Not so young but Will’s happy

Will Young tells MAR­ION McMULLEN he thought he would never make an­other al­bum... but Lex­i­con is the per­fect present to him­self

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HIT­TING a land­mark birth­day holds no wor­ries for Will Young and he laugh­ingly says: “I turned 40 in Jan­uary and I’m still cel­e­brat­ing. In fact, l’m plan­ning to cel­e­brate the whole year.”

A big part of his cel­e­bra­tions is the forth­com­ing re­lease of his sev­enth stu­dio al­bum, Lex­i­con, a string of sum­mer dates and a huge 21-date UK tour later this year.

“I didn’t think, to be hon­est, that I was ever go­ing to do this again. I just thought I’d prob­a­bly done my time. I was quite happy. I was busy do­ing the podcast Homo Sapi­ens, giv­ing men­tal health talks, writ­ing a book about men­tal health and I also wanted to try to be a psy­chother­a­pist.

“Dur­ing the last show I did, Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ball­room in the West End, I was work­ing with live mu­si­cians again and at the heart of my ex­pe­ri­ences is be­ing a mu­si­cian. I thought, ‘that’s what I want to do.’”

The re­sult is Lex­i­con, which is set for re­lease on June 14. It is the first time Will will re­lease a record via an in­de­pen­dent la­bel, Cook­ing Vinyl, and he has also recorded other peo­ple’s songs for the first time since his Fri­day’s Child al­bum in 2003. “It’s all based around hav­ing fun,” he ex­plains. “If it wasn’t fun then I wouldn’t do it. It’s all been a bril­liant sur­prise. It’s a lit­tle bit like not ex­pect­ing to have an­other re­la­tion­ship and then some­thing won­der­ful hap­pens and it’s the best re­la­tion­ship ever. I wasn’t re­ally ex­pect­ing to make an­other al­bum, but it’s been very calm and there’s been an ease.”

The idea for Lex­i­con came af­ter a pe­riod of per­sonal over­haul for Will fol­low­ing his early with­drawal from Strictly Come Danc­ing in 2016 as a re­sult of anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

An­other change is that, for the first time, Will has no man­age­ment. “And there has been zero stress,” he ex­plains, hap­pily. “I de­cided I didn’t need a man­age­ment com­pany. I don’t re­ally like au­thor­ity.

I’ve never been good with au­thor­ity.

My dad was al­ways self-em­ployed and I have al­ways been self-em­ployed. I’m not great if I feel there is some­one I have to an­swer to. I hold my hands up, I was prob­a­bly a nightmare to work with.”

This new­found sense of lib­er­a­tion has rein­vig­o­rated

Will’s love for pop mu­sic.

He re­united with the team be­hind his 2011 al­bum

Echoes, Richard X, Jim Eliot and Mima Stil­well, and has also been work­ing with Eg

White, Boy Matthews, Danny

Shah and Tom Walker.

“Echoes was, at the time, the zenith of my mu­sic, and it was the al­bum I had al­ways wanted to do,” Will ex­plains. “Jim and Mima and I al­ways used to talk about do­ing an Echoes 2.”

There will also be live dates this sum­mer, play­ing TV chef Tom Ker­ridge’s Pub In The Park events fol­lowed by a UK tour in Oc­to­ber.

Will has spent much of the last two decades at the fore­front of mu­sic af­ter win­ning ITV’s Pop Idol in 2002, aged 22. Six best­selling al­bums and two Brit Awards fol­lowed.

His act­ing ca­reer has also blos­somed, from movie Mrs Hen­der­son Presents to his ac­claimed stage role as the sleazy Em­cee in Cabaret.

Will’s podcast, which he presents with friend and film-maker Chris Sweeney has also proved a mas­sive suc­cess and has fea­tured in­ter­views with the likes of Sam Smith, Alan Cum­ming and Jeremy Cor­byn. Will and Chris pro­claim on the site: “We like to think of our­selves as Ra­dio 4’s Woman’s Hour for the LGBTQ+ au­di­ence.”

Will says: “The podcast started with just me and my best friend. There was no pres­sure, but it’s be­come big­ger than the sum of its parts. It’s great to speak to peo­ple. It breaks down the walls that peo­ple put up and it is as much about the feed­back as the in­ter­views.

“Mind you, it’s bl**dy hard work. It’s sur­pris­ing how tir­ing it can be in­ter­view­ing peo­ple... par­tic­u­larly for a live broad­cast.”

Mean­while, Will is look­ing for­ward to the fu­ture and per­form­ing his mu­sic again.

“It’s great be­ing 40. I feel calmer and re­ally good in my body and my­self. I look older and I don’t mind that. It’s the best place to be. Rather than try­ing to chase youth, I can say this is me now.

“All that mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and all that life ex­pe­ri­ence can go into my work and the new al­bum is a barom­e­ter of what I am at this stage. It’s very au­then­tic. “The al­bum is a way to cel­e­brate be­ing 40. I want to spend time with the peo­ple I love. Go­ing on tour with the band, my friends, is part of that.”

■ Tick­ets for the Oc­to­ber tour go on sale at 9am on Fri­day. Go to willy­oung.co.uk for more de­tails.

It’s great be­ing 40. I feel calmer and re­ally good in my body and my­self. Will’s feel­ing good

Will as Em­cee in Cabaret Will Young has over­come men­tal health is­sues to cre­ate his sev­enth al­bum

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