- Thu, 2004-10-21 17:03
At 24 years old Darius was fated to be a star. We certainly believed in his talent when he first walked into the audition room as part of the TV series Popstars, and he has proved himself ever since by ‘triumphing in the face of adversity’ and becoming an accomplished young singer/songwriter. He was fortunate not to make the band that became Hear’Say, got a second chance when Rik Waller became ill (thank heavens!) and now he’s managed to shake off his association with reality TV with a cracking follow up to his debut.
After a successful UK tour, Darius flew to LA with Grammy nominated producer Steve Lipson to work on his new album. ‘Live Twice’ and returned with a very impressive record, packed full of catchy pop infused guitar tracks and heart rendering ballads.
I Like Music caught up with Darius to talk about his devotion to music, doors closing and opening, and his dedication to his dad who battled and beat cancer earlier in the year.
“I like music because… without it, I would lose my smile.” Darius
ILM: Your album Live Twice is out next week, with Kinda Love out now, can you give me your own description of the single and album and their whole vibe?
Darius: After the first album went platinum I was kind of knocked off my feet, because I wanted to do well, but that was something I dreamed of within the scheme of a career, not with the first record. So with this album it was really important for me not to release until I was 110% happy and proud of it. And I really believe that it’s the most intimate and the most accomplished body of work that I’ve created. It’s a more mature record. It aspires to the inspiration that George Michael and Seal gave me as I was growing up as a young singer/songwriter.
There’s a string of ballads that I think are kind of naked and touching, both in a romantic way and in an emotional way, and it has a bunch of feel-good upbeat great vibing tracks with soul, some with sass, all with a strong sentiment.
ILM: You wrote Colourblind on the back of a bus ticket because it was flowing out. Do you take a Dictaphone to capture those moments these days?
Darius: I have a little mobile phone, a Sony Ericsson with a recorder, a camera and all sorts of cool stuff in it, so it’s really handy because I sing into my phone. People must think I’m singing to somebody.
ILM: With your songwriting, how do you know what’s going to be right for an album and where do you like to write?
Darius: I spent a lot of time the past year with my family. And I simply play the songs to my parents and my brothers, and if I feel proud while playing them it tends to be a really good indication that it’s a good song. So it’s a gut feeling.
I like to write at home in my bedroom, because that’s how I started writing. And there’s nothing quite like going home.
ILM: So who picks your love interests in the video?
Darius: I never had the desire to want to get involved with that until Kinda Love on a plane to LA and I was watching a movie, The Whole Nine Yards with Bruce Willis and the actress Natasha Henstridge was quite simply dazzling in it and very funny and very witty. And I thought it would be great if I could get someone like that for the video. So I thought the worst I can do is send it to her and the worst she can say is no and I didn’t ever think she’d go for it, but she did. And the video has been something I’ve really enjoyed doing.
ILM: Which track did you have the most fun making?
Darius: A track called Devil In You which is a throw back to an era of my father’s age, the Frank Sinatra era – an era when songs were sung about love and not sex, an era where a woman was a lady and a man was a gentleman. It’s a romantic era, and it’s an era of great songs like Under My Skin. And the song Devil In You was inspired by that era and is probably the best song I’ve written in terms of songwriting. Because it’s difficult to write something that evokes that era, and yet it was effortless to do, because it took ten minutes, so it’s the song I’m most proud of, because it was the most fun to do. It’s really satisfying.
ILM: You’ve written a book, ‘Darius: Sink Or Swim’ – can you tell us anything that’s a bit scandalous about behind the scenes at Pop Idol that features in the book?
Darius: Sink Or Swim is the story of how I got my foot in the door of the music industry. It’s been described as a triumph in the face of adversity. It’s the reality behind the reality TV phenomena of Popstars and Pop Idol as I experienced it, from quite a unique perspective. It answers all the questions that everybody would’ve asked themselves while watching those programmes. What was Nigel Lythgoe really like off screen? What was Simon Cowell really like off screen? Was Popstars set up? Why did Hearsay split up? What happened to Rik Waller and did he really have a sore throat? All that kind of stuff. I was lucky to experience it as it was happening and the stories were interesting enough that I felt I could write a book.
ILM: Can you describe the Darius process of making pop music?
Darius: It can be either. I take public transport. I tend not to take the car around London or Glasgow. I love people watching. So I go on the underground and having some time to myself and writing down lyrics and coming up with melodies and singing them into my phone. People must think I’m mad because there’s no reception on the underground and think I’m singing to someone who’s not there.
It really depends on the situation and the kind of song. With a ballad the lyric comes first.
ILM: Any tips or advice for budding artists and producers starting out?
Darius: Never lose the passion that you have that makes you want to make music in the first place. You can’t allow that to fizzle out when doors are closed in your face, but to believe in the enjoyment that you have in the performance or the writing process. It’s very important to keep that close to your heart and always understand that if you have something that people believe to be talent, then as one door closes another will open.
ILM: What song do you enjoy playing live the most?
Darius: The new album has a song that I see as not only the backbone of the album but the reason why I’m releasing a record at all. And it’s a song I wrote for my father when he diagnosed with cancer, a song called Live Twice. It’s a song that I sung to him in the hospital. And I’ll never forget the look on his face when I first played it to him. Now I love playing it acoustically to an audience of people, because I never thought I’d sing it to anyone other than my father. It was his encouragement not to put my career on hold for him as I had intended in February and March, when I heard of his illness and we lived through the treatment together, I put my career on hold and said that I wasn’t going to release anything this year, so that song really turned it all around, because my dad said that he was fighting to live to see the achievements of his children and wanted me to pursue my dream. Today not tomorrow, because tomorrow’s too late.
ILM: And how is your father now?
Darius: He’s defied all the doctors expectations. He’s made for all intents and purposes somewhat of a miraculous recovery.
ILM: What influenced you to get into music in the first place and did you do music at school?
Darius: It was something I had from the age of four when I did Peter Pan at kindergarten and was in the school choir throughout my childhood, and then picking up the guitar and teaching myself to play and write songs at the age of 12 and then forming a band aged 16 called Jade. And getting in to rock music during the Brit Pop era, which was a really amazing time to grow up.
ILM: Is your little brother still as fabulously cute as he was when you were in Popstars?
Darius: He’s adorable. I think I’m a maxi version of him, rather than him being my mini-me. But he’s nine now, it’s been four years since that.
ILM: What are your plans for Christmas 2004?
Darius: I’m going to be with my parents and family, snuggled up around the fire, eating too much, and watching Christmas TV and being very lazy. Only getting off my arse to help mum wash the dishes.
ILM: Can you describe your favourite place on earth?
Darius: My bed at home.
ILM: What is in your CD player right now?
Darius: Maroon Five