LoveLincoln.co.uk caught up with Darius to find out a little more about the show and where his love of performing came from.
When did you know you wanted to sing?
I’ve always loved singing: from a very young age I was drawn to it. When I was 12 I was part of the Scottish Opera performance of Carmen in Convent Garden in London. I remember being backstage and it was absolutely cavernous, bigger than front of stage.
It was filled with pieces of the sets, rigging, costumes and all sorts of things. It was kind of like walking into the wardrobe in the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe; I was completely enraptured with it.
I knew that I wanted to be part of this idea of telling a story in the form of singing and acting and I’m very lucky that my career has allowed me to explore that.
Was music a big part of your life growing up?
Music was always a big part of my life in various ways and forms. I loved music and formed my first band when I was 14. I actually turned down an opportunity to train professionally as an opera singer to go back to Glasgow because I missed my mates and the next thing I knew I was at university and then here I am today.
How would you say your music has developed over the years?
The auditions on Pop Idol that I loved the most were Big Band auditions. Big Band has brought my music back full circle. I’ve learnt to use the lower register of my voice and do things I’ve never been able to do before. Big Band appeals to a whole range of people across generations. When you find out the stories behind the classic records they’re truly fascinating.
Who are your musical inspirations?
Nat King Cole is a big inspiration to me. His use of base baritone within pop music hasn’t really been done since and he had an incredible voice.
The History of the Big Bands is a show that you’ve produced yourself and tells the story of the big band and swing era featuring jazz legends like Glenn Miller and Buddy Rich. What made you decide to put this show together?
About a year ago I was sat with my grandfather talking about his life and he was telling me about music and about how Big Band had such a deep social and communal significance back in the day.
You’d go to a local hall and meet your potential partner and dance to Big Band music and fall in love. He talked about how it was broadcast on the wireless and used to motivate the troops to lift their spirits. Also the idea of the pin up girl Is fascinating, I don’t think there’s a modern day equivalent to any of those things and I remember saying to him how much I wished I could go back and get a glimpse of what the world was like back then.
I did my research and found an amazing co-producer and put together a show that will transport the audience back to that era. We’ll have an 18 piece orchestra and there’ll be such an atmosphere of decadence, style and swinging swagger, which was only around back then, and is only possible now because we were able to research the original sheet music that they used.
The show takes the audience on a tour of the Big Band music greats and their lives and they’ll be an element of burlesque dance so the show will be great fun.
What home comforts do you miss when you tour?
My mum’s cooking! I only really get to eat my mum’s food once a year when I go home to Glasgow for Christmas. To be honest I’m so used to being away from home and up and down the country that home comforts are a very different concept to me.
You’ve starred in some highly acclaimed West End shows like Chicago and Guys and Dolls – what is it you enjoy about acting and how does it compare to singing?
I suppose it’s like when an artist uses oil paints and then uses the technique of sculpture to create something. They’re different techniques but expressions of the same art form. With acting you take a character and you mould it and shape it to create something that tells a story and singing is the same process: you take lyrics and music and shape them to tell a story, whether it be a story of love, loss, whatever. It’s the same idea and that’s what I want – to be a part of great story telling.
You’ve recently appeared in Carmen with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, in the biggest Operatic production ever in the UK, at The O2 arena. What has been your most memorable performance?
The performance at The O2 arena was just incredible, there were 20,000 people there and I was performing with 200 other people on stage. I was playing Escamillo, Carmen’s bull-fighting lover, it was a dream come true.
I’d have to say that my most memorable performance though was at the Royal Albert Hall – not because it was the Albert Hall – but because it was extremely special to me personally.
It was the first time my father was released from hospital. Well I say released what I mean is that he snuck out with two of his nurses who were on either side of his wheelchair; they didn’t tell the doctors! Although he had terminal cancer he was there to see and hear me perform and I sang a song I wrote for him called Live Twice and it meant so much to me. I hope I made him proud.
You’ve recently had a very frightening experience in Spain, has this changed your outlook on life?
I feel really lucky to be alive and very blessed to have the faculties that I took for granted before: my arms and legs and taste. I was very fortunate that I – literally – walked away from the accident. I’ve been through a process of reflection since and I’ve been recovering and taking the time to heal so that I’m ready for the tour.
I’ve been doing physio every day and having chiropractic massages, acupuncture all sorts of things. I’m glad for the experience in a way. Although the pain that I’ve gone through is not great what I’ve got from the experience as a whole is.
This is your second visit to Lincoln now after your appearance at the Lincoln Theatre Royal Gala Night. What do you like about the city?
Lincoln’s got a really great sense of history and heritage. I love the castle and the cobbled streets and Bailgate area. It’s also very green, there’s this lush greenery which kind of reminds me of Scotland which I like. The people are very friendly and warm and the last time I was in the city I had such a great welcome and the audience was fantastic.
What’s next for you after your Big Band tour?
I’m a one step at a time kind of man. Right now I’m concentrating on getting fit for the tour – getting better – and working on putting the final touches to it so it’s the best that it can be when it kicks off. After that, who knows?!