Ole for Olly Murs
PUBLISHED: 18:08 23 March 2015 | UPDATED: 11:54 24 March 2015
Six years on from his rise to stardom via The X Factor, Witham's Olly Murs has seen his star continue to rise. Holly Eells went to meet the Essex boy everyone loves to love
SINCE rising to fame after finishing as the runner-up in the sixth series of The X Factor in 2009, Witham-born Olly Murs has become one of pop music’s biggest and most-loved stars. The loveable Essex boy can boast an incredible CV of record-selling success including number one hits, chart-topping platinum albums, stints as a presenter and an army of fans.
Talking about his sensational career, Olly maintains a sense of where he has come from. ‘I am very lucky to have an amazing fan base and such loyal support,’ he says. ‘I think it is always about keeping the music good, consistent and what the audience likes to hear. I think that is probably why I am still around, because of all the supportive fans. I really can’t complain. Everyone has got behind me with my music and what I want to do. Coming from The X Factor, I have been fortunate enough to maintain my career. I think I have proven people wrong in that sense, as I am still around, going strong and always working hard.’
Olly has spent most of this year in the USA and three months ago he released his acclaimed fourth album Never Been Better in the UK, which has dominated the UK charts. Since then he has sold over one million copies of his new music, becoming quite the record breaker.
Still a mainstay in the top ten, Never Been Better has sold more than 500,000 copies while his first single, Wrapped Up featuring Travie McCoy, as well as Up featuring Demi Lovato, have collectively sold well over 500,000 copies too. The success of this new album is a big accomplishment for the star and it features a set of songs that mix the immediately identifiable with the impact of the new.
‘So this is me, two years on, and I think the new record reflects that,’ says Olly. ‘I think this album is my “I mean it” album. It’s time to come out of my shell and get a bit more serious. With every album, you take more risks.’
For the new album, Olly stuck with what he calls ‘the backbone’, working as before with Steve Robson, Claude Kelly and Wayne Hector. He also looked further afield, collaborating with Ryan Tedder on the song Seasons. But a chance encounter at this year’s Teenage Cancer Trust concerts at the Royal Albert Hall led to Olly’s most surprising collaboration yet. The Modfather, Paul Weller, approached him backstage and told him how much he admired Olly’s cover of his seminal solo track, Broken Stones. Casually, he asked Olly if he was working on a new album. ‘Yes’, replied Olly. And when Paul added: ‘I’d love to write a song with you,’ the deal was done. ‘It’s a story I know I’m going to still be telling when I’m 65,’ adds Olly with a smile.
Alongside big hit record sales, Olly has also sold more than 240,000 tickets for his forthcoming UK tour with many dates already sold out. The tour kicks off on March 31 at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena, with four shows at London’s 02 Arena and finishing on May 9 at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
‘I really want people to come down and enjoy the night,’ says Olly. ‘It will be such a good laugh and it is one of the biggest shows I have ever done. The budget on this tour has doubled and I just can’t wait for people to come down and have fun. So come and support an Essex boy on tour!’
On the subject of tours, Olly continues: ‘I really love being on the road, seeing new countries and places to go. Also meeting new fans and hearing your music being played in places like New York, LA and Tokyo is amazing. However, you do miss your friends and family, which can be the downside of being away so much, but that’s part of my job and it is the way it is.’
He already has many other achievements and ambitions ticked off from his list, including working with the Modfather on his latest album and setting the fastest lap in the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car challenge around the Top Gear test track last month.
However, he is also looking for new challenges, for his own creative fulfilment.
‘Getting my first number one back in 2010, that was the beginning. In the future, I would like to get back in to presenting again, but I am enjoying making and writing music. I would love to do a dance track, maybe with someone from Stigma, Rudimental or Calvin Harris; that would be really cool and it is something different to what I have done before. Acting would be nice too, but I think at the moment I will stick to the music, so let’s see what happens.’
Despite his momentous achievements, Essex will always be the place Olly comes back to. ‘I love the accent and the people. I have never lived anywhere else, so I don’t know what other areas are like, but obviously Essex is a great place and everyone is lovely. I really had a great time growing up and living in Witham. I had a good upbringing there.
‘Now you might find me in Chelmsford on a Saturday night, at Faces in Gants Hill, in Billericay, at Nu Bar in Loughton, at the Ivory Rooms or the Sugar Hut. There is always a great variety of places to go and Colchester is always fun for a night out as well.’
Owing to his hectic schedule, Olly goes on to explain the value of making time for himself. ‘I believe it is important for me to feel I have a social life, so I am able to see my friends and family. Time at home is important and keeps you sane. I also make sure I have fun with the lads too!’
Despite his meteoric rise to fame, Olly has proved to be a rare breed in the pop industry by managing to retain his down to earth nature. He adds: ‘It is important for me to keep level headed and grounded, and I definitely don’t see myself as a heartthrob.’
Ironically, that is quite possibly why he has become just that.