Olly Murs, an English singer, songwriter, television presenter and actor, chats with Kevin Cooper about working with Nile Rodgers, the demise of the X Factor, his latest album You Know I Know and his forthcoming tour of the UK.

Olly Murs is an English singer, songwriter, television presenter and actor. He first came to national attention for coming second in the sixth series of The X Factor in 2009.

In 2010, Murs released his debut single Please Don’t Let Me Go, which debuted at number one in the UK Singles Charts and received a Gold certification by the BPI. He released his self-titled debut album in November 2010, which sold over 108,000 copies in the first week. The following year he released his second album, In Case You Didn’t Know, which entered the UK chart at number one and resulted in two number one singles. Since then he has released four other albums, the latest being You Know I Know in 2018.

In 2011 it was announced that Murs would return to the X Factor to co-present the spin off show, The Xtra Factor with Caroline Flack,

Since 2012 he has toured the UK on no less than four occasions, each of them being sold out arena tours.

Whilst busy with his schedule on The Voice and getting ready for his forthcoming Arena tour, he took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Olly good morning how are you today?

Not too bad Kevin how are you?

I’m very well thank you and before we move on let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

It’s no problem at all, in fact it’s an absolute pleasure once again.

And just how is life treating you?

Life is good at the minute. I have lot’s going on. I’m working hard on The Voice and I am really enjoying that. The main plan is for me to totally focus on The Voice and the tour at the moment.

We should speak about the album, You Know I Know. I have been playing it now for the last few days and I have to say that I love it.

Thanks mate, I am really proud to have made a hits album together with loads of new tunes too, so I am really, really chuffed.

A lot of fans are saying that it is your best work to date. Would you agree with them?

I think so, yes most definitely. I am so proud of this album but having said that I am proud of every album that I have made. I really do love all of the albums that I make. I always think to myself whenever I am writing an album ‘is this something that I am going to be happy with in twenty or thirty years’ time’ and the answer is always ‘yes’. I feel very proud and privileged to be able to do what I do so it is a yes, it is always a yes (laughter).

Do you have a favourite track on the album?

I think that Feel The Same is probably the most me song on the album. As my fans would say it is a classic Murs sort of track, the sort of track that I am nowadays known for doing. So that would be the song that I really do love the most.

When we last spoke you said that you were beginning to feel more comfortable with your writing…

That’s right, I am.

So why have you let a certain Ed Sheeran write Moves for you?

(Laughter) to be fair I have known Ed for a very long time now, and he is always in the studio somewhere writing songs. Ed called me and said “Murs I’ve got a song that I think you might be interested in” and as I love Ed so much I said “okay let’s give it a listen” which I did and I have to say that I loved it right from the very first listen. Once I had got it produced, I then got Snoop Dog on the track, and after a few tweaks here and there it really did feel like a me song. I immediately thought that it was the record that I could put out as the first single off the album and come back with a bit of a bang and it is a song that I am proud to have recorded.

That’s great but you do realise that you are helping Mr Sheeran take over the world don’t you?

(Hysterical laughter) I don’t think that Ed needs any help from me. He’s doing lovely on his own (laughter).

You have mentioned Snoop Dog, just how did that come about?

To be honest with you, it was just an idea that I had when I was in the studio. I just thought that it would be great if we could get Snoop Dog on the track and perhaps do something slightly different. I think that people would love to read the dream story of me following Snoop on twitter, messaging him privately, having a conversation with him but it didn’t work out like that. I went through his label and his management and in the end it was great to be able to do a collaboration with him.

And the track has managed to find its way on to the Johnny English Strikes Again soundtrack.

(Laughter) yes it has and I have to say that was the most random thing ever. I got a phone call from Universal Pictures saying that they would like a song for the soundtrack and I seemed to fit the bill as to what they wanted. They asked me if I had got any new songs so I told them all about Moves and they were very interested in using it. There is a classic part in the film where Johnny English is dancing, he has all of these different moves, and the song really does work well with the film. It really is a very proud moment for me to have one of my songs on the soundtrack album.

