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Sixty Seconds with Will.i.am

The American singer, producer and star of The Voice, 44, on why he never relaxes and what he loves about Britain

You’re back in the hot seat on The Voice but which of your fellow judges do you get on with the best?

I like all the coaches, they’re really cool. I’ve known Tom [Jones] for years, Olly [Murs] is awesome and right now Meghan [Trainor], because she’s a newbie, her energy is infectious. I’d love to work with her.

Did you know Meghan before she joined the show?

I knew her before but I’d not worked with her and I’m very happy she’s a part of the show. As a songwriter she can collaborate with people on her team and we haven’t had that. I’m the only one who’s ever brought that to the table. If the contestant doesn’t win, or even if they do, I’ve often been the only one who can go in the studio with them, help them on their craft and write and produce songs for them. Meghan brings that and that’s great for all her female contestants.

There have been a few emotional moments for the coaches so far this series…

Yeah, once you get engaged in a show as a coach you start to reflect. You think, wow, I remember this journey and about how bad you wanted it, and what you went through in the beginning. You empathise with the contestants and there are some whose stories are so heart-wrenching.

Enthusiastic: Meghan Trainor PICTURE: PA

You like to play the waiting game with the red button. Do you know straight away if you’re going to turn for a singer?

I’m not playing the waiting game, I just like to hear the singer all the way through sometimes and hear their quality. And sometimes two notes are enough to tell that they’re going all the way. But I also don’t want anybody to turn just because I turned. Why are you trying to take my star?

Have you got your eye on a winner already this season?

Of course I want to say my team!

Judges come and go on The Voice but you hang on in there — what keeps you coming back?

I like your country! And the singers — it’s great to be around aspirational singers as it helps you remember what you’ve been through.

What is it about Britain you’ve come to love?

To be honest with you, I’ve loved British culture since the first time I came here in, wow, it was 1999. There’s no word to describe what I love — it’s just called Britain. I feel at home here, I don’t know why. It’s not because of the weather! It’s not like the traffic is so soothing! I just like everything about it.

What is it about singing talent shows that keeps people coming back for more?

Because as much as it’s about singing, it’s the backstories. You’re given a glimpse into people’s lives and what they have to go through to fulfil their dreams. Every single person at home has a dream and to see people conquering their fears and putting their day-to-day on hold so they can pursue their passion, one can relate to that. I did a talent show and that’s how I got discovered. I started performing when I was 12 or 13 at school but when I was 16 turning 17 I joined a rap contest and that’s what gave me my record deal.

You do your singing, judging, mentoring, writing, producing, your techy stuff… aren’t you exhausted?

Each one teaches me more about the other ones. The music stuff gives me perspective on what to do in the tech space, the tech space gives me perspective on what to do with my philanthropy, my philanthropy informs my television stuff and other stuff that I do. So each one of them helps each other.

Turning point: The big red button PICTURE: GETTY

What do you do to relax? Do you ever have time off?

I work to relax because when I wasn’t working I was stressed. So for me this is heaven: I like to work, I like to travel, I like to do all the things that are in my head. That’s relaxing for me. I don’t like to pay to do nothing. That’s the stupidest s*** I’ve ever heard in my life! Hey, let’s pay a lot of money to sit around and do nothing. I’m like, er, this is stressing me out!

You’ve collaborated with so many people. Is there anyone else you’d like to work with?

We’ve had a pretty cool career with The Black Eyed Peas but right now we’re really excited that we have a No.1 in the Latin world with J Balvin called RITMO. The reason why that’s so exciting is because Latin music is the most-streamed genre. Getting some more play of it here in the UK would be great — to bring a bit of Latin flavour.

And if you went on The Masked Singer, what would you dress up as?

I wouldn’t do that but if it was just for fun I would dress up as a robot!

The Voice continues on Saturday at 8.30pm on ITV