Damien Leith won Australian Idol in 2006 and has since gone on to produce a couple of albums, release a novel and host a successful TV Show. We chat to the star about his success.
>Born in Ireland, how did you find yourself in Australia?
Well, basically I married an Australian girl I met over in Ireland. While we were dating, we came back over here on a holiday about seven years ago. After we got married, we decided to make the big move to Australia.
We came here on a round the world ticket; we decided we would give it a go, and we have not left!
> When did you discover you had a talent for singing?
I did not sing until I was sixteen years of age, so I was quite old when I first started singing. I mean, I loved acting, and I loved anything to do with performing. But I had not done anything to do with singing prior to that … but once I started, that was it.
I became very much obsessed with it, you know, sang every day and listened to all different music. Music has always been in my family. I was always exposed to it.
> Australia idol has been a major stepping stone in your career. How has the journey been?
The journey has been incredible. You know, it’s extremely difficult; I spent many years with an independent label already … I was signed with an American company, but unfortunately that did not work out.
I thought Australian Idol would be an easier route and things would happen faster, but it’s equally as hard. You have to learn pretty fast about the industry, and you make a few mistakes along the way. But thankfully it has all worked out well for me so far!
> Aside from winning, what has been your fondest memory from the show?
This is going to sound a little silly, but my fondest memory would be the food! The chef would cook for us every single day, and in the midst of everything that was happening, the food was always great. I know that sounds odd, but that is what comes to mind straight away.
> After the show ended, you have since released your novel “One More Time”. What was the story behind that?
I wrote it before I went on Idol, and it was with the publishers, Harper Collins, before the show happened. So it was all happening anyway, but obviously Idol helped it along! Basically, it’s about a guy with obsessive compulsive disorder who is doing a trek of Nepal. It’s an adventure, mental and psychological story over his ten day journey.
> You have also landed the role in the TV Show “Saving Kids”. How did that happen?
Pure luck, actually! They contacted me about a song I wrote for my son – “Not Just for the Weekend” it was called. They got me to pull out some ideas for some songs, and while they had me they asked if I wanted to try out to do a voice over.
And then when I did that, they asked me if I fancied hosting a show, and I did it. I have to say, since Idol, it is certainly the most rewarding thing I have done in my career.
> The New Album “Catch The Wind” is a collection of all your favourite tracks. What was it like making this album?
It was pretty cool, actually – and such a quick process. So much different to the originals albums. But for me personally, these were songs that Dad introduced to me years ago.
As for me singing them, that was easy, because they were songs I had been singing for years.
They are incredible songs, and I got to produce the album as well, which was great. It’s a collection of covers, but for me, I got to do a lot of different, new things in the recording of it. It’s been cool as well, because it has set me up for my next originals album.
It’s great; it’s been a great stepping stone.
> Do you have any special techniques you use in your songwriting process?
I was sitting at the piano just before this interview, you know – coming up with ideas and writing and recording them on a dictaphone. After a couple of weeks, I sit down and go through those thoughts on tape. Sometimes there are hundreds of them, so I pick out the two or three out of the hundred I like (laughs).
Then I do a demo, work on that. And after that, we go to pre production demos and then record the final piece. So it’s a long process.
> You are playing at Harrigan’s in Harrington. Have you been there before?
No, I have not. It is going to be my first trip there. I am looking forward to it, though. I have to say, the last trip I did I saw more of Australia than I ever have before. I get a chance to see so much, and it’s incredible that I get to see a new spot again.
I have heard it’s great; I checked it out on the Internet, and I think the gig is going to be fantastic. We’re in full swing at the moment as far as the band in concerned – something different every day and every night.
> Thank you Damien.