Once upon a time Darius Danesh was probably better known for his OTT version of Britney Spears "Baby, One More Time". Now he's rubbing shoulders with legendary producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Travis, Rolling Stones), has a self penned single "Colourblind" at number 1 in the the pop parade and until Sarah Whatmore hit's the shops in just over a month he is our Number 1 Pop Idol.
We caught up with Darius Danesh in the week his single went to number 1 and talk him right back to "More Than Words" by Extreme - the very first song he learnt to play on guitar - and through to the present day where he admits that releasing a cover version would simply have been a cop out.
Q: Your Number 1 single "Colourblind", wrote after the first audition for Pop Idol. Mad looking back. How did it come about?
A: I just had gut feeling that it might be the song that launched my solo career. You take the song for what it is - a great summer pop song. And you can take what you want from the lyrics. I had a great upbeat feeling when I wrote it and hopefully that comes across in the song. I wrote it at the time where I had a real sea change, got rid of the pony tail and the goatee, and Colourblind for me was the song which marked the division between the past and the future of my career.
Q: Taking it right back to the beginning. It was "More Than Words" by Extreme that set you on your way wasn't it?
A: It was "More Than Words" which was the first song I heard with just a voice and a guitar. It was so powerful and it made me want to pick up guitar and teach myself how to play the chords and sing the song...and by the end of the year I was singing it!!!
Q: So from playing other people's songs to playing your own. When did you start song writing?
A: I started song writing when I was 14 and I've been seriously writing since the age of 17. Pop Idol was an awesome experience, but it didn't give me change to show that I was a songwriter and a musician. And now I've got the freedom to spread my wings and show people what I'm made of.
Q: When you went into Popstars and Pop Idol, with song writing being so important to you, could you have sat in that role of karaoke king?
A: I don't think it would have been the right route for me if I'd have gone down the route of releasing a cover after the show. I think Pop Idol was incredible because it was essentially the biggest marketing tool a record company had ever used and although it was an awesome experience for me - it was always in the back of my mind that if I released a cover version of the back of the program there would always be a question in my mind if that song was a potential success because of me and the song or because of the incredible momentum and success of the show.
I looked what had happened to Hear'say last year and compared it against what had happened to Liberty. And it just confirmed my belief that it's all about the music. It's certainly the most honest way I can thank people for their support and phone calls through Pop Idol - sharing my words and my melody!!!
Q: It must have been a constant concern through the whole Pop Idol experience that a record company would expect you to release a cover version. Was this the case?
A: It would have been a cop out for me if I'd released it off the back of the program. I didn't put myself through the trials and tribulations of the Pop Idol auditions so I could release a cover. And certainly I didn't put my parents through everything that they went through as regards the media and the press after Popstars...I didn't put them through that just so I could sell myself short and cash in at a stab at capitalizing on a commercial venture.
For me it's always been about the music and for me it was my chance to show that was to step back and sign with a major label that would champion me as a singer songwriter and do it at an appropriate time. So that by releasing "Colourblind" as a single six months later people see that although I made a big jump between Popstars and Pop Idol - I made an even bigger jump between Pop Idol and Darius as an solo artist.
It's not even a conscious thing to distance myself, it's a natural progression for me. When it's about the music and it's not about the hype and the hoopla, you've got to release the song at the right time. And the right time is in the summer and I went in with the idea that if people enjoy the song they'll add it to their record collection and if they don't - well I had a great time making it.
Q: So who were your Pop Idols that you look up to - both contemporary and from your childhood?
A: When I look at the artists I respect it's people like Craig David, David Gray, Alicia Keys, Nelly Furtado, Dido. Singer songwriter solo artists that have got their different styles and they're unique singers within the different genre's, but what links them all is they bring original music to the front end of pop. And I hope to fall in line with my peers when the album is released in November.
Q: You're in the studio today working on the album. Could you tell us a little about what we can expect?
A: I'm very lucky to be being produced by Steve Lillywhite. A man with a hand in the careers of U2, Travis, Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones, Simple Minds, Crowded House, Kirsty McColl - the list just goes on and on. He's one of the most renowned producers in the world and to working with him at the beginning of my career when I'm 21 is just like a dream come true. I didn't think I'd even meet a man like that until further down the line in 5 years time when I've been working and doing some hard graft.
I'm working with people that can help me with instrumentation...I play the guitar, but I don't understand instrumentation of strings and drums and bass...and I'm working with some of the most talented writers in the business and I'm very lucky. The words and the melodies are the stuff that haunt me in my sleep and so it's great to share that with people.
Q: The big ambition for the end of year must be your own tour. Are we going to get the chance to see Darius live in the flesh?
A: Well I'm really focusing on the album for the release date in November. That's the first priority so that people supported me through Pop Idol can look back over the year and when people open there Christmas stockings they'll see what a big jump there's been from Pop Idol to Darius as a solo artist. If "Colourblind" really surprises people then look out for an album full of surprises.
"Colourblind" is out now. Expect the album in November
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