even then the people that I have met and competed with, even though we're not really competing - it's more just like a weird dysfunctional family, I've grown very close to a couple of the contestants and definitely made some friendships that I think will span our entire music careers, which I'm really grateful for.

Yeah, that's so lovely. And I know you said you weren't too sure if your kind of artistry fit in with the whole context of the show, but I think that's potentially the good thing about this platform is that it does show people so many different kinds of artists. Ben Sheehy is personally one of my favourites, you were one of my favourites as well, and I love rock music and it's slightly frustrating me that Kyle Sandilands keeps saying that rock is dead because it's not. It's just not playing on the radio. So I think having artists like yourself who aren't, you know the mainstream kind of pop star that's played on the big stations is great because then it does expose so many people to different styles of music and a different type of artist. It also then gets them to not only look at not only your music, but the music that influences you and thar you're into and expand their own musical horizon. So I think it's super great in that way as well.

Definitely. I really respect how Idol is looking for artists period. They're really looking at the whole package and they pick people that have a strong look and a strong presence on stage and a performance style as well as the voice itself. It's more than just a singing show. I really like how if you look at the top twelve, everyone is from different planets musically. We're all completely different. And for that it makes it less of a competition because no one is trying to copy each others thing and I don't think anyone would've made the top twelve if you were trying to sound like someone else. So instead of feeling like we have to compete with each other, we've all been in competition with ourselves trying to refine our artistry and then be the best version of that thing. It's an opportunity to grow as an individual rather than trying to be someone who can, you know sing runs like Royston [Sagigi-Baira] or do dance moves like Jasey [Fox]. It's not who I am, and they don't like my thing either. We're all on our own planet, which is I think a really positive part of being on the show.

Yeah, for sure. And it also takes away that kind of reality show trope of people being against each other. Instead it's making such a nicer experience for all of you, which is so lovely.

Yes. I've never felt that at all. You know I remember in top fifty week there was kind of some rumour that Jasey and I had a problem with each other. Cause Jasey choreographed our group performance. That was definitely the first dance moves that I'd done on the show. And they were like, 'yeah, do you have problem with this guy'. I was like, 'not at all.' Being in Australian Idol is kind of like a weird scholarship where you get exposed to all these art forms and all these skills that you have to apply in your music career. And also you get exposed to a lot of stuff that isn't you. And you have to decide who you are within all of that in a really high pressure situation. So you have to be resilient and you have to be a strong individual who knows what they want. And man, that's the music industry as well, like going out back into your career if you don't know what you want and you're not a really strong individual person, then I don't think it's very easy to carve out your own space in his industry. So it's been a tremendous teacher and a great learning experience for me.

I love that. Hd you stayed in the competition, was there any particular song that you were really looking forward to performing?

Yeah, I mean, my style that got me into the competition from the audition onwards was to always take classic songs and completely rework them. So I think I got a bit of a reputation for taking songs from the seventies, eighties that everyone knows and changing them into kind of a more acoustic, folky original arrangement, which I had a fun doing because I got to be really creative with the musical directors changing the way the song sounded. I was looking forward to doing next round because I was gonna do a Matt Colby song, that would be, you know, a real full circle moment for me because Matt Corby was a really major musical influence on me when I was a teenager, but he was also a contestant on Australian Idol himself. So it would've been a cool full circle moment to have listened to him for years growing up and then play one of his songs. But honestly man, I've definitely woken up this morning on the right side of bed. I don't wanna sound too cheesy, but it's like the Idol thing has now happened for me and I'm super happy and proud with my result. And now I get to kind of go out and do my thing again. And I never really felt like I thrived on the Idol stage. I never felt like I was entirely happy with my performances. But I know that that's because I'm a songwriter first and I have my own musical style so if anyone became a fan of me from Idol they're gonna see the true me and something even better in the coming months with me releasing my own music, and going on tour. So that's what gets me excited.

That's very exciting to hear! What was the best piece of advice that you received throughout this whole journey? Be that from one of the judges, production crew staff, even one of your fellow contestants?

I think of anyone's advice I probably would appreciate Harry Connick Jr.'s the most. Just cause he's, you know, a real heavyweight musician and so seasoned in a long career in the industry. So I had a pretty profound moment last night where he took me aside and we had some words one-on-one. And you know, he's a mentor. He has a lot to say about people and he sees potential in people and wants to grow that, and that's how I feel. Like I feel like I am someone with a lot of potential as an artist, but I still need to work on my thing before I'm truly gonna be happy with it and completely at my best. He had a lot of words about how to focus and how to create a mindset on stage where you're able to give and be vulnerable with the audience and be emotional in your singing, but also have that strong focus where you can block out the lights and block out the cameras and the crowd screaming and all these distractions to just focus on being technically on point and also emotionally committed and giving to the audience, you know? That's the thing that I never really felt like I nailed. I was either technically good and, you know my vibe was kind of stiff or a little bit defensive with people giving me feedback or I would try and spend the whole night listening to a song and thinking about how those lyrics related to my life. And I would get so worked up emotionally that I would come out and have emotional release, but it wouldn't be technically on point. And when you've only got a minute and a half, if you sing one single note out of tune, then you know you're pitchy and the judges are going to call you out for that. I really am in awe of the world class performers who can sing at that level. And it's hard and it's competitive and not many people can do it for a reason, man. You have to find a real incredible equilibrium between being emotional and focused.

