From X Factor runner up to one of the most-loved faces in Britain – Olly Murs is living the dream. We caught up with the hardest-working man in the world of pop…
When Olly Murs came runner up in 2009’s X Factor, many thought it’d be the last we’d see of the tight-trousered cheeky chappy from Essex. But boy, did he prove us wrong.
Today, the loveable crooner has sold 5 million records worldwide, topped the album charts, presented one of the biggest shows on TV, sold out arenas and had teenage girls in their millions swooning at his feet. Not bad for a former call centre worker and Deal or No Deal contestant.
It’s safe to say that Olly’s living the dream – and there’s a lot more cash in his bank than the tenner the Banker gave him back in 2007! But success hasn’t come easy – Olly’s worked his socks off to get there. Last year, he was named the hardest-working solo artist in the business, with Louis Walsh praising his “incredible work ethic”.
Olly took a break from promo in the States to tell Source more about his meteoric rise to the top…
You’re usually incredibly busy. Where are you working right now?
You’re right! Well, I’m in Miami, working really hard on promoting the record. The single Troublemaker was released over Christmas but it’s completely different over here – it’s a long time before songs actually get into the charts, it’s like a building process. But it’s all been going really well, we’ve had a good, solid three weeks in America and I’m very positive. It’s seems like Troublemaker is going to be a hit over here, which is exciting. And my “debut” album in America will be Right Here, Right Now – which is great because, well, it has the best songs on it!
How do you keep an arena crowd happy when there’s just one of you?
Well, I think if someone’s bought a ticket to come and watch you perform they’re already in some ways a fan of your music, they’ve heard the songs. Actually, it’s not too bad now because I’ve had three successful albums out. When I was touring the first record, I had a 47-minute album that had to fill an 80-minute show! It was tough. But now I can pack it with songs that fans really love, that will get everyone up and dancing, that will engage. I’m an entertainer and a performer – and I admire the likes of Justin Timberlake, Michael Buble, Robbie Williams: all solo artists who can hold a crowd in the palm of their hands. It’s about having good music and a great band behind you – and I have. I think people know that it’ll be a fun show, we’ll have a good laugh and I’ll connect with them. Have a good time.
You mentioned Robbie Williams. You must be looking forward to the summer dates with him.
Absolutely. It’s going to be massive for me, I’ve never done stadiums before and it was amazing to be asked. Robbie’s been so complimentary about my career so far and I can’t wait to perform in front of 50,000 people. In fact it’s going to be up to 80,000 in some places. Incredible!
So as you say, you’ve put out three albums in two years. How hard is it to keep that kind of pace going and stay excited and enthused? Aren’t you knackered?!
Not really. We all work for a living, don’t we? Most people do nine to five, and get four weeks holiday a year, so it’s not so different to anyone else. There’s times when I want a break and there’s times where I want to work really hard. Performing is mentally and physically tiring, but isn’t every job? We all have stresses and problems every day. There are good days and bad, and when you’re touring you are trying to look after your voice and how you feel physically. But it’s mind over matter really.
As for Right Place, Right Time, how does it reflect what stage you’re at in your career?
Well, it’s my best album, full stop. Not just in terms of sales, but the music is better, it’s more mature, it’s broadening my fanbase… I think even guys are liking my music now! My career is evolving – the writing has got better, the production is better, and it sounds distinct musically from the first two albums.
The new single is Army Of Two. Can you talk us through that song?
I did it with Future Cut, and I wanted to write a song for my fans. That’s what Army Of Two is meant to mean – it’s about me and them. Although it can be about any relationship between your family, or your friends. It’s a fantastic, feel good song and it just feels so anthemic – I love it.
And of course there’s your work on The Xtra Factor. Can you tell us once and for all what you’re going to do about that?
First of all, I love The X Factor. It’s been brilliant to me; it’s changed my life and given me such a great opportunity to jump into television as well as music. And I’ve so enjoyed working on the show for the last two years, too. There’s been nothing said that I won’t be doing that again, it’s just that it’s impossible to know what my schedule will be like this year. I would say it’s unlikely, but last year I didn’t do auditions or boot camp and I turned up for live shows. That’s something that could potentially happen again. We’ll have to wait and see.
So, seeing as you’re in Florida, have you actually met Flo Rida yet, who guests on Troublemaker?
Haha! No, I haven’t yet, but I hope to in the next six months. I’m really proud of the song we’ve done with him, but it hasn’t been possible to meet up for a drink or something seeing as we work so far away from each other. There’s too much going on. But it doesn’t matter too much – it was a great collaboration that really worked, and that’s all that matters really.
Olly’s latest single Army Of Two is out now.
Source magazine, Spring 2013