Emerging Country: Seaforth Follows In Keith Urban's Footsteps as Australian Country Songwriters

Matthew Berinato
Seaforth

Welcome to Emerging Country Artist Spotlight, a Billboard series where we highlight an up-and-coming act who is making a splash in the genre. This week’s pick is country duo Seaforth, who got their start as solo artists before realizing their combined strengths as singers and songwriters.

Seaforth borrows their name from the Sydney suburb the duo grew up in. Friends since pre-school, Tom Jordan and Mitch Thompson pursued musical careers separately before deciding to team up together. With the harmonies and hook-laden lyrics heard on debut single “Love That,” the duo proves that two voices are certainly better than one.

For nearly six years, the Australia natives traveled back and forth to Nashville for songwriting trips before signing a worldwide deal with Sony Nashville and relocating to Music City permanently. “We love Australia and we love the [music] industry there, but we wanted to go to the home of where the music that we love and make is made, and that's Nashville,” Jordan tells Billboard while seated at the label’s office in Nashville. “It was a no-brainer for us to work on moving out here.”

Seaforth credits fellow Australian Keith Urban for paving the way for them. Early song holds from Urban helped further convince the duo that Nashville was the right decision, even if he never wound up recording those songs. “I think we pitched Keith five songs -- one was on hold for maybe three hours,” Thompson recalls with a laugh. “We have to go back and rewrite it until Keith cuts it.”

When was the moment you knew you wanted to be an artist? 

Tom Jordan: I started playing music when I was nine years old. I started playing guitar and singing, and immediately fell in love with it. I always loved music. When I was 11 or 12, I started entering music competitions around my hometown in Sydney and I did really well and won a couple and it started this love for performing.

Mitch Thompson: I accidentally joined the choir when I was in Seaforth pre-school. I thought it was a band where I could play an instrument. The idea of music always excited me. I became really competitive in that choir. I wanted to be the voice that people heard. My family were big music fans. Dad taught me my first guitar chords, and then I had this obsession to learn songs that I was listening to, because I wanted to be able to do it myself.

Jordan: Mitch and I, all the while, were friends and we went to school together and we both played music at the same time. We were both figuring ourselves out. It wasn't until high school that we started working together. Once we started writing [together] was when it clicked for both of us -- the sound and what we were searching for musically and everything just made sense.

What was the first song you wrote together? 

Jordan: I remember there was one day that I went to Mitch’s house and we called up a local radio station and we wrote a theme song for the radio station. [We] called up the hotline and spoke to this woman and we said, "We wrote a song." I think we would have been 10 or 11. They ended up putting us live on the air and we played the song. They gave us a PlayStation 2 that had just come out. That was kind of the pinnacle of our career. It’s been downhill from there. [laughs]

Thompson: We actually wrote our first serious song, I guess you could say, when we were 10 years old. It was called ‘Worth Falling For.’ We were like, ‘Dude, we should've done this a lot earlier but let's keep going with it!’

What is the first album you remember buying? 

Jordan: The first album with my money was a Britney Spears album. It had a purple cover, that’s all I remember.

Thompson: There’s an Australian singer-songwriter, Missy Higgins. That was my first album, I think when I was 12. I've never really been an album person. I was always picking singles. That was the first singer-songwriter where I was like, "I want to learn how to play this." The very next was Keith Urban.

Whose career do you admire most and would like to pattern yours after? 

Jordan: Keith Urban. He’s the hometown hero. Seeing what he has built for himself over here is super, super inspiring and a benchmark of what everyone strives to be. His storytelling and songwriting, what he was doing [early on], was unlike anything that we had heard before, discovering him. That's what kind of opened up the door to country music for us.

Thompson: He is someone you want to base your career off of from a personal standpoint. Everyone has said the greatest things about him being a humble, generous, genuine person. So from that standpoint, that's inspiring to us.

Who is your dream collaborator? 

Jordan: I think the obvious dream collaboration for us would be Keith Urban because that would bring it all back home. There's so many talented artists in Nashville, and Maren [Morris] was another massive inspiration for us.

What’s the story behind your debut single “Love That”?

Thompson: We wrote ‘Love That’ with two of our best friends in town now, which is really special because it's not only our first single at country radio, it's theirs as well. So we get to share that with Michael Whitworth and Daniel Ross. It was the early trips to Nashville and us just jumping around being stupid. We had this energy in the room, and I think that reflects in the song. It’s an upbeat, fun song about the early stages of a relationship when things are kind of up in the air. There's definitely a chase involved, and we wanted to make light of that.

Jordan: At the end of the day, we're best mates and we don't take ourselves too seriously. We want that to reflect not only on us as people, but also in our music as well. I think "Love That" is a perfect introduction for that right now.

What’s the most autobiographical song on your EP?

Jordan: "Taken Your Picture" is about taking something for granted that you didn’t realize was great at the time.

Thompson: You didn't really realize how important it is to you until you are separated from it. That is extremely relatable to our career and what we’re doing right now, but also to people in everyday relationships and remembering to call your mama and family as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about the music industry? 

Thompson: The [best] song always wins. Focus on getting the best songs you possibly can, because you can have the best voice or be the best guitar player or the most talented band, but at the end of the day if you don't have the music, that's what really drives it. We work on honing our craft and writing the best songs we possibly can.

Work as hard as you can writing, writing, writing basically. And be a good person. That's important. This town is about relationships and the community. You want to be known for being someone that is nice and good to be around.