Seasons Greetings from Olly Murs
- Credit: Archant
Witham-born singer-songwriter Olly Murs talks to Andy Greeves about why spending Christmas in his home county of Essex is his most wonderful time of the year!
Seven years ago, Oliver Stanley ‘Olly’ Murs sprung to fame as he finished runner-up to Joe McElderry in the sixth series of The X Factor. While many artists from the competition have faded into obscurity as quickly as they were thrust into the limelight, Olly has gone from strength to strength.
2016 has been another fantastic year for the performer, who released the smash-hit single You Don’t Know Love and supported Take That at their Hyde Park concert over the summer, while he recently launched his fifth studio album, 24 Hrs. So what has been the key to Olly’s longevity in a typically fickle music industry?
‘I think it’s all down to hard work really and having a bit of luck along the way,’ reflects Olly on his seven years in the business. ‘I came along at a time when there weren’t that many male artists around that were performers and producing my kind of music. I think people warmed to my personality and my Essexness too!
‘A lot of artists come from Essex. We have the reputation for being nice people, wanting to have a good time and being a bit cheeky. That all helps you get on in the entertainment industry. First and foremost though, I love my job and I love music and that’s what is important.
‘My success ultimately comes down to my fans. If it wasn’t for them, there wouldn’t be the demand for my music. A couple of years ago, I played Hylands Park (in Chelmsford), having my own show in front of 20,000 fans. That was an incredible feeling, as was headlining the MTV stage at V Festival (also at Hylands Park) last year with 40,000 people there. The support has always been there for me, not just in Essex but around the country, and I am very grateful for that.’
Born in Witham on May 14, 1984, Olly attended Howbridge Junior School and Notley High School in Braintree while growing up. The 32-year-old still lives in Essex today in the village of Toot Hill near Ongar. As much as Olly oozes passion for music, the same can be said for his feelings on his home county.
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‘To this day, no matter where I am in the country, or the world even, I love to come home (to Essex),’ smiles Olly. ‘All my childhood memories were made here, as were the ones of me growing up, going out clubbing and that kind of thing. The first ever night club I went to was Zeus in Chelmsford and I can remember the routine of getting the train from Witham down to Chelmsford with my mates. I learnt a lot in that nightclub!
‘I live between Ongar and Chelmsford these days and it’s an area of beautiful countryside. I am able to get back to see my family a lot, which is great. Pretty much all my friends and family still live in Witham. I’m probably back there far too much, but I love it there. Nowhere is quite like home, as I say.’
With friends and family so important to Olly, it’s little surprise to discover that the performer absolutely loves Christmas!
‘It’s the best time of the year for me, without any doubt,’ he confirms. ‘We usually end up at my mum’s house and with my mum and dad doing the Christmas dinner together. My mum makes a fantastic trifle every year and my dad makes a great cheese sauce to go with, what is always, a brilliant roast dinner.
‘I have hosted Christmas dinner myself in the past, but it’s pretty hard going and I’ve vowed never to do it again!’
One of Olly’s most special Christmas memories came a few years ago when his sister Fay managed to trump one of Olly’s gifts with a special one of her own.
‘My nan and granddad had always wanted to go to Las Vegas in their 70s, so I brought four tickets one year for them to go with my mum and dad,’ explains Olly. ‘My nan was in tears when she got the tickets and it was a great feeling to have done something like that for her.
‘That same Christmas, my sister made up crackers for us to pull. Inside was the picture of her baby (on a scan). It was an incredible moment. While my dad had grandchildren before, it was my mum’s first grandchild. We were all over the moon and in tears. It quickly topped my Las Vegas gift!’
From a career point of view, Olly received a huge present last Christmas when his single Kiss Me sold more than 400,000 copies and had 11 million streams during the festive period. With his new album 24 Hrs sure to be a popular stocking filler this year, Olly will be hopeful of securing his fourth consecutive number one album in 2016 on the back of In Case You Didn’t Know (2011), Right Place Right Time (2012) and Never Been Better (2014).
‘I’m nervous and excited all at the same time,’ comments Olly on the possibility of 24 Hrs becoming a number one album. ‘It was tough starting out writing this album,’ adds Murs, whose self-titled debut release of 2010 was only kept off the top spot by Take That’s Progress. ‘I think any artist will say that after four albums and starting on a fifth – it’s difficult to know the next direction to go in. Having been through a breakup with my ex-girlfriend, I was able to channel a bit of that into the album. There are also plenty of fun songs on there too. It’s got a bit of everything and sums up every mood.
‘The first single of the album (You Don’t Know Love) came out back in August and I was really pleased with the reaction to that. Ultimately, I’m delighted with the music on this album and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.’
Find Out More
You can purchase Olly Murs’ new album 24 Hrs and tickets for his 2017 arena tour by visiting www.ollymurs.com.