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Ricky Wilson on The Voice: “It’s a different show”

What’s so special about The Voice UK?
If you gather a lot of creative people together then they become a lot more creative. That’s part of the ethos of The Voice UK. Everyone makes you better. A lot of these singers are the best singers in their towns, but then they come here and are up against the best singers in other towns. For the best ones that makes them better, they are suddenly in a world where they are not alone, they meet people with the same dream and that brings a lot out in you. It can bring out your competitive side, it can make you feel less trapped, you stop feeling like someone from Bournemouth or Leeds can’t make it. When I was 16 I remember watching Jarvis Cocker on the telly and thinking, oh right, someone like me can do it. It’s a good thing, it’s showing people they are allowed to do it, to give them the confidence to do it.

Have you been looking for anything specific this series?
No, I never am. I think that would be a very unwise thing to do. Obviously Will has an idea of who I should turn for and that’s usually a male voice in his 20s with a guitar. But I have heard a lot of those so they have to be extra special for me to turn for them. I was worried I would fill my team with big female vocals but this year I have a lot of interesting singers, in a good way.

Has the dynamics of the show changed having Paloma and George this year?
It’s changed every year I’ve been on it. I started with Kylie on the show, then Rita came on and now Paloma and George. I’m used to the change. It’s a different show but I think it should be different each year.

What do Paloma and George bring to the show?
They are great. I think they have both had the shock that I had when I first joined. You go into it knowing it’s a TV show and come out of it forgetting it’s a TV show altogether. It’s not a game, you get so emotionally invested in people. That’s what it becomes all about. I think that’s something which has definitely come as a shock to them.

What’s it like working with will.i.am?
Will is one of the most powerful music men in the world, I totally respect him. It was only when I started having playful fights that we started enjoying each other’s company a lot more. When we first started he was a lion and I was a kitten. I felt a little bit down and then someone told me to push back a little bit so I did and a big grin came across his face as if to say, ‘That’s what you should be doing’. He made me do that, he knew I had to do that in order to survive the process. He’s been very generous with me, I’m in an indie band from the north of England, I shouldn’t be on his radar but I am.

What’s your team like?
There’s a vibe to my team. I’ve always been the underdog but I feel like in my team I’ve got people who are not going to be the loudest at the party, but they don’t have to be because when they sing they shut the place down. When you are a good singer you don’t have to tell people you are, you show them.

Is success about talent or ambition?
I think there’s a lot more. For me, I think it’s about spirit, which takes in both of those things. There are voices I have heard that I think are incredible and then I hear voices where they hit a few bum notes but I think, ‘That’s food for the soul.’ I’d rather gorge myself on food for the soul than listen to someone who can get it right time and time again.

What do you think about the show moving to ITV? Is this really your last series?
I have been very happy at the BBC, so it’s not a snub to ITV or the show. It feels like a good time to move on. I’ve done everything I thought I could do. We’re going to go out with a bang.

How confident are you that your team can win?
My team are the dark horses of the competition, we’ll come in from the outside!

Written by CelebMix