Will you be the judge

He’s The Voice’s new sen­sa­tion, res­i­dent com­puter geek and bril­liant mu­si­cal pro­fes­sor. Holly Byrnes meets will. i. am

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

ASK self- con­fessed com­puter geek will. i. am if there’s a for­mula to win­ning The Voice, or a code to mak­ing it big in the mu­sic busi­ness, and his an­a­lyt­i­cal brain al­most au­di­bly whirrs into ac­tion.

Eyes dart­ing, his hands folded to­gether, he plots his an­swer care­fully.

Pick­ing win­ners, like pen­ning hit songs, is all about “pat­tern match­ing”, the Black Eyed Peas singer says.

“I like analysing what works and what doesn’t work. The rea­son why the Peas have been suc­cess­ful and why I’ve had suc­cess out­side the Peas is that an­a­lyt­i­cal mind. See­ing what works in this coun­try ver­sus what works in an­other coun­try. Find­ing the com­mon­al­ity or the void in cul­ture and ei­ther fi lling it or pat­tern match­ing.”

His sci­en­tifi c ap­proach to this year’s se­ries has al­ready made the new US re­cruit fas­ci­nat­ing to watch.

If Ricky Martin was the mata­dor last year, then this year’s Voice fans have warmed to Pro­fes­sor will. i. am, the mad sci­en­tist, who bub­bles like a chem­istry ex­per­i­ment ev­ery time a con­tes­tant ex­cites him enough to turn his chair.

Never was this more in­fec­tious than in his child- like re­ac­tion to Emily Rex’s per­for­mance of the Willy Wonka theme song, Pure Imag­i­na­tion, last Mon­day night. The Pro­fes­sor was fi zzing as he en­thused it is “my favourite song in the whole en­tire freak­ing world”.

When that con­nec­tion be­tween coach and artist fails, the Pro­fes­sor breaks down what went wrong in a way which would be an ed­u­ca­tion to not only the singer but also the au­di­ence.

In fi lm­ing breaks, his hy­per- ac­tiv­ity continues, ab­sorbed in the mul­ti­ple gad­gets he totes around with him on stage in an as­tro­nomic back­pack.

While he might not win plau­dits for his own voice, it’s will. i. am’s mu­si­cal ge­nius and abil­ity to crack the code of what works – and what doesn’t – which should con­tinue to earn him re­spect.

He knows that’s his strength, play­ing up his pro­duc­ing cre­den­tials which in­clude Brit­ney Spears, Justin Bieber and his Peas co­hort, Fergie.

“All the other coaches get pro­duced. No dis­re­spect or tak­ing away from the other coaches, but when I sit there and have my back turned that’s ex­actly what it’s like when I’m pro­duc­ing people,” he says.

“When I’m in the booth with them, I’m just lis­ten­ing to fi nd what’s miss­ing to fi nd the magic in the song.”

The ap­peal of join­ing the UK and Aus­tralian Voice, “in my opin­ion, is a mi­cro­cosm of the mu­sic in­dus­try. That’s ex­actly how it works, so the coach is kind of like your A& R ( artist and reper­toire) … and The Voice is a great fi shing pond, if you will, to fi nd artists”, he says.

In re­sponse to the show’s hit- and- miss track record for sus­tain­ing mu­sic ca­reers, he adds: “If you can work around the pol­i­tics and get out of that lit­tle web, maybe these con­tenders have a shot at a ca­reer.”

The Voice is a great fi shing pond, if you will, to fi nd artists

He has stood by his Team Will charge from last year’s UK se­ries, Leah McFall, in­tro­duc­ing her to heavy- hit­ters on the Grammy com­mit­tee and con­nect­ing her with key song­writ­ers.

With­out the right tracks af­ter the show, win­ning The Voice “is like giv­ing some­body that has no money a big- a-- house and they have no abil­ity to pay that freak­ing tax. That’s like the worst thing. The things you need are songs.

“I took Leah on tour with me in the UK and Europe, con­nected her with all the Grammy folks then I set up ses­sions with all the top writ­ers. I want to do the same for some­body else here.”

How does the Pro­fes­sor rate the singers here so far? “The frick­ing singers here are men­tal banana, yes, yes, yes. com.”

THE VOICE AUS­TRALIA

SUN­DAY, 6.30PM, AND MON­DAY, TUES­DAY, 7.30PM, WIN

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