I agree, it's a lot of hard work and so many factors go into it. Now, this is probably a bit of a tough question because I'm sure you love everyone and throughout even this interview you've said how much of a connection you've all made. But who would you like to see take out the Australian Idol title from the remaining contestants?

That's definitely a tough question. And I think a lot of people probably still have a shot. I'm probably biased towards Josh [Hannan] because I'm so taken by him as an individual. We've become very good friends, and I think if you had to you know, create an Australian Idol in a Petri dish, you'd probably get something like him. He's such a blank canvas, he's a little bit younger than me, and we've grown up in the last couple months having a really close friendship and a real nice mutual admiration. I think he admires that I have a strong work ethic and a good attitude towards music. But then I look at Josh and I think he's such a blank canvas. He hasn't really done many gigs or really come and shown the world who he is yet but he has so much raw talent there, so much charisma and he's a beautiful person as well as a great singer. And just in terms of musical jobs and recording, he has so many skills. I think if you're going to give someone a record deal and want them to make it and go out and be a big artist, I think if anyone's got potential to turn this into being one of the big names in Australia, I think it's Josh.

I loved your analogy just then, the Australian Idol Petri dish, that was such a good line. And Josh is so great, he nails it each week. What advice would you give to people wanting to audition for the show next year?

I've been thinking about this one. It's an interesting question. I asked countless people for advice before I suggested this, because I was already doing it and I was like, 'do I need to do this show when I already have a career? Is this the right thing to do?' So I asked a lot of people for advice and some people said, do it. Some people said, don't do it. If you're looking to audition, I'd say it's totally down to the individual and who you are, it can be an incredible platform to build an audience and learn a lot about yourself and a lot about the industry while you're there, but it can also end badly and you can also get humiliated or feel like you get chewed up and spat out by the show and it kind of breaks your spirit a little bit, and you might take six months off music because you feel like the industry is cruel and you don't wanna do it anymore. It can be really tough. And I definitely saw lots of people have that experience when you think about the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds at the start to the ten of us left last night, I saw a lot of people who I think the advice that the show gave them and how they got treated weighed heavily on them. So I would say if you are really sure of who you are and you have the right people around you, like that right support network where you have a strong sense of identity and you're resilient, even if that's just you. Like I'm on my own man, I'm a solo artist and I don't really have a super supportive network around me who want to see me do music. I just really love this and I have resilience and I'm a strong individual. I know what is true to me and what is not true to me. So what I would say is definitely do it if you know what you want in this career, and you know, who you are and that you're not willing to negotiate or compromise on your individuality. I would rather get kicked off the show in top fifty and go home with my head held high, if it meant that I kept my identity intact. Rather than go all the way through it pretending to be someone else and let people mould you into something you're not. That's true of the business as well, If you want to work in the music industry people can see through that stuff when you're not being real. Definitely go out and do it if you feel confident that you can stay true to yourself under pressure and you want to challenge yourself and probably do one of the hardest things you'll ever do in your life. I'm really glad that I did it and I had a great run, it's who I am and what I do musically. I've had a great result. But I would say the thing I'm most proud of about all of this is I've managed to stay totally authentic under a lot of pressure. That's not always easy.

That is perfect advice. To finish off, you mentioned you have some new music coming out soon and that you have some live shows coming up. When can audiences expect that and what can they listen to now to get their Sash fix?

I'm looking forward to having a big year. I think it's the next 6-9 months of where I get to really show this new audience who I really am. And I can't wait to do that on a national level. So if you want to check out any of my music already, you can go to Spotify or iTunes. It's streaming on all platforms at 'Sash Seabourne.' I'm looking to release a single as soon as I can, so you can expect new music from me probably May this year. And then I'll be looking to tour around the country. So I'll probably be in a car doing the Kim Churchill thing, being a troubadour and traveling around, being honest and bringing music to real people. I'll be coming to a town near you, please follow all my socials @SashSeabourne and keep an eye out for all the shows and music coming in the future.

We're big Kim Churchill fans over here at MILKY. I can't wait to hear the new music and hopefully we'll catch you at a live show soon! Thank you so much for your time this morning, it was so great to chat to you. And again, congratulations on such an incredible achievement.

Thanks for your time, dude! Let's, let's have another chat when I put a single out.

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


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