Obviously, it’s a long way from Darlinghurst to Nashville. Even further if you start from the outskirts of Melbourne and set out via London.

It’s taken years but now, finally, they’ve arrived. All divergent paths have led right here. Welcome to DARLINGHURST, and the release of their self-titled debut album.

DARLINGHURST are:

JASON RESCH — arguably the most successful Australian songwriter you’ve never heard of. With his modish mop and immaculate vintage suits, Jason initially looks more suited to The Rolling Stones in 1965 than a country outfit in 2021. But Jase has dedicated a big chunk of his young life to his love of country, having lived and worked in Nashville for years before recently resettling in his hometown of Melbourne.

CASSIE LEOPOLD and PAGAN NEWMAN — the ladies of DARLINGHURST who were a duo long before their powerful harmonies forged the foundation of this new quartet. Wait until you hear these voices together. Cass and Paigs: a force of nature, technically unrelated but inseparable sisters in life and song.

MATT DARVIDIS — the new kid on the block. A prodigious guitarist, the missing link.

It’s DARLINGHURST’s blissful four-part harmonies that hit you first. Next, you’re struck by the quality and depth of the songwriting. It’s on another level. World class.

How DARLINGHURST got to this point, the long journey to get here to the start, dates way back to the mid-2000s when Jason was still a teenager, dreaming of how to get out of school and play music for the rest of his life. When all of a sudden, like a fairytale storyline to a country rock musical, his high school band got talent-spotted and flown from Melbourne to London for a showcase in front of one of hottest producers in the world at the time, Brian Higgins. The producer passed on the band, but immediately saw something in Jason and invited the teenager back to England to join his in-house production team, Xenomania.

Jason’s first ever professional recording session was adding guitar lines to Gabriella Cilmi’s Sweet About Me, one of the biggest global hits of 2008 and winner of the ARIA Award for Single of the Year. Soon after, Jason’s first songwriting session at Xenomania produced a song called The Promise which became a massive UK number one for the label’s premier pop band, Girls Aloud, and went on to win Best British

Single at the 2009 Brit Awards. This all happened within the first few months of Jason leaving school.

Jason stayed with Xenomania for almost four years writing and playing on tracks for artists such as Kylie Minogue, Pet Shop Boys and countless others.

With all that success as an international hit maker and session player, Jase decided it was time to pursue his true musical vision and headed for the US, first to LA and then his ultimate destination, Nashville.

Meanwhile back at home, Cassie and Pagan were also paying their musical dues. Separately, they’d both started writing and performing as children and each had spent time overseas pursuing their artistic dreams. The pair eventually met about a decade ago, singing in a tribute band together. The band was big business, constantly playing live around Australia, but after four years of life on the road, the girls decided they needed to strike out on their own and get back to chasing their own musical dreams.

And here’s where destinies start to intertwine and where DARLINGHURST’s lynch pin comes into play: the gravitational core of the outfit, its unofficial fifth member, producer Pete Dacy who has a long-earned reputation for nurturing a generation of local talent around Melbourne. They’ve also been the driving force behind some massive acts along the way, including the multi-platinum Taxiride and chart-toppers The Androids.

“Pete is a very selfless man,” says Jason. “He’s very kind to be around. When I said I was coming back, we were very excited about the prospect of working together. He brought to fruition the whole concept of Darlinghurst.”

It was Cassie who had first met Pete in what now feels like a lifetime ago, when she was a teenager in a girl-band recording demos at Secret Sound. Similar to Jase’s experience in London at almost exactly the same time, the band didn’t survive but the producer saw something special in Cass and she became a regular session singer on Pete’s recordings.

Jump forward to about three years ago when Cassie and Pagan decided it was time to start recording their own original country songs, the first person they called was Pete. Serendipitously, Pete told the girls he’d just recently met this incredible songwriter who was about to relocate back to Melbourne after years in Nashville …

Initially, the idea was that Jase would help the girls write some songs for their duo. But as soon as they met, as soon as the three of them started singing together, everyone felt the magic.

Cassie recalls the moment: “I remember walking out and saying to Pagan, ‘This is it, this is the one that’s going to happen!’ I had this feeling from the start. This is going to happen, I can just feel it.”

So the country duo became a trio and by last year had amassed a collection of some thirty original songs.

They began the process of selecting a debut album worth of tracks when at this final hour, only December last year, their mentor Pete made a radical suggestion – DARLINGHURST should be a quartet. And he might know just the right guy.

Guitarist Matt Darvidis had also first met Pete when he was a teenager – Matt’s mum was recording an album with Pete, which Matt played on. They kept in touch and Matt even did work experience at the studio while he was still at high school. But he hadn’t spoken to Pete in over two years when the producer called him late last year and said: “You still playing music? I think there’s this band you might be interested in.” Matt went into Secret Sound and listened to what the trio had so far. “It was really something I couldn’t say no to,” says Matt. “The songs were incredible. And I felt I could add something.”

Which brings us up to here, right now. DARLINGHURST has arrived.

DARLINGHURST’s self-titled debut album was produced by Pete Dacy and Jason Resch and recorded at Secret Sound Studios in Melbourne. Grammy winner Jack Joesph Puig was given the task to mix the 12 songs.

DARLINGHURST have created a fresh sound in the Australian country sphere that’s as accessible as it is unique. Grounded in refined song writing, a keen ear for melody, relatable lyricism and exceptional performances, the band has a broad appeal that has been reflected in the success of DARLINGHURST’s releases to date. Over the past two years DARLINGHURST has released six songs landing in the Top 5 of the Music Network Countrytown HOT 50 chart. Four of the six – Sorry Won’t Get You Back, Gotta Go Rodeo, Where Do We Go and the recent Unfaithful have all climbed to the coveted #1 position.

Where DARLINGHURST goes from here is anyone’s guess, but Jase, Cass, Pagan and Matt know exactly where they hope this will all lead. “The dream is to get to Nashville,” says Pagan.