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truly talented
post May 25 2015, 06:45 AM
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Music Interview
Will Young interview: "There is some anger in this record"
By Lewis Corner
Monday, May 25 2015, 00:01 BST

Since being crowned the original Pop Idol back in 2002, Will Young has exceeded all expectations. More than just another packaged-up popstar, Young has become one of the UK's most loved and respected artists.

His sixth studio album 85% Proof has seen him switch management and record companies, while continuing to explore new sounds and ideas.

Digital Spy caught up with Will to talk about his new music, his big career decisions, and why he didn't record a straight continuation of his last album Echoes.

So, a new album and a new record label...
"And new management."

And new management! Why did you feel it was the right time to switch all that up at this point in your career?
"I finished my album deal with Sony, and I knew that Island were interested for quite a while, and I thought, 'I can't say no to Island Records'. It was like a relationship. I had an amazing time with Sony, and felt like the relationship had maybe gotten a bit tired. They had so many changes there. But my quality didn't change. And I felt like it was time to change from 19 [management], because they didn't have much music, and in fact, I was the only music act there. Faye, my manager there at 19, we both said, 'Let's go to Island'. I knew what they'd done with Robbie [Williams], I knew what they've done with Sia, and then Passenger was coming up. I met them and just thought, 'This is awesome! Why would I not want to come with you guys? Your office is in an old garage.' It's really cool."

Was there ever a moment when you thought, 'Oh, should I really do this?' considering Sony and XIX were there from day one, when you were new to the industry?
"No, there wasn't because, I think - you know when you get to the end of a relationship, and then you know it's time to leave that relationship, without any bitterness? - I was like, 'Let's end it here', which I'm pleased it was like that, because it wasn't reactionary at all. Also, it's great to go, having had a really good record with both of them, so it wasn't like things had gone horribly wrong, and I was scrabbling for a deal."

You've been sitting on this new music for quite a while. Has that been difficult?
"Yeah, a little bit. I'm in a better place now. And I was a little bit scared, as well. Because I can't really do anything about it now. Bollocks."

Why was the decision made to wait?
"It wasn't a decision of 'we will wait', it was more that we didn't want to rush things there's no point rushing things, and often things are. Whereas everything's already been set up, I've already made two videos and the album isn't out yet and one of them isn't even for a single. And I'm about to make another video.

"It's quite good when you're one step ahead instead of one step behind. You can react to stuff quicker. Otherwise, it's like, 'We've got these proofs in, we need to approve them now', and I'd always get really annoyed, because I'd be like, 'What? I've just seen them!' Why would you give me a deadline if I've only just seen them? I don't have a choice! So there's been none of that. And it's been quite relaxed. Now I'm a bit like, 'Come on, let's go'."

Because Echoes was so successful were you tempted to follow the same formula and do a continuation of that record?
"Yeah, I was, kind of. And then I got in with Jim [Eliot] and Mima [Stilwell], who did Echoes, and I thought, 'We'll just see what happens'. I think, with Echoes, I had a really clear idea of what I wanted to do, I got with them and was like, 'This is it. This is what we're going to do now, because you guys are incredible'. We just clicked, which is quite rare, I think, and that's a really special thing, to click with someone creatively and as friends.

"With this one, I didn't really know what I wanted to do, because I'd done it. So I didn't know whether I was going to do the same, and then all these different songs started to come out. I was loving them, I am loving them, so I just thought, 'Okay, this is going to be the record'. It's almost like - I met a playwright, and she's a typist, and I said, 'How do you write a play?' and she said, 'Oh, I'm just a typist, I just do it'. It's the same with albums, and singing, and song writing. I don't overthink it. I just do what's happening that day."

Will Young press shot 2015.

So you're saying you felt it more than you thought about it?
"Yes - exactly that. And I think it's a lovely way of working. It's the same in acting, actually. I did a part in Cabaret and I didn't really think about it. Deliberately. Because otherwise I get in a complete muddle. I prefer to just get on. I'm much more of a 'let's just do it' kind of way."

'Love Revolution' and 'Like A River' are quite different in sounds. Are they the polar opposites on the record and everything else just slots in between?
"I think they kind of are, actually. There are some amazing songs on the deluxe edition. I was just listening through. It is quite an eclectic record. It's so hard to describe stuff that I've done, because there is no thought. There wasn't, 'I'm going to write a song, and this is going to be a Dylan-esque song'. It's literally just, 'Okay, let's write this song'. It's so much easier when other people hear it and then pick out quotes and I steal them and then say, 'Oh yeah, this is a reference to Kate Bush'.

"But I think lyrically, there is definitely an illusion to it. A lot of it is about releasing stuff, a lot of it is more inclusive. I think a lot of my other stuff has been quite internalised, and I don't fill in that space so much, so I didn't pressure songs in that way. And also, I think they're quite - there's some anger in the record, 'Like A River' is a bit dark. I just feel so much more relaxed in myself. That's part of doing a lot of other stuff between records. I'm more observant of the world, whereas before I've been more internalised as a songwriter and singer."

One of my favourite tracks off the last album is 'I Just Want A Lover', but on this album there's one that's called 'I Don't Need A Lover', so what's happened Will?
"I know - my therapist would have a field day! He'd be like, 'Oh my god, you want to stop shagging around and get married?' That was the only song I didn't write - it got sent. Originally, I didn't think I was going to write the record. I think I'd just written too much and was saying to my manager, 'I'm just going to do what other people do and not write it - this is so much easier. Look at Rihanna! Look at what she does.' Then when the songs started coming in I thought, 'I can do better than that'. But this one song did stand out, and it's really lovely.

"But yes, obviously things have changed. 'I Just Want A Lover' was literally me just feeling very horny that day and maybe had a little black book of friends... But this song has come in which is so different, and I suppose maybe I am a different person. It's sort of the only ballad on the album, but it's an unashamed ballad. A proper pop ballad all the way."

The album titled 85% Proof comes from a strong type of alcohol called Moonshine right?
"When they brewed it they wouldn't know how strong it was, so the only way they could tell was by drinking it, which at that level they got s**t-faced. I thought it was interesting that with listening to music, I don't know how good something is [until I try it], so it's like a fermentation process. It has to be tasted to be able to tell. It just caught my imagination, and I hate all of my album titles. Apart from Echoes actually, oh and I like Friday's Child, but the rest sound like self help books. I just thought, 'Oh God here we go again - what am I going to say this time?' Then my brother sort of said, 'Well what about this?'

I suppose you kind of hope your fans get s**t-faced off your album when they try it?
"Basically, yeah!"

Will Young's new album 85% Proof is out now in the UK.

This post has been edited by truly talented: May 25 2015, 06:52 AM
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