CAST your mind back to 2002, a time before X Factor, The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent. Out of nowhere came the show that started it all: Pop Idol. Will Young was crowned the winner, and his career hasn’t stopped since. He recently released a new album, Lexicon, and is heading out on tour.
Will isn’t surprised that talent contests are still a thing. ‘Firstly, did I expect for me to still be going after 17 years? The answer is yes, I really hoped I would. I wanted a career, and people voted for me and gave me that.
‘Secondly, there’s always been talent shows: Eurovision, Opportunity Knocks, those kind of things. U2 were on a talent show!’ he laughs. ‘I’m not surprised it’s continued as Saturday night entertainment — people brought it back. People have taken power back, the audience became the record execs. That was brilliant.’
His most recent single, My Love, presented the chance to film his dream music video. ‘I’ve always wanted to do a Northern soul-inspired video on a pier. We shot it on Worthing pier and I had these very wide Northern soul trousers on. It was great fun to do.
‘The music allowed me to do that kind of video. I’d been waiting for the right time and song for that theme rather than trying to shoehorn it in. The video before that, I played a male stripper! I don’t know where that came from. It’s very varied but that makes it fun. Trying all these careers, I could still be a male stripper now, you see.’ He laughs uproariously.
What’s left on the career bucket list then? ‘I’d love to do some dry stone walling, a bit of upholstery, I’d love my own garden show. I want to make candles too, I love scented candles. Oh my God, I could be the new Kirstie Allsopp! There’s loads of fun things I’m working on, dramas with music in, I’d love to write a kids book. To be honest, though, I’m primarily lazy and I just want to take holidays.’
How about being a travel influencer so he can go on trips for free? Will groans. ‘Oh no, I can’t handle Instagram, it’s so boring. Although… I did put a video up yesterday of a fox that I found in my house. I came down in the morning and I’d managed to shut the garden doors, only unbeknownst to me there was a fox in my house, there he was sat there in the corner. I was worried for the fox as it was probably terrified and I didn’t want my dogs to go mental. Luckily my brother managed to get the fox out. It was really sweet, actually.’
When he’s finished documenting British wildlife adventures, what can we expect from the tour?
‘A lot of bad humour. Some really bad jokes,’ he grins. ‘I like talking to the audience as much as singing the songs. I do take the music really seriously, it’s not a stand-up show but the audience are really important to me.
‘I never want to be one of those singers who just stands there and doesn’t say anything for two hours. I’m nosy, basically!’ he says, with another cackle. ‘I want to know what’s going on, who all these people are, what they are doing. I like the creative side of it. I’m really excited with what I’ve done for the staging, it’s quite different and there’s a little bit of magic to it and some surprises.’
He doesn’t want to give away any spoilers though, after 17 years of making music he’s finding ways to keep his fans on their toes. He suddenly exclaims: ‘Don’t bring any stones to the show, I won’t be able to build a dry stone wall in that period of time! That would be difficult. It would be quite heavy to carry to the gig too,’ he pauses to think.
‘Maybe that’s the surprise? I build a dry stone wall at the back of the stage and then reveal it. Or maybe I’ll do one of those tiny, really bad water features. I’ve got so much inspiration. If that’s not enough to make you come to the tour, I don’t know what is.’
Bad comedy, water features, dry stone walling and a potential career as a male stripper. Will Young is never dull.
■ Touring nationwide, from October 1, willyoung.co.uk