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Byron Shire
March 23, 2023

The OM-nipotent Mr P

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The delightful Darren Percival returns as a featured performer at Mullumbimby Music Festival this year.

Since his appearance on The Voice, Percival has secured himself a spot on stages around the country as a crooner with a difference. Warm, engaging, interactive, spontaneous, traditional and creative, Percival has made his mark singing about love. It’s what he does best.

‘I put out a record for Mothers Day called Lovelife, made with Paul Gray; he and I have been working together for 20 years this year. He has myeloma. When he was diagnosed last year I said, “Let’s do something together, let’s celebrate this anniversary of our working together with a project”, – he’s my best mate and I talk to him every day.

Darren-Percival-sm-n-copy‘It crushed me when I found out he was crook, so I said I want to record a song of yours that no-one has ever heard. We have a co-write called Let’s Dance All Night that we play all the time, and I said let’s write some more, and we started working on the idea. We spent about four months during that full-on time with his being crook and with his working on the record.

‘After we wrote a list of the songs we’d played for 20 years about being in love, or falling out of love; when we got the list up, we started demoing them and we never wrote another song from that point. We didn’t need to.’

Percival is a great singer of songs. ‘I don’t need to be on The Voice to know that people love hearing the songs they already know. At times I guess people can accuse me of being a ‘covers’ artist, but artists such as Neil Young just released an album of songs he didn’t write. Artists do it all the time. 

‘I have accepted that I am successful at it. It’s what the audience want.’ 

For Percival the art starts in selecting the song that he chooses to bring to light.

‘A song such as What The World Needs Now – we looked at the amazing form and lyric and structure and made it sound the way we wanted it to sound. I love that song!’

The album also includes a compilation of music from The Beatles, Elton John, Nora Jones and The Bee Gees. 

For anyone that has witnessed Darren on stage, it’s not just his remarkable, smooth, super-sized voice. It’s his energy.

‘I have a thing where I celebrate the moment, especially when I plug the looping pedals in. I celebrate the mistakes!

‘We are little happiness gypsies,’ he laughs. ‘I have no problem with that – I am not interested in this wave of less is more and being cool – it’s not me. I want to invigorate and innovate; I don’t want to have to be a certain way because this culture says this is what people want, they want to be transported, they bought the ticket, booked the babysitter, they paid for parking. Going out is expensive. I want to give an audience so much. People say you put in so much. It’s what I do. I will move it; my musicians have to be bendy. My guys know that we might go into All Night Long, just because someone yelled it out. It doesn’t have to be on the set list.’

For this year’s Mullum Music Festival Percival is leading a unique connecting process.

‘I am bringing my Om tent. It’s something I started because I wanted to offer an idea of a festival sacred space. I have a teepee and I wait until there are 20 or 30 people outside; we walk inside, we decide how many oms we will sing, when to harmonise or to do it in unison. We om and then have a few moments of reflection or silence and then the next one comes. It will be great. I will set it up – for me there is a lot of sitting around with festivals so now I do my sitting around with the audience.’ Percival is a master of harnessing audience energy.

‘I love bringing it all together. Some of the harmonic stuff that happens when you decide to sing in harmony!’

Percival, who lives with his wife and two small children on the Sunshine Coast, is keen to spend some time in Mullumbimby.

‘I am looking forward to getting back to Mullumbimby. I love everything up there, and I am going to bring the pedals; I always do a bit of looping in the middle of the gig, the guys go off for a cuppa – they walk off… see you, oh well, I don’t really need you… actually, I do need you!’

Darren Percival will be appearing at Mullumbimby Music Festival with his full band, and in his personalised Om tent!

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