Leith’s time to shine
DAMIEN Leith is used to being judged on TV. The judges picked on everything from his voice to his teeth.
Now the singer-songwriter is putting it on the line again as a contestant on this year’s series of
‘‘ In one sense it’s easier to take because you’re not as personally attached to it; it’s not what I normally do,’’ Leith says.
‘‘ But you spend so many hours working on this show that when they knock you it’s hard.
‘‘ In fairness they’ve been pretty much bang on, so I take it on the chin.’’
Leith is already down to the final five, last week scoring the
equivalent of a
As well as fulfilling a long-held desire to learn to dance, he knows the power of a national television show for a musician’s profile.
‘‘ There can be long gaps between albums and you can disappear,’’ he says. ‘‘ It’s good to be seen, to let people get to know you a bit better again.’’
Leith launched his Roy Orbison tribute album, around the show.
A No. 2 hit for Mother’s Day, it’s still in the Top 20 without the luxury of FM radio play.
Leith says an Orbison album was inevitable – ever since he sang The Big O’s on
‘‘ It was always on the cards, it’s come up every year since My fans have been asking for it as well. But when Barbara [ Orbison] came on board that took it to the next level,’’ he says.
Orbison’s widow Barbara controls her late husband’s estate. Leith sent her his reworked version of Orbison’s
which she loved. She also approved a hip-hop interpretation of Dream complete with unexpected rap.
‘‘ She was the instigator behind a lot of that,’’ Leith says.
‘‘ She wanted some tracks to be different to the originals, that was important to her. I can’t see there will be much more rapping on my albums in the future, but it was fun this time.’’
Post-, Leith has played the game cleverly; alternating albums of covers and originals. But 2009’ s Remember
was a step too far for many fans. Despite a nod to current acts such as Muse, Radiohead and Keane, commercial radio didn’t support the album.
‘‘ It’s still hard to know where exactly it didn’t work, not that it was a total failure,’’ Leith says.
‘‘ I still listen to it and love the songs, but at the end of the day it wasn’t being true to my audience.’’
He’ll start work on his next original album after touring for the rest of the year.
‘‘ I have a few new songs that pick up where we left off with the album, we’ve kept some of those elements,’’ he says.
‘‘ With Remember we tried to keep radio in the back of our minds. We genuinely thought we had the sound that would suit.
‘‘ We won’t have that as the focus next time – radio might not get behind it, but we want to make sure the audience do.
‘‘ I’ll stay true to myself but I have to keep in mind what my audience like and what they want to hear me do.’’