Will Young has come an incredibly long way since winning the first series of Pop Idol in 2002. After numerous number one singles, albums and prestigious accolades, he remains one the UK’s most prolific singer-songwriters.
We recently had the pleasure of welcoming Will to Bristol’s beautiful venue St George’s for an extra special Masterclass.
The session took place as part of BBC Music Day 2016 and involved Will giving feedback and coaching to four lucky Songwriting and Vocals students. Bronte Shande (BA3 Vocals), Ellie Goldsack (BA2 Vocals), Matthew Wilson (BA1 Songwriting) and Chay Snowdon (BA1 Songwriting) blew everyone away with their fantastic performances. It was great to see our students take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
The multi award-winning singer was very humble, offering plenty of useful advice and sharing his vast wealth of experience. He was particularly impressed by Matthew’s lyrics and style, comparing him to Years & Years vocalist Olly Alexander – a comment that had the aspiring songwriter grinning from ear-to-ear.
He spoke at length about the importance of smiling at the beginning of a concert to ground both the performer and audience. And it was comforting to hear that even a BRIT Award-winning recording artist still gets stage fright, even after more than ten years’ experience playing to thousands of screaming fans around the world.
“The biggest key is being relaxed. If I’m having a stressful gig, I literally con my mind into thinking I’m the most relaxed,” he explained. “Even if I’m struggling and I miss a note or whatever, I just go ‘it’s fine’. I literally do it on purpose, and it is fine.”
Will later joined us for a short interview and Q&A session, which covered a range of topics, including his experience with songwriting, performing and his past achievements. He opened up about his two prestigious Ivor Novello awards for Best Selling Song and Best Song Musically and Lyrically for ‘Leave Right Now’ and revealed that he was most proud of the two gong awards, despite regularly winning reader’s poll accolades for ‘best rear’ and ‘best torso’!
We also learned more about Will’s own writing style and his transition from working with melodies to penning lyrics in an acapella style. “I started just doing melodies, a very old school way of pop writing,” he told the group. “Then I started writing more spoken word, and I wrote a book and started writing journalistic pieces. So suddenly I found my voice, so the writing on my last record completely changed. Now I’ve started writing acapella.”
The singer also teased an upcoming collaboration with revered lyricist Ghostpoet. “We’ve only met once and it’s great – god knows when the song will be done,” he joked.
The Masterclass drew to a close, but not before a few final inspiring words from Will. “I feel so enthused listening to you guys, it’s like ‘oh my god, I can remember what it’s all about’. I want to go and write songs now.”
As anticipated, the Masterclass was a huge success! We’ve no doubt the occasion will be one to remember for all of our BIMM Bristol students, especially those who performed.
Will Young is currently playing a string of summer concerts in venues around the UK in support of his sixth studio album 85% Proof.