Interview with Will.i.am on The Voice UK
How does it feel to be back on The Voice?
Amazing. It feels amazing.
What do you love most about the UK and why?
The culture, the people, the vibes, the clubs. The UK’s a pretty awesome place.
What do you think the level of talent is like this year?
The level of talent is a little bit more electric than last year because of the groups. Groups can join the show now. I think it’s upped the ante a little bit.
What are you looking for this year and does it change every year?
It changes every year. I mostly look for uniqueness, fearlessness, passion but more uniqueness than anything.
How has the introduction of group contestants changed the dynamics?
The dynamics have changed because of groups. It now reflects real life, in real life it’s not just a good singer versus a good singer. It’s a good singer vs a poet vs a rapper vs a group vs a duo vs a guitarist vs instrumentalist. Music is the entire imagination of folks that are passionate about making sense out of noise. So now that we have groups in the mix, it’s more reflective of real life.
What kind of qualities does each coach look for?
I’ll turn around for opera people, classical folks, grime, rappers, MCs, poets, soul, pop. I’m the most ‘anything goes’ type. Olly goes for cute and pop type stuff and Tom goes for a classic voice. Anne-Marie and I have the most similar taste.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I still listen to me the most. It’s like asking a chef – what are you eating? You’d be like what I make. So I just pretty much listen to stuff I make.
For anybody thinking about coming on the show but may be nervous, what would you say to them?
Start to love your nerves because eventually they won’t be as important and then you’re going to wish you carried as much as you did at the beginning. Nerves means you love it. The moment you’re used to it, you don’t have those butterflies anymore, it becomes like ‘oh’. Enjoy your nerves and when you enjoy them, you won’t be scared of them.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to any singer looking to break into the industry?
Figure out what things you like outside of music and what you’re passionate about. Become an entrepreneur in that field because that’s how you actually make money. Ask Rihanna, she’ll tell you. Ask P Diddy, ask 50 cent. Ask anybody who has built an industry, they’ll tell you that. Ask Dr Dre. Ask Pharell, ask Kanye. Before you get to that point, learn from the folks that have giant careers and see what mountain they’re standing on. Are they standing on a bunch of hits, are they standing on an industry that they’ve pioneered? It’s usually other things in music that they’re promoting and selling.
What is the best piece of advice that someone has given you that’s stuck with you?
Be an entrepreneur. Use your music to sell the things that you’re passionate about or else someone is going to use your music to sell something they’re passionate about!
Who has been the biggest influence over the years for you?
Jimmy Lovine, the head of Interscope. The guy who signed us to Interscope, the guy that listened to my wild crazy ideas, one of the founders of Beats. I participated in Beats because of Jimmy’s open mind and his loyalty all the way from the beginning of beats until we sold Beats to Apple.
Can you describe the feeling of when you get that Eureka moment, or when you hear someone sing and you know that you wanna swivel your chair around?
The only word I can think of is urgent.
Who do you think is most competitive out of the coaches?
Olly because he entered his career as a competitor, you know he was a contestant. Out of all of us, out of the coaches, he’s the only one that knows what it feels like to be a contestant. In reality we all compete, we just never competed on show. We just competed in reality and reality is a different competitive mode. So, in that Olly has a bigger understanding of competing in a show. He relates to them more so than us.
What do you do to relax?
I don’t understand relax- what does that mean? I relax when I’m creating, creating you know having an idea, it’s really like a meditation letting that idea out.
ITV Press Centre