Culture Vulture: 10 minutes with former Union J star Josh Cuthbert

Josh Cuthbert, formerly of Union J, who is the 2020 ambassador for Givenchy. Image: David Reiss

Josh Cuthbert, formerly of Union J, who is the 2020 ambassador for Givenchy. Image: David Reiss - Credit: Archant

The singer and model talks about working with Givenchy, learning to cook in front of the television cameras for Celebrity Master Chef and returning to his Surrey roots

How hard was it to leave Union J after seven years together?

Music was and still is my passion. As a young lad I always dreamed of doing music - I was in six different bands before Union J, even though I was only 18 when we launched. I was so hungry to be successful. I have incredible memories and experiences that I will never forget from being in the band - but it felt like the time was right to spread my wings. It is a really tough industry to stay positive, stay focused and motivated in. I needed a change of career and focus for my mental health.

It has been nice to discover a little bit about myself.

Do you plan to launch a solo career?

I still feel like I have got unfinished business in the music industry. My voice has become so much stronger in the past two years than it ever was with Union J.

What is your earliest musical memory?

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I grew up listening to Oasis with my dad. My mum and dad split up when I was five or six, so my only real memory of them together is of us singing to Oasis. Seeing them I remember thinking I would love to be in a band, and then, once the band’s days were over, having a solo career!

What music inspired Triple J - the band which would become Union J on The X Factor?

One Direction had launched two years before and had a huge impact. We thought there was a gap in the market for another boy band. The other two lads, especially Jaymi [Hensley, who co-founded Triple J with Josh and JJ Hamblett] were from a theatrical background, while I liked a bit more rock and R&B. The middle ground was always pop.

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Was it fun returning to those pop sounds when you hosted a show on Heat Radio?

A lot of the songs I played on the show were ones I grew up listening to in the car with my mum in the 2000s. I was with Heat Radio for a year and a half, but then I got married [to model Chloe Lloyd] and bought a house in the Englefield Green area. I couldn’t fit the radio in. Now things have settled down I would love to get back into radio again.

Why did you choose to move to Surrey?

I grew up in this sort of area [Josh was living in Camberley when he took part in X Factor], and used to wonder whether I would be successful enough to buy a house here. I’m still close enough to London for our work, but far enough out to feel private. I love to spend time in Windsor Great Park just over the border, and cycling up at Box Hill. I took my wife to Thorpe Park recently - I used to go there as a kid.

How did lockdown affect you?

I was really excited about being the 2020 ambassador for Givenchy. There were going to be launches for fragrances and skin care brands. It felt like this is what I had worked so hard for - and then lockdown happened and everything was put on hold. It has been tough - but it’s nice knowing I’ve got something to look forward to when it all ends.

How did the live workouts on Instagram Live come about?

I struggle with my mental health at times - I have good days and bad days. I had noticed a common thread that when I’m not working out then, more often than not, I will have a negative day. Exercise and fitness are the best way to feel better - it releases endorphins and makes you feel like you’ve achieved something. I want to explore more fitness stuff, and the Instagram Lives tune into that. It is amazing to think that thousands of people are doing them at the same time as me.

Do you want to explore more of the fitness world?

100 per cent. I feel like in life it is important to do things that you enjoy. Funnily enough my brother was doing an outdoor workout in the park with me yesterday - we were chatting about opening a gym together and what would be on the merch!

Was that desire to try something new behind you taking part in Celebrity Masterchef?

I can’t explain how terrifying that experience was! I know cooking sounds like an easy basic thing, but I didn’t cook before Masterchef. I hadn’t got a clue how to cook a potato or what to do with broccoli. I’ve always been on the road, eating tour food or service station food or takeaways. I never had to learn, and I thought this was the best chance. Somehow I managed to get to the semi-final and come fifth! As for whether I cook at home now you should ask my wife that question - she would laugh!

Follow Josh on Instagram and Twitter on @joshcuthbert

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