If you’ve ever wondered what some of the Australian Idol stars are doing now, the new Our Idol Archives podcast is set to answer your burning questions. The brainchild of former Idol judge, Mark Holden, and his very clever daughter Katie Holden, the podcast is currently streaming its first season of ten episodes.
Glam was lucky enough to catch Mark in Melbourne lockdown, and TV exec Katie in Los Angeles, at the same time, and chat to them online.
Clearly father and daughter are very much on the same wavelength, but we wondered whose idea this was initially.
K: It was my idea basically. At the beginning of the pandemic I was bored and a little homesick so I was listening to a lot of podcasts. I said to dad ‘we could do one of these’. So we bounced some ideas back and forth, and we thought it would be fun to do a ‘where are they now’ with former Idols. I just stalked them down on social media ! And everyone I reached out to wanted to chat to us. Dad was like ‘you organize it and I’ll just show up!’.
As well as discussing their music, guests manage to get into some pretty gritty issues, including contractual problems with Idol itself.
M: We like to know what the lead up to being on Idol was, and to talk about their grand final moment, if they had one. But we also like to talk about what happened immediately afterwards, and that’s very revealing, especially around how their contracts turned out and that kind of thing. For example Cosima [De Vito] told us that her parents stumped up a million dollars for her to have an independent label. That was quite a shocking revelation to me. I didn’t know the actual details of [contractual arrangements] at the time but it’s certainly an issue. They’d already signed a waiver at that very first audition, and some of those people were sixteen. It was flawed in the deepest sense.
K:A lot of ex-Idols reach out to dad for legal advice, funnily enough!
M: The story that Damien [Leith] tells is that the Idols used to make an album in a couple of days after the final, and that was a new album, so they got paid. But this one year they decided to just use the recordings from the show, and that was the thing they had signed that initial waiver on.
K: And he said that after his experience, the winners’ journey albums never happened again. So no one else got ripped off like he did. It’s sad that he had to be the exemplar.
M: Royalties happen in one or two lumps and the years after are ever-decreasing, sometimes at a precipitous rate! There’s essentially one payday and then its zero from then on. As artists, we rarely make hits. Some people make hit after hit–John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes–there’s a handful, but not many. Most of us have half a dozen hits through our life if we’re lucky. When you have a big hit, you have a big payday and use that wisely. I ask people about that, which Katie gets a bit annoyed…
K: …he asks everybody if they’ve made enough money to buy a house!
Many Idols have continued with their music careers, and others have chosen other paths.
K: Carl Riseley, who was sort of the Michael Buble of season five, became a pilot. But Courtney [Murphy] gigs in Perth professionally six or seven nights a week.
M: Each town has enough room for a handful of [people] who are talented and hard-working enough to actually make a professional living out of it. The only one who’s not in music is Bobby Flynn: he’s gone on to use his economics degree and is working for the state government. But I believe that even he will return to music at some point-it’s in him.
Katie Holden has lived in America for many years, studying and working in the film and tv industries.
K: I always wanted to work in film and tv, and I’m actually a dual citizen, because I was born in LA. I thought the American college experience would be a really fun opportunity, so I applied to several universities and ended up choosing Chapman uni in Orange County which has an amazing film program. I interned all over the place, then I decided to stay. I’ve been in America now six years. I’m trying to soak it up and get as much experience as I can then hopefully come back to Australia.
Mark has famously juggled careers in music and law, but has recently put the wig aside.
M: I’ve retired from being a barrister: I haven’t taken a brief for 18 months. I did ten years and that was a privilege but it’s very stressful and super hard work, dealing with mainly horrible situations. Now I’m turning back to creative things. I’ve finished three films, and doing some creative writing. Just loving that part of life now at 66. I don’t want to be stressed.
As a songwriter, we wondered what song Mark wished he had written.
M: hmmmm…..oh wow…there’s so many
K: How about James Taylor dad?
M: Oh yes, well done Katie! There’s a song called Angels of Fenway, about his grandmother and Fenway Park in Boston and playing baseball. It’s just the most exquisite song in every way.
K: I also think dad’s a bigger Taylor Swift fan than me! Daily he will text me saying that he hasn’t stopped listening to her latest album.
M: I’m a huge Joni Mitchell fan and [Swift’s latest album] to me is almost at the level of Blue, it’s that good.
K: When I was 14 she came to perform at the Billboard Club which is a pretty small venue in Melbourne. I had just heard about her, and dad knew the promoter so we went. Now she does big stadium tours, so to think that dad and I got to share her with only 200 people was pretty special.
So with Season one of Our Idol Archives rolling out, will there be a season two?
K: I think so…we have a lot of people that we didn’t get a chance to talk to and more we want to reach out to. We’re hoping that season one gets the word out to other Idols.
Not only do the guests share their story and some of their music, but according to Mark and Katie, there is mutual counselling.
K: Dad has a lot of wisdom to give to these people, and we’ve definitely covered some heavier topics.
M: I always thought that my firing was the worst in the universe but then talking to Axle Whitehead I found out his firing was worse than mine: he made me feel relatively good!
Episodes 1-3 of Our Idol Archives are currently available on Spotify and Apple.
Ep 1 9th October Anthony Callea
Ep2 16th October Axle Whitehead
Ep3 23rd October Natalie Gauci
Ep 4 30th October Tarisai Vushe
Ep 5 6th November Cosima De Vito
Ep 6 13th November Damien Leith
Ep 7 20th November Ben McKenzie
Ep 8 27th November Courtney Murphy
Ep 9 4th December Carl Riseley
Ep 10 11th December Bobby Flynn