He was once the young cheeky chap who won the hearts of millions on The X-Factor, but now, almost a decade on, Ray Quinn is well and truly all grown up. A star on both music and theatre stages, he’s just embarked on a UK tour in support of his new album No Man's Land and kindly agreed to this interview to chat X-Factor memories, upcoming performance plans and his musical legacy.
It's been ten years since you first caught people's attention as runner up to Leona Lewis on The X-Factor. Looking back, what are your favourite memories from that time?
Ray Quinn: I guess the moment that stands out for me was reaching the final. It was such a goal of mine at the time, and I remember sitting in my dressing room before my second song thinking 'I made it'. I felt such an overwhelming feeling of achievement ... I wasn't concerned for the result. Letting that sink in was the start for me.
PW: Do you ever look back and think about how big a name you might have become had you won?
RQ: No. Everything happens for a reason regardless of the result. I knew the outcome would be the same. I'm a totally different artist to Leona. Plus, I was very young at the time, I had a lot of learning still to do. Hence why, nine years later, I'm here with a brand new album.
PW: What advice would you give to this years' X-Factor hopefuls and those thinking of auditioning for future series?
RQ: Just find that balance, I guess, enjoy it. Don't take things too seriously. But go for every opportunity given to you there, and continue to do the same afterwards.
PW: You went on to appear on Dancing On Ice in 2009, but are there any other reality/talent shows you'd like to have a go at?
RQ: I did! Loved every minute of it! There's plenty out there, that's for sure, and plenty to arrive, I'm sure. The truth is: I'm up for anything to be honest; however, getting my tour on the road with my new music is my focus at the moment.
PW: What made you make the move into theatre work, and, of the many shows you've appeared in, which include Grease, Legally Blonde and Dirty Dancing, do you have any highlights?
RQ: I made the move as it felt like a natural progression for me. I've trained all my life for musical theatre, so I was more than happy to tick off a couple of my 'bucket list' roles. Which leads me to say playing Danny Zuko was the highlight and certainly fulfilled another goal of mine.
PW: Which one theatre show would you most like to appear in and why? Are there any plans for you to return to the stage?
RQ: Another lead role I'd lap up would be Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever. It was the first musical I went to see and instantly fell in love with everything about it; it then became something I knew I had to do. And, yes, you can see me playing 'Glen Goolia' in the new musical The Wedding Singer -- we start touring from Feb 2017.
PW: You've just embarked on a UK tour. What are you most looking forward to about getting back on the road again?
RQ: The one thing that I'm most excited about is witnessing first-hand how the audiences across the UK take to the path I've chosen regarding my new music. It's been a crazy two years for me. So much has changed in both aspects of my life ... my album reflects that. It's me, it's my sound, and it's just the beginning.
PW: Is there one particular venue you're looking forward to playing?
RQ: There's so many, as I chose them all individually from the venues I enjoyed last year. So I can't possibly choose one. I've only ever been blown away by the response.
PW: You'll be performing many of your new songs on the tour. What can you tell me about them, and do you have a favourite?
RQ: My favourite would have to be “No Man’s Land". Between myself and my management, we chose to name the whole tour and album after it. For me, it's the first track as a team we found my sound. The rest of the album basically was evolved from that very track. It's a pop record at its best and reflects a time in my life that I won't ever forget, which, for me, makes it real and believable. That's all you ever set out to achieve as an artist.
PW: Do you have any special guests lined up for the shows?
RQ: I have a great support artist by the name of Chesqua -- she has such a great soulful naturally raspy but endearing voice, which really compliments the rest of the show. This tour is gonna be so much fun ... I just hope the fans are ready!
PW: How do you personally think you've grown as a singer and songwriter in the last ten years?
RQ: I've just turned 28 -- not old to many people, but I feel I've experienced a lot for my age. I guess certain experiences and responsibilities, such as being a father, can make you think differently for all the best reasons. Your influences change, and I think even you as an individual change over time. So, with that, you finally start to shape into who it is you see in the mirror. You've got to make the best person that guy can be and not what others see ... nobody is perfect. But making music was a choice I made, which meant so much to me and still does. I know the risks involved, but I live and breathe it. It's not felt like the right time until now.
PW: How has social media impacted your career? Would you agree that artists today need to be socially interactive with their fans?
RQ: Absolutely! It wasn't about so much when I was on the X-Factor, but now it's taken over. But I do believe it's important, if not vital, to your success in any industry.
PW: Whose musical/performing career would you like to emulate, and why?
RQ: Wow! There's so many but, I admire Michael Ball, as he's managed to keep his toes in so many pools ... and continues to succeed and give his all to the entertainment industry BECAUSE he loves it! I guess I'm after longevity in my career, similar to Michael, and to achieve even half as he has.
PW: Finally, where would you like to see yourself ten years from now, and what would you like your musical legacy to be?
RQ: Well, I’ll definitely be old then, but I'd like to see myself still doing as I do now! The phone still ringing and always keeping it interesting. As Elvis would say ... The day you stop signing autographs is the day you should probably pack your bags and try something else.