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Reality TV Interview

Olly Murs

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Olly Murs
Happy of feet, behatted of head and prominent of packet, Olly Murs was one of the stars of last year's X Factor, only finishing second to Geordie cutie Joe McElderry. Having signed a joint deal between Epic Records and Simon Cowell's Syco Music earlier this year, the Essex lad's been beavering away in the recording studio with a platoon of proven hitmakers, and he's now ready to release his debut single - a summery-as-strawberry-sorbet reggae-pop tune called 'Please Don't Let Me Go'. Keen to find out more, we met up with with Mr M for a catch-up.

What's the story behind 'Please Don't Let Me Go'?
"It's about someone I was sort of seeing - it wasn't a major relationship, but I genuinely felt something for her. Every time I met her my heart beat double-time and I just wanted her to give me a sign! Sadly she kept giving me the impression that she didn't like me as much, and ultimately it didn't work out, so that's where the idea of me singing 'Please Don't Let Me Go' came from."

You co-wrote the song with Steve Robson, who's worked with everyone from Lily Allen to Take That, and Claude Kelly, who's written hits for Britney and Kelly Clarkson. Was it intimidating heading into the studio with such established hitmakers?
"Of course! I felt really daunted, but it was also a massive learning experience for me. The list of artists they've worked with... wow! When you look them up on Wikipedia, it's just incredible! At the end of the day though they're just normal people. Before we started to write, we sat down and had a real good chat about The X Factor, the songs I'd sung on the show and the sort of stuff I wanted to sing now. That really helped to break the ice."

What's the reaction to the single been like?
"The reaction's been great. I wanted to do something different from what I did on The X Factor. Everyone saw that I could dance on the show, even if some people said I was a 'silly dancer', so I wanted to come out with something where I wasn't dancing in the video. I wanted to make it all about the song and I wanted to do something summery - and what better sound for the summer than a reggae sound? It would have been easy for me to bring out a real cheesy pop song, but 'Please Don't Let Me Go' isn't your typical X Factor single and it's a grower not a shower."

Is it a good introduction to the album?
"It is. There are a few songs on the album similar to 'Please Don't Let Me Go', but then there are ballads too and I've tried to give it variety. I think that's important. Sometimes you get an album that's the same all the way through and you kind of get bored after four or five songs. I'm really excited for people to hear it actually. I'm going to release another single after 'Please Don't Let Me Go' and then the album will come out in November."

Is it all finished?
"Yup, all finished! The tracks are just being mastered now actually. We've got ten confirmed tracks that everyone really likes, and there's probably another seven or eight tracks that we're not quite sure about yet. I went into the studio earlier this week actually just to tweak a few songs that I think could potentially make it onto the album as well."

Of those ten confirmed tracks, how many did you help to write?
"Two songs were given to me late in the process - two big ballads - that I just couldn't turn down because they're so amazing, but apart from that I co-wrote pretty much everything. I worked with Roy from Scouting For Girls, a guy called Phil Thornalley who's written with Pixie Lott, Martin Brammer, Eg White, Steve Mac, Wayne Hector... loads of great people! Oh, and I did a really good song with Preston from Ordinary Boys and Mark Taylor. How many people get to work with writers and producers like that? The X Factor has given me such an incredible opportunity."

Which of your fellow X Factor contestants have you stayed in touch with?
"I've lost contact with a few of them, but I've spent a lot of time with Stacey, Joe, Rachel, Lucie, Jamie Afro and Dan. Whenever I see any of them, we always have a real laugh together because at the end of the day we shared such an amazing experience. Last year's X Factor was the biggest ever so we've set the benchmark pretty high! I'm sure this year's going to be amazing though - I've heard rumours that some of the acts are just incredible."

Do you think the show will suffer from the lack of Dannii early on?
"Oh definitely - and from the lack of Cheryl later on too. When Louis had to miss a few shows because of the death of Steven Gately, we were like 'Aww, where's Louis?' and we really missed him. The judges are such a key part of the show - you're always hanging on what they're going to say - and it's a real shame that Dannii won't be there from the start. Saying that, I do think the producers have done really well getting such great celebrity guest judges."

Which of the guest judges are you most looking forward to watching?
"Hmm... I think Pixie Lott. I've met her and she's lovely, and there's no doubt she's an amazing talent, but I haven't seen her do too many interviews. She's almost come from nowhere to become one of the most fantastic stars of 2009, so it'll be interesting to see what she's like as a judge."

Have you seen much of Simon since the X Factor final?
"He's such a busy man obviously so I don't see him much, but I've spoken to him loads on the phone - much more than I expected actually. He's just such a huge character. He's been really involved in my career so far - he really wanted to be part of the A&R process and help pick the singles and things like that. He's heard all the tracks on the album actually and he says he loves it, which is a great confidence boost for me."

Has he asked you to come back and sing on one of the live shows?
"I haven't brought it up with him, because I'm too scared to ask! Having been on the show last year, of course I'd love to come back and perform, but I haven't had the call yet. Honestly, it would be an honour to be asked back. They attract some amazing international artists because it's the biggest show on the telly, but it's great when they get a bit of English talent on there too."

Have you heard any of Joe's music?
"We were talking about his music the other day actually, but I haven't heard any of it yet. Me and Joe get on like a house on fire and there's no rivalry between us - especially since our albums are just going to be completely different. I can't wait to hear what he's been working on actually!"

Were you surprised when you opened the paper and saw that he'd come out?
"It kind of was a shock - to see him come out like that in the papers, because Joe's a very private person and he never really spoke about anything like that on the show. It must have been very hard for him, having to come out in front of the whole country, so I rang him the next day to offer a bit of support. I just said, 'Do you know what Joe, I'm here for you if you need me. We're mates and as far as I'm concerned nothing's going to change'. He really is such a great guy."

Olly Murs releases 'Please Don't Let Me Go' on August 30.

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