Catapulted to fame as the runner-up in the 2009 edition of Britain’s all conquering The X Factor, Olly Murs has enjoyed a dizzying ride since, bagging a No.1 debut single as well as a platinum-selling debut album and further top five UK success.
We enjoy a relaxed late night chat with Olly (he’s in his pyjamas and slippers no less) about his overwhelming journey in the 18 months since lil’ Joe McElderry stole his thunder at the final hurdle.
“I started X Factor in September 2009 and we’re now in 2011! It’s been a crazy, crazy time and it’s been an amazing 18 months since the show finished,” he says. “To be given the chance to put an album out from that show, to have had success and to have people really liking my music is a real pleasure. I’m very honoured, very happy.”
Given the increasing criticism directed towards television talent shows and the growing attempts by some to sabotage The X Factor voting in Britain, we ask if Olly was at all hesitant at entering.
“Not really, no,” he says with a refreshing honesty. “A lot of artists who have gone on to become massive superstars across the world haven’t come from a reality TV show. They’ve come from the ground level and have worked their way through the industry, so you can kind of understand that perspective on it. But for me personally, I think that what these reality TV shows do – and I’m talking from experience – is to give people the most amazing chance. And you have to be really lucky to get a chance from it, but just to get into the final twelve of the X Factor was a massive achievement for me and it’s really changed my life.”
Mentored by Simon Cowell as part of the show, Olly was almost eliminated at week seven after performing a version of ‘Fastlove’ by George Michael. But the judges instead put Jedward to the sword, allowing Olly to fight another day. And as part of the final three, he was given the chance to take the stage alongside two star performers.
“I’d watched Robbie Williams for years, but I now laugh and think about how someone that you’ve watched and idolised for so long all of a sudden becomes one of your mates overnight. We still keep in contact now, so it’s pretty incredible. To get to perform with Sir Paul McCartney on the show was pretty damned cool too. Things like that you just never forget,” he says.
He also tells us that he bears no grudge against the competition’s eventual winner Joe McElderry.
“Joe was the most consistent throughout the show and he deserved to win the competition,” he says. “He was great every week. He was just consistently really good and you couldn’t fault him for that.
“Don’t get me wrong, when I finished the X Factor, of course I was gutted. I was really upset that I lost, because no-one likes to lose anything. But I looked at it a day or two after and thought ‘you know what? Finishing second on the biggest TV show in the country isn’t something you can’t not be proud of.’ You’ve got to be proud of what an amazing achievement that is. There’s something like a quarter of a million people who apply to go on the X Factor, so to get into the final twelve was pretty amazing,” he says.
Now, after being picked up by Simon Cowell’s label Syco and his subsequent UK chart success, Olly’s turning his attention ever so slightly to Australia, where his debut single ‘Please Don’t Let Me Go’ is being used heavily to promote Australia’s No.1 television drama ‘Packed To The Rafters’.
“Honestly I can’t believe it. I wrote the song as a summery track and I actually thought about Australia,” he says. “I was over there for three months back in 2008. I don’t know the country that well, but I spent four weeks in Sydney overall and travelled up the east coast. It was probably the favourite place I’ve ever been and it really changed me as a person and gave me a better outlook on life, what I could do with it and what I could achieve. It was a place that I always wanted to come back to.
“When the single went to number one here (it beat Katy Perry to the No.1 spot, Olly innocently remarking, “It was nice to be on top of her for at least one week anyway.”), I was thinking ‘it would be so cool if Australia was playing it’, knowing full well that your summer season kicks off in December and goes through into January and February. And now with ‘Packed To The Rafters’ wanting to use it in the promo campaign for their new series… It’s all worked out really well, so I’m really proud.”
According to Olly, it’s also not the last that we’ll be hearing from him in the weeks and months ahead, with a local release for his debut album imminent.
“That is on the horizon for Australia definitely. It’s actually going to be really soon,” he teases. “I think it’s going to be sooner than you think as well. I’m not 100% sure what’s happening, but I think the movement on it is going to be quite quick. There’s another single that we released over here called ‘Thinking Of Me’ which is going to be out soon as well. It’s another feel-good summer reggae song, so hoping that will be a really cool hit as well.
“The album’s full of different things. It’s got lots of different influences on it, but it’s very me. I co-wrote ten of the tracks on the album and I’m really proud of it, so hopefully when you get hold of it you’ll like it as well,” he says.
Over in the UK, meanwhile, his new single ‘Heart On My Sleeve’, written by UK singer songwriter James Morrison, is set to drop at digital retail early next month, with a 30 date headline tour already locked away and a support slot on the upcoming JLS tour also confirmed.
“I literally went into the studio for the first time today with a couple of writers. My album’s only been out for seven or eight weeks over here, so we haven’t even started the tour yet and we’re only on the third single, but I’ve been straight into the studio today writing new material. We did a really cool track that I’m going to be finishing off tomorrow. So I’ve started again already.”
So no rest for the wicked then?
“No, no rest for the wicked,” he laughs. “And I like it like that. It was nice that the record label wanted me to crack on with some new stuff and keep it going. And that’s kind of the nature of the beast really – you want to keep the ball rolling because the X Factor really does churn people out quite quickly.
“I want to really try and establish myself in the UK industry quite quickly and to try and have longevity in my career. So if it means making an album every year, I’ll do it.”
OLLY’S DEBUT SINGLE ‘PLEASE DON’T LET ME GO’ IS AVAILABLE DIGITALLY NOW.
OLLY’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM IS CURRENTLY UNSCHEDULED.