You finished runner-up on The X Factor back in 2009, then if you fast-forward nine years later to 2018, you are now asking Nile Rodgers to play guitar for you. How surreal is that?

I know, how mad is that, it really is a mad story. I have been a big fan of Chic and Nile since I was born really. All of the music that he has created and recorded has been the story of my life really especially the Funk music that he creates. Nile really is the king of it so for me to get into the studio and collaborate with such a legend, really was amazing. The really weird thing is that when I was born on 14th May 1984 Nile was number one with Duran Duran and The Reflex. And as you say it’s totally mad that thirty-four years later I have actually recorded a song with him, it really is crazy. Nile is full of life, full of character, he has a head full of amazing stories, and he is just a very lovely man.

He has been through a lot in his life. He has had his fair share of both ups and downs, but he really is an incredible guy, one of the best in the industry, and in fact I would go as far to say that Nile is one of the very best people that I have ever met. For me it was a real honour to be able to write with him, and a real honour to have him play on the album.

You have co-written almost all of the tracks on the album. Are you now enjoying writing?

Yes I do, I really do. It has been an amazing ten years now. I have learnt so much from my time spent as a call centre worker. I will never forget writing my very first album. That was so daunting and so very scary but at the same time it really was exciting. For me to get in to the studio, be writing music, and seeing those songs come to life whenever you go out on tour really was a great feeling. Song writing is something that I have excelled in; I now feel that every time that I get into the studio I feel that I am getting better at it, so it really is a proud moment for me to have so many songs on the new album that I have written.

I have been fortunate enough to photograph you both indoors and outdoors. Do you have a preference or is it a case of have audience will sing?

It is exactly what you have just said, I don’t mind if it is ten people, a hundred people, a thousand people, ten thousand people, it doesn’t bother me whatsoever. I just love singing my songs and love entertaining people. That’s my job, that is what I love, that is what I was born to do. That is what I am all about. Get me on a stage, give me a mic and off we go. That is what I am all about really so I am really proud of being who I am and I love my job, which is something that I will never stop doing.

There are so many collaborations on the album with the likes of Louisa Johnson, Travie McCoy, Flo Rida, Rizzle Kicks, Snoop Dog and Shaggy to name but a few. Which one gave you the most satisfaction?

That’s easy, it would have to be Demi Lovato. Rizzle Kicks came a close second, they really were good lads but I think that working with Demi was more of a case of me being in awe of her voice. I couldn’t believe just how good she was. Obviously I have heard her on record and thought that she was great but that is nothing compared to when you hear her performing live. Plus she was very accommodating and very open. A lot of American artists come over to the UK with their entourage, and take it from me a hell of a lot of them really are divas but Demi really was top drawer. It really was nice to work with her and I really did enjoy it.

You are going back out on the road in May promoting the album. Are you looking forward to that?

Yes, I can’t wait. However, this year is going to be a different year, a more difficult year for me. I have got so many different things coming up so this tour really is in a nice place for me. I normally tour the UK earlier, usually in February and March but obviously The Voice is my commitment at the moment. But I will be getting back to what I love doing which is getting out there on stage. I am really excited about it, it is the best part of my job and not only that but I get to share that with my fans who love my music as well. So yes, it is a great feeling.

You are playing two days here in Nottingham at The Motorpoint Arena, just what can we expect?

It will be the same as ever. I love to entertain, I love to have fun, and once again it is all about the music and having a good time which I am all about. It doesn’t matter if it is a Tuesday night or Wednesday night, every night is a Saturday night for me. On tour that is how I play the show; every day is a party. Hopefully everyone will go to school or work the next day with a headache and a sore throat from singing (laughter).

Have you given it any thought yet as to how many of the new tracks will make it onto the set list?

To be honest with you that is really difficult. I’m currently having a headache over it. Obviously there are four or five from the new album that will definitely make it onto the set list. I am currently picking thorough the hits that I want to perform. So what I will say is that it is going to be tricky but I will get there. On the night it will be fantastic. I like to think that I have never let my fans down on tour and so I hope that they will love it and embrace it as much as I will. For them to know that I put everything into the shows to make it as fun and as lively as possible for them is what it is all about for me.

