There was a time when ex-Australian Idol Guy Sebastian enjoyed the company of sexy pop stars in close quarters.
"I got to work with Beyonce, I got to sit on a couch with her butt pressed up against my leg for a whole day while we were filming The X Factor. During the break, I was like, 'So umm... whereabouts in New York do you and Jay live?' Small talk with Beyonce. She was really sweet," he says, referring to his stint as a judge and mentor on the Australian version of talent competition The X Factor from 2010 to 2012. R&B-pop diva Beyonce was a guest judge in the 2011 season.
Sebastian has come a long way since he won the inaugural Australian Idol season 11 years ago. For one thing, gone are the afro and chubby looks; the 32-year-old singer-songwriter now sports a close crop and a toned body.
More importantly, he tells Life! in a recent interview at Resorts World Sentosa that his music has changed since he became a father three years ago.
"My songs have drastically changed because you start to analyse the world that your children are going to inherit. Suddenly, the world is not about you and how it affects you, you start to see the world and how it affects them and you're responsible for them. I've never experienced love like that."
His wife, stylist Jules Egan, gave birth to their second son in April this year, making it even harder for him to travel for his music. He was in Singapore to film a live set for music series MTV Sessions, which will be aired on MTV Asia on July 18.
"The biggest challenge for me is travel, being away. Growing up, my dad, who was a geologist, was away for a month, home for two weeks. He was away half of the time. I love my dad, but I thought when I grow up, I'm not going to go away, I'm going to make sure I won't travel. And look what I'm doing, it's even worse."
To ensure he is not away from his family too much, the singer keeps his trips to a maximum of three weeks each time, and makes sure that he interacts with them via video call app FaceTime at least twice a day when he is away.
Besides the live show here - his first performance in Singapore - Sebastian says that the trip is also his way of reconnecting with his fans in Asia.
"It's been a while since I had an album and came here and played shows, so that's why I'm super excited about this MTV show because it really is almost a re-introduction. I get people asking me, 'What have you been doing all this time?', almost like I've been sitting on a beach and sipping martinis.
"I've been working very hard, I've done seven albums and been very lucky the last few years."
He was born in Malaysia to a father of Sri Lankan Tamil descent and an English mother, and his family moved to Australia when he was seven years old.
"If you told me when I was six years old living in Klang, eating nasi lemak and with my face covered in ice kacang, that I was going to have Oprah up on stage twice with her arm around me, dancing for an hour, I would have said you were crazy, get off the drugs," he says of being invited to sing at a concert the American TV mogul organised in Sydney.
Today, he holds the distinction of being Australia's best-selling solo male singer.
Two of his albums, his debut Just As I Am (2003) and his most recent, Armageddon (2012), have gone to No. 1 there, as have six singles including his Australian Idol-winning song Angels Brought Me Here (2003) and Battle Scars, a collaboration with popular American rapper Lupe Fiasco.
He is busy finishing up his latest album, slated to be released by the end of the year. A preview single, Like A Drum, was released late last year and peaked at No. 4 in Australia.
Of the rest of the album, he says: "There's definitely some soulful, folky, soul-country-folk that is produced in an EDM (electronic dance music) way, maybe four or five tracks like that and then there's a little bit of hip-hop and some ballads of course, I love ballads. There's a nice mix."
MTV Sessions: Guy Sebastian will air on MTV Asia (StarHub Channel 533 and mio TV Channel 350) on July 18 at 9pm with additional content at www.mtvasia.com/mtvsessions