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Singer song-writer Anthony ‘Aya’ Larkin returned to Australia last year with the debut solo album, Waking Dream, in his kit bag.

As the frontman of the successful Australian band, Skunkhour, Aya rose to prominence in the 90s with a number of songs featuring on Triple J’s hottest 100.

Working alongside fellow Australian and indie-pop guru, Andy Clockwise, the “skunk soul brother” from Bondi aims to deliver a different style of music, combining pop/ rock with soulful ballads.

“I wanted to make something different – an old, rock soul kind of music,” Mr Larkin said.

“I wanted to express how the last 7 years have been and give me an outlet to communicate some of the experiences I’ve had.”

Having taken his music abroad to Los Angeles in America, Mr Larkin had a hankering for a new challenge and pursued a solo career that would help him to carve out his own distinct sound. Like his nickname, Aya, the musician’s love for music was born out of his very own family household.

With his grandmother’s talents as a violinist for the Sydney orchestra and his grandfather’s performances in musicals in Western Australia, Larkin came from a family that was passionate about bringing music to the world.

“I was quite a musical fan on my mum’s side…and Dad had these really good tapes”, he said.

“As a young child, I grew up on Triple J and Countdown, and would religiously carry around a radio with me everywhere”.

As well as settling back into Bronte, Mr Larkin and friends opened Bucklers Canteen on Campbell Parade six months ago.

With a nadpicked jukebox, film nights, live music, vintage pinball and video games, they wanted a little home away from home.

Aya Larkin has also been involved in the R U OK? Day campaign, a not-for-profit organisation that was established by his brother, Gavin.

The initiative is aimed at reducing suicide by giving people the ability to stay connected with each other and encouraging them to have open conversations over issues of mental health, depression and suicide.

With the release of Waking Dream last month, Aya Larkin dedicated the song “Rusty Faith” to his father passing away, including the lyrics, “I wish you could have held on”.

Inspired by his struggles to come to terms with his father’s own suicide, Aya believes that the campaign will help others to overcome similar situations.

“It’s an emotional journey we all go through”, he said.

“It shows you how fortunate we are to be going through [the same] problems and making experiences.”

For Mr Larkin, there’s nothing like returning home and experiencing the cultural and musical vibrancy of Sydney.

“I love it back here…you go for 8 years and see just how dramatically things have changed. I think [social media is] still opening up a lot of opportunities for independent acts. The ability to record on a digital form and see great crowds rocking up – it’s an amazing feeling!”

The Waking Dream tour kicks off in Sydney with a show at Brass Monkey in Cronulla on April 15, followed by a show at The Vanguard in Newtown on Wednesday, April 18.

By Daniel Paperny