Just weeks after his triumph on the 2016 edition of ‘The X Factor’, we sit down for our first Isaiah Firebrace interview.
We chat with the 17 year old performer about his first ARIAs, hows last year’s ‘X Factor’ experience helped prepare him for this year’s and how a legion of Glamberts have embraced him post-show.
But we kick off by asking him how he’s coped with a busy few weeks.
I’m feeling good. The first few days after winning were a bit of a mind-blowing few days, but now it’s calmed down and I’ve just accepted everything that’s happening.
We were going to say… only two days after winning the competition, you were thrust onto the ARIAs red carpet. That must have been a bit of a whirlwind?
Yeah, it was crazy. I’ve always watched the ARIAs on TV, but it was so weird being there, especially on the red carpet with all the press everywhere. It was really crazy.
Have you been a bit overawed by all the buzz surrounding you after the competition?
I’m kinda cool with it, but I guess I’m not quite cool with everything yet.
So let’s talk about ‘X Factor’ this year – your second attempt at the competition. How did last year’s experience help you prepare for this year’s experience?
I guess just performing in front of a large crowd last year made me feel a bit more comfortable in coming back and also just a bit more experience with the interviewing side. The year leading up to me coming back onto the competition this year, I just gained more experience, matured mentally and vocally I got better. I just felt much more comfortable being part of it this year.
Obviously in your audition this year, a few of the nerves that got to you last year started to rear their head again. What was going through your head at the time?
I don’t know. It was just one of those things I guess. It was just coincidence that it had to happen again. But I don’t really mind what happened, because I still went all the way and it was part of my story.
I was super excited when I found out that Iggy was on there – and also Adam and to have Guy back. Then when I found out about Mel, that was really cool – she’s really cool. I’d watched her on the TV when she was doing ‘Australia’s Got Talent’. So it was just exciting with those four, but I was really happy when I got Adam.
Obviously, he’s been through this kind of competition himself, so what kind of advice was he able to give to you?
He said to stay true to myself and always connect with the songs that I’m singing. He didn’t really work on my vocals, because he thought they were already there. He worked more on my performance side. Which you probably saw on the show. I mean, I got to my knees during the performances – you might have seen. He encouraged that side of me. I think I’m more comfortable on stage because of him.
And in terms of support and encouragement, his fan base… You’ve obviously been able to pick up a little bit of the support from his fan base post-show… They are beyond, no?
They are crazy. The Glamberts. Especially on Twitter and Instagram, they’re all supporting me and it’s been pretty crazy.
How have you coped with that element of the ride? Not only have you been out and about promoting the single, doing the instore performances, live appearances… but you’ve also had to contend with this new found social media following. Had you been especially active on the socials before?
Yeah, I was. But I love my phone, so I’m pretty good with keeping up with everything.
But has it been difficult for you at 17 being thrust into this world and having to find a balance between maintaining some level or normality and having this new found fame?
I’m good with it. I feel at ease with the social stuff.
Going back to your voice… we’re completely flabbergasted by the depth and the timbre and the warmth in it – and at such a young age. How did you develop that?
I guess it’s just half natural talent. But in the past year, I’ve travelled three hours from Echuca down to Melbourne every weekend to do singing lessons for about five hours on Saturdays. All up a six hour drive on a weekend, every weekend, leading up to the show. So I guess I’ve just developed vocally with through those lessons as well.
When I heard it, I thought it was a cool track. Then when I went into the studio and started recording it and listening to it, I started warming up to it a lot. And then when I heard the final product, I thought, ‘this song’s so cool’. And I was really happy with it. I like the feel of it.
It really suits your voice, obviously. Would you work with the DNA boys again on some of your future material?
Yeah, definitely. If I get the opportunity work with them again, that’d be amazing, because they’re really friendly guys. I don’t feel nervous in the recording studio with them. I feel like we’ve developed a great friendship. And they’ve worked with the big names, like The Veronicas. And they wrote Dami’s Eurovision song.
Yes, let’s talk about Eurovision, because there have been reports in the media that you’ve be interested in stepping on stage and being Australia’s Eurovision representative.
