Stan Walker releases third album
Stan Walker knows the power of change. One minute he was a kid from Tauranga who loved to sing, the next he was shooting to stardom as the winner of 2009's Australian Idol.
In the two years since he became a household name, the 21-year-old has experienced everything that comes with fame and says it has made him a different person.
"I've got some friends who don't really understand what my life is like and they tell me "you've changed" and I'm like, 'what do you mean?' But a good friend of mine said you have changed - you've had to - otherwise you won't be able to succeed or move forward."
But he insists there are some things that will always stay the same.
"I've changed as an artist but when I get home I'm still the same, I've still got to do my chores, I don't wear shoes, I don't wear undies... but as the artist and as the performer I've had to evolve and change. It's a constant state of evolution."
His latest evolution comes in the form of his latest - and third - album, Let the Music Play.
Walker describes the album as "a bit of everything, aye" and he was desperate to push the boundaries of being a reality TV show winner.
He says is first album was "basically covers" and while he is thankful for the break Australian Idol gave him, he wants to make his mark as an artist in his own right.
"I don't class that [first album] as me as an artist. My first album of me as an artist was my [second] album and this [third album] is definitely me as the artist. Does that make sense? These are my songs, my stories, my tunes, my melodies, my words, me."
Walker co-wrote around three-quarters of the songs on the album and says while it was a challenge writing the perfect pop song, it was one he loved.
"Oh man, it's so funny because people think [writing a pop song] is so easy to do...it's so challenging because it can either turn out really good or really bad - it's a real hit and miss [thing].
"You've got to stay relevant but then you've got to be ahead and you've got to be different. I think a lot of pop songs these days can kind of sound the same but the thing is what are you going to have that's going to stand out, that's going to be better?"
With just a month to make the album from start to finish, Walker was pushed to create something he was proud of.
"With such a short time frame it caused me to steep up as a writer, not just as a singer. Singing is what I do, but writing is another thing. And I think you become more of an artist - not just the singer or performer - writing, doing your own songs, I think it's a big part of me being a singer and an artist."
He also says being open about his troubled past has shaped him into the man he has become.
Walker grew up in Tauranga in a family full of drugs, alcohol and violence and was sexually abused by a family member as a child.
Far from hiding his past, Walker and his family have been very vocal about what happened, and more importantly, what has changed. Walker's mum, April, duets with her son on the new album.
"We've turned what was against our family, for our family now," says Walker.
"When I first came out and started saying things I was a bit nervous. But at the same time, I kind of knew it had to be done. People try to hide things and people try to suppress things and think that it's going to be big drama in your life. But it can actually save someone's life.
"It was hard, but now it's part of who I am."
But for now, Walker's next change is set to be on an even bigger stage.
"Hopefully playing all around the world. I want to be so much more than I am now. I have a dream, I have a goal, I have a vision and I want to make it happen, aye?"
Let the Music Play is out now
- Auckland Now