When fresh-faced 14-year old Jack Vidgen won Australia’s Got Talent in 2011 albums were hastily released, fuss was made and then he disappeared. Taking time to grow up away from public scrutiny meant that when Jack returned to Australian screens last year to compete in The Voice (on Eurovision alumni Guy Sebastian’s team no less) he had a set of fuller lips and even fuller personality fit for a king… or queen.
We caught up with his/her highness ahead of Eurovision: Australia Decides, the national final that will see whoever takes the crown represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam in May.
DNA: Jack Vidgen, are you on a quest to conquer the world’s song contests?
[Laughs] Definitely, it’s been a pretty hectic journey but it’s been amazing! Eurovision is so different to anything I’ve done, especially being a song contest. Getting to have written my own song for it is pretty incredible.
You took some time off to grow up and find yourself, you came out, is that what your deeply personal song: I Am King I Am Queen is about?
The verses are reflective, and they’re talking about those moments where you’re very much inside your own head, trying to figure out how to process it all, sometimes it can seem like it’s all too much. Then you head into the chorus and it’s talking about the struggle between days hating and loving yourself. It’s still that constant thing, it’s ongoing… that every day you have to wake up and find that place of self-love and self-acceptance. The song definitely goes on a journey.
The theme for Rotterdam this year is Open Up, and these days you need to share your personality in order to be heard. We love the nuances in the phrasing; did you intend to be so vulnerable and revealing?
I didn’t even write the song with the intention of going to Eurovision. I didn’t realise it would have that potential yet. It was very much me writing my life and my story… and then adding a melody to it!
So how did Eurovision: Australia Decides come about? Have you always been a fan?
I got a call from my manager that said this could be something I could do if I wanted to. It wasn’t even a question – I’ve been watching Eurovision for years now! I’ve always been aware of it, but when Australia started participating it became more of a focus. Watching Guy Sebastian, Dami Im, Isaiah, Jessica Mauboy and Kate Miller-Heidke representing all kinds of Aussies… it’s extravagant, it’s camp, fun and beautiful. Definitely a no-brainer to want to be a part of it.
With so much Australian talent now involved in the Eurovision legacy, is this still a competition or are you all just hanging with your mates?
There’s very little competitiveness, very much family vibes. I know a bunch of the other artists doing it and I think we all just want to enjoy the extravagance of it all. We’re so fortunate we get to perform in such a beautiful way.
Everyone is coy about how their song will look visually on stage; what can you give away about yours?
I know! [Laughs] I’m not sure how to explain it without giving it away. I want it to be extravagant, I want it to be beautiful, and I want it to really compliment the message of the song. I think it will be really beautiful and the act of singing it really moving.
You could follow in the footsteps of last year’s Australia Decides finalist Courtney Act, and drag it up?
I could! OMG that would be so much fun, maybe I’ll do that!
What is it like to be an openly gay singer in 2020?
All I’m doing is being myself. That’s all I can be doing, that’s all I should be doing. If doing that makes a positive impact on someone’s life then that’s a beautiful thing.
What would it mean to win this national final and represent the country in Rotterdam?
It would be incredible that a song I wrote about my own journey got me there. I’m getting so many messages from people who’ve been listening, telling me what the song means to them, how they relate to it. To go through the internal struggle and to find the triumph in it all… how beautiful it would be to represent Australia with a song that carries that message.
Simon Cowell said recently after your audition for America’s Got Talent: The Champions, “there’s way more to come from you”, does this mean we get a remix? A dancefloor filler for the clubs?
Actually, there’re a couple of remixes of I Am King I Am Queen coming out… some dance remixes, and a vibe change as well.
Jack, thank you, we can’t wait for you to bring royalty to Eurovision!
I love that! I’m so excited.
Eurovision: Australia Decides airs live 8.30pm AEDT from the Gold Coast on SBS Australia 8th February 2020. Tickets are available through Ticketek.