From negotiating with tribal elders as a diplomat in Afghanistan to touring Australia as a musician, Fred Smith has lived the double life.
Mr Smith spent two years as Australia's first diplomat at the Oruzgan province in Afghanistan, working as a bridge between the local tribal community and Australian soldiers.
"It's like nothing I'd ever experienced before," he said. "This is a place that has been traumatised by 30 years of war. You are always working through interpreters, talking to guys with beards and turbans in this fiercely competitive tribal environment."
Despite sharing a shipping container with seven soldiers in between 12-hour shifts, Mr Smith always made time and space for music, releasing an album titled Dust of Oruzgan.
"It was a combination of immersion and observation and I think all together that's a pretty good formula for a songwriter," he said at the MosArts Camelot Theatre in Mosman Park last week.
Last month, Mr Smith, who went to school in WA but now lives in Canberra, performed a set of original songs at a secret commemoration service held for family members of the 40 soldiers killed in Afghanistan at the multinational base Tarin Kowt.
Two days after returning to Australia, Mr Smith embarked on a national tour with singer and bassist Liz Frencham.
The WA leg of his tour finished at the weekend.