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
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