Gearing up for the release of his first single to Australian radio at the end of February, 18-year-old Gold Coast-based singer-songwriter Straalen has already had a diverse and varied career. While most artists planning their first original release are still a bit wet behind the ears, this musician has already experienced a formidable trajectory that many of his contemporaries would envy. Now, stepping back into the spotlight with his catchy single Be Mine Tonight (co-written with producer Lindsay Jackson), Straalen is ready to take his place as one of Australia’s new wave of singer-songwriters.
While many of Straalen’s friends were still hanging out in the school yard, the devoted musician was already launching his long-term career plan. At the tender age of 12-years-old, he was discovered while singing the national anthem at a Queensland State of Origin game, and become the youngest ever signing to record company giant Sony Music Australia. His debut album of contemporary covers – A Little Faith – made the industry sit up and listen to the lad with the voice of an angel and a dedication to match. He hit the road with international headliners and received rave reviews country-wide.
Doors opened and opportunity knocked for the young musician who had his choice of commercial success and television appearances, but it was never about releasing single after single, chasing hit after hit for the former Central Coast lad. So, he did what few in his position would have, he stepped out of the limelight, determined instead to spend some time honing his craft and finding his sound, so the direction he took his career would be the right one. Fast forward six years and Straalen’s time is now, his single Be Mine Tonight aptly showcases his songwriting nuance and it is destined to become the song that marks the beginning of what will be a very exciting journey for Straalen.
For Straalen’s long-term manager, Stephen White, who discovered the youngster and has worked with the likes of Leo Sayer, Lee Kernaghan, Marc Hunter, Angry Anderson and The Wolfe Brothers, to name a few, says he sees something in the Queensland musician that is rare in the industry today. “Straalen has that elusive and rare X-factor about him,” says Steve. “I see a superstar in the making. He has worked hard, everyday, on his craft of songwriting and learning to play guitar and keyboards. He has become a seriously good songwriter. Over my career I have been fortunate to manage the careers of some of Australia’s most iconic and unique entertainment legends, all of which are regarded as the best at what they do and all have had tremendous impact in their own way. Straalen will eventually do the same.”
Be Mine Tonight is definitely one of those songs that captivates from the opening bars and draws you in. A proudly independent release, it completely embodies the direction Straalen wanted to take with his career and he is 100 per cent in control of its outcome. The song’s instrumentation is pared back to showcase his haunting vocals, but still packs a punch. A serious love song, Be Mine Tonight is a track that will resonate with romantics everywhere and is a refreshing change from the pop-powered songs that have been skirting radio recently. For Straalen, he just wanted to write an honest song about a girl who was beautiful inside and out.
“It is about the average girl who doesn’t realise she is amazing in every little thing she does,” he says. “It is a song about a girl who is naturally beautiful and doesn’t need all that other stuff. I wrote it on the guitar on the beach at home and it just came out. It is always good picking up the guitar and heading down to the beach, there is a lot of inspiration.”
Be Mine Tonight is just one of many songs that the talented young man has been writing over the past few years. Straalen has taken the time to make sure the songs he is selecting for his forthcoming EP – due for release in the coming months – embody the sound he desired. It is fresh, uncomplicated and memorable, but above all things, it is honest and it comes from the heart. Straalen has surrounded himself with people who have a similar vision for his career and have supported him in taking the time to make sure it is right.
“I have stayed strong to what I want to be,” says Straalen. “This is what I really enjoy doing, I don’t want to be fake. I want to be as real as possible. This is exactly where I am comfortable. I want to develop as a credible singer-songwriter. I am not scared of doing the hard yards like so many of the great artists have done in the past. I love creating music that I believe in. So I am excited to release my music as an independent artist and follow my heart. I just want to be real. I want to be true to myself and true to the fans that I hope will join me on this exciting journey ahead.”