The Australian Idol winner has conquered a dark childhood, writes Nui Te Koha
STAN Walker performs a symbolic duet on his new album. It is with his mother, April, and lyrically the song defines their journey to this point.
The song, a Fleetwood Mac cut titled Songbird, says: ‘‘ For you, there will be no more crying. For you, the sun will be shining.’’
Walker, 21, the most recent Australian Idol winner, says the song captures everything he wants to tell April, who was a victim of domestic violence. ‘‘ It’s almost like a reward,’’ Walker says. ‘‘ It shows where we have been as a family. We come from such a rugged life. But it’s good to say, ‘ Man, look at where we are now’.’’
Walker has often compared his upbringing to the brutal New Zealand film Once Were Warriors. He says he grew up with alcohol, drugs, physical and sexual abuse. But with each step in a music career that began with his win in 2009, Walker has moved further from his past.
Indeed, his new album Let Themusic Play is about freedom and celebration.
‘‘ I wanted to have fun,’’ Walker says. ‘‘ Sometimes I forget to look at where I am and enjoy the moment. I needed to celebrate where I am. I’m 21 and I’ve made it this far.
‘‘ But I’ve always felt if I stop, I might get left behind. This business is cut- throat.’’
His latest singles, upbeat pop flavours Loud, Light It Up and Galaxy, certainly suggest business meetings pitching Walker, who has an astonishing soul voice, at the dance floor.
‘‘ You’ve got to be relevant for the times as well as ahead of the times,’’ Walker says. ‘‘ You’ve got to find the medium of doing both. When I perform dance songs, I make sure I sing my butt off more than a ballad.’’
Already, some have accused Walker ( pictured) of selling out. He replies: ‘‘ I challenge anybody to sing those songs. They are difficult. They have stretched my voice in a big way.
‘‘ As a singer, I am above the music, above the trend, above the style.
‘‘ I make sure to focus on what I need to get out as a singer. Then the beat falls in behind. I have to maintain who I am as a singer and get my soul out.’’
Yet, on a new song, Break Down These Walls, vocally Walker reaches for the unknown. ‘‘ It’s like my voice got into character,’’ he says.
‘‘ I don’t think I have a name for it but it’s an extension of me. Music unlocks parts I never knew I had. I become a performer, a stage character, like an alter ego.’’
LET THE MUSIC PLAY
is out now