Every time that I see you performing indoors the stage just gets bigger and bigger.

(Laughter) I try to I really do. Over the years I have been very lucky because the tours have been in demand and the people have wanted to come and see me. Along the way I have managed to get bigger budgets, more money, and make it bigger and better for the fans. This year will be no different. I am excited about the stage and what it looks like, and I really can’t wait for the fans to see what I am going to do. So yes, it is going to be cool.

Are you hands on with the stage or do you leave it to the experts?

It is a collaboration in so much as I will leave it to the experts who will come up with a mock-up of the stage. They will then pass it onto me, and it is then that I will make any changes that I feel will work better for me. I will then pass that onto my team who have been working with me for the past ten years, who now know what I like and what I want. And I have to say that they are really good.

You mention that you have been in the business for ten years now, looking back are there any regrets or have you enjoyed the ride?

I have enjoyed every minute of it. It really has been amazing. Listen, the industry that I am in really is a rollercoaster ride. There have been good days, and there have been bad days, there have been incredibly happy times and there have been bad times, which is what life is all about. Whatever gets thrown at you, you simply have to deal with it. I have loved it, it has been amazing, it has been a really great ten years and I can’t wait for the next ten years in this mad world that I am living in.

Are you enjoying your current role on The Voice?

I am loving it. There is nothing better for me to be able to give someone a chance in their life. I have been very lucky and I am grateful that I was lucky enough to be given that opportunity and the fact that I can do that for someone now. I can pass on my love, my experiences, and my knowledge to someone else and to give them the opportunity to have the career that I am having. It is a great feeling and there really isn’t anything better.

Is presenting something that you enjoy and something that you would like to do more of?

Of course yes, I think so. Obviously I did The Happy Hour Show at Christmas on ITV which was brilliant; I loved doing it. If the opportunity comes for me to do my own TV show again I would love to. Obviously over the years when I did The X Factor back in 2015 I was still young; still learning my craft, so for me doing that show it was difficult for me to come in and try to fill the shoes of someone who had been presenting the show for so long. It was hard for the audiences to accept that. I think that it was hard for the audiences to warm to anyone new and also to accept the change. I think that it would be great to go back onto the TV with my own show with my own format with something quite different. But for now we will just have to wait and see; let’s see what happens in the future.

You mention The X Factor, what are your thoughts on the current show, do you think that it is a spent force?

Yes I do, I really do. I personally feel that The X Factor is well past it’s sell by date and has been for quite a while now. Simon (Cowell) has finally recognised that and has taken the decision to rest the show this year. They are currently talking about doing a different version of the show, perhaps bringing back ex-winners, who knows. I personally think that is a good move. I think that it most definitely needs a rest; the whole format is looking tired now. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show but I really do think that it needs a kick up the backside to freshen things up. I think that Simon is right in resting the show and if he goes down the ex-winners route for a couple of years then I think that will be a good move for the show.

Obviously I am now on The Voice and I really am enjoying what I am doing at the moment so whatever Simon decides to do with The X Factor will certainly not be involving me in any way, shape or form. My loyalties now are one hundred percent with The Voice.

What was the first record that you bought?

The very first record that I bought on vinyl was Bat Out Of Hell by Meatloaf.

Who did you first see performing live in concert?

That was Justin Timberlake on his Justified Tour back in 2003. He played in London and he was decent, really, really good.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

The song which always makes me cry is I’ll Never Love Again by Lady Gaga from the movie A Star Is Born. It is a beautiful song, absolutely stunning. If you get the chance to listen to that song then please do. It really is beautiful.

Am I to take it that Olly Murs is currently in a good place?

That’s right, in fact I’m always in a good place (laughter).

On that note Olly let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been great.

You too Kevin, once again it’s been nice to talk to you. You take care and I will see you in Nottingham.