Ever since Guy was on it a couple of years ago – and Jess did it as well – I’ve been dreaming a lot of going, because it’s such a massive thing. How many viewers is it? Something like two million? It’s such an amazing platform and it would be just incredible. I’m pretty sure any artist would love to do Eurovision. It’s a big dream of mine. I love the big production around it. I reckon it’d just be amazing to belt out a song on a massive stage.
It’s so bizarre to us… we always presumed that Eurovision enjoyed a slightly older fan demographic, but here you are at 17 champing at the bit to go!
I like it!
So Eurovision 2017 maybe? Has the decision been made yet?
No. No decisions yet.
Tell us about your debut album. Studio versions of tracks that you performed on the show, yes?
Yes. Exactly. Full versions of the songs I performed on the show – and also my winner’s single is on there too. It was amazing recording the songs again. It was weird singing ‘Hello’ again, because I haven’t sung that in ages. I had so much fun.
Obviously there are vast differences between a performance on a live stage in front of thousands of screaming people and performing to a single microphone in a studio. How difficult was it making that adjustment?
I recorded more than half the album in a few hours, so I had to work on that pretty quickly. When you’re on stage, it’s not easy, but it’s much more simple to portray the emotion. But in the studio, it’s much more difficult, because you’re not performing to an audience, so you have to put all the emotion into your vocal so it comes out in the track. It wasn’t really difficult, but it’s an entirely different experience.
In terms of moving forward, will Mister Lambert have a say in what kind of music you’ll be making?
Well I have been keeping in contact with him – over text and Instagram – so I don’t know, maybe… Hopefully. I don’t know. It’s pretty cool that he’s still keeping in contact.
Will he look at perhaps contributing his services to a future project?
I don’t know. I’ll have to ask.
Get onto that. So let’s talk beyond this project… What kind of original material would we be expecting from Isaiah in the future?
Pop / R&B. A lot of radio friendly songs. I love Bruno Mars’ music. I also love Justin Bieber’s new album, so kind of like along those lines. I’ve written songs before, but I haven’t really shown anyone.
Who are some of the artists you’re rating? Who are some artists who’ve inspired you over the years?
Definitely Mariah Carey. Her story and her voice are incredible. She’s really influenced me vocally, but also Jess Mauboy has inspired me in being a successful indigenous artist… they’re probably the main two. I love Michael Bublé’s voice as well. I love singing his songs. I love Bruno Mars. Bruno was the artist I looked up to when I was younger. His were the songs I used to sing at competitions. Stuff like that.
That makes us feel desperately old, you know…
Growing up, my dad was a massive Creedence Clearwater Revival fan and I know pretty much every Creedence song. And I know a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s music. It’s kinda weird, because you wouldn’t think that a 17 year old would know all that. And a lot of country music. I love a bit of country music.
So how’s Echuca/Moama reacted to the win?
They’ve probably been my biggest supporters throughout my journey so far. They even made a smoothie named after me in one of the shops. They also named a burger after me in one of the restaurants, which is crazy. When I went back for the home visits, I tried the smoothie and it was actually really good.
Do we dare ask what’s IN an Isaiah smoothie?
Isaiah’s Dream, it’s called. And then there’s the burger… I think it’s called Isaiah’s Wagyu Beef Burger or something. But I’m vegetarian, so…
(we laugh) The irony!
I know! But I only just turned vegetarian a few weeks ago, so…
Are they jumping on the bandwagon? Do you feel used?
The support is amazing back in my town and I’m so happy for it.
So do we dare be so bold as to ask what comes next for you?
I’d be so happy to put another single out soon and start to work on another album. I don’t know when, but I’m looking forward to the experience.
Isaiah’s debut self-titled album is out now, as is his ‘X Factor’ winner’s single ‘It’s Gotta Be You’.
Catch him at one of this instores across the country in the next week or two and on his live tour in early 2017;
December 13 @ 5:00pm : St Mary’s (Sound Centre) * signing only
December 14 @ 1:00pm : Sydney (Opera Bar)
December 14 @ 6:00pm : Bondi (Bucket List)
December 15 @ 6:00pm : Robina (Robina Town Centre)
December 23 @ 8:00pm : Brisbane (Strathpine Centre)
February 04 : Melbourne (The Palms At Crown)
February 10 : Campbelltown (Campbelltown RSL)
February 11 : Rooty Hill (Rooty Hill RSL)
February 17 : Revesby (Revesby Workers Club)