British singer Olly Murs rose to fame as runner-up in Britain’s The X Factor in 2009. He has gone on to become a fully fledged pop star with three multi-platinum albums, four No. 1 singles, 5.8 million Twitter followers and sold-out arena tours under his belt. Murs, 30, is set to release his fourth studio album, Never Been Better, on November 21. He tells Kate Waterhouse about the new album, how fame has changed him and his apology letter to Taylor Swift after she labelled him “sexist”.
When you were a child, did you envisage your life to be the way it is today?
Yes, I always looked up to Michael Jackson and thought “I’d love to do what he does”… I’ve always been the kind of person that likes to be an entertainer or a performer. I’m not a show-off but I do like being the centre of attention. It’s a good place to be. I think I always wanted to be a performer of some sort, but I just didn’t expect it. My world has changed since X-Factor. I always think that someone is going to take it away from me and then I’ll be back to normal life again.
If it were taken away from you, what would you do?
I would go back being in sales. I was always good at selling. I was always good at selling kitchens or I was good at selling mortgages to people. The only other thing I was good at was performing.
What’s the biggest change in your life since finding fame?
I think just normal day-to-day stuff. Because I did X-Factor, when I walk down the street it can be sometimes quite difficult to get to A to B because people come up to you. I think that was the biggest change, just being able to go to the pub [without attracting attention] and have a beer.
So many people go on talent shows and you never hear of them again. What do you think has been your secret to your success?
I don’t think I’ve changed. I’m the same as I was when I left the show. I think that I’ve always done music for my fans that they want. I’ve never tried to change my music. I’ve always wanted my fans to see and hear the same, my style. I think that’s what people like about me.
Are your friends happy that you have found fame and can give them VIP access when you go out to bars and clubs at night?
[Laughs] Yes, my single friends love it! But I think what I’ve realised is how good they are as friends because with this job, it can cause so much jealousy and hate towards someone. I now know who my true mates are because since I’ve got famous, I’ve lost mates.
Some [friends] just didn’t cope with it. They’re just very bitter about it, jealous about it, and I felt uncomfortable to be around them because they put me down all the time, trying to make me feel small.
What’s the best part of your job?
Performing and doing tours is best part, by a mile.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Sometimes it’s the media and the way press spin stories, and making headlines that weren’t supposed to be headlines. I think also the intrusion into your private life is a bit intrusive. But that’s what comes with the job, I’m afraid. You need the press to sell your records.
What’s the funniest rumour you’ve read about yourself?
That I was gay. And I read a rumour that I was some drug lord as well. I was: “Is this a joke?”
You caused a stir with Taylor Swift while you were here. She called you sexist after you joked she should move on from writing songs about her ex, Harry Styles.
I was doing an interview in a radio station. They asked me a question about, “Oh, there is a new song in the charts that is written about Harry Styles” and I was like, “Oh again … For God’s sake, come on, give Harry a break” I didn’t mean anything bad. I didn’t mean any offence. I’m not sexist. I’m not that kind of guy. It’s just like something in jest and it was just a joke … I was just having a laugh and I felt really bad about it, but I’ve said sorry.
Did you apologise?
I wrote a personal letter apologising and gave it to her. So I can’t do any more, really. I didn’t want to do it publicly because that just looks like I’m trying to use Taylor’s name. I did it privately because I think that’s the best way to deal with it.
What’s the biggest pinch-me moment you’ve had since you’ve found fame?
I performed at Wembley Stadium. I performed with Robbie Williams on his tour as a support act. Over 70,000 people singing Troublemaker was pretty amazing. I was like, “Wow”
Tell me about your new album.
Never Been Better. It’s like every album I’ve done – it’s always for the hard-core fans. It’s got fun, cheekiness and it’s got flirt in it. It’s got the sad, it’s got the anger. It’s got a bit of everything in it. I really am just really happy that people like it.
What’s next in the pipeline?
I’m going to be touring next year, doing a world tour. Obviously, we’ll be announcing Australia. We’ll come back here and do a big Australian thing, which will be great.
WE WENT TO The Lemon Tree, Australia Square, Sydney CBD.
WE DRANK a Capitano and Lemon Tree martini.
I WORE a Dion Lee dress