VICTORIAN vocalist Taylor Henderson is young but his voice is big enough to have won him countless awards and thousands of fans all over the world.
His performances on The X Factor Australia and Australia’s Got Talent thrust him into the spotlight and his debut album, Taylor Henderson, launched him into ARIA territory.
Henderson is about to begin his first national tour in celebration of his upcoming album, Burning Letters, and said his previous experiences with Newcastle fans had been ‘‘incredible’’.
He still gets nervous prior to walking on stage, despite his spectacular success, with a nagging voice in his head wondering if many people will show up.
As for the new tour, it’s all aTaylkorbout new beginnings.
‘‘It’s called the Dawn Tour because it’s just the beginning,’’ he said.
‘‘I can’t wait.’’
Before the television talent shows, Henderson was sometimes turned down for gigs but since performing on the shows, everything has changed for him.
‘‘I don’t know what happened,’’ he said.
‘‘I did what I did and people connected.
‘‘People respect me as a songwriter now.
‘‘I’ve got an album out and I can barely believe I’m bringing out a new one.’’
While he said the judges could be harsh and difficult to take, he was proud of his performances and his strength in overcoming the nerves.
‘‘I didn’t cave under pressure,’’ Henderson said.
‘‘I obviously got nervous and, definitely, the pressure was on but I always tried to be the best I could be – and here I am now. The judges have a right to guide you and say things to throw you off guard.
‘‘They’ll throw a comment at you that hits you hard sometimes but they do it out of respect and the only reason I’m here is because I took their criticism on board very carefully.’’
He said the most important thing was to avoid taking negativity to heart.
‘‘At the end of the day, the best thing you can do – and what I think I did – is to avoid listening to comments that people can say. Nasty things.
‘‘People can stir you up the wrong way but at the end of the day, you have to block it out because there are so many positive things people are saying as well.
‘‘Anyone in the spotlight can identify with this, but the moment anybody says something negative, it just hits you really hard.
‘‘There can be 10 comments and nine can be completely positive but the one that’s something people didn’t like ... Well, it stays with you.
‘‘You have to move forward and not dwell on them.’’
Henderson’s rise to stardom was a speedy one. He remembers sitting on the couch just last year, wondering what he was going to do with his life.
Music was his dream but he never expected so much success so young.
‘‘Now I’ve got two ARIA No.1s under my belt and a lot of behind-the-scenes critics on this new album coming out,’’ he said.
‘‘I think people are excited about it. Music is my career now. I can’t believe how quickly that turned around. Before this happened, I was building with my dad and working at Cotton On.
‘‘I tried to figure out what I wanted to do but it never really fell into place.
‘‘My dad used to say to me, ‘Would you put down the guitar and do something with your life?’, and I used to feel terrible.
‘‘I’d played gigs with my dad for a long time but I had no expectations and I never knew how far I could take it.
‘‘But I think Dad can understand how hard you have to work to be in this industry, and he’s so proud.’’
With his first album such a success and people shouting out for original material, Henderson said he was proud to say Burning Letters would be all his own work.
The album, which will be released on July 11, is officially available for preorder – and if you choose this option, your name will be printed in the CD booklet.
‘‘This is a real step forward. There was such a demand for original music from people after my first album,’’ Henderson said.
‘‘I had to really dig deep to find songs I’d written in my young childhood mixed with songs I’ve written more recently.’’
He said the album was very raw, open and honest, lyrically.
‘‘It’s very descriptive and in-your-face honest. The whole album is. In particular, there are songs that are fragile and some are your typical heart-throb songs.’’
But there are still plenty of upbeat songs, he said, and every song had a reason to be there.
‘‘There are no throwaway songs in there to bulk it up. Every song I’ve written there has meaning behind it,’’ he said.
‘‘If it sells one copy or goes platinum, I know it’s what I wanted and the way I wanted it.
‘‘Before I was signed to the biggest label in Australia, I used to be the person who would say, ‘Ooh, be careful of [what they’ll do to your] content’.
‘‘Now that I’m signed, I can’t believe I used to say those things. I have just recorded an album exactly how I wanted to write it.
‘‘Respectfully, I had to be firm and say this is who I am.’’
He said Sony had not interfered with his songwriting processes or tone despite his music not being typical pop.
‘‘I’m a more mainstream, folky kinda guy,’’ he said.
‘‘At the end of the day, it comes down to me in a room writing the song.’’
Henderson describes the album as ‘‘rustic’’.
‘‘It feels like it’s just been pulled out of a burning building. It feels singed and a bit brittle but it’s very raw and authentic.’’
As for the future, he said there had been talk of going overseas but for now, he’s happy to be seeing more of Australia.
Taylor Henderson plays at Newcastle Panthers on June 21. Tickets available at moshtix.com.au. For your chance to win tickets to the concert, and meet Taylor backstage, see page 23 of today’s LIVE.