MOUNT Helen twins Michael and Gabriel Saalfield have faced many challenges in their lives, but throughout them all, music has kept them strong.
Having lost their mother to breast cancer when they were eight and their father in a house fire when they were 11, the brothers and their siblings have faced their share of hardships.
“When our mother died we had to move around a lot and be in foster care,” Gabriel said.
“After two years of living in foster care we went to Mount Beauty to be closer to our dad. He couldn’t have us because he was an alcoholic, but our brothers and sisters were up there as well.
“He died after we got there and we continued living with foster parents until we were 18. Music was one of the only things that kept our family together and we are all super close because of it.
“Every time we would see each other we would start jamming and singing, and that brought us all closer during those hard times.”
This year, the twins’ duo act – called Royce, after their mother’s middle name – will appear on Channel 7’s The X Factor.
According to Michael, being a contestant on the reality show has been a highlight.
“I’ve loved it. It’s been a great experience meeting a whole heap of new people who are all really talented,” he said.
“Music has always been there for me. I’ve always loved to sing and play and whenever I’m feeling sad or happy I pick up my guitar and it makes me feel good.”
Gabriel and Michael are in their final year of studying sports science at the University of Ballarat, something they never thought they would achieve.
“Only two per cent of foster kids go to university and most end up on the streets, so going to university is definitely right up there as one of my biggest achievements,” Michael said.
“We managed to get to university because of the support of our friends, teachers and foster parents, who were a godsend,” Gabriel
Combine this with being contestants on The X Factor, and it’s clear that 2013 will be a good year for the siblings.
“Music is pretty expressive and it brings me closer to my mum because she was always blasting the tunes and dancing in the lounge room, so when I sing, there’s a part of her still with us.”
The X Factor will air from Monday, July 29. For more information, visit au.tv.yahoo.com/x-factor/