Exclusive Special Interview: Damien Leith

theaussieword.com goes one on one with the great Damien Leith!

What can you tell our readers about Damien Leith? How and where did it all begin? 

I grew up surrounded by music, my mother sings and father sings and plays guitar. We travelled a lot when I was growing up to places like Libya and Botswana so there was always a welcome and farewell party with lots of live music. 

What had you first interested in music? 
Despite coming from a very musical family, my first love was writing plays and acting. At a very young age I was visiting my neighbours houses and doing little 5 min plays I’d written. When I was around 16, the school I went to put on a musical every year and I really fancied my chances of acting in it but that would mean I’d have to sing at the audition. with a lot of encouragement from my mam the night before, I finally plucked up enough courage to sing for the first time – it was nerve wrecking but felt amazing. I got the role of Fagin in Oliver and I’ve been singing ever since.
Who motivates or influences your quest to make great music? 
It’s sounds a little naff but everything inspires me musically – lyrics come from situations, people, stories, events – all sorts of different things. You never really know when you’re going to get really inspired but it feels fantastic when a song comes together. I try to keep learning musically, trying different instruments and techniques.

Tell us a bit about your latest tour ‘Without A Fight’? 
We started in Perth at the end of October and have been playing songs off my new album, Chapter Seven along with old favourites from my other albums – it’s an acoustic intimate tour and t’s been a lot of fun. The  response we’re getting from the audiences about the new album has been great.
What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist? 
I just really want to make incredible music that can inspire and evoke emotion in people. Music can transport you to a place or time or emotion that you are feeling.
What can fans expect from you in the coming months? 
I plan to be really busy, I’m very proud of my new album and I want to really get it out there. Lot’s of tours, more songwriting and a kids novel also on the cards. 
Success, what is the secret to it and what has been your biggest career highlight so far? 
I think dedication and commitment are vital ingredients to success and resilience. There have been so many career highlights but my most recent would have to be going independent and releasing this album through an independent label – it was a big decision but I’m glad I made it.
Do you have a favourite moment from Australian Idol? 
Definitely the grand final night, riding into the Opera House on a horse drawn carriage and seeing thousands of people on the steps of the Opera House and then when they announced my name – it was surreal.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
Joe Melson – Joe wrote classic songs like ‘Crying’ and ‘Only the Lonely’ with Roy Orbison and more recently co-wrote two songs on my new album. I’ve learnt so much from him, he’s really inspiring.
How would you best describe your music to your fans?
Ultimately my music is still very folk – no matter how big the sound, all the songs can still be stripped back to an acoustic guitar and a vocal. My music is melodic and easy listening. 
You recently did an album of Roy Orbison covers, Roy was a legend of the music industry, how did this come about and which track did you enjoy performing from the album?
This album was a few years in the work – it started when Barbara Orbison heard my version of ‘Crying’ on Australian Idol and got in touch to say she really liked it. Fast forward three years I worked with Barbara to record the album as a celebration of what would have been Roy’s 75th birthday. She was an incredible woman who had a passion for Roy’s music and created a strong legacy for him. I especially loved working on all the songs recorded in America from LA to Nashville with amazing producers and musicians some who worked with Roy. It was an exciting experience and a real honour to have Barbara Orbison Executive Produce the album. Unfortunately, Barbara passed away soon after the release.  
What can you tell us about your latest album ‘Chapter Seven’?
Chapter seven is my first independent album which for those who don’t know what that means – It’s an album that I funded. I also produced and recorded most of the album myself so it was in many ways a labour of love. I’m extremely proud of the album and it’s great to be back doing original songs again. Songwriting has always been my main passion and it was time to move on from the big record label and do what I love. I’m a big believer in chasing your dreams and creating your own happiness. I’ve never felt more passionate than I do now with this album.
Are there any new exciting projects in the works?
I’m very busy at the  moment working on a kids novel – watch out next year, should be finished soon! Also, some more songwriting and producing my own and other artists music. 
The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
It’s the most unpredictable industry going -time will only tell but I’m very driven so we’ll see. I have a few opportunities overseas so that will be fun to work in other markets. 
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
I’m a big fan of acts like Lior, Wendy Matthews, Jimmy Barnes, You am I… Australia’s got a huge amount of great musical talent, the list would just go on and on.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
The music industry is a tough business and certainly not for the faint hearted – despite the many uses of social media, most successful artists still rely on radio play for them to be heard. More than ever, Australian artists need Australian Radio to support them.
Thanks for the interview Damien! It’s been an absolute honour! What can you leave fans of theaussieword.com with here today?
Stay passionate – if you believe in something, chase after it and don’t give up ‘without a fight’. 

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