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The Voice Australia's Guy Sebastian opens up about the time he believed his career was over

“You start to believe it’s the end. You ask, ‘How am I going to pay my mortgage?’”

By Zara Zubeidi
Guy Sebastian is one of Australia's biggest success stories. Since winning Australian Idol in 2003, the singer has gone on to have six number-one singles, two number-one albums, represented his country at the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, starred as a judge on The X Factor and is now settling into his role as coach on The Voice Australia.
But despite his impressive résumé, Guy, 37, admits it hasn't always been the case. In a candid chat with TV WEEK, the star opens up about the confronting time he thought his career was over.
"I released six or seven singles in a row that didn't chart," Guy says. "When you've had a few of those in a row, you start to believe you're a failure. And when it doesn't work, even the label knows it's a sinking ship.
"So you start to believe it's the end. You ask, 'How am I going to pay my mortgage? What's going to happen with my kids' school fees?' It's really tough, but you just have to keep going."
Guy gets comfy in the famous big red chair on The Voice Australia (Image: Nine Network).
Guy did keep going. And in 2012, he finally found the hit he was searching for. Driving on the freeway in Los Angeles, the Adelaide local heard a melody in his head.
It niggled away and, within minutes, he had formed the beginnings to Battle Scars, his biggest hit to date.
"I had to pull the car over," he remembers. "I just starting singing and the words flowed. I called my team and said, 'I have this idea.' I've always had an ear for melodies, but it's some sort of divinity, because I don't know where it [the inspiration] comes from."
The song, which he collaborated on with US rapper Lupe Fiasco, debuted at number one in the ARIA charts and was certified platinum in the United States. The pair went on to perform their hit song on the late-night circuit, including The Letterman Show and The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.
Guy was back in his element, and in the studio with some of the biggest names in the business, but he knew he couldn't rest on his laurels. It was just another reminder of the harsh reality of trying to establish a career in the music industry.
WATCH: Guy Sebastian makes first Eurovision appearance in 2015. Story continues after video...
"It's survival of the fittest," Guy says of the industry. "Or rather, it's survival of the most persistent. It's a numbers game and you just have to realise that everything has a purpose – even your losses. I've had people write to me about the songs I've thought were failures and tell me they've really helped them through a tough time.
"I've sat there thinking it's a failure when it's actually had a purpose in ways I was too blind to see, because I was caught up in my own ego of trying to make it [the song] a hit."
When Guy discusses his role as a coach on The Voice Australia, it's easy to see why producers were so eager to snap him up. He genuinely cares about the artists' journey – and, more importantly, can relate to what they're going through, thanks to him having competed on Australian Idol.
"I've been on that stage and had those same insecurities," he says. "I'm the new kid on the block, but I want to bring something."
Having dealt with the highs and lows of reality singing competitions – as both a contestant and a judge – Guy was cautiously optimistic when he signed on. But he says he was pleasantly surprised by the experience.
"It's such a different show to anything I've done before," he says. "It's also very positive – no-one is trying to make a fool out of anyone. It's a platform for voices to be heard."
Guy with his fellow The Voice coaches (Image: Nine Network).
Away from the red chair and the studio, Guy's passion for music filters through to home with the family.
He and wife Jules, who married in 2008, will often sit at the piano with their eldest son, Hudson, who's six, and are "always listening to music and singing" around the house.
And its clear the boys – Guy and Jules are also parents to five-year-old Archie – are destined to follow in dad's footsteps."Hudson has definitely got something," Guy tells us, as he proudly shows us a video of his son singing along to 'Battle Scars.'
"He's technically really good. Archie is the passionate one, I think he'll be more of a muso. But Hudson has some sort of star factor about him!"
Guy says Hudson and Archie are "always singing" (Image: Instagram/@guysebastian).
The Voice Australia airs Monday and Tuesday, 7.30pm, and Sunday, 7pm, on Nine Network.

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