Mullum Music Festival has just launched its complete program for the 22–25 November event that brings music into the heart of the town. The Festival welcomes back Darren Percival – or Mr Percival – on the back of his rise to national fame after coming second on The Voice.
Percival is typical of the kind of acts picked by the Mullum Music Festival – gems, waiting to be uncovered by a larger audience, but enjoyed in the meantime by devoted music lovers.
For a performer with almost two decades of experience, choosing to go on the Reality Talent Quest was a process in itself.
‘Initially I was concerned about it but my wife said to me do you want to do this? She said are you going to give it all of your heart? I said yes, and she said don’t go on it and not be brave, give it everything, all of the focus, and all of your energy. It was about being realistic that I won’t win it. When I got through we realised – I’d be there until the end.’
As a seasoned performer and father of two young children, this couldn’t have come at a better time for Percival.
‘My profile had been hovering in the underground for two decades and I was getting concerned about driving to gigs and not knowing if I’d sold any tickets. The Voice came at a good time – I watched the American series and I liked the model of it. I liked the integrity, that everything was about the singer, you weren’t going to be on after a nine-year-old juggler; it felt like it was a good fit for me. I was really proud of all the stuff I did as Mr Percival. I think that helped me become the singer that I am now.’
Now of course, Percival is selling out shows everywhere he goes. In the course of this 20-minute interview he’s already been asked by the cab driver to sign an autograph for his 17-year-old daughter.
For Darren the most important thing was who he was going to be teamed with. ‘I said to the executive producer: who are the coaches? She said that’s really important to you isn’t it? I said absolutely, because it has to be someone I really want to work with. As soon as they said Keith Urban I said okay, I’ll do it.’
It seems like an unlikely match, but Urban had much to share with Percival.
‘I have always been inspired by Keith Urban’s determination as a musician. I love his albums and am a fan of his and not because of the genre but how he produces albums. He told me two major things to help me on my way: one was to get out of the way of myself, stop thinking and just sing – he said to let it come through you; and he also said what is unique about you? What is original about what you? What is it that you bring? He made this great comment: do you know anybody that is 80? Well what do they have? He said you are 40 you should go out there and sing like you are 40 because that’s something a whole lot of people don’t have. It’s great being 40.’
The last few months has seen Darren Percival realise a lifelong dream.
‘I always wanted to be a great singer. I figured that if that was my focus everything else would come with that. I never thought about anything else. I have never been motivated by watches and key rings and post-dos. It’s not my thing and I am not fussed about any of that stuff. I remember seeing the Oscars when I was 15. I was at my Nana’s and Al Pacino won for Scent of a Woman – he started giving a speech, wanting to use the opportunity to thank everyone who had helped him. Then he said, who speaks of triumph? To endure is everything.’
And endure Percival has, being especially grateful to his fans and supporters that came on board before being catapulted into the national spotlight.
‘It’s so important to be coming back to do the Mullum festival. I can tell you in all honesty that the support I had on the back of Out of the Loop, that’s part of the giant equation that got me there to do what I needed to do. I sort of feel like it’s a chance to say thanks to the area. It’s an exclusive gig that I wanted to do for Glenn – we aren’t doing anything else in the region for the year. This is our only show.’
Darren Percival appears as a headline act at the Mullum Music Festival this year, this time with his quartet. He is also a youth mentor for the vocal section of the Music Festival’s annual Youth Mentorship project.
Tickets are on sale now. For program and ticketing information go to www.mullummusicfestival.com, but get in early – the hot tip is that this event is going to sell like hotcakes!