Q&A with Olly Murs

UK X Factor star Olly Murs stands on the precipice of cracking the US with incredibly catchy pop singles like "Wrapped Up" and an album that features the likes of Demi Lovato and Travie McCoy. So what's the secret of a great pop song? We got the word from Olly on that, what makes Never Been Better so special, his favorite movies, music, and more!

-Adam Downer

GGM: The US release of Never Been Better is coming up. Do you feel as though you’ve “cracked” the US yet? When do you think you’ll know that you have?

OM: I definitely haven’t cracked the US yet. I’m still an unknown, and for me that’s kind of exciting. I want to keep working hard and keep winning new fans over. I want to get the American fans to buy into me. And I suppose I’ll know I’ve made when I’ve got a number 1 on the billboard chart! But at the moment, I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying being played in the states and getting on radio.

GGM: I read a quote from you that says “This is my ‘I Mean It’” album. What does that mean?

OM: I think that the first three albums were brilliant, and I really loved what I did with them, but this album for me has more passion, more balls. I think it’s a solid, better album.

GGM: You’ve got a ton of incredible collaborations on this album. How was working with Demi Lovato, Travie McCoy, and Paul Weller?

OM: To be honest, they were all brilliant people to work with, but I didn’t record with any of the artists in the room. It was all done via the internet. I will say, though, all the artists wanted to be a part of the albums and singles. They didn’t do it for money, no other purpose other than they really loved the song. With Travie, one, I didn’t know he was an incredible magician! The other thing is that I have this amazing demo of Travie recording, and at the end of the recording, you just hear him go “Yeah… I dig it.” And I just thought that was really nice to hear!

With Demi, she was the one girl I thought was perfect for the song. Great voice, great person. She was a dream, and when I met her, she came to the UK to do a promo with me, and we got on really well. She’s a really feisty, fun character to be around. She’s very ambitious, very driven, and her voice is unbelievable! I knew she could sing, but being in a room with her, hearing her sing, is incredible.

GGM: You’re scoring hit after hit with these really great pop songs. What do you think a great pop song needs to take off?

OM: I think for me, how I judge a pop song… there will always be songs that make you stamp your feet and kick your fingers, but when I hear someone singing the chorus back to me after hearing it once, or they’re immediately like “oh my god, I have to hear this song again,” that’s when you know it’s good. All the songs that have been in the top ten in the past year are very easy to remember. You know the melody, can’t wait to listen again, and you don’t get bored of it!

GGM: Favorite pop songs right now?

OM: It’s gotta be Bruno Mars with Mark Ronson! “Uptown Funk” is the best song that’s been out in a minute!

GGM: Favorite songs people may not have heard?

OM: There’s a band one of my friends is involved, and he’s got a band called Seafret. Do you know Arya Stark? She’s in the video! It’s a song called “Oceans.” Love the guys in it. The music and the style is really, really beautiful.

GGM: Favorite records growing up?

OM: Oh, Michael Jackson. Everything he did is really wonderful. Stevie Wonder, The Jam, Paul Weller. Obviously Justin Timberlake is a huge influence on my style and I listened to his records a lot growing up.

GGM: Can you tell me one album that was particularly influential?

OM: I would probably say Only By The Night by Kings of Leon. It didn’t influence my music, but it did influence my life. An incredible album that had songs that took me away. I listened to it when I was traveling around Australia, before I was a singer, before I did X-Factor. The whole album, track to track, really blew my mind. Every time I listen to that album I get a nostalgic feeling for that time in my life.

GGM: Favorite films?

OM: The Goonies! One of my favorite films ever. I think it’s because when we’re kids, everything is an adventure. It’s all fresh and exciting. I love that no matter where we are in life, we want to go on that adventure, and when you watch The Goonies, I really wanna go on an adventure like those kids. The acting, the story, everything is brilliant.

GGM: Favorite TV shows?

OM: These are the three shows that I love: Breaking Bad, obviously. Game of Thrones is just amazing, and then I love, love, love Sons of Anarchy. They’re all as good as each other, but very different.

GGM: Favorite Books?

OM: I would probably say comic books are my favorite. X-Men, and that sort of thing. I’ve never been a book reader, because I can’t really sit still. But I like to collect comic books. If there was any book I would pick, though, it’d be The Hobbit.

GGM: Favorite Restaurant/spot?

OM: Oh, Nobu! An amazing restaurant around the world. I love that sort of food, and whenever I go to a Nobu, it’s always the same quality food and service. I recommend that to everyone.

GGM: Favorite strange experience in your career?

OM: I think it was when I came to America, and I have screaming girls who are throwing knickers, bras, and any accessories they have at you, but I had fans throwing passports and phones at me! That was a bit strange.

GGM: Thank you so much Olly!

OM: Thanks mate!

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