Peo­ple think of me as a bit of a party an­i­mal, but I’m a grafter

For­mer X Fac­tor star and pop favourite Olly Murs re­cently re­leased his sixth al­bum. He talks to LUCY MAPSTONE about why he feels he has lasted in the in­dus­try for so long, how he writes his own mu­sic and why he never wants tal­ent show The X Fac­tor to end

Hinckley Times - - THE GUIDE -

OLLY Murs has just been asked: how have you man­aged to last for so long when so many of your X Fac­tor peers have van­ished into thin air?

It’s clearly not an easy one for Olly, who has not a single ar­ro­gant bone in his body. Hav­ing to pick apart the rea­sons for his suc­cess over oth­ers is some­what tricky.

“I think it’s just luck,” he says, hav­ing mulled it over for a short while.

“Lis­ten, I don’t want to sit here and say it’s be­cause of this or be­cause of that. I gen­uinely think it’s just luck.

“I never thought I’d have the ca­reer that I’ve had. I never re­ally fo­cus on any­one but my­self. I wasn’t look­ing at Joe McElderry or Stacey Solomon or any­one else on The X Fac­tor. I was just like, ‘How can I make a dent in this in­dus­try? How can I have a num­ber one record?’ Also, it was hav­ing the right songs at the right time.

“Some­times you have that mo­ment in the mar­ket where the door opens, and I took that op­por­tu­nity with both hands.”

Take it with both hands he did, and now, nearly a decade af­ter com­ing sec­ond be­hind the now lesser-seen McElderry in 2009’s The X Fac­tor, Olly is among the most en­dur­ing of all those who ever went through that process, along with the likes of One Di­rec­tion and Lit­tle Mix.

He has so far scored four num­ber one al­bums, plenty of chart-top­ping and top 10 sin­gles – and six Brit Award nom­i­na­tions. He has landed a num­ber of other im­pres­sive jobs, in­clud­ing pre­sent­ing X Fac­tor’s spin-off show The Xtra Fac­tor be­fore be­ing bumped up to present the main show, and he is now a coach on The Voice along­side Sir Tom Jones, Jen­nifer Hud­son and Will.i.am.

It’s fair to say things have gone ex­ceed­ingly well for that unas­sum­ing Es­sex lad who won the na­tion’s hearts aged 25 with his cheeky at­ti­tude, quirky fe­dora and poppy dance moves. Not only has he done well for some­body who rose to fame on a re­al­ity TV show, but he’s done well for any artist.

“When you come from a re­al­ity TV show, you don’t re­alise at first the stigma be­hind that, es­pe­cially within the mu­sic in­dus­try,” Olly, now 34, notes.

“You def­i­nitely face more bat­tles. But I’ve come out the other side. When I came off X Fac­tor, the life­span I was given wasn’t long. So I said, ‘I’ll prove them wrong’, and I did.”

Olly did it by re­leas­ing feel­good hit af­ter feel­good hit.

He also did it by work­ing harder than most peo­ple per­haps re­alise.

“I think I’m prob­a­bly looked upon as a bit of a party an­i­mal, some­one al­ways hav­ing a good time, but I pick my time and my place to be that guy,” Olly ex­plains.

“Peo­ple don’t see the hard­work­ing, pro­fes­sional per­son that I am.

“They see the cheeky chap­pie on stage dancing, be­ing a bit of a free spirit, but I’m re­ally just a hard­work­ing lad from Es­sex who’s still graft­ing ev­ery day to earn a liv­ing.”

Does it bother him, at all, that the wider pop­u­la­tion may not even be aware of how in­volved he re­ally is in his mu­sic, par­tic­u­larly given his start­ing point in the in­dus­try?

“Maybe be­cause I don’t sit be­hind a pi­ano or play a gui­tar, or maybe be­cause I’ve come from The X Fac­tor, peo­ple pre­sume you’re a karaoke singer...” he starts.

“I mean, I still get asked now if I write my own songs. Of course I do! I write all my songs, from the first al­bum to this one,” he adds, re­fer­ring to his lat­est re­lease, sixth al­bum You Know I Know, a com­bi­na­tion of his great­est hits and new mu­sic.

“Dance With Me Tonight and Trou­ble­maker are my two big­gest records and I co-wrote them.” For all his high mo­ments, in­clud­ing work­ing with Nile Rodgers on his new record, Olly is also hon­est about one of his low­est.

He was sav­aged for his stint host­ing The X Fac­tor back in 2015 along­side Caro­line Flack.

They were picked apart pretty much daily in the tabloids and by view­ers on Twit­ter, and things only got worse when Olly mis­tak­enly told a con­tes­tant she was elim­i­nated be­fore the re­sult was of­fi­cially an­nounced, and the neg­a­tiv­ity hit him very hard later.

“It wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily the ex­pe­ri­ence of host­ing it at the time, it didn’t af­fect me un­til af­ter. I’d kind of moved on, but then the doubts and the anx­i­ety all came a year later,” he ad­mits.

Olly says it nearly af­fected him ac­cept­ing The Voice, be­cause “all of a sud­den, the doubt came in and I started ques­tion­ing my­self”.

He said that, af­ter hav­ing an “amaz­ing cou­ple of ses­sions with a lovely lady”, he was able to work through his is­sues and has come out the other side. He’s back on track.

Now fully at ease on The Voice, he will ap­pear in his sec­ond se­ries next year. But what does he think of the show that ac­tu­ally made him fa­mous? Sure, he’s a fully paid-up mem­ber of The Voice club now, and The X Fac­tor seems to be fall­ing out of favour with view­ers, the num­bers dwin­dling by the episode.

It’s im­pos­si­ble not to ask one of its big­gest suc­cess sto­ries if he thinks it’s time for The X Fac­tor to bid farewell.

“I would hate The X Fac­tor not to be on TV,” he re­sponds.

“It’s hard for me to be crit­i­cal of any show, be­cause X Fac­tor has such a big place in my heart. Deep down, if it wasn’t on any­more, we’d all miss it.

“I love the show and, even though I’m on a ri­val show now, we’re on at a dif­fer­ent time of year and we’ll never be in that X Fac­tor slot.

“On The Voice, we’re so happy, it’s go­ing re­ally well and we just need to make sure we’re get­ting the tal­ent through.”

He fin­ishes: “I’ve seen what it’s done to my life, and if it can help change some­one else’s, then that’s amaz­ing.

“That’s what it’s all about.”

Olly Murs plays Re­sorts World Arena at the NEC on May 10 and 11.

Olly Murs and his new al­bum, You Know I Know, be­low

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