Olly Murs on His 'Disco-y' New Single & Band Aid 30's 'Do They Know It’s Christmas?'
'I just really hope people around the world get behind the song,' he says of the latest Band Aid effort.
"It's fun, it's happy, it's cheeky, it's feel-good," Olly Murs says about his new single, "Wrapped Up," which was released Monday (Nov. 17) in the U.S. through Columbia Records. It's the first single from his forthcoming album, Never Been Better.
The very busy Murs called in to Billboard from London in the midst of promotion for his latest album, which is due in the U.K. on Nov. 24 and slated for a spring 2015 release in the U.S.
"Wrapped Up's" American bow came after a packed weekend that saw Murs perform on the U.K. TV show The X Factor a day earlier, and take part in the all-star charity recording of Band Aid 30's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" on Saturday.
The 30-year old singer/songwriter rose to fame in 2009 as the runner-up on the sixth season of the U.K.'s The X Factor. He has since released three albums in his home country of England, while in America, he's released one: Right Place, Right Time. It debuted and peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard 200 chart, and spun off the single "Troublemaker," which reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Murs called Billboard from London on the "Wrapped Up" release day to talk about the "disco-y" new single, shooting its slightly dangerous video, balancing promotional duties between the U.K. and the U.S. and, of course, participating in Band Aid 30. (And how no one knew which part of the song they were on until they saw the completed music video!)
"Wrapped Up" -- which features Travie McCoy — has sort of a disco-y, throwback vibe, but it's still very fresh. What was going through your mind when you were putting that song together? Were you consciously trying to make it discofied?
We were just writing different songs, and I said, "Why don't we just try this other song today, something a bit disco-y, something a bit old school," and that's what we came up with. We didn't think it was going to be a single when we were writing it, really. We just kind of went with the vibe. Sort of instantly we felt, "This is actually a really good song and this could be a hit," you know? That was kind of the vibe behind it. Disco music is something that I love -- Earth, Wind & Fire especially, Chic -- that era of music is really popular and I love performing it on stage.
The video is really cool, but it also looks like it could also be really dangerous too. Did you fall down numerous times while you were shooting the video?
Yeah, definitely fell a couple times. But that's normal for me, I always do stuff like that on video shoots. Especially this song because it was really tricky. It was a really fun video shoot to do. It was a really cool performance video. I got a chance to show my dance moves off. I'm really pleased.
Ryan Heffington choreographed the video, and he of course did Sia's "Chandelier." Did you get dance tips from him?
You know what? I actually didn't. But he was obviously involved with the dancers and stuff. I just said to him, "What do you want me to do?" He said, "Olly, just be yourself. Be you. Just do what you do best and have fun." And I was like, "Hey, cool!" So all the stuff of mine in the video is kind of me just freestyling and such.
You were saying that when you recorded "Wrapped Up," you didn't necessarily think that it was going to be the first single from the album. How did you decide on this being the first single?
I wanted a song that really represents me as a person, and the song does. It's fun, it's happy, it's cheeky, it's feel-good. What I mean by not thinking about [it being a single is] when you're writing songs, you never know it's going to be a first single. You never know it's going to be the one single that you pick. I believe that the song is a hit, but when I was writing it, you never know until you finish it. It just felt that it was a song all about my personality and that my fans would love it, and hopefully other people would love it as well.
Is it weird for you having to balance your promotion at home, in England, versus in America? It's really different because here we've only had one album (from you), but in the U.K., you're on your fourth album. Is it a struggle to balance the promotion aspect in the two different countries?
It's difficult, but you just have to deal with it as an artist. You want your music to be heard across the world, and you can't just expect to release the music (and have it be successful without promotion). You need to show your face, you need to be there, you need to do shows, you need to do radio shows, you need to be touring, and that's what I intend to do. I think that's what all artists want to do -- to get out there and show people your face and promote. But it is difficult to keep getting on planes, but you know, it's part of what we do.
Speaking of which, when can we expect you to come back to America?
We will be back in January, with my team and the band. We're gonna be over doing some bits and bobs in January. It'll be a nice start (for) the year, to get back over to the States. It's gonna be fun.
Your last album here in America was a blend of your first and second U.K. albums. Are you going to do the same thing for the next one? Or is the one in America going to be the same one that the U.K. gets?
No, the one in America will be the same as the one here. That's what I've been told at the moment. You know, a lot of these things depend on (record) labels and what they decide. I think that this album will have the new songs on it. You know, I suppose "Troublemaker" was my biggest hit in America last year, so maybe that will be on the album. We'll see. … I'm sure that it'd just be the same album.
I can't not ask you about Band Aid. How surreal was that to record the single on Saturday? That must have been amazing.
Oh, it was ridiculous. You know what, it was great to come together with loads of other English acts and artists. It was amazing. We really had a good time doing it. The video, everything: It's incredible. Just to be featured on the song is great. I'm just really, really pleased. It was a really special moment for me and my family. I just really hope people around the world get behind the song.
When you go to one of these all-star charity recording sessions — (where) you're in a room with all these other peers of yourself, but also people that you look up to — did you have a moment where you're like, "I'm in the same room with Bono?" Did you think about that? Or were you too into the moment?
No, definitely. I think that was what it was like for the first half an hour. And then you need to get to the job. And the job we had was to sing, and sell this song. So yeah, first, initially, it was like, "Wow, I'm in a room with Bono and Chris Martin from Coldplay," but in the end you get over that and, you're like, "It's time to get focused and get this song out there and do a good job on that." And that was the aim.
I read that no one knew what part they were going to sing until they got there. Is that true?
No one knew. Even when they left (the studio). We all just sung the song once or twice around. We just waited to see the video and saw our